Susan Ariel Aaronson

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Susan Ariel Aaronson

Research Professor; Director, Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub

Research Faculty

Department: Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub


Office Phone: (202) 994-7974
Fax: (202) 994-5477

Susan Ariel Aaronson is a research professor of international affairs and director of the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub. Aaronson conceived of and directs the Hub, which aims to educate policymakers, the press and the public about domestic and international data governance issues from digital trade to public data governance.

Aaronson is also a cross-disciplinary fellow and affiliate at GW’s Institute for International Economic Policy, the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy and the Sigur Center for Asian Studies  She is also a senior fellow at the think tank Center for International Governance Innovation (GIGI) in Canada where she publishes much of her research.

Aaronson is currently directing projects on mapping data governance; and writing on comparative advantage in data;  trade as a tool to counter disinformation; data and national security, and America’s approach to stimulating AI. Her research has been funded by the Hewlett, MacArthur, Koch, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations; 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 and writer on international economic developments. She regularly writes op eds for Barrons.  Aaronson has commented on economics on "Marketplace,  "All Things Considered," Morning Edition," NBC, CNN, the BBC, and PBS.  Previously, Aaronson was a Guest Scholar in Economics at the Brookings Institution (1995–1999); and a Research Fellow at the World Trade Institute 2008-2012. . Aaronson was also the Carvalho Fellow at the Government Accountability Project and the Minerva Chair at the National War College.

GWU is a member of the Public Interest Technology Network and as the designated representative Aaronson works to encourage education and research that facilitates public understanding of technology and technology that serves the public.   She is a member of 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  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.

Senior Fellow, CIGI

GWU Cross-Disciplinary Fellow

former Minerva Chair, National War College

International trade, WTO, digital trade, digital rights, data governance,  good governance, anti-corruption, transparency, economic growth and human rights.

  • Digital Trade and Digital l Protectionism
  • AI and Trade
  • China's data-driven economy
  • A Human rights approach to data
  • Good governance

Mapping domestic and global governance of data; Digital trade agreements; digital protectionism; US AI policies and our data-driven future;  Comparative advantage and data governance; Data governance and national security.

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

Peer-reviewed Scholarly articles

Data is Different and that’s Why the world Needs a new Approach to Governing Cross-Border Data Flows, Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, May 2019. 

Under Review, “Data Can be Dangerous” but Nations disagree on the How and the What,”  Journal of Cyber Policy


Book Chapters

America’s Uneven Approach to AI and its Consequences, in Great Decisions: 2020,  Foreign Policy Association, 

Data is Different, forthcoming in Mira Burri, Big Data and Trade, Cambridge U. Press, 2021


Policy Briefs and Working Papers 

Data is Dangerous: Comparing the Risks that the United States, Canada and Germany See in Data Troves, CIGI Papers No. 241, April 2020

A Plurilateral “Single Data Area” Is the Solution to Canada’s Data Trilemma, with Patrick LeBlond,  September 5, 2019

Data is a Development issue, May 2019, CIGI


Op Eds

Weak Data Protection Puts National Security at Risk, Barrons, August 12, 2020,  

Why we Need a Wicked Problems Agency, The Hill,  7/13/2020

Your personal data is being used to fight COVID-19, but the data market needs transparency, The Hill, April 20, 2020, 
Targeting TikTok, Grindr and FaceApp is not enough – the US needs to lay down the law on data privacy for tech firms, January 26, 2020,

Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University