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CLALS | North America Research Initiative

Robert A. Pastor North America Research Initiative

Canadian and Mexican Visions of North America

November 8-9, 2017 | University of Ottawa

Relations between Canada and Mexico have always been the weakest side of the North American triangle. However, as the likelihood of some sort of renegotiation of NAFTA increases, the bilateral relationship is taking on new importance. Though many in Ottawa preferred a dual-bilateral approach, President Trump's hard line has made it clear that the two countries share certain interests in protecting the status quo and advancing cooperative solutions on environment, investment, and trade. In its third meeting, the Robert A. Pastor North America Research Initiative will explore Canadian and Mexican priorities and strategies across a range of themes. What will the countries seek to include or exclude for a renegotiation of continental relationships-- both within and beyond NAFTA? What are the points of convergence and contestation between Mexico and Canada? How might the two states deal with the giant on their doorstep, and what might be the impacts of reforms on trajectories of integration? 

Auditorium filled with audience members listen to a panel discussion

The North American Idea in a New Era of Global "Backlash"

March 30-31, 2017 | Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas

In March 2017, fifteen scholars from Mexico, Canada and the United States convened in Mexico City at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) as part of the Robert A. Pastor North America Research Initiative (NARI), which aims to catalyze the emergence of a new generation of social scientists devoted to the study of the region. The two-day workshop explored sources and manifestations of “backlash” against regional integration and cooperation in North America and beyond. Informed by short memos analyzing backlash in historical and comparative contexts, scholars considered questions of identity and nationalism; potential directions for trade and environmental policies; and patterns of human migration throughout North America and policies to manage population flows. The presence and visibility of actors advocating enhanced cross-border cooperation, particularly at a moment when such cooperation is being challenges, was a central theme throughout the discussion. In addition to seminar discussions among the early career scholars participating in the Initiative, several senior Mexican intellectuals were invited to deliver informal presentations during panels held over the course of the two days: Blanca Heredia (of CIDE) framed backlash as a symptom of the end of the global liberal order, while Carlos Elizondo Mayer-Serra (of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education) contextualized Mexico’s economic nationalism in the country’s experience of a rapid pace of globalization during the past three decades. Carlos Heredia (of CIDE), in turn, led a discussion of how scholarly interventions can shape policy. A public panel discussion at the Mexican diplomatic academy—the Insituto Matías Romero—explored the ties that bind the peoples and governments of North America even in the most turbulent of times. With nearly fifty diplomatic academy students in attendance, the event provided a valuable occasion to disseminate scholarly insights developed under NARI auspices to a broader public in Mexico City, thus fulfilling the Initiative’s objective of informing understanding of contemporary North American issues beyond academe.

Inaugural Workshop

A group of people gather in a library in front of a public panel

October 27-28, 2016 | American University

In October 2016, CLALS and the School of International Service convened a group of thirteen emerging scholars from Mexico, the United States, and Canada for the inaugural workshop of the Robert A. Pastor North American Research Initiative. Over the course of two days, scholars engaged in several roundtable discussions thematically focused on three areas of the new agenda for North America: economic and financial integration; migration and the challenges of social integration; and regional policy coordination. These discussions were informed by short memos written by each scholar, providing a starting point for a digital forum of shared knowledge on the various topics related to the North American idea, extending the exchange of information beyond the initial workshop. 

Scholars also had the opportunity to participate in an opening dialogue with the former US Ambassador to Mexico, Earl Anthony Wayne, regarding the dynamics propelling (or dissuading) North American (dis)integration. Drawing on his diplomatic and policy experience, Ambassador Wayne encouraged scholars to employ a multi-disciplinary approach as a way to explore both theoretical and policy-based issues surrounding the new agenda for North American integration. The workshop was further invigorated by a public panel hosted at the Mexican Cultural Institute, titled “Beyond the ‘Three Amigos’: Where’s the North American Agenda Now?” Moderated by Tom Long, four participating scholars engaged in a lively discourse, touching on themes such as linking value chains, pathways to integrating energy policies, the local impacts of migration, and articulating a North American agenda in an era of anti-globalization rhetoric. The panelists also answered audience questions from members of the AU and larger DC policymaker community. 

The Pastor Initiative will continue to support the production, exchange, and dissemination of innovative social science research devoted to the North American region and its potential. Biannual meetings and additional thematic workshops are currently being developed, placing the Pastor Initiative and American University at the forefront of a long-term research agenda that will inform future policy on North America.

About the Initiative

American University’s School of International Service (SIS) and CLALS have launched an initiative to promote and disseminate cutting edge social science research focused on processes of North American integration. Starting in fall 2016, AU will convene a select group of early career scholars who will explore North American progress toward the ideal of integration championed by the late SIS Professor Robert A. Pastor. By supporting the production, exchange, and dissemination of innovative social science devoted to the region and its potential, the Robert A. Pastor North America Research Initiative (NARI) places AU at the forefront of a long term research agenda that will inform future policy on North America.

The University will recruit 6–9 early career scholars from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere who have conducted research on North America either in their doctoral dissertations or in subsequent work. Their research will include a wide range of topics including those related to political economy, development, inequality and trade; migration; the rule of law; and the role of regional cooperation in ameliorating inequality and insecurity, advancing democracy, and reducing disparities among and within the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Scholars will meet twice a year to share their research, develop new ideas, and brainstorm about promising new directions for scholarship, advocacy, and policy. Each year, NARI will sponsor a high-profile public event to raise awareness of challenges and opportunities for North American integration. We hope through this effort to build a community of scholars dedicated to generating scholarship and defining the research agenda on North American integration for coming decades.

About Robert A. Pastor

Robert A. Pastor

Robert A. Pastor was Professor of International Relations and Founding Director of the Center for North American Studies and the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. Combining a career in government, non-governmental organizations, and academe, Dr. Pastor was Director of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs on the National Security Council (1977-81), Consultant to the State and Defense Departments, and was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be Ambassador to Panama. He was Co-Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on North America, and was a Member and Executive Director of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker, III.

Dr. Pastor was a Fulbright Professor at El Colegio de Mexico, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia, and a Visiting Professor at Harvard University, where he received his PhD in Government and an MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. From 1986 to 2002, Dr. Pastor was Professor at Emory University and Fellow and Founding Director of Programs on Latin America, Democracy, and China Elections at The Carter Center, as well as serving as a Senior Advisor to the Center on conflict resolution in the Middle East. As Interim Co-Director he helped establish The Elders, a group of twelve statespersons, led by Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and Jimmy Carter, from 2007-08.

From 2002-07, Dr. Pastor was Vice President of International Affairs at American University where he transformed and expanded the study abroad program, helped establish the American University of Nigeria, and initiated new programs on language immersion and “Abroad at AU.” He served as a Member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Nigeria and of the American University of Afghanistan.

Dr. Pastor was the author or editor of seventeen books, including The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future and A Century’s Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World. His books won four national awards and, along with his written articles, have been cited extensively in major policy venues throughout the world.

Co-sponsored by the School of International Service and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies