photo: Susan Aaronson

Susan Ariel Aaronson

Research Professor of International Affairs, GWU Cross-Disciplinary Fellow, and Senior Fellow, Center for International Governance Innovation
604 B
Address: Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW
Phone: 202-994-7974
Fax: 202-994-5477

Areas of Expertise

International trade and investment agreements; digital trade; digital rights and Internet governance; cyberstability and cyber insecurity; protectionism; good governance, anticorruption, and transparency; conflict and human rights; economic growth and human rights 

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Susan Ariel Aaronson is Research Professor of International Affairs and GWU Cross-Disciplinary Fellow at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. She is also a Senior Fellow at the think tank Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Canada. In the past two years, Aaronson was also the Carvalho Fellow at the Government Accountability Project and the former Minerva Chair at the National War College. Aaronson’s research examines the relationship between economic change and human rights. She is currently directing projects on digital trade and protectionism, labor rights provisions in trade agreements; and examining the effects of a decline in labor rights upon economic and political stability in the industrialized world. Her work has been funded by major international foundations including MacArthur, Ford, and Rockefeller; governments such as the Netherlands, U.S., and Canada; the UN, ILO, and World Bank, and U.S. corporations including Ford Motor, Google, and Levi Strauss. Dr. Aaronson is a frequent speaker on public understanding of globalization issues and international economic developments. She regularly comments on international economics on "Marketplace" and was a monthly commentator on "All Things Considered," and "Morning Edition." She has also appeared on CNN, the BBC, CBC, and PBS to discuss trade and globalization issues. Aaronson was a Guest Scholar in Economics at the Brookings Institution (1995–1999); and a Research Fellow at the World Trade Institute 2008-2012.
Dr. Aaronson is a member of the Freedom Online Coalition (24 governments working on digital rights); the Advisory Board for Human Rights Under Pressure (a doctoral program funded by the German and Israeli government to teach human rights); and the Advisory Board of Business and Human Aaronson is also the Director of the eBay Policy Scholars (a masters fellowship on digital trade). In recent years, she has been a pro-bono advisor to the UN Special Representative on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights, and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She has also consulted for the ILO; the World Bank; Free the Slaves; the Ford Foundation; the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; the Progressive Policy Institute the Stanley Foundation; several corporations; and the governments of Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands, among others. In her spare time, Aaronson enjoys triathlons and ballet.

Current Research

  • Digital Trade and Digital Protectionism 
  • China's data driven economy
  • Cyber-security and cyber-insecurity
  • New approaches to labor rights to address worker insecurity
  • Labor rights provisions in trade agreements
  • The decline in labor rights and its implications for economic growth and political stability


Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University


Dr. Aaronson is the author of six books and numerous articles on trade, human rights, international investment; public private partnerships; globalization, corporate social responsibility; and public understanding of economic change. Her books include:

Dr. Aaronson has also written two primers on trade: "Trade is Everybody's Business" for high school students and "Are there Trade Offs When Americans Trade?" for adults. These books relate trade to citizens' daily lives.

Recent publications:

Classes Taught

HIST 6031 History of International Economic Systems: the WTO and the Bretton Woods Institutions

IAFF 6198 Special Topics in International Trade and Investment Policy

  • Trade Issues and Strategies
  • Digital Trade and Global Governance Issues
  • Corruption, Development and Good Governance