Academic Proposals (2019-20)

Business, Economics, Law, and Policy

Law School International Immersion Program Hong Kong-Taiwan

This program is designed to engage UChicago and Hong Kong law scholars in an exchange of their latest research in the field of law and democracy, and to give UChicago Law students an opportunity to learn about other legal traditions outside the US. It will start with a 1.5-day conference and a public lecture, organized around the theme of our recent co-authored book, How To Save a Constitutional Democracy, at the University of Chicago Hong Kong Campus. We will invite local scholars and students and will also include students from The University of Chicago Law School. The UChicago Law students will continue a study tour program with visits to government institutions such as the Legislative Council, the courts, law firms, and NGOs in Hong Kong and Taiwan to learn about the role law plays in the two countries’ democratic development. The students will complete the program with writing research papers for publication on Chicago Unbound by the end of the academic year.

The Principal Investigator for this proposal is Leo Spits Professor of International Law, Tom Ginsburg, in collaboration with many faculty of Law from the University of Hong Kong including Johannes Chen, Albert Chen, and Kelly Tsai.

Research Trip: Regulations and Practices of Organ Donation in Hong Kong

In this research trip to Hong Kong, I will use archival work and interviews to understand when and how political and market orders redefine cultures. First, I will work in the legislative archive and the archives of Hong Kong Ideas Center. By tracing how the policies were first established and then modified, I will identify the debates that lead to the current regulations on this urgent yet culturally sensitive medical practice. Since interactions between medical professionals, patients, and potential donors within these different regulatory frameworks also shape the practices of donation, I will also visit the Hong Kong Organ Transplant Foundation to access records of public opinions on organ donation. I will conduct at least ten interviews, focusing particularly on the ethics board review process, which evaluates all cases where nonrelated donors are involved. In addition to asking about transplant practices before the legislation, I will interview legislators with respect to their concerns about organ transplantation and motivations for additional policy reforms. I will also interview groups that advocate for patient rights in Hong Kong’s vibrant civil society. The on-site interviews will be particularly helpful for examining whether the politics in markets exert a similar influence on shaping bodily donation, where exchange characterizes both pure gifts and monetized trades (if not some forms other than the two).

This proposal will be conducted by co-investigators Elisabeth Clemens, Professor of Sociology and Wan-Zi Lu, PhD Candidate for Sociology at the University of Chicago.


Culture, Society, Religion and the Arts

The Cambridge History of Ancient China: Twenty Years On

In 1965, John King Fairbank of Harvard and Denis Twitchett of Cambridge proposed a series of studies of Chinese history to be known as The Cambridge History of China. When the first volume, The Ch’in and Han Empires, 221 BC–AD 220, edited by Twitchett and Michael Loewe, was published over twenty years later, reviews of it uniformly praised its coverage of the two dynasties indicated by the title. In 1991, when Loewe was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, he and Edward Shaughnessy invited a dozen of the Western world’s leading historians of ancient China to contribute to The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C. (New York: Cambridge U. Press, 1999). In the West, this volume has been regarded as a benchmark in the study of ancient China.  2019 will mark the twentieth anniversary of its publication. Not only have these twenty years brought ever more archaeological discoveries, but they have also brought an ever increasing sophistication in their treatment by the most recent generation of scholars in both the West and in China.

As the contributors to the book begin to cede their place at the forefront of Western scholarship to the newer generation, this seems to be an opportune moment to bring together these two generations of Western scholars as well as the Chinese scholarly world, both in mainland China and on its periphery, to look critically at the book and to evaluate the current state of the field. 

Research for this proposal will be carried out by principal investigator Edward Shaughnessy, Professor in Early Chinese Studies within the East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Chicago. Prof. Shaughnessy works in collaboration with Jie Chen, Professor of the School of History at Nankai University.

The Transpacific - Hong Kong Center Residency

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago is currently developing a major exhibition, The Transpacific as part of its ambitious expanding narratives series for the 2022 academic year. The exhibition is curated by Smart Museum of Art Curator of Global Contemporary Art, Orianna Cacchione and Associate Professor of Art History, Claudia Brittenham. This exhibition takes the Pacific Ocean as a point of departure to explore how different methods and moments of exchange produced new artistic forms as artists and intellectuals traversed the Pacific. The exhibition will mark the end of a multi-year research project, bringing together scholars and objects from around the Pacific Rim to produce the first comprehensive investigation of the circulation, adoption, and appropriation of art across the Pacific Ocean. Significantly the exhibition challenges the centering of the Atlantic Ocean in the history of art.

Curator Orianna Cacchione will spend three-weeks in residence at the Hong Kong Center to conduct foundational research and build strategic partnerships and collaborations for the exhibition.

Workshop on the International Study of the Divergent Organ Donation Models

In this international workshop, we bring together medical professionals and policy scholars who are collaborating an international project on comparing organ donation models and providing policy recommendations to the Hong Kong authority. Studies have shown that transplants not only save the lives of patients but also reduce substantial healthcare costs. However, the shortage of organs for transplantation remains a global problem. In response to the organ shortage, governments have developed different incentive systems worldwide. The practitioners and scholars in this workshop have conducted data collection in countries with the most different incentive systems, and we invite the research team members to share the initial analysis based on interviews in the three sites (Chicago, with honorary incentives; Iran, with financial incentives; and Beijing, which is regulated by familism). Since the subsequent stages of the project include a book project based on the data analyses and a survey to find the optimal incentive system for Hong Kong, we also ask medical, legal, and policy scholars in Hong Kong to offer comments on the analysis. In the two-day workshop, we aim to compare the results from the data collection, initiate manuscript writing, and design questions for the survey on the public opinion of organ donation in Hong Kong.

The Principal Investigator for this proposal is Dr. Michael Millis, Professor of Surgery at the University of Chicago, accompanied by co-investigator, Wan Zi Lu, PhD candidate of Sociology at the UChicago. The investigators work in collaboration with Ruiping Fan, Professor and Chair of the Public Policy Department at the City University of Hong Kong, and Chung Mao Lo, Professor of Surgery at Hong Kong University.

Expertise and Governance in Asia: New Nations, New Sciences

In collaboration with colleagues at National University Singapore and Ambedkar University (New Delhi), we propose to hold a conference at the University of Chicago’s Hong Kong Center. This proposed event would serve as a follow up to our preliminary workshop held at the University’s Delhi Center, aimed at launching a broad study of the impact of postwar information sciences on governance and politics after across Asia. Our first meeting, funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation and by the University of Chicago’s Lichtstern Fund, was held on December 10th and 11th, 2018 in New Delhi and engaged primarily in comparison of South Asian and Southeast Asian, especially Indian and Singaporean, experiences of expertise in governance, and the connections of social science to socialism, liberalism and democracy.

This follow-up conference seeks to expand our comparison of relations of new social sciences to new forms of governance in Asia, now with emphasis on comparisons also with East Asia, especially China and the Nanyang world. We anticipate support for this conference from the University of Chicago’s Lichtstern Fund, and are exploring possibilities for partnership with a university in Hong Kong. Participants will include scholars of East Asia and also some of the participants from the Delhi group. As with the Delhi meeting we are interested in publishing the best research papers from the conference as part of a series in the journal Modern Asian Studies as well as a stand-alone edited volume from Cambridge University Press.

The Principal Investigator for this projects is John D. Kelly, Professor of Anthropology and the College at the University of Chicago, he is accompanied by co-investigator, Poornima Paidipaty, LSE Felloe in Inequalities in the Sociology Department at the London School of Economics.

