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2010-2011 USCI Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grants

USCI awards grants to USC graduate students to carry out summer fieldwork research.
August 25, 2011

Graduate Summer Fieldwork Abstracts

Chin-Hao Huang (Department of Political Science & School of International Relations)

"China’s Strategic Partnership with Africa: Significance, Challenges, and Implications for the United States”

The strategic partnership between China and Africa has become increasingly institutionalized, encompassing a broadening range of political, economic, and military ties. However, there remains a dearth of well-grounded analysis on the remarkable scope and scale of this relationship, which inherently carries significant implications for U.S. interests in Africa, as well as for U.S.-China relations. Given these high stakes, the overarching goal of this proposal is to gain greater insights into the key detenninants that undergird China's evolving foreign policy approach in Africa, and their implications for the United States. Through research interviews with policy elites in Beijing and Washington and a thorough analysis of the relevant emergent Chinese commentaries on China-Africa relations, this project will fill in the existing knowledge gap and provide a more authoritative foundation from which to build a policy response that more effectively manages China's rising power on the one band and contribute to a more constructive trilateral relationship on the other. Click here for the full report.

Minna Jia (Department of Political Science & School of International Relations)
“China’s Post-80s Urban Generation: Attitudes toward Democracy and Civic Participation”

China’s experience challenges the conventional development theory in the way that China remains stable authoritarian regime despite its three decades of rapid economic growth. Whether China will become democratic and if this is the case, how will this transition happen and what factors will have impacts on it are the main questions for both China scholars and international observers. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, this project aims to explore the endogenous mechanism between China’s economic development and democratic transition by looking at the political orientations and participatory behaviors of China’s post-80s generation. This project proposes that the post-80s generation is a generation embracing the democratic ideas but practically more nationalism. The interaction of Chinese governments ideological education, media exposure and personal voting behaviors contribute to this result. By examining these interactions, this project aims to contribute to the field by looking at the micro level changes in current China. Click here for the full report.

Jia Lu (School of Policy, Planning, and Development)
“Disaster as an Agent of Change: Institutions, Planning, and the Construction of Urban Resilience”

How do cities construct their resilience socially and environmentally to prepare for future uncertainties? To what extent do planning institutions play a role in being the purveyor of opportunities and people’s capabilities to choose the kind of life that he or she has a reason to value? How can the adaptive capacity of institutions to deal with change and uncertainty be formed through the planning processes after a crisis? What is the role of civil society in developing sustainability and urban resilience—a process of acquiring adaptive capacity for today’s urban settlements to deal with uncertainties associated with catastrophic disasters? As part of a comparative study between U.S. and China originally planned for my dissertation, this summer field study is designed to conduct preliminary analysis on the role of civil society in developing collaborative sustainable efforts with planning institutions to cope with risks and uncertainties associated with catastrophic disasters within the context of Sichuan earthquake in China. It is based on a mixed method design, a design in which the quantitative data set provides a supportive, secondary role in the study based primarily on the qualitative data set. The primary purpose of this study will use participant observations, semi-structured interviews, public documents, and audiovisual materials that will explore the emerging processes and mechanisms of interactions among the planning institutions of the state, the market, and the civil society organizations in response to catastrophic disasters over the long run. Click here for the full report.

Weiyu Mao (School of Social Work)
“Well-Being of Caregivers to Older Adults in China”

In contemporary society, aging trend of population has become a global issue. Older adults are primarily being taken care of by their family members and will continue to be the situation for next decades. Numerous studies have been done regarding well-being of caregivers to older adults, but those studies are dominantly being carried out in U.S. Whether results from existing empirical studies will hold in China is questionable. Moreover, limited number of researches conducted in China on this issue commonly deploys an atheoretical approach.  This preliminary project aims to explore the situation in China by networking with national research centre, reviewing relative archives and dataset, and visiting related agencies. In terms of those efforts, planned outcomes such as feasibility of future empirical research utilizing conceptual framework developed in U.S.  and carrying out cross-cultural comparison studies will be examined. Click here for the full report.

Wai-Hang Yee (School of Policy, Planning, and Development)
“Why do firms go green? Motivations in Adopting Environmental Practices among Manufacturing Firms in the Pearl River Delta"
为什么企业走向环保?——透析珠江三角洲制造企业为适应环 境需要而进行调整的动机

Ensuring environmental sustainability in the pursuit of economic development is a major challenge in the US-China relations. Notwithstanding disputes, how could constructive environmental policies be developed based on commonly-agreed principles and jointly-shared expectations? To gain a deeper understanding of Chinese manufacturers’ attitude toward environmental sustainability, as well as their concerns and difficulties as they go green, this project proposes to investigate Chinese manufacturers’ motivations in adopting environmental management practices (EMPs). Identifying in the literature four major  approaches, developed largely in the context of the West, the project analyzes their empirical validity and comparative strength in the Chinese context. The targeted research subjects are small and medium-sized manufacturing firms with plants operating in the Pearl River Delta, which houses tens of thousands of plants with a great variety of environmental performance, providing a natural laboratory for the study. Data will be collected through a survey and semi-structured interviews. Click here for full report.

Pengyu Zhu (School of Policy, Planning, and Development)
“Spatial Mismatch and the Well-Being of Rural Migrants in China”

“Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis” (SMH) is a concept first brought by an American urban economist in 1968. It argued that various racial/ethnic minorities living in inner city neighborhoods have limited mobility and thus are spatially isolated from decentralizing blue-collar jobs. In China, many rural migrant workers are currently experiencing the same “spatial mismatch” as those ethnic minorities in the U.S.  Built upon current research focusing on SMH for immigrants in the U.S., the purpose of this proposed research is to extend the empirical models to study the SMH for rural migrant workers in China. This project will focus on three rural migrant gateway MSAs in China (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai) and study the impact of residential segregation on rural migrants’ labor market and housing market outcomes. More specifically, the research will test whether living in urbanizing villages within these MSAs affects rural migrants’ employment status, wage and home ownership status. Click here for the full report.

View reports of USCI Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grant receipients from other years.
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