Professor Ligang Song is the Director of the China Economy Program, Crawford School of Public Policy.
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Professor Ligang Song is in esteemed company, being named in the top 250 researchers across Australia in the Australian’s 2024 Research Magazine. He expresses his surprise at receiving this honour, determined by both the quality of research and its impact, which includes the number of scholarly citations the research receives in the past five years.
Professor Song is closing in on 30 years at the Australian National University after completing his PhD at the Crawford School of Public Policy in 1994. His research work since then focuses on China, international trade and development, the global economy, institutions and post pandemic recovery.
He says part of his drive for research relating to China is to try to understand the nature and significance of the Chinese economic transformation which has profoundly impacted on China as well as the rest of the world and share the knowledge and research outputs to a wider audience including students as well as policy makers. A key way he’s done this is through his involvement in organizing the annual China Update conference since 1998. Through his diligent efforts, the China Update has established a longstanding reputation as a premier event in the field. As part of the update, he has been consistently involved in editing the update book series (with a total of 21 volumes being published so far) which is made available through an online open-access by ANU Press to attendees to the update conferences and a global audience from more than one hundred countries. This year’s update is running over two days (23 and 24 November) for the first time and will be held in person after more than three years of pandemic restrictions.
The bookshelves in his office are filled with books he’s written and edited, in English and those translated into simplified Chinese. One piece of work he’s particularly proud of is the co-edited book China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018, which has been downloaded more than 210,000 times by July 2023 according to statistics provided by ANU Press.
Professor Song’s research is significantly shaped by his teaching, with journal articles frequently stemming from his courses. He emphasizes the importance of imparting current knowledge to new students, and the effectiveness of this approach is evident. Professor Song currently teaches, in Arndt-Corden Department of Economics (ACDE), Issues in Development Policy (IDEC8003), which provides students with some foundational analytic tools for addressing core issues in economic development today. This graduate course has attracted student enrolments from different Master degree programs in economics and economic policies across campus. He’s also teaching The Economics of Incentives and Institutions (IDEC8081), which is aimed at understanding how institutions affect economic performance over time by examining the interrelationship between incentives and behavioural changes and the role of institutions in societal progress more broadly.
An essential aspect to know about Professor Song is his humility, patience, and diligent work ethic. His driving force in life is to ‘do things well’, a lesson he says he learned from his late father, as well as staying focused and always being curious. Notably, Professor Song is the first academic in his family, adding another layer to his dedication and commitment to excellence.
Congratulations on your achievements, Professor Ligang Song, from all of us here at Crawford!