Professor Huck-ju KwonFAcSS

  • Development Studies
  • Social policy

Professor, Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University 

Professor Huck-ju Kwon was conferred to the Fellowship of the Academy in spring 2024. He is a Professor at the Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University, and his research focuses on forging connections between comparative social policy and development studies. In recent years, his work has explored the interdisciplinary field of governance, focusing on social protection and international development assistance in developing countries. His current ESRC-funded research project focuses on Human Security and Public Policy Challenges in a Post-Covid World.

Through a series of books and academic articles, Professor Huck-ju Kwon has investigated innovative policy approaches that utilise the developmental welfare state model to foster economic development, social inclusion, and democratic progress simultaneously. While working at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), he co-edited the book series “Social Policy in a Development Context,” which has had a significant influence on social policy studies in developing countries. His research has also delved into strategies for building effective public institutions that can deliver social protection programmes in fragile states. His recent book on Social Conflict and Making Public Policy (written in Korean) was awarded as one of best academic publications in 2022 by the Korean National Academy of Science.

In addition, Professor Huck-ju Kwon has co-edited Global Social Policy since 2003; served on the International Advisory Board of the Journal of Social Policy; and served as Vice-President of the Research Committee 19 on Poverty, and Social Welfare and Social Policy of the International Sociological Association. He also served as the President of the Korean Association of International Development and Cooperation between 2019-2020; and on a number of government committees in the Republic of Korea, including the Prime Ministerial Committed of Government Evaluation and Ministerial Commission on the Civil Service Pension Reform, and the Ministerial Commission on Performance Evaluation of Public Enterprises.

Find out more about Professor Huck-ju Kwon

Why do the social sciences matter?

Our society thrives on collaboration, enabling individuals to work together for a better quality of life and achieve shared goals. However, this cooperative spirit is not without its challenges. Inevitably, social conflicts arise as individuals hold diverse viewpoints on various societal issues. It is precisely these collaborative and conflicting interactions that social science seeks to understand.

The social sciences hold immense value in their pursuit of fostering better collaboration and identifying acceptable solutions to social conflicts. However, the complexities of the human experience, exemplified by ongoing wars in various parts of the world, pose significant challenges to the success of these endeavours.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

While I relish my academic life, conducting research and guiding students in the classroom, I also actively engage in public discourse on pressing societal issues. I believe public policy scholars have an important responsibility to strive for positive societal change, balancing social obligation with scientific rigour and objectivity. As a specialist in social development, I am particularly interested in exploring policy frameworks that can effectively integrate economic development, social inclusion, and democratic progress.

What is the most urgent issue social scientist need to tackle today and within the next three years?

One of the most pressing issues demanding the attention of social scientists today is the unprecedented shift in demographic structure, specifically the rapid emergence of super-aged societies. South Korea serves as a prime example, experiencing the lowest fertility rate (0.77 in 2022) and the highest proportion of elderly population (40.4% in 2022) among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Addressing this issue necessitates a multifaceted approach, encompassing a re-evaluation of gender roles and family care responsibilities, along with reforms to the welfare state and labour market to effectively adapt to these societal transformations. Furthermore, reimagining the future of work and life, particularly in the context of increasing automation with AI-controlled robots in workplaces and homes, will become a critical issue in the coming years.

What does being a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science means to you?

Being elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science is a profound honour for me. It signifies not only recognition by a distinguished community of scholars for my contributions to the field, but also a significant milestone in my academic journey. This esteemed fellowship motivates me to further champion the crucial role of social science in addressing contemporary challenges and fostering positive societal development. Additionally, as the first Korean Fellow of the Academy, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to bridge the gap between Korean and British social scientists by fostering and promoting collaborative research endeavours.