Jing SUN

PhD CandidateExam Committee: Frederick R. Dickinson (advisor), Siyen Fei, Walter A. McDougall

Modern Japan, East Asia, World History

My dissertation is tentatively titled "Nurturing a Robust Society: Japan in the Making of a Global Science of Nutrition, 1908-1951." It examines Japan’s role in the emergence and development of a global science of nutrition in the first half of the twentieth century. Based on a variety of primary sources in Japan, Switzerland and the U.S., it engages the following questions: how did nutrition science emerge and develop in early twentieth-century Japan? In what way did Japanese discussions about food and nutrition engage with and contribute to global debates over nutrition science? What do Japanese discussions reveal about the world and the Japanese society and culture in the first half of the twentieth century?

My dissertation argues that nutrition science emerged from a transnational scholarly discussion of the role of food in improving health and curing disease. Japan was an active participant in this discussion and represented an emerging twentieth-century global society that featured transnational knowledge circulation and intellectual cooperation. As the first country to establish a national research institute for nutrition science and a professional college to train nutritionists, Japan championed the institutionalization of nutrition science and pioneered its global development. Moreover, nutrition science was a subject of widespread interest in Japan. Politicians, bureaucrats, soldiers, agriculturalists, schoolteachers and housewives all embraced the scientific knowledge of nutrition to improve quality of life and create a robust society. Thus, nutrition science, most often tied to wartime mobilization in modern Japan, is more appropriately viewed as a critical pillar in the global quest for scientific knowledge and social welfare.


B.A. International Politics, Peking University, China (2013)
B.A. International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, Japan (2013)
M.A. Asia-Pacific Studies, Peking University, China (2016)
M.P.P. Campus Asia Program, The University of Tokyo, Japan (2016)

Research Interests

Political, military and social history of Modern Japan; Food history; Global science of nutrition; Interwar history

Courses Taught

TA/Grader: American Diplomatic History since 1776 (2017Fall); Comparative Capitalist Systems (2018Spring); Modern American Culture (2018Fall); History of Modern China (2019Spring).