Death and Survival: cultures of governance

15 Sep 2020

8:00 – 9:50 p.m. (GMT +08:00)

Prof. Daniel WEINSTOCK

Professor in Faculty of Law, McGill University, Director of McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy and Katharine A. Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy in the Faculties of Law and of Arts, McGill University, Canada

Daniel Weinstock is the Katharine A. Pearson Chair in the Faculty of Law and the Department of Philosophy at McGill University. He also held a James McGill Professorship at McGill from 2013 to 2019. He was the Director of McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy from 2013 to 2020. Before moving to McGill in 2012, he was a Professor in the Department of Philosophy of the Université de Montréal, where from 2000 to 2012 he held both Tier 1 and Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs. He was the Founding Director of the Centre de recherche en éthique de l’Université de Montréal.

He studied Political Science and Political Philosophy at McGill University, where he received a BA and an MA, between 1980 and 1986. He received a DPhil in Political Philosophy from Oxford University, where he studied between 1986 and 1991. From 1988 to 1989, he was a visiting doctoral student at Harvard University. He completed postdoctoral work in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University in 1991-1992, before joining the faculty of the Department of Philosophy of the Université de Montréal in 1993.

Expertise vs. Democracy in Setting Policy in Public Health Emergencies

Abstract: This paper will examine the rival claims of expertise and of democracy in setting policy in the context of public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, there is prima facie plausibility to the claim that decisions made in such context should be “depoliticized”, and should be guided by science. On the other, it is problematic from the point of view of an even minimally democratic political ethics to sideline the voice of citizens and of their representatives completely. This paper will attempt to achieve a coherent synthesis of the rival intuitions at the basis of the “science v. democracy” debate. It will draw on examples that embody both sides of this debate: Sweden on the one hand, where public health authorities are granted authority over decision-making as a matter of constitutional law, and Canada, where both democracy and federalism act as significant normative pressures alongside scientific evidence.

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Prof. Jamer HUNT

Associate Professor of Transdisciplinary Design and Vice-Provost for Transdisciplinary Initiatives, The New School

Jamer Hunt collaboratively designs open and adaptable frameworks for participation that respond to emergent cultural conditions—in education, organizations, exhibitions, and for the public.He is the Vice Provost for Transdisciplinary Initiatives at The New School (2016-present), where he was founding director of the graduate program in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons School of Design (2009-2015). He is also Visiting Design Researcher at the Institute of Design in Umea, Sweden. He is the author of Not to Scale: How the Small Becomes Large, the Large Becomes Unthinkable, and the Unthinkable Becomes Possible (Grand Central Publishing, March 2020), a book that repositions scale as a practice-based framework for analyzing complex systems. Fast Company has named him to their list of “Most Creative People.”  With Paola Antonelli at the MoMA he was co-creator of the award-winning, curatorial experiment and book Design and Violence (2013-15). He has published over twenty articles on the poetics and politics of design, including for Fast Company and the Huffington Post, and he is co-author, with Meredith Davis, of Visual Communication Design (Bloomsbury, 2017).

A Virus at Scale: Struggling with the Infinitesimal, the Immaterial, and the Insensible

Abstract: Over 15 million cases. Over 600,000 dead. Trillions of dollars spent. Is there something inherent in large numbers that thwarts our capacity to emotionally process quantities this vast? Or do our brains and bodies reject what exceeds our capacity to comprehend? One way of understanding this is that we are living through a new age of scale, abetted by digital networks, and this is why we find ourselves adrift at times, incapable of making sense of facts, figures, and fatalities. Cause and effect are no longer as reliably coupled, and our own confidence in the possible has been shattered. This is the scalar paradox of this global pandemic: something that we cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste is killing us in large numbers, chasing us back into our homes, decimating our economies, and threatening to unravel our already fragile civil societies in the process. In this presentation I will suggest that we rethink the idea of scale for a digital age if we are to make sense of what is already becoming unimaginable.

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Prof. David LYON

Professor of Sociology, Queen’s University and Queen’s Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, Canada

David Lyon is Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Educated at the University of Bradford UK, Lyon has been studying surveillance since the mid-1980s. A pioneer in the field of Surveillance Studies, he has produced a steady stream of books – translated in to 18 languages – and articles starting with The Electronic Eye (1994). The latest is The Culture of Surveillance (2018) and he is completing Surveillance: A Very Short Introduction. He has led several large collaborative research projects on surveillance, with research funding totalling almost $8 million. His work has been recognized in Canada, Switzerland, the USA and the UK with a number of fellowships, prizes, awards and an honorary doctorate.

Personal Data, Surveillance and Contagion

Abstract: Amid the array of digital surveillance devices proposed and established to respond to COVID-19, digital modes of contact tracing have been hotly debated around the world in the past few months. The idea is that labour-intensive manual contact-tracing could be speeded up considerably, and thus COVID-19 infection rates slowed, using smartphone apps. As with other such systems, the privacy of personal data is often raised as an objection, leading proponents to propose protective measures to mitigate such risks. But the issues are more complex. The recent rise of surveillance capitalism means that how data are collected, analysed and used changes the conditions from one in which “privacy” may be viewed as a useful term, to one demanding not mere “protection” for individuals, but data justice. The twofold problem, I suggest, is that surveillance is far more complex than popularly imagined and that neither citizens nor specialists seem to grasp this. Addressing this problem is a priority, requiring imaginative and cooperative solutions.

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Prof. Ka Ho MOK

Vice President & Dean of School of Graduate Studies, Lam Man Tsan Chair Professor of Comparative Policy, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Professor Joshua Mok Ka-ho is the Vice-President and concurrently Lam Man Tsan Chair Professor of Comparative Policy of Lingnan University. Before joining Lingnan, he was the Vice President (Research and Development) and Chair Professor of Comparative Policy of The Hong Kong Institute of Education, and the Associate Dean and Professor of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences of The University of Hong Kong. Prior to this, Professor Mok was appointed as the Founding Chair Professor in East Asian Studies and established the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

Professor Mok is no narrow disciplinary specialist but has worked creatively across the academic worlds of sociology, political science, and public and social policy while building up his wide knowledge of China and the region. Professor Mok completed his undergraduate studies in Public and Social Administration at the City University of Hong Kong in 1989, and received an MPhil and PhD in Sociology from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1991 and The London School of Economics and Political Science in 1994 respectively.

In addition, Professor Mok has published extensively in the fields of comparative education policy, comparative development and policy studies, and social development in contemporary China and East Asia. In particular, he has contributed to the field of social change and education policy in a variety of ways, not the least of which has been his leadership and entrepreneurial approach to the organisation of the field. His recent published works have focused on comparative social development and social policy responses in the Greater China region and East Asia. He is also the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Asian Public Policy (London: Routledge) and Asian Education and Development Studies (Emerald) as well as a Book Series Editor for Routledge and Springer.

COVID-19 and Governance: A Study of Citizen Perceptions and Evaluations of Governments’ Crisis Management

Abstract: In late 2019, China began to experience the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Setting out the context of anti-COVID-19 pandemic, the research team at Lingnan University conducted research related to city governance in combatting the global health crisis. Based upon a survey examining how citizens in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) in South China reacted, this paper discusses the crisis management of city governments in the GBA when managing the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper also shows how GBA citizens compare city government performance when handling the emergence of crisis. The paper contributes to the debates on cities and governance, especially when citizens’ approving rate would have affected social cohesion and future development.

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The opinions expressed by the speakers represent their own views, and do not reflect HKBU’s position.


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