Brown Bag Lecture Series


The APEC Study Center has co-sponsored and promoted “Brown Bag” luncheon seminars, which are generally organized with the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and held at the School of International and Public Affairs. These highly informative, informal gatherings usually run from 12:00-1:30 pm and include a question-and-answer session.  There is an archive for Brown Bag lectures in prior years.

  • The Everyday Politics of the Second Economy in North Korea: A Force for Regime Stability or Corrosion?

21 November 2013 

Speaker: Alexander Dukalskis, Visiting Scholar, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University; Ph.D. Political Science & Peace Studies Lecturer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
Moderator: Charles Armstrong, Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences in the Department of History, Columbia University
Dr. Dukalskis shared his research on the second economy – the markets inconsistent with government ideology or law – and the impact it has on the North Korean regime's stability. Through a discussion on the history of the second economy, a survey of literature on this topic, hypotheses from other totalitarian states, and his original research, Dr. Dukalskis has come to the conclusion – however tentative given the paucity of data in that country – that the underground market has more of a stabilizing than a subversive influence on the government.   This is due to a few factors: there is much official presence and buy-in within the underground markets; they allow the elite of the country to acquire more wealth, keeping them satisfied; they allow small business owners to make enough money to leave the country if they are unsatisfied, thus ridding the country of potential dissidents; and they are tightly controlled, preventing the types of gatherings that can lead to revolutions.
Co-sponsored with the Center for Korean Research, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights.
  • Samsung and LG: From Also-Rans to Dominance in the Consumer Electronics Industry

25 April 2013 

Speaker: Robert Myers, Senior Vice President, Fairfield Resources International, Inc.; Adjunct Professor, Entrepreneurship Program, Columbia Business School; Director, Thomas Publishing Company; Former Director of Technology, IBM Japan.

Discussant: K. C. Park, Former CEO, eMagin Corp.; Former Executive VP, LG Electronics; Former Managing Director, Technical Operations Group, IBM.
Moderator: Hugh Patrick, R.D. Calkins Professor of International Business Emeritus; Director, CJEB.
Professor Myers and Mr. Park posited that traditional performance metrics for technology companies – in particular patents, R&D investment, and low cost labor – don’t explain the success of South Korea's Samsung and LG. They speculated that more influential factors were government policies to heavily invest in technology and a business management culture which promoted and exploited foreign-educated managers.
Co-sponsored with the Center on Japanese Economy and Business.
  • The Economic-Security Nexus in Northeast Asia

  • 7 March 2013 


Speaker: T. J. Pempel, Jack M. Forcey Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. Moderator: Charles Armstrong, Director, Center for Korean Research
Professor Pempel gave a fascinating and wide-ranging talk on the economic and security dynamics in East Asia, first laying out the historical and contemporary tensions that exist in East Asia; its increasing economic interdependency, which tends to reduce tensions; the absence of war since the Korean Armistice in 1953 and Cambodia-China-Vietnam in 1979; and the many effects of China’s rise to being the number two economic superpower on the planet.  Regarding the latter, he outlined the bilateral security tensions with China, particularly with Japan and the United States, concluding that China’s rise will be accompanied by an inevitable change to the status quo, but that this shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a threat.
Co-sponsored with the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

Challenges and Prospects of the Korean Economy

7 November 2012

  • Speaker: Hiwhoa Moon, President, Chungmu Forum; Adjunct Professor of Economics, GSIS, Korea University.  Moderator:  Sue Mi Terry, Senior Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute.
  • Professor Moon noted that major issues for South Korea’s economy include job creation and recovery of past growth momentum.  He sees a gloomy forecast for the near future due to the ongoing crisis in Europe, but the medium-term and long-term outlooks depend on the ability of the government to strategize effectively in such an environment.
  • Co-sponsored with The Weatherhead East Asian Institute



The Politics of Deepening Economic Reform and the Role of the State in China

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Jean-Francois Huchet, Professor, School of China Studies, National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations

The Rivalry Between China and Japan for the Economic and Strategic Leadership in Asia

Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Co-sponsors: The Alliance Program, The Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Claude Meyer, Associate Professor of International Economics, Sciences Po, Paris; Senior Fellow, GEM-Sciences-Po



