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WAGE awards three research collaborative grants related to globalization

April 10, 2008

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE) announces the three winners of its research collaborative competition, each receiving $100,000 during a three-year period.

Through these awards, WAGE seeks to catalyze cutting edge research on important challenges related to globalization and its governance. The three collaboratives cover the critical topics of import safety, energy and biofuels, and the changing role of law and the state in economic development.

Professors John Ohnesorge (law), Gay Seidman (sociology) and Aseema Sinha (political science) serve as principal investigators for the first collaborative, titled “Governance in Economic Development: Law, Politics and the Role of the State.” This collaborative analyzes ways in which the role of the state is being reinterpreted and renegotiated in response to globalization and how more interventionist states will interact with today’s highly globalized international economy. They build on the observation that the era of the “Washington Consensus” is over and the activist, interventionist state appears to be making a comeback around the developing world. Four countries lie at the core of this project: Brazil, India, China, and South Africa.

The second collaborative, “Governing New Conflicts in Global Energy Futures,” will be led by Professors Tracey Holloway (environmental studies, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, civil and environmental engineering), Bernard Lesieutre (electrical and computer engineering), Greg Nemet (La Follette School of Public Affairs and environmental studies) and Paul Wilson (engineering physics). This project will investigate emerging conflicts arising from changing energy policies, examine how they relate to existing global governance mechanisms and assess the preparedness of those mechanisms for tackling these new conflicts. They will pursue three parallel themes: new competition among energy, food and water as in the case of biofuels; constraints imposed by global environmental agreements on energy options; and security concerns driven by inequities in energy resources and technology distributions.

The third collaborative focuses on “Managing Challenges of Import Safety in a Global Market” and builds on expertise housed in the College of Engineering, Law School, School of Business, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the School of Human Ecology. It is led by Professors Vicki Bier (industrial and systems engineering and engineering physics) and Stephanie Tai (law) and will examine market, regulatory and hybrid approaches to managing risk from contamination of food commodities in the global supply chain. This project will evaluate the relative capacity of national regulatory systems, international standards and market forces to provide, individually or in various combinations, the necessary resources and incentives to address the problem of product safety through efficient testing, inspection and quality control. In the process, this project seeks to identify cost-effective, risk-based strategies for inspection, auditing and sampling of imported food.

These interdisciplinary collaboratives will enrich the campus community by bringing in distinguished visitors, holding conferences, advancing important research questions, developing critical Web and data resources, training graduate students and sharing their expertise with the businesses, government and the public of Wisconsin.

More than 17 additional faculty and academic staff members from across the university already have signed on to participate in these projects in various capacities, and the research and related activities of the collaboratives will build on the expertise of of UW-Madison’s area studies and other specialized centers.

To learn more about WAGE and its ongoing activities, contact Alison Alter, WAGE associate director, at abalter@wisc.edu or (608) 262-9774.

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