Headshot of Steven Lewis

Steven W. Lewis

C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow | Jesse Jones Leadership Center Summer Intern Program Coordinator


Steven W. Lewis, Ph.D., is the C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow of the China Studies Program at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and faculty coordinator for the Jesse Jones Leadership Center Summer in D.C. Policy Research Internship Program. He is also a professor in the practice for the Department of Transnational Asian Studies in the School of Humanities at Rice University, associate director of the Chao Center for Asian Studies, which he helped found in 2008, and affiliated faculty in the Program in Politics, Law and Social Thought. 

His research explores the growth of a transnational Chinese middle class; the influence of public service advertisements in new public spaces in Chinese cities and global cities in general; the rise of China’s digital content economy; the relationship between science and religion in the views of scientists in Chinese-cultural societies and around the world; the development of privatization experiments in China’s localities; and the reform of China’s energy policies, national oil companies and international energy relations. Through the China Studies Program at the Baker Institute, which he helped found in 1998, Lewis has organized research conferences and presentations on advertising and subway culture with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, on energy cooperation with the Institute for Energy Economics Japan and on energy relations with the American Institute in Taiwan. He also has worked with the Center for Energy Studies as the organizing researcher for the Northeast Asia Energy Cooperation Workshops, the Coastal Cities Summit surveys of public opinions on energy and environmental issues in US and Chinese cities, and U.S.-China-Middle East energy relations conferences.

Lewis has also been advisor to the Science Collaboration Across Borders initiative of the Science and Technology Policy Program, and the International Space Medicine Summit of the Space Policy Program and the Baylor School of Medicine. He has also served as chief liaison between the Baker Institute and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations. He is the creator of the Subway Advertisement Archive of more than 4,000 images of commercial and public service advertisements in subways in Beijing, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Singapore, and Taipei of the Rice Ephemera Archive project of Fondren Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. More recently he has worked with research associate Brandon Zheng to create a 3,000-image archive of political advertisements from Beijing and Shanghai streets collected from 1998 to 2019, also at the Fondren Center for Digital Scholarship. He has conducted research and given briefings for the US State Department, the National Bureau of Asian Research, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the World Bank, and the Korean Economic Institute, among others. Lewis has been an associate fellow of Asia Society International, an editorial board member of Asia Policy and an academic advisor to the U.S.-China Working Group of the U.S. House of Representatives, in addition to testifying twice before the US-China Economic Security Review Commission. He co-authored Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Think About Religion (Oxford University Press: 2019), has chapters in multiple volumes by Cambridge University Press and Routledge, and has more than 50 other academic publications in scholarly journals and with policy institutes. 

He has received research grant funding from the Henry R. Luce Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Templeton World Charity Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Motor Company, Coopers & Lybrand and Anne and Albert Chao. He was also one of two faculty, with Richard J. Smith, coordinating the effort to create the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice, with an endowment from the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation, and he worked with colleagues to fund the CV Starr Foundation Transnational China Fellow endowment at the Baker Institute, and also used a grant from Houston Endowment, and many other donors, to endow the Jesse Jones Leadership Center Summer in DC Policy Research Internship Program, which he started in 2004. 

He received his doctorate in political science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Contact at swlewis@rice.edu or 713-348-5832.