Research Center for Medical Sociology

The Research Center for Medical Sociology was established at the end of 2004 as a result of long and active participation of Tsinghua University in dealing with the emerging public health problems in China. For a long time, the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV/AIDS were perceived as medical problems alone and its sociopolitical origins were explored merely in terms of deviant and risk behaviors. Tsinghua University has played a crucial role in changing this widespread attitude by applying perspectives from social sciences, legal studies, women’s studies, human rights studies, and ethnic minority studies to policy recommendations, professional training, project evaluations, base-line studies, and situation analysis.

In the past years, experts from the legal studies, sociology, public policy, psychology, and journalism at Tsinghua have combined forces and actively participated in conducting research, training, and policy development in the field of public health. During the SARS epidemic in 2003, the natural and social sciences faculty of Tsinghua formed a technical and policy advisory team in service to the decision-making of the Central Government and Beijing Municipal Government charged with containing the epidemic.

Tsinghua has selected several priority areas of public health for scaling up our applied research, professional training and public service. Currently there are two general hospitals, a center for the study of aging, a task force on children’s diet and nutrition, a training program for hospital administrators and a student major in medical sociology at Tsinghua.

On November 2003,the former US President Mr. Bill Clinton joined senior Chinese officials and AIDS workers for a Summit on AIDS and SARS at Tsinghua. His speech, along with Dr. David Ho, were widely broadcast on TV and the internet, and contributed to the significance of the event in improving public attitudes towards the HIV/AIDS epidemic in China.

The newly-established HIV/AIDS Policy Research Center at Tsinghua coordinates initiatives across multiple disciplines and institutes involved in the HIV/AIDS work, and with CAI partners. The participating schools include Public Policy and Management, Social Sciences and Humanities, Communication and Journalism, Law and Fine Art.

The Director of the Center is Prof. Jing Jun of Sociology Department. Members of the advisory council include Prof. Li Xiguang, who is Associate Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, Prof. Wang Ming, who is Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy and Management, Prof. Li Dun, who is Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Contemporary China, Prof. Li Qiang, who is Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Wang Chenguang, who is Dean of the School of Law, and Prof. Xue Lan, who is Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy and Management.

The strength of the Center is in the training of the cadres and professional staff, applied research, and legal reform. The main focus of the Center is to apply perspectives from social science, legal studies, women’s studies, human rights studies, and ethnic minority studies, with a special focus on: policy reform, professional training, project evaluation, base-line studies, situation analysis, public service, and legal reforms.

The Center has participated in the National People’s Congress’ revision of China’s “Law on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases,” co-produced “Assessment of China’s Legal Environment for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care”, and organized legislators to come to the Tsinghua Moot Court to attend a series of highly publicized “Legislative Hearings on HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care, and Treatment”.

In terms of policy reform programs, the Center has completed “Report on HIV/AIDS Education among China’s Youth” (for DFID and targeted at the Ministry of Education, February, 2002), “Report on Four AIDS Villages in Central China” (for the Poverty Reduction Office under China’s State Council, July, 2002), and “Institutional Framework of Strategic Planning for HIV/AIDS Prevention” (for the Chinese Communist Youth League, August, 2002).

In terms of public awareness programs, the Center has organized an AIDS & SARS Summit on 10 November 2003, co-sponsored a Forum on HIV/AIDS Reporting (with State Commission of Family Planning, November, 2002), organized the first Conference on Social Sciences for China’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care (with China-U.K. Project Office, January, 2001), a “Law, Policy and AIDS” panel at the first National Conference on STD and AIDS Prevention, Care, and Treatment (November, 2001), and established an AIDS and Public Policy websites (October, 2003).

In terms of professional training programs, the Center has completed the first of a series of planned classes under the Tsinghua-Harvard AIDS Policy Training Program (attended by 26 Chinese and Vietnamese government officials, January, 2004), an AIDS awareness training course for 60 high-ranking Party and government officials selected by the Central Organization Department of the Chinese Communist Party for major promotions upon completion of professional training at Tsinghua and Harvard (October, 2003), the Tsinghua-Harvard AIDS Prevention Workshop in collaboration with the Yunnan Provincial Government (attended by some 100 senior government leaders, April 2004), and HIV/AIDS Policy Workshop at Sichuan Provincial Party School (attended by some 50 middle-level government officials, May, 2004).

In terms of media training, the Center has designed and completed “Media Training Program” for 150 officials from the Ministry of Health to develop awareness of and skills in public relations (July-November, 2003), and designed and taught “News Coverage of AIDS” (May 2003).

In terms of applied research, the Center has completed “Report on Theories and Methodologies for Evaluating HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Projects (November, 2002), launched “Living with AIDS: Tsinghua Oral History Project” (June, 2003), and completed “The Mofan Case: A Chinese City’s Response to HIV/AIDS” (January, 2004).