4th International Interdisciplinary Faculty Forum

The 4th International Interdisciplinary Faculty Forum (IIFF) will be next event in a series that has been bringing leading scholars from the University of Chicago and the University of Tokyo together for inter-disciplinary and international intellectual exchange. The topic for IIFF “State of Relations” encompasses two meanings that invite different but interrelated questions and concerns. On the one hand, it refers to the formal relations of the Japanese state with its own population and China and, on the other hand, to the informal relationships among individuals, family, and employees in Japan. While the former raises issues related to culture, history, environment, and the institutionally situated practices of science and medicine, the latter invokes questions concerning the tensions and intimacies within everyday relationships. The 4th IIFF will bring together faculty from the University of Chicago, Tokyo University, and Chinese Universities for two days of cross-disciplinary, round-table discussions around topics that explore both these vectors of meaning. Overall, it is concerned with the state of relations as Japan and China enter the third decade of the century facing new economic challenges and international problems alongside unprecedented environmental threats and demographic shifts.

The Hong Kong Center provides a unique opportunity for intellectual exchange. Japan and China share a number of concerns around the questions and problems that we identify under the rubric of State of Relations. Holding the 4th IIFF in Hong Kong offers a chance to address these issues through the kind of multidisciplinary and truly global approach.

Principal Investigator for this proposal is Michael Fisch, Assistant Professor in of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, along with co-investigator James Ketelaar, Professor of History and East Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Both are working in collaboration with Yijiang Zhong, Associate Professor of the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at the University of Tokyo.

Exodus and Exile: Migrants, Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and the Problem of Slavery in the Pacific and Atlantic Worlds, 1750-1850

During the period 1750–1850, the transnational movement of people fed an emergent literature of internal alienation, fostered new demographic preoccupations in contemporary historiography, underwrote new theories of political justice, and spurred the reformulation of religious identities. The figure of the migrant has come to hold a complex and conflicted place within this period and within the regimes of western modernity more broadly, as both constitutive of societies, and a threat to national integrity. Yet this figure remains relatively uninterrogated.

In this workshop, and against the backdrop of our own present day migration crisis, we seek to understand the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history of the figure of the migrant in all its castings: exile, refugee, émigré, slave, coolie, emigrant. Scholarship on migrancy tends to concentrate on particular geographical regions, but the history of migration is such that this regional focus often occludes the experience of migrants and the factors shaping their movements.  As a group of scholars from different humanities disciplines, we will build a fuller picture of the ways in which migrants have shaped, and been shaped by, the contexts which they inhabited. The focus of this workshop will be on the voluntary and involuntary movement of labor in the Pacific and Atlantic worlds. How might the collective examination of migration in this period across the Atlantic and Pacific worlds help us to understand precariousness and vulnerability as a lived condition, one yielding both deeper historical understanding and new insight into the mass population movements of our present moment?

Designed for graduate and undergraduate students, course time is split between Chicago and Beijing in order to provide students with both theoretical and historical contexts and direct, hands-on experience with artists, curators, and arts institutions.

The Principal Investigator for this proposal in Josephine McDonagh, Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is joined by co-investigator Jonathan Sachs, Professor of English at Concordia University, Montreal. Both work in collaboration with two Professors of English from Hong Kong University, Kendall Johnson and Jullia Kuehn (Head of School of English).


Science, Energy, Medicine, and Public Health

Recovery and Peer Support in Community Mental Health Services: US-China Exchange for a Paradigm Shift

In recent years, community mental health has become a keyword in China. However, the services provided by the ambitious state-run program are by and large biomedical, paternalistic, and focused on managing patients who are putatively violent. A paradigm shift is thus required to make community mental health in China more comprehensive, rights-based, person centered, and inclusive of the voices of patients and caregivers. Key stakeholders in China are looking toward recovery and peer support, approaches well established in the United States and some other countries, for inspirations. With the joint support of the Center in Beijing and the Campus in Hong Kong, this project seeks to explore and promote concepts and practices of recovery and peer support in China. First, a national conference will be held in Guangzhou to share American and Chinese experiences, and to advocate these new approaches to policymakers and providers. Site visits will then be conducted in Guangzhou and Chengdu to discuss details of collaboration with local organizations. Finally, the faculty lead will conduct a two- week research residency in Hong Kong in order to learn the development of recovery and peer support there, and to build synergy with relevant academic units and service agencies. After these activities, applications will be made to NIH and other funding sources to support collaborative research and interventions with partner institutions. The proposed activities and future collaborations will make a positive impact on China’s mental health service reform, and will contribute to all three strategic areas of the University’s global programming.

