Visiting Scholar Li Fangzhou Shares her Background and Envisions Year at Columbia

March 28, 2022

Li Fangzhou, a doctoral student from the School of Labor and Human Resources at Renmin University of China, is a visiting scholar at the Columbia School of Social Work and the Columbia China Center for Social Policy from February 2022 to January 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?

I began studying social security during my undergraduate education and gradually realized that social policy is as important as economic policy. Since then, I have focused my research on poverty alleviation and social assistance throughout my masters and doctoral studies. Professor Han Keqing, who is my PhD supervisor and an expert on social security and social policy has always encouraged me and advised me in academic research and writing. All these have led to and supported my pursuit to become a researcher.

What are your main research areas and interests?

My research interests have focused on poverty alleviation and social assistance policies. Poverty is a chronic affliction of human history and a challenge faced by the entire world. How to improve the living conditions of low-income populations through policies and services remain a key issue for many societies. In my research, I have focused on poverty alleviation through targeted measures in rural China as well as the the minimum livelihood guarantee system, China’s primary social assistance policy.

Can you briefly introduce your home institution?

I come from Renmin University of China, which was founded in 1937 and is one of China’s premier research-oriented universities focusing on humanities and social sciences. The School of Labor and Human Resources has five departments, including Social Security, Labor Economics, Human Resource Management, Labor Relations, and Career Development and Management. The School is also home to several research centers such as the China Social Security Research Center and China Institute for Employment Research. The School plays a major role in helping develop policy solutions for the government as well as national and international NGOs across the public and private sectors. The School has also formed global collaborations with many international organizations and institutes such as the International Labor Organization, Cornell University, University of Toronto, and Tilburg University.

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

Columbia University is a world-famous university with cutting-edge research, a beautiful campus, and rich library collections covering many subjects. The Columbia School of Social Work is one of the world’s top schools of social work. Its slogan of Make Waves, Move Mountains, Change Lives inspires me a lot. I am especially excited to have the opportunity to consult and collaborate with Professor Qin Gao, who is a leading authority on social welfare in China. I hope to use my visiting opportunity to conduct more impactful research and enhance the academic communication between Columbia and my home institution.

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

The main research project during my visit is a comparative study of social assistance for vulnerable children in China and the US. I would also like to attend lectures and seminars held by the School of Social Work and Weatherhead East Asian Institute as well as other departments and research centers at Columbia. In addition to academic research, I also hope to explore the many great museums, libraries, and other amazing places in NYC during this year.

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy