Below are the recipients for the 2017 funding cycle, listed in alphabetical order by last name of the Principal Investigator.

Comprehensive Global Health Education in China

Principal Investigators: Glen Gaulton, Vice Dean and Faculty Director, Center for Global Health; and Joshua Atkins, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and Co-Director, Penn-China Anesthesia Partnership

  • Abstract
  • Lead School: Perelman School of Medicine (Center for Global Health)


    The Center for Global Health has developed a comprehensive project that unites efforts spanning the two largest sectors of need: a Certificate/Masters program in Translational Research (PI: Glen Gaulton, PhD), and a Penn Healthcare Leadership Program (PI: Joshua Atkins, MD, PhD). Both programs build upon Penn Medicine’s institutional strengths while also addressing key gaps in the Chinese educational and executive health training systems.

Understanding Judicial Outcomes in China

Principal Investigator: Yue Hou, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

  • Abstract
  • Lead School: School of Arts and Sciences

    Penn Partners: School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics; Center for the Study of Contemporary China

    Chinese Partners: Fudan University, Department of Economics

    Other Partners: Princeton University, Department of Politics


    China’s legal system is one of the largest in the world, and the judicial system handles over 14 million cases a year. Scholarship on the Chinese judicial system mainly focuses on major cases and harsh punishments. The lack of systematic understanding of judicial outcomes in China reflects the lack of data. Since 2014, however, over 28 million court cases have been published online as a result of a new national policy of open information. This initiative is an important part of China’s new judicial reform, with Chinese President Xi’s reiterated emphasis on “rule of law” and the aim to stop local influences.


    The research questions we ask include: How far-reaching is China’s legal transparency reform? How does the reform influence judicial outcomes? Do judges’ characteristics impact sentencing decisions? Do co-ethnics receive lighter sentences? Are female judges more lenient than their male counterparts?


    We will also propose a test of ethnic and gender bias by studying patterns of sentence reversals.  The findings will contribute to a growing body of social science literature on the relationship between descriptive representation and judicial outcomes. The study will also contribute to the understanding of the Chinese judicial system as well as the development of China’s legal reform.  We hope this study not only enriches scholarship in law and political science, but also informs the on-going policy debate in China on how to move the legal reform forward.

China in the Caribbean/The Caribbean in China

Principal Investigator: Deborah Thomas, R. Jean Brownlee Term Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology

  • Abstract
  • Lead School: School of Arts and Sciences

    Penn Partners: Fox Leadership Initiative

    Chinese Partners: Jamaican Embassy in Beijing, Peking University

    Other Partners: University of California, Berkeley


    China’s President Xi Jinping set an investment goal of $500 billion in trade with Latin America and the Caribbean for the five years between 2015 and 2019. While the largest share of this investment goes to Brazil, Jamaica is the hub of Chinese investment in the Anglophone Caribbean. China’s investments in Latin America and Africa have centered primarily around mining and infrastructure, and this has also been the case in the Caribbean. While few economists and policy-makers have addressed issues related to Chinese involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean, and while there has been quite a bit of historical research on Chinese immigration to the Americas, there has been little extended ethnographic research exploring the various dimensions and effects of Chinese investment in Latin America or the Caribbean.


    This project will ethnographically explore the contemporary presence of China in the Caribbean. This project begins in Beijing with the organization of a workshop at the Penn Wharton China Center, and film screenings (to take place at various other locations) during summer 2017.  This workshop will pose the following questions:  How has contemporary Chinese investment and aid been related to questions of governance?  What are the long-term policy implications of contemporary investment patterns, especially as they relate to labor, social development, and the environment?  What sorts of relationships, if any, have emerged between newer and long-standing Chinese communities throughout the region?  Can we glean insights into these questions from African contexts?  And what kinds of issues are specific to small island nations?  


    The goal of this project as a whole is to create a network of qualitative social scientists conducting ethnographic research on the new Chinese presence in the Caribbean.