The Principal Investigator for this proposal is Zhiying Ma, Assistant Professor of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. In collaboration with Liang Zhou, Vice Dean of the Guangzhou Medical University School of Mental Health, Guizhong Yao, Former Vice President of Peking University Sixth Hospital, and Chegqi He, Director of the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at West China Hospital, Sichuan University.

Emerging Quantum Information Technologies and Applications

Quantum information technologies represent fundamentally new and rapidly shifting paradigms of traditional science and engineering disciplines including computing, communication and sensing. They are poised to have high impacts in data analytics, cyber security, material and pharmaceutical discoveries. This two-day workshop brings together leading experts in emerging fields of quantum information science and engineering across the globe to discuss exciting visions, challenges and opportunities within this emerging technological revolution. Hosted by the University of Chicago Hong Kong Center in partnership with the Institute for Molecular Engineering, this workshop will provide a stimulating, future-looking intellectual platform for exchanging ideas, forging collaborations and bridging scientific advances with global leaders. In particular, the timing of the proposed workshop coincides with the new US National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018, the new European Quantum Flagship Program, and national programs in Asia.

We assemble leading scientists in the field and outstanding researchers, students and postdocs from major scientific centers in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US. The workshop offers a means for global scientific exchange between scientists and students, in addition to interested members of the Hong Kong business community. We focus on presenting recent scientific and technological advances in new quantum technologies for computing, communication, imaging, and sensing. The key topics include but are not limited to technologies for long-distance quantum communication and networking; advances in coherent quantum materials for quantum information; new architectures for quantum computing and information processing; and emerging applications exploiting quantum supremacy.

This proposal is led by principal investigator David Awschalom, Professor of the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. He works in collaboration with Evelyn Hu, Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at Harvard and Renbao Liu, Professor of Physics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Big Data in Radiology in East Asia and the United States

Big data is the use of high-volume, high-velocity, high-variety, and high-veracity information to create economic value, streamline operations, perform risk management, and improve customer service. Some institutions have developed complex software applications to transform big data in radiology into meaningful real time assets. Translation of these platforms to the different sections within radiology can advance research, operational, and patient outcome objectives in the particular areas of radiology. Radiology departments are well suited to take advantage of their information technology infrastructure. However, there is no uniformity of data upload and management from one department to the next and on a global scale, differences are even more exaggerated. Furthermore, big data, especially multi-modal data, can demand methodological advances in areas such as image registration and real-time data analysis, and benefit from new methods such as deep neural networks.

The purpose of the workshop is to bring together The University of Chicago Medicine Department of Radiology and other departments of radiology from Hong Kong and East and Southeast Asia to compare local differences in factors that will affect the implementation of big data analysis in Asia, where available data and access to the data varies from country to country, and in the US, where data are available not only within departments but also in national databases. We will look beyond the regional to what is available in each country and identify opportunities for possible future shared research using databases from different countries to create a global database for big data analysis. 

The principal investigator for this proposal in Thuong Van Ha, Professor of Radiology at the University of Chicago, accompanied by co-investigator Ian Foster, a Professor in the Computer Science Department. Both UChicago faculty work in collaboration with Pek Lan Khong, a Radiology Professor from the University of Hong Kong.

