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Lisa Sundstrom
Faculty Associate, Liu Institute for Global Issues; Associate Professor, Political Science
Office: Liu Institute for Global Issues, Room 307
Office Phone: (604) 822-6331


Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom (PhD, Stanford University) joined the department of Political Science in 2002 and teaches courses in international relations and comparative politics. Her regional area of expertise is Russia and the former Soviet Union, and her major research interests include democratization, human rights, the politics of international democracy assistance, and NGO activism in both domestic and transnational politics. She also maintains a research interest in comparative climate policy. Her 2006 book from Stanford University Press is based on extensive interview research, concerning the influence of foreign assistance programs on the development of women's and human rights NGOs in Russia. She recently published a book, co-edited with colleague Kathryn Harrison, on the comparative politics of climate policies (MIT Press, 2010). Ongoing research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, examines Russian human rights NGOs' interactions with the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights, and the impact of those interactions on NGOs themselves and human rights practices in Russia. She has just begun working on two new SSHRC-funded research projects. The first, a pilot study collaborating with Laura Henry of Bowdoin College, explores how NGOs from the BRICs countries are engaging with new, multistakeholder global governance mechanisms, and how their participation may differ from that of Western/ Northern NGOs. The second project, collaborating with Valerie Sperling of Clark University, seeks to answer the puzzling question of why there are so few gender discrimination cases being submitted to the European Court of Human Rights from Russia (and comparatively in other Council of Europe member states) among the tens of thousands of Russian cases before the Court.

Teaching (recent courses)

Poli 390: Honours Seminar on Comparative Democratization (most recent syllabus)

Poli 464A: Global Civil Society and NGOs in International Politics (most recent syllabus)

Poli 334: Comparative Democratization (most recent syllabus)

Poli 516A: Issues in Comparative Politics: Comparative Democratization (most recent syllabus)

Graduate Supervision

I am most interested in supervising student theses on topics of democratization, authoritarianism, civil society, Russian/ post-Communist politics, Western aid, and NGOs in global politics.

Current and recent MA students:

•    Lynn Hancock (MA 2012) – explaining variations in levels of academic dissent in surrounding countries in the wake of the Arab Spring.

•    Ryan Freiburger (MA 2010) -- exploring relationship between strength of civil society and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

•    Daria Boltokova (MA 2009) -- explaining variations in indigenous language revival across Russia's national republics.

•    Freddy Osorio-Ramirez (MA 2008) -- investigating the relationship between legitimacy and democratic stability, examining Ecuador as a case.

•    Melanie Butler (MA 2008) -- Orientalist narratives of national and individual identity in Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.

•    Jessica Pautsch (MA 2007) -- the coming crisis of environmental refugees and why states have not reacted.

•    Rodolfo Franco (MA 2006) -- explaining the relative strength of democracy norms in regional organizations (examining the OAS primarily, with comparison to the EU, ASEAN, and African Union).

•    Kristin Cavoukian (MA 2006) -- nationalist struggles of "third" ethnic groups, caught between two larger groups (cases of Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks).

•    Steven Noakes (MA 2005) -- horizontal networks and social movement cohesion (case of the Falun Gong).

•    Anne-Lise Loomer (MA 2005) -- civil society's growing involvement in the UN system (case studies of disease eradication campaigns).

•    Kim Swanzey (MA 2004) -- The causes of Islamic extremist dissent in Central Asia.

Current PhD students:

•    Mendee Jargalsaikhan – explaining the domestic regime reactions of small Asian communist states at the end of the Cold War.

•    Yana Gorokhovskaia – the role of local elections in competitive authoritarian regimes, with Russia as a case.

•    Priya Bala-Miller -- explaining when large institutional investors engage corporations on human rights conduct in conflict zones.

•    Anastasia Salnykova -- deliberative capacity in ethnically divided democracies, focusing on Ukraine as a case.

•    Ana Lukatela (PhD 2014) -- gender mainstreaming policies in United Nations agencies' country teams in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania.

•    Kristi Kenyon (PhD 2013) -- why NGOs choose to frame health issues as human rights issues, examining African HIV/ AIDS NGOs as cases.

•    Olga Beznosova (PhD 2013) -- opposition and dissent in petro-states, focusing on Russia as a case.

•    Catherine Hecht (PhD 2012) -- Inclusiveness and status in international organizations: Cases of democratic norm development and implementation in the UN and CSCE/OSCE.   

Recent Publications

Articles and Chapters:

•     “Advocacy Beyond Litigation: Examining Russian NGO Efforts on Implementation of European Court of Human Rights JudgmentsCommunist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (September 2012): 1-18.

•    “Russia’s Climate Policy: International Bargaining and Domestic Modernisation,” co-authored with Laura A. Henry, Europe-Asia Studies 64.7 (September 2012): 1297-1322.

•    "Russian Women's Activism: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back," in Women's Movements in a Global Era, edited by Amrita Basu (Westview Press, 2010). This volume is a sequel to a highly successful and widely cited previous volume edited by Basu (The Challenge of Local Feminisms, Westview Press, 1995).

•    "Western Aid and the State-Society Balance in Novgorod and Khabarovsk," co-authored with Olga Beznosova, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 56, no. 6 (November/ December 2009): 21-35.

•    "The Comparative Politics of Climate Change," co-authored with Kathryn Harrison. This is the introductory overview chapter for a special issue of Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 7, no. 4 (November 2007).

•    "Russia and the Kyoto Protocol: Seeking an Alignment of Interests and Image", co-authored with Laura A. Henry, Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 7, no. 4 (November 2007).

•    "Russia and the Kyoto Protocol in Comparative Perspective," co-authored with Laura A. Henry, in Global Climate Treaties: Risks and Benefits for Russia and Other Countries, published in both Russian and English (Moscow: Environmental Projects Consulting Institute and Environmental Defense, 2006), pp. 19-30. Laura Henry and I were invited by Alexander Kosarikov, Deputy Chair of the Ecology Committee in the Russian State Duma to contribute this chapter.

•    "Hard Choices, Good Causes: Weighing Options for Canada's Distribution of Overseas Democracy Assistance," Policy Matters, Vol. 6, no. 4 (September 2005). Available on the website of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (

•    "Foreign Assistance, International Norms, and Civil Society Development: Lessons from the Russian Campaign," International Organization, Vol. 59, no. 2 (spring 2005): 419-49.

•    “Carrots and Sticks for Democracy in the OAS: Comparison with the East European Experience,” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 10, no. 3 (2003).

•    “Limits to Global Civil Society: The Gaps between Western Donors and Russian NGOs,” in Global Civil Society and Its Limits, edited by Sandra Halpern and Gordon Laxer (Palgrave Publishers, 2003).

•    “Women’s NGOs in Russia: Struggling from the MarginsDemokratizatsiya, Vol. 10, no. 2 (Spring 2002).

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