A 15-member delegation from the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences (GZASS), a research center on cultural and social sciences in Guangzhou, China, visited the SSRC to learn about the Council and its contributions in policymaking. The delegation’s visit was aimed at gaining insight on the inner-workings of research institutions and think tanks, a new and rapidly developing field in China. Looking to the SSRC as a model for collaborative international research, the GZASS plans to develop its capacity as a think tank and engage in greater communication with international researchers. The delegation met with Alondra Nelson, President of the SSRC, and Mary McDonnell, Executive Director of the SSRC, and expressed interest in collaborating with the Council on matters of intersecting interest. The GZASS hopes to engage in collaborative research on developing social policy for Middle Eastern and African immigrant communities in Guangzhou and on broader China-Africa relations.
The delegation heard an overview of the SSRC and its history from Van Tran, Associate Director of the Vietnam Program, who outlined the Council's mission and four pillars: creating new knowledge, strengthening interdisciplinary social science capacity, improving academic work, and informing relevant actors to better inform the policy environment. She noted the SSRC’s long and close engagement with Asia, given the region’s significance, and its history of collaboration with research institutes in China and the wider region.
To illustrate the SSRC’s engagement in China, Tatiana Carayannis, Director of the Council's Understanding Violent Conflict Initiative, discussed China’s emerging leadership role in UN peace operations and how the SSRC is working to support the study of global governance in China and build the capacity of Chinese researchers interested in Africa. She provided an overview of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF), which serves as an external “think tank” to the UN that links scholars and UN decision-makers to produce better-informed policy. Carayannis also introduced the China-Africa Knowledge Project (CAKP), which aims to deepen the understanding of China's renewed engagement with Africa and situate emergent scholarship on China and Africa within broader scholarly and policy discourses about ongoing global transformations.
Thomas Asher, Director of the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Program at the SSRC, noted that this work is part of the Council's wider efforts to bring together experts across different disciplines and countries to collaborate on different issues, and to bring those issues to the forefront of policymaking. For instance, Thomas’ involvement with an initiative to establish an Association for Asian Studies in Africa and an Association for African Studies in Asia exemplifies how the SSRC is working to bring together researchers across the globe to develop their intersecting interests.