Ben Bissell is a 2013-2014 Henry Luce Scholar currently working at East China Normal University’s Population Research Institute in Shanghai, China. His current work involves analyzing geographic disparities in educational attainment and educational equity in China. He also assists in other projects focusing on the migration patterns of overseas Chinese and the urban experiences of Shanghai’s elderly.
Ben grew up as one of four in a boisterous Jewish household in the small town of Fairfax Station, Virginia. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a double major in Politics Honors and Russian Language. His academic interests are varied, but have centered on the interaction between demographic phenomena, such as aging or urbanization, and the stability of political regimes. At UVa, he created and taught his own credited undergraduate class, entitled “An Introduction to Political Demography,” and started a demography blog, “The Face of Things.” He has presented original research on aging and political stability at the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference. He also wrote a thesis on ethnic re-identification and strategic depth in the former Soviet Union using age cohorts between the 1989 Soviet Census and later republic censuses. Research for his thesis led him abroad to Russia, where he translated Soviet Censuses using the Critical Language Scholarship.
Proficient in Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew, Ben is an avid language learner. After finishing his year in China, he hopes to continue working before pursuing a PhD in Demography with a concentration in Epidemiology. In his free time, he loves to read, play Dance Central, and eat sushi.
Ben can be reached at BenBissell@urbanistdispatch.com