The 1st EASP Workshop for Post-Graduate Students, “East Asian Social Policy in Transition: Theory and Evidence” took place on 25 February 2022. The workshop was held online via Zoom and the metaverse platform Gather Town, which was chosen to facilitate interaction among participants. The total of almost 90 registered delegates included 27 student presenters pursuing their post-graduate degrees in mainland China, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The workshop began with an opening address by Prof. Jae-jin Yang (Yonsei University), who reminded the post-graduate participants that the EASP is a network set up by graduate students like themselves in January 2005. This was followed by remarks by Prof. Young Jun Choi (Yonsei University), Chair of EASP as well as one of the founding members of the network. Prof. Choi stressed the importance of social policy in face of challenges such as technological transformations, climate change, and the global pandemic. In addition, he stressed the value of building networks among young researchers to build up their research and to encourage each other along the way.

The opening ceremony was followed by plenary speeches by two distinguished speakers, Prof. Sophia Seung-yoon Lee (Chung-Ang University)and Prof Alex Jingwei He (The Education University of Hong Kong). In her talk, ‘Ideal Types of Social Policy Researchers’, Prof. Lee introduced her own path as an academic and her many roles including as Vice Chair of the Office for Government Policy Coordination’s Committee for Youth Policy Coordination. She then proposed three essential dimensions of an ideal social policy researcher in terms of ‘3 Rs’: Academic Rigorousness, Social Responsibility, and Creativity. She encouraged students to find mentors who they could look to as reference points for building their own ideal types along their academic journey. Prof. He, in his talk entitled, ‘Charter the Waters of Multidisciplinary Social Policy Research’, started off by highlighting why it is worthwhile to study social policy and gave practical advice for thesis-writing, such as positioning one’s research in an academic discipline and the importance of being aware of different types of theoretical frameworks. In addition, Prof. He gave advice on making journal publications from his perspective as associate editor of Policy & Society and Journal of Asian Public Policy.

The plenary was followed by a total of nine parallel panels, each with three student presenters. Presentation topics included long-term care policies, active ageing, active labour market policies, social security systems, multi-dimensional poverty, citizen and community participation, employment policies and income security policies for precarious workers, housing policy, basic income, intergenerational justice, health policy, social investment, among many others. In each session, two mentors, experts in each subject, provided constructive feedback and comments on the postgraduate students’ presentations. Most of the mentors are current members of the EASP committee, and Dr. Rod Hicks and Dr. Ahyoung Song participated as mentors. EASP would like to express special thanks to all the mentors who participated.

In addition, participants were able to discuss informally in the virtual ‘common room’, and ‘dining hall’ during breaks. Although we did not meet in-person, this event showed that it is possible to have academic exchanges and informal meetings in the new metaverse space. Of course, EASP hopes to see everyone in person at the next workshop.

Report for the 1st EASP Workshop for Post-Graduate Students