The Tobias Center is a resource for U.S. and international research and teaching activity on international development, with emphasis on the following research areas:
The lead scholar is Assistant Professor of International Studies Stephen Macekura, a historian with a particular focus on political economy, international development, U.S. foreign relations, and environmentalism. His 2015 book Of Limits and Growth: The Rise of Global ‘Sustainable Development’ in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press) analyzes how environmental NGOs struggled to implement environmental protection measures in the developing world in the 1950s and 1960s and then critiqued and reformed the development policies of the U.S. government, World Bank, and UN system in the 1970s and 1980s.
Identifying partnerships with a growing roster of international investors in the private sector
The lead scholar is Assistant Professor of International Studies Sarah Baurle Danzman, whose primary field of interest is the political economy of international investment and finance. She researches how domestic and multinational firms influence and adapt to investment regulation, and how rules governing capital shape global networks of ownership and production. Danzman’s current book project considers the conditions under which domestic firms will support policies of openness toward foreign direct investment. In the manuscript, she develops a theoretical argument that emphasizes the importance of the local and global financing environment as structuring firms’ positions toward liberalization.
Examining development options to address climate change and other environmental issues
The lead scholars are Jessica O’Reilly & Jessica Steinberg. Assistant Professor of International Studies, O’Reilly is an environmental anthropologist who studies how scientists and policy makers participate in environmental management, both in regards to the Antarctic environment and global climate change. Her book The Technocratic Antarctic: an Ethnography of Scientific Expertise and Environmental Governance (2017) is an ethnographic account of the scientists and policymakers who work on Antarctica and unfolds the historical, political, and moral contexts that shape experiences of and decisions about the Antarctic environment.
Assistant Professor of International Studies, Steinberg has conducted field work in Congo-Brazzaville, DRC, Zambia, and Mozambique -- regions of natural resource extraction, conflict, and aid provision. Her research centers on understanding strategic dynamics in regions of limited state presence, where a firm, a charity or a rebel group plays a relevant role. The interaction among this third actor, the population, and the government yields puzzling outcomes, ranging from legitimate authority of non-state actors, to tacit agreements between supposed enemies, such as local governments and rebel groups.
Examining development options to address global public health
The lead scholar is Assistant Professor of International Studies Yan Long, a political and organizational sociologist with research interests in the evolution of transnational institutions and their impact on existing forms of domination and resistance. Long’s research into how transnational AIDS institutions shape domestic politics of public health will be published in the forthcoming book Side Effects: The Transnational Doing and Undoing of AIDS Politics in China. Long also studies long-term medical care and chronic diseases in China, and how macro-level changes in medical care policies affect the concepts of disease, illness, and sickness on an individual level.