Published on 19 November 2018
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Major policy challenges explored by Bennett Visiting Fellows

The Bennett Institute at the University of Cambridge has engaged three prominent researchers from across the University to explore the public policy aspects of their research programmes – they will examine potential solutions to three major challenges facing the world today.

The new visiting fellows are: Dr Yan Zhang, Dr Flavio Toxvaerd, and Dr Ying Jin. The issues they will examine include sustainable development in China, herd immunity in populations, and urban planning and growth in the context of rapid technological change.

Director of the Bennett Institute, Professor Michael Kenny commented: “We founded the Bennett Institute in April 2018, and are committed to bringing outstanding research to bear on some of the major challenges of our age, and to exploring different potential solutions.

It is apt to begin with the three topics selected. Sustainability and urban growth are critical to creating a safe future as our global population grows. Similarly, exploring herd immunity in global populations is key to protecting us against future pandemics.”

Our new fellows will be conducting their research projects in the academic year 2018/2019, and presenting their work in events and papers in the summer of 2019. As part of the programme they will be forming connections with policy makers in the UK and beyond.

The 2018/19 visiting fellows:

Dr Yan Zhang currently works as the British Academy Research Fellow at the Centre of Development Studies, where she also serves as the Research Associate at the China Centre of Jesus College and is a Bye-Fellow of Newnham College.

Yan will be focussing on sustainable development, public policy and environment/resource studies with a special focus on China.

She commented: “Urbanisation is the essential part of sustainable development. Chinese urban development sits in the core of sustainable development of China and the globe. This is not only because of the rapid growth of mega cities in China, but also because of great possibilities for those cities to develop with new models of urbanisation, which would then shape our common future as humanity.”

Dr Flavio Toxvaerd is a University Lecturer at the Faculty of Economics and a fellow of Clare College.

Flavio will be conducting research on the analysis of the effects and management of ‘herd immunity’ in populations.

He commented: “My work revisits received wisdom from public health research, using tools from health economics to better understand how and whether herd immunity should be used in formulating public policy to combat outbreaks of infectious diseases. Preliminary results suggest that policies that seek to maximise overall economic welfare are at times very different from those usually considered in the field of public health research and policy.”

Dr Ying Jin is the current Director of the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies and a Fellow and Director of Studies in Architecture at Robinson College.

Ying specialises in the use of advanced data analytics and computer simulation modelling for urban planning. He will be exploring the public policy dimensions of this research: how it can be used to design long term urban infrastructure investment and land use development options, and how to facilitate policy debates on this at the city region scale.

He commented: “Predictions about cities can be powerful tools to reshape their future. I look forward to engaging with policy-makers and community campaigners connected with the Institute, gaining insights from their perspectives as well as disseminating the analytical theories, methods and tools we have successfully applied in recent policy studies.”

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy.

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