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One Wise Woman

December 1, 2004

One Wise Woman

Two Fulbrights Awarded to IR Prof to Study NAFTA

By Katherine Yungmee Kim
December 2004

Carol Wise is getting her countries confused. The USC College political economist is leaving for Hong Kong, where she will be working on a “side project:” comparing the economic performances of China and Mexico. “Canada … I mean, China’s productