Visiting Scholar Shu jung Li Shares her Background and Projects Year at Columbia

October 14, 2019

Shu jung Li, a professor at the Department of Social Work, Soochow University, Taiwan, is a visiting scholar at the Columbia School of Social Work and the Columbia China Center for Social Policy during the 2019-2020 academic year. She shared her background, interests, and Columbia expectations in a recent written interview.

What led you to your career as an academic and researcher?

My undergraduate major at National Taiwan University was social work. After I received an MSW at Columbia, I returned to Taiwan and worked as a section chief at the Bureau of Social Welfare in the Taipei City government for four years. I was responsible for supervising social assistance and social welfare service delivery in 12 Taipei districts.  In this capacity, I accumulated valuable practical experience and developed a strong interest in social policy issues.  Since I am interested in combining theory and practice, I returned to Columbia for my PhD and then became a full-time professor. 

What are your main research areas and interests?

My research areas include poverty and income inequality, labor policy, and family policy. I am interested in conducting comparative studies, with an emphasis on East Asian countries.

Can you briefly introduce your home institution?

Soochow University was founded in Soochow, China in 1900. Reestablished in 1951 in Taiwan, it became the first private university in Taiwan. With 6 schools, 23 departments, and 15,597 enrolled students, it is one of the leading private universities in Taiwan. The Department of Social Work at the University was established in 1990. Currently the department has 16 faculty members, 520 BSW students and 60 MSW students. it is one of the leading social work programs in Taiwan.

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

Since the Columbia School of Social Work is my alma mater, I am thrilled to revisit the school (I visited the school last during the 2007-08 academic year.) As a visiting scholar at the school, I will be able to make use of its tremendous human and other resources.  In fact, Professor Irv Garfinkel was my dissertation advisor. I have also developed a long-term cooperative relationship with Professor Qin Gao, director of the China Center for Social Policy. In short, I appreciate the opportunity to conduct exchanges with many of the outstanding faculty members at the school.

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

I will be conducting a research project entitled ”Poverty Reduction Effectiveness of Social Assistance Policies: A Comparative Study of East Asian Countries.”  During my stay at Columbia, I hope to interact with faculty members, access research resources at the school and the University, and work on several papers along this line. In addition, I will contact and visit scholars in my fields of interest at other U.S. institutions.


Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy