My research and teaching is driven by concerns about global inequality and injustice and the search for strategies to motivate citizens and governments to act on these challenges. I work in the Department of International Development Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, where I am currently the Graduate Program Director.
For much of my academic career my research has focused on the popular political struggles in Latin America. Since 2003 I have been conducting research on Indigenous struggles for self-governance in Bolivia. As part of that research I published a book on Indigenous and peasant struggles to democratize rural municipal governments in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru: Struggles for Local Democracy in the Andes (Lynne Reinner Press, 2009). My PhD (Political Science, York University, 2003) focused on the historical context for municipal democracy in Ecuador. My MA (Latin American Studies, Simon Fraser University, 1996) focused on community organizing in the poblaciones (shantytowns) of Santiago, Chile in the period immediately following the end of the Pinochet dictatorship.
I am also very concerned about the ways in the ways in which ordinary people in the global North (wealthy countries) understand and act in relation to the global South. A growing area of research for me focuses on the ethical principles of cosmopolitanism and global citizenship and the challenges of motivating ordinary people to act on these principles. I am also very interested in the ways in which international development is represented in the global North by non-governmental organizations, governments and the media – and how those representations influence public understandings of development.
My teaching highlights the principles of global citizenship: the positive ethical duties to help others in need and the negative ethical duties to not cause harm in the first place – including contributions to harm that may be indirect, unintended and a result of the cumulative actions and inactions of many people. Through my first year introductory course ‘Halifax and the World’ I try to help students to understand global justice as intimately connected to every aspect of their daily lives – not as something that happens (or not) only in other, distant parts of the world. In my upper year courses, I help students to develop the critical analytical skills and practical abilities to act on the principles of global citizenship.
I am also highly committed to supporting and strengthening International Development Studies in Canada and globally as an interdisciplinary field of study that prepares students to engage in critical analysis of the factors that create and reproduce poverty, inequality and injustice as well as to develop the practical skills to address these challenges in their work as professionals and citizens. I served as the Chair of the IDS Department at Dalhousie from 2010-2016, as the President of the Canadian Consortium of University Programs in International Development Studies (CCUPIDS) from 2012-2014, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) from 2011-2014.
Please find my CV here.