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SIS Professors Gutner and Egan Combine Research and Practice Through CFR Fellowships

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Michelle Egan and Tamar Gutner

This year, SIS professors Tamar Gutner and Michelle Egan have garnered exciting opportunities through fellowships from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). With the CFR International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars, Gutner is now gaining hands-on experience at the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Egan’s International Affairs Fellowship in Canada has given her the opportunity to study Canada’s interprovincial trade first-hand.

Council on Foreign Relations

The CFR is a non-partisan think tank that aims to “start a conversation in [the US] about the need for Americans to better understand the world.” It has been serving as a resource for global stakeholders and interested citizens since 1921. Only five scholars (including Gutner) have earned the organization’s coveted International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured International Relations Scholars this year, and Egan is the second person to ever receive its new fellowship in Canada.

“The CFR is a well-respected organization,” says Egan. “It’s very prestigious, and I would encourage other colleagues to apply. The fact that two women from SIS recently received the fellowship is equally important.”

Gaining First-Hand Experiences

Both fellowships are aimed at building better links between the scholarly and policy worlds. At the IMF’s IEO, Gutner is working on a team that is evaluating how effectively the IMF collaborates with the World Bank on issues such as gender, inequality, and jobs and growth.  

“My work as a scholar of international organizations and global governance has focused on evaluating these organizations’ performance, while connecting theory with practice,” says Gutner. “That makes this fellowship a perfect fit for me. The IMF is one of the most important international organizations, and the IEO conducts independent evaluations of IMF activities and policies in order to contribute to institutional learning within the IMF and the Fund’s external credibility, so it’s exciting for me to be part of its efforts.”

For her fellowship in Canada, Egan has been conducting research out of York University and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. She has also spent time travelling to different provinces, interviewing state and federal officials for her research.

As a comparativist, she is analyzing the internal trade barriers between Canada’s provinces through the lens of the EU’s and the United States’ internal markets.

“I’m interested in the intersection of federalism and markets, and the country that has some of the largest internal, interprovincial barriers is Canada,” says Egan. “I’m using my knowledge of single markets and trade barriers to compare the internal markets of the EU and the US to Canada.”

Her fellowship presents a unique case study, because, according to Egan, Canadians see provincial barriers as a way of life. In 2016, a case went all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court, in which a Canadian citizen crossed the border to another province to buy cheaper beer and wine before bringing the alcohol back to his home province. He was stopped and fined because he exceeded the amount of alcohol he was allowed to buy. He argued that because the country’s 152-year-old constitution stated that Canada should have an internal free market, he was within his rights, but the Supreme Court ultimately ruled against him.

“You have what we might call ‘nuisance’ regulations, which are protectionist regulations within provinces. The US is constantly battling Canada about this, and the Europeans try to push Canada to liberalize these markets,” says Egan. “Canadians know there’s a problem, but getting action is really difficult.”

Unique Opportunities

Egan’s fellowship gives her the opportunity to engage with Canadian policymakers and business associations on trade issues. She plans to interview the head of the Bank of Canada, former government officials, and specific think tanks, next.

Meanwhile, Gutner’s fellowship allows her access to information, people, and issues that, outside of the IMF, would have been inaccessible: “I get to see how the evaluation process inside the IMF works and gain a richer perspective of how the IMF itself operates.”  

Impact in the Classroom

Both professors want to bring what they learn through the fellowships back into their classrooms. Gutner looks forward to including what she learns at the IMF in her SIS lectures and assignments. She also wants to bring in speakers from the institution.

“I’m quite sure what I’m learning will show up in the classroom, and I’m already asking colleagues at the IMF if they need interns,” says Gutner.

Egan wants to raise the profile of Canadian studies in the US. She will teach a class on the EU in the fall and plans to include a section on the single market in which she will make comparisons to Canada and the US.

“There are very few courses taught on Canadian politics in the United States,” says Egan. “My end goal would be to teach a course on Canadian politics when I’m more knowledgeable about the country.”

Both Gutner and Egan are looking forward to the work they will be conducting through the rest of their CFR fellowships, and their experiences outside the classroom are sure to positively impact their future SIS students.