photo: Susan Aaronson

Susan Ariel Aaronson

Research Professor of International Affairs
Suite 50
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; transparent trade policymaking; corruption and development; Internet governance; internet freedom; economic growth and human rights, global corporate social responsibility


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Susan Ariel Aaronson is Research Professor of International Affairs and a Cross-Disciplinary Fellow at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. She is currently the Carvalho Fellow at the Government Accountability Project and was 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 digital rights, repression and civil conflict; trade, trust and transparency; and whistleblowers at international organizations such as the UN and WIPO. 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 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," "Marketplace," and "Morning Edition." She has also appeared on CNN, the BBC, 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 Working Group 2 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 and worked with Professor Esther Brimmer to develop a new international affairs curriculum on international Internet issues for GWU. 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

  • Trade Agreements, Digital Rights and Internet Governance
  • Repression, civil conflict and leadership tenure
  • Whistleblowers and International Organizations
  • Making Trade Policy More Transparent and Accountable


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

IAFF 6505 Corruption, Development and Good Governance