Visiting Scholar Fang Nan Shares her Background and Plans at Columbia

November 02, 2022

Fang Nan, an associate professor at Institute of Comprehensive Social Governance, Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, China, is a visiting scholar at the Columbia School of Social Work and the Columbia China Center for Social Policy from October 2022 to September 2023. She shared her background, interests, and Columbia expectations in a recent written interview.

What led you to your career as an academic and researcher? What are your main research areas and interests?

After working for ten years on the frontlines on child rights and child protection in a leading international NGO, I realized that applying those practical experiences into theoretical research and engaging in the policy-making process may lead to greater contribution for building a child-friendly social system. Therefore, I decided to pursue my PhD and eventually chose the path of academic research. My research areas mainly focus on family and child social policy, child welfare and protection, and NGO governance.

Can you briefly introduce your home institution?

Beijing Academy of Social Sciences is a think-tank institution that provides decision-making suggestions for the municipal government regarding policies related to urban planning and social governance. It also carries out evaluation research on public policies and their implementations to inform evidence-based policymaking.

What aspects of being a visiting scholar at Columbia are exciting to you? 

I treasure the stimulating academic exchange with faculty and students at the School of Social Work and other schools and departments at Columbia. I am also excited to learn about the impactful research undertaken by the China Center for Social Policy led by Professor Qin Gao.

What are your main research activities during your stay at Columbia and in NYC?

The importance of cities and communities that directly affect children has increased over the past two decades as the world has become an urban planet. The questions that I hope to address are as follows: How can we build a friendlier city and community to promote the full realization of children’s rights? How can we support families and children to alleviate multidimensional deprivation faced by urban children? The United States and many European countries have experienced these social problems, formulated policies, and offered solutions. Are they effective, and why or why not?

Visiting Columbia provides me a great opportunity to conduct research from a comparative perspective. I plan to review the evidence from the US and other countries and propose policy suggestions for designing child- and family-centered policies and measures for China. This project is part of my ongoing research funded by the National Social Science Fund of China.

In addition to conducting research, I hope to participate in academic seminars and lectures, and if possible, to visit some social service agencies and grassroot organizations to learn about NGO governance in New York City. I also plan to pay close attention to local media to gain a deeper understanding of American culture.

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy