Visiting Scholar Xuan Huo Shares her Background and Projects Year at Columbia

Yahan Yang
November 02, 2018

Huo Xuan, a doctoral student at the School of Government in Nanjing University, is a visiting scholar at the Columbia School of Social Work and the Columbia China Center for Social Policy during the 2018-2019 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?

When I was a college senior and doing my undergraduate thesis, I found writing and conducting research to be both challenging and rewarding. Since then, I have focused my research on poverty and social assistance. In the second year of my master’s program, I decided to apply for doctoral studies and pursue a career as an academic and researcher in the future.

What are your main research areas and interests?

My research focuses on issues related to poverty and social assistance in China. My current research examines chronic poverty and multidimensional poverty in rural China as well as the welfare stigma associated with receiving Dibao, China’s primary safety net benefit.

Can you briefly introduce your home institution?

I come from the School of Government at Nanjing University, founded in 1912 and one of the top universities in China. The School of Government is one of the most important political and public administration research institutions in China and enjoys a high reputation in the disciplines of politics, administration management, and social security, with a focus on research and implications of public policy. There are several research centers affiliated with the School that produces cutting-edge research and engage in dialogues with top scholars around the world. These include but are not limited to the Social Security Research Center, Social Risk and Public Crisis Management Research Center, and Public Affairs and Local Governance Research Center.

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

Many aspects of being a visiting scholar at Columbia are very exciting to me and I am going to mention three points below. First, my advisor, Prof. Qin Gao is an expert on poverty, inequality and public policy both in China and the United States. She offers me important advice and guidance in my research, such as how to identify an important research question, think critically about a specific topic, and carry out rigorous empirical analysis. Second, there are many great seminars and lectures here, which provide me with good opportunities to broaden my view and communicate with scholars from different disciplines. Third, I am very impressed by the Columbia libraries where I am able to find almost any literature and books that I need. They are very helpful for my research.

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

My main research project here is about poverty and social assistance in China. This semester, I am taking a seminar on inequality, poverty, and public policy offered by Prof. Qin Gao. It is highly relevant for my research. I am writing a paper on stigma and mental health of welfare recipients in China.

Columbia Affiliations
China Center for Social Policy