Columbia Faculty Explore Social Issues in China
Columbia Global Centers | East Asia hosted Columbia University School of Social Work faculty – including Dean Jeanette Takamura and Professors Irwin Garfinkel, Ada Chan Yuk-Sim Mui, and Elwin Wu – who participated in a one-day lecture series at the Center during their Dec. 15 visit to Beijing.
Throughout the visit, members of the local community were able to exchange ideas and how they apply within China’s policies and development. To begin and close the day’s series, prospective Social Work students took advantage of a unique information session to meet directly with faculty and learn about the school’s academic programs.
Before the formal presentations, Joan Kaufman, director of Columbia Global Centers｜East Asia, warmly welcomed faculty from School of Social Work and audience members.
Professor Garfinkel then initiated faculty presentations with his lecture “Wealth and Welfare State: Myths and Measurement.” He described a conceptual foundation for social work by sharing his research findings, which were also clearly illustrated in his recent book, “Wealth of Nations.”
By presenting quantitative data on welfare transfers in public education enrollment, public health, social insurance and gross domestic product growth rates, Garfinkel debunked several myths about the relationship between welfare payments in rich nations and economic growth. He then suggested a new framework utilizing more accurate indicators that show the positive relationship between government welfare provision and economic growth. With the background of China’s own rapid social and economic growth, the lecture sparked several questions regarding best practices for taxation and health insurance expenditure.
After a lunch reception, Professor Mui addressed one of China’s most relevant demographic concerns in the lecture, “Preparation for Population Aging: A Human Capital Perspective.” Mui presented several examples of model programs tat empower older persons to continue productive lifestyles, including one for elderly Chinese immigrants in New York. Specifically, Mui said, the importance of respect for elders and filial piety in China provide possibilities for shaping an intriguing environment for policies to care for China’s disproportionately large aging population. By clearly understanding the health and social concerns of this age bracket, Mui said policy makers are better equipped to cope with a nation’s evolving human capital pools while maintaining the dignity of these individuals.
Finally, Dean Takamura presented the School’s unique approach toward social work education in curriculum, fieldwork placements, advising and mentoring, career prospects and social enrichment opportunities, as well as the profession’s overall direction.
More than 100 audience members, including those from the academic, government, and non-governmental organizations attended the events, intended to showcase the increasing importance of the social work profession and its research implications.