India China Institute Research Seminar Examines Changing Relationships Between Expertise and Policy Making

Researchers HERE (left to right, top to bottom): Ka-Kin Cheuk, Yu Zhou, Rohit Chandra, Ceren Ergenc, Yang Zhan, Thresia Cu, Wenjuan Zhang, Kesava Chandra Varigonda, Loraine Kennedy, Yifei Li, Xufei Ren, Avinash madhale

India China Institute Research Seminar Examines Changing Relationships Between Expertise and Policy Making

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that we now live in a post-truth world, where the medical opinions of doctors at the National Institutes of Health carry the same weight as those of anyone with a Facebook account. Shifting Geographies of Expertise and Policymaking, the new International Research Seminar and the India China Institute (ICI) Fellowship, tackles this topic, addressing the changing relationships between expertise and policymaking in India, China and beyond. The program virtually brings together 12 scholars and practitioners from India, China, Singapore, France and the United States for eight months to explore the changing relationships between epistemic and political authority at the local, national, regional and global levels.

IBI’s programs are designed to respond to pressing issues of the day. Last year, the institute’s Pandemic Worlds Research Seminar brought together eight New School faculty members and two doctoral students for interdisciplinary conversations about how the COVID-19 pandemic and cross-crises are changing knowledge production, politics, society and design in various ways. This year, the seminar focuses on the growing use of technical expertise in government at a time when people increasingly wonder who counts as an expert.

This year’s choice of topic, Shifting Geographies of Expertise and Policymaking, was influenced by the current situation in the United States, India and China. The seminar was launched in October, with academics meeting twice a month on Zoom to hear guest speakers and engage in each other’s research and projects. The research covers a range of issues, including energy, public health, education, housing, policy responses to pandemics, and rural and urban development. “I am proud of the caliber of our academics. It is not that easy to select international fellows, especially in this political climate. We had a very large pool of candidates, ”explains Grace Hou, deputy director of the Institute.

By recruiting academics, the ICI was able to capitalize on the networks it had built over nearly 20 years with colleagues and institutions in India and China. At the same time, the institute found that bringing its public programs online in the wake of the pandemic had a positive effect on its reach. “In the past, our fellows have come from India, China, the New School and the United States. This year the pool has widened to include applicants from Singapore, France and other countries, ”Hou said. “I hadn’t realized earlier that when our public programs were required to be online, we would be able to connect with large global audiences. We’ve had a year of building an international audience, and I’m happy to see participants from all over the world. So this year when we announced the stock exchange, we were able to reach many parts of the world that we had not been able to reach before.

Hou notes that the institute is also bringing back its Starr Foundation Student Research Award, which was suspended at the start of the pandemic. The award provides funding for independent undergraduate or graduate research on India and China. If international travel is allowed next summer, selected fellows could receive additional funds to travel to India or China for research purposes. “We realized that what we are doing with these student scholarships is building a community with an international vision and bringing our people closer to each other. Even with Zoom, our fellows can learn to be cordial and sincere to each other, not only through their research, but through their own character. “

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