  • China's Labor Practices in Zambia

  • Monday, 27 February 2012
  • Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the Institute of African Studies 
Phelim Kine, Senior Asia Researcher, Human Rights Watch
Matt Wells, Africa Researcher, Human Rights Watch

Impact of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on Foreign Businesses: the Thai Experience

Thursday, 26 January 2012
Speaker: Medhi Krongkaew, Commissioner, National Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand
Moderator: Hugh Patrick, Director, CJEB


  • Recent Development and Next Focus in China's Democratic Governance

  • Monday, 14 November 2011
  • Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR)
Yu Keping, Professor and Director, China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics (CCCPE); Professor and Director, Center for Chinese Government Innovations, Peking University
Moderator: Andy Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor, Columbia University


China in the World Economy

Thursday, 27 October 2011
Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the School of International and Public Affairs 
Fu Jun, Executive Dean, School of Government, Peking University
Moderator: Murray Rubinstein, Senior Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute


  • Capital Punishment in China and the United States

  • Tuesday, 27 September 2011
  • Co-sponsors: The Society for Chinese Law and The Weatherhead East Asian Institute 
Ji Dianpeng, Director, Beijing Jingdian Law Firm; Adjunct Professor, Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Zhongnan University of Economics and Law


  • Report on a Visit to North Korea

  • Thursday, 22 September 2011
  • Co-sponsors: The Center for Korean Research  and The Weatherhead East Asian Institute  
Charles Armstrong, Director, Center for Korean Research, Columbia University
Abraham Kim, Vice President, Korea Economic Institute
James Person, Program Associate, North Korea International Documentation Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

China’s Foreign Policy: The Return of “Great Powers?”  A European View

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the European Institute

François Godement, Professor, Sciences Po; Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations.


Process Driven or Process Challenged? ASEAN and East Asian Regionalism

Monday, 25 April 2011

Co-sponsor: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute

Alice Ba, Associate Professor, Political Science & International Relations, University of Delaware; Moderated by Elizabeth Wishnick, Adjunct Associate Research Scholar, WEAI



The Australian Miracle:  Abandoning and Overtaking the U.S., As It Joins the China Club

Monday, 11 April 2011

Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the I Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business

Robert Gregory, Professor of Economics, Research School of the Social Sciences, The Australian National University Moderatored by Shang-Jin Wei, N. T. Wang Professor of Chinese Business and Economy; Director, The Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business, CBS



Sino-Indian Relations: Reality and Prosperity

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the India China Institute, The New School

Hu Shisheng, Deputy Director, Senior Researcher, Institute of South and Southeast Asian Studies, China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations. Moderated by Robert Barnett, Assistant Professor, Contemporary Tibetan Studies; Director, Modern Tibetan Studies Program.



Is China Evolving Into a Mafia State?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Co-sponsor: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute

John Garnaut, China Correspondent, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Moderated by Xiaobo Lu, Professor of Political Science, Barnard College.



Upstream and Downstream on the Mighty Amur:  Environmental and Political Challenges for China, Mongolia and Russia 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Co-sponsor:  The Weatherhead East Asian Institute

Darron Collins, Director of Creative Assets and Managing Director for the Amur, World Wildlife Fund; Elizabeth Wishnick, Adjunct Associate Research Scholar, WEAI; Associate Professor of Political Science, Montclair State University



Social Welfare in China: Policy and Practice

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Co-sponsor: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute

Catherine Keyser, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Drew University; Arthur Kleinman, Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University; David Roye, The Livingston Professor of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, Columbia University Moderated by Myron Cohen, Professor of Anthropology; Director, WEAI



Climate Change and the Mekong River:  Implications for Regional Stability

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Earth Institute China 2049 as part of the workshop series “Environmental Flashpoints on China's Frontiers"

Kevin Anchukaitis, Lamont Assistant Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Brendan Buckley, Lamont Associate Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Marc Levy, Deputy Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory



When A Billion Chinese Jump:  Why the World's Worst Environmental Crisis is Forcing Beijing onto a New Path of Development

Friday, 11 June 2010

Co-sponsors: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Earth Institute China 2049

Jonathan Watts, Asia Environment Correspondent, The Guardian; Former President, Foreign Correspondents' Club of China. Moderated by Yao Lu, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Columbia University.



Recent Violence in The Philippines

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Co-sponsor: Southeast Asian Student Initiative (SEASI)

Lotta Hedman, Senior Research Fellow at IDEAS, the London School of Economics and Political Studies, discussed the growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) within the Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago regions of the Philippines. By looking at the historical context of these Southern regions, from violent conflicts in the 1970s to the ‘Total War’ in 2000, Hedman argued that the key to understanding the high levels of IDPs stems from the...



Fighting Corruption in Thailand: Thaksin as a Case

Monday, 5 April 2010

Co-sponsor: Southeast Asian Student Initiative

Medhi Krongkaew, a Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Thailand, discussed the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in Thailand, the need for the NACC, and how the NACC has impacted the government of Thailand.

The impetus for a special organization to handle public sector corruption occurred in 1975, after Thailand moved from a military dictatorship to a democracy. Unfortunately, because the agency was not...



Thailand's Crisis: Who Cares About the Economy?

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Co-sponsor: The Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) as part of the “Global Financial Crisis” series

Duncan McCargo, Professor of Southeast Asian Politics, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds gave his views about the economy and the tumultuous political situation in Thailand. Despite the global economic downturn, Thailand has been convulsed since mid-2008 with internal political problems which have culminated in dramatic and highly damaging events such as the November 2008 Bangkok airport occupation...

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Is China a New Growth Engine for the World Economy?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Co-sponsor: WEAI as part of the “Global Financial Crisis” series

Columbia Law School professors Benjamin Liebman and Owen Nee, SIPA professor Daniel Rosen and Business School professor Shang-Jin Wei made their observations about China and its role in the world economy to an overflow crowd. Professor Nee began the discussion by explaining the transformation of the Chinese attitude toward foreign investors. It has become much more difficult for foreigners to enter the Chinese market because...

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Impact of the Global Crisis on Cambodia’s Politics and Economy

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Co-sponsor: WEAI as part of the “Global Financial Crisis” series

Kheang Un, Assistant Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University, spoke about the impact of the global financial crisis on the economics and politics of Cambodia. Although it was not greatly affected by the 1997 economic crisis in East Asia, over the past decade it has become integrated into the global and regional economy. As a result, the 2008 crisis has greatly affected Cambodia's economy,...



Political Tsunamis and Financial Meltdowns: Malaysia and the World

Monday, 30 November 2009

Co-sponsor: WEAI as part of the “Global Financial Crisis” series

Thomas Pepinsky, Assistant Professor of Government and Faculty Member of the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University, talked about the political economy of crises and transitions, using Malaysia as his case study. The 'standard story' about the relationship between economic crises and political crises is that usually one precedes the other. An economic crisis may lead to a political crisis. Likewise, many economic crises are...


Policy Responses to Bubbles in Japan and the U.S.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Co-sponsors: Center on Japanese Economy and Business (CJEB), WEAI, as part of the “Global Financial Crisis” series

David Weinstein, Carl S. Shoup Professor of the Japanese Economy, Columbia University and Associate Director of Research at the Center on Japanese Economy and Business (CJEB), discussed central banks’ monetary policy responses to recent bubbles in the U.S. and Japan. Specifically, he examined lessons from the 1989 Japan bubble and their application to the current financial crisis.

Comparing the activity on the Nikkei...


Global Crisis and Exchange Rates in East Asia

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Co-sponsors: CJEB, WEAI as part of the “Global Financial Crisis” series

Takatoshi Ito, Professor at the Graduate School of Economics at The University of Tokyo and former Deputy Vice Minister for International Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, Japan, spoke about the effect of the recent global financial crisis on East Asian currencies at SIPA. Professor Ito first pointed out that during the height of the financial crisis, no Asian countries went to the IMF for assistance, nor suffered serious...


Korea's Exit Strategy

Monday, 12 October 2009

Co-sponsor: WEAI, as part of the “Global Financial Crisis” series

Doowon Lee, Professor, School of Economics, Yonsei University and WEAI Visiting Scholar gave a presentation about Korea’s response to the financial crisis of late 2008. Korea had a capital account deficit of $50.9 billion and current account deficit of $6.4 billion, it had to pay back $10 billion to U.S. banks, and its stock market lost about a third of its value between September and November 2008. However, it fared better than...


Resurgent China: Issues for the Future

Monday, 21 September 2009

Co-sponsor: Greater China Initiative, School of International and Public Affairs

Mr. Nazrul Islam, Senior Economic Affairs Officer at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, reviewed the topics in a recently published book he edited, “Resurgent China: Issues for the Future”. After three decades of fast economic growth, China is now the world’s largest exporter and second largest economy (in PPP terms), and is expected to become the largest economy in the world. Mr. Islam explored the...


Indonesia 2015: Demography, Geography and Spending for the Next Decade

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Co-sponsor: SEASI

Wolfgang Fengler, Senior Economist, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management from The World Bank in Jakarta gave a presentation regarding government spending priorities in Indonesia. The talk was moderated by Professor Michael Buehler of WEAI.

Dr. Fengler said that recent public expenditure trends have been alarming because subsidies to targeted industries like electricity and fuel have been crowding out social service spending. However, Fengler was mostly positive, pointing...


Islam, Elections, and Politics in Indonesia

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Co-sponsor: SEASI

Robin Bush, Director of The Asia Foundation, Jakarta, discussed recent election results in Indonesia, and broader trends within Islam in Indonesia. The talk was moderated by Professor Michael Buehler of WEAI.

During the recent April 10 elections, the four Islamic parties tallied only 5 - 8% each, totaling about 26%. This vote signified confidence in the ruling Democratic party, and a drastic reduction in support for the Islamic parties.

Dr. Bush believed the Islamic parties’...


Their Moment in the Sun: Indonesia’s New Gangster Politicians

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Co-sponsor: SEASI

Mr. Loren Ryter, Visiting Scholar and Lecturer at the University of Michigan, gave a presentation on the presence of former gang members, or “premans”, in the Indonesian parliament. The talk was moderated by Professor Michael Buehler of WEAI.

During the Suharto era, there were many youth organizations (Organisasi Kelompok Pemuda, or OKP in Indonesian) that supported the ruling party, Golkar. After Suharto resigned, the former leaders of OKPs were in a good position to campaign...


Language Shift and Language Death in Island Southeast Asia

Monday, 20 April 2009

Co-sponsor: SEASI

James T. Collins, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Northern Illinois University, presented his research at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs regarding the change of language patterns in Indonesia. The talk was moderated by Professor Michael Buehler of WEAI.

After studying Indonesian language use for 30 years, Professor Collins has determined that there are 600-800 languages spoken in the country. A reason for the existence of...


Timor-Leste Since the 1999 Referendum

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Co-sponsor: SEASI

John M. Miller, National Coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, gave a presentation at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs regarding the development of East Timor as an independent state. The talk was moderated by Professor Michael Buehler of WEAI.

Mr. Miller spoke about East Timor’s long road towards independence, first from Portugal in 1975 and then finally from Indonesia in 2001. Miller also highlighted several events that...


ASEAN and the USA: Moving Forward Amidst Crises

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Co-sponsor: SEASI

Simon Tay, Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore and Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, presented his views on the future of ASEAN and the possibility of re-establishing cooperation with the U.S. Tay said that, under the Bush administration, the U.S. had neglected ASEAN relations. With the advent of the Obama administration, Tay wondered if ASEAN would get more attention. If so, which issues will take priority? According to...


Language Regimes and State-Building in Southeast Asia

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Emory University political science Ph.D. candidate Amy Liu presented her dissertation project examining language regime choice in Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan. She argued that governments choose to share linguistic powers when the threat of state destabilization is high. The talk was moderated by Professor Michael Buehler of WEAI.

Liu characterized language regimes as institutions that affect individual behavior. Due to this institutional nature of language regimes, politicization of the...


Gendered Punishment and Punitive Memory in Democratic Kampuchea

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Co-sponsor: SEASI

Trudy Jacobsen, ARC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Monash Asia Institute and the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, described gender roles in Cambodia during the time of the Khmer Rouge and beyond. The panel was moderated by Professor Michael Buehler of WEAI.

When the Khmer Rouge came to power, they endorsed gender equality. However, since they didn’t make an effort to change the traditionally patriarchal attitudes in general, they made very little progress...


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