Learning Dynamics in Molecular Systems

Proteins are molecular machines that have evolved to perform the functions of life: they build hair and feathers, destroy pathogens, catalyze reactions, and transmit information. Protein malfunction produces disease: cancers contain mutations in proteins, and neurodegeneration is linked with proteins misfolding and aggregating. Understanding and accurately predicting protein structure and dynamics is a key goal of molecular biophysics. Serving as a "computational microscope", molecular simulations have provided a wealth of information on protein structure and function. Recent breakthroughs in computer hardware, software, and machine learning have conspired to open a new frontier of inquiry. Supercomputers have produced new data sets, and tools from deep learning, applied mathematics, and statistics have produced a new toolkit to extract the key dynamical motions governing how proteins fold and function. Identifying these collective motions holds the key to understanding nature's design rules and engineering proteins to perform new functions. The University of Chicago has developed exceptional strength in biomolecular simulation and its interface with machine learning. This workshop will bring together researchers working at the frontiers of molecular simulation, applied mathematics, machine learning, and biophysics. We target ~16 participants predominantly from the University of Chicago and Hong Kong; selected researchers from the rest of the world may be invited to enrich the program. This relatively small size will allow all invitees to deliver talks and provide ample time for sharing of ideas, initiation of collaborations, and definition of a synchronized program of work advancing understanding of the dynamics of protein folding.

The principal investigator for this proposal is Andrew Ferguson, Associate Professor of the Institute for Molecular Engineering, is accompanied by co-investigators Aaron Dinner, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago , and Xuhui Huang, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The 2020 Conference on Moleclar Imaging Instrumentation

Molecular imaging, in which information regarding life and life processes in vivo at the molecular level can be visualized and monitored, is becoming the enabling and powerful tools in routine clinical practice and in fundamental research in biology and medicine. It is also one of the key technologies essential to advancing the practice of personalized and precision medicine for improving future healthcare delivery effectively and economically. Asia is the world’s center in semiconductor, electronics, and advanced materials R&D in both academia and industry, as well as other relevant resources such as manufacturing, vast healthcare delivery systems, and enormous patient populations, which are all the most important elements in advancing the field of molecular imaging. This Conference Series on Molecular Imaging Instrumentation will bring academic and industrial leaders around the world, especially those from the USA, China, and other Asia-Pacific countries to exchange information on the most recent advances in the field, and to formulate strategies for enhanced collaborations in order to accelerate technology advances in the future, thus impacting the global healthcare agenda and landscape in general.

Based on the continuous success of our 2016, 2017, and 2018 meetings, we propose to continue to organize this important international meeting series in the form of a 2-day international conference held on the new UChicago campus in Hong Kong to exchange and present the latest findings on recent progresses and innovations in molecular imaging instrumentation R&D, as well as its impact to clinical practice and patient care.

This conference is assembled by principal investigator Chin-Tu Chen, Associate Professor of Radiology and Medical Physics at the University of Chicago. Chin-Tu collaborates with Long Wei, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the Institute of High Energy Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as Ed X. Wu, Ph.D., Chair of Biomedical Engineering in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department at The University of Hong Kong.

The Impact of Language on Charitable Giving

We are frequently presented with emotional appeals to help individuals in need. In an increasingly globalized community, the linguistic information used to prompt prosocial behavior is often communicated through a nonnative language such as English. However, prior research has shown that advertisement slogans are perceived as less emotional when presented in a nonnative versus native language, which may negatively impact the effectiveness of advertisements to prompt charitable giving. Therefore, the goal of the present project is to examine the effect of using a native versus nonnative language in charity advertisements on willingness to donate funds to help victims. To this end, we aim to conduct an experiment with bilinguals in Hong Kong, during which they will receive a charity advertisement in either their native or nonnative language. We predict that the use of a nonnative versus native language will decrease the emotional impact of the message and, consequently, it will decrease donations. This research opportunity would give us the chance to deepen our theoretical understanding of how language shapes behavior. The results, if successful, would have far-reaching societal implications, and would suggest that language influences prosocial behavior.

This research proposal is under the direction of principal investigator Boaz Keysar, Professor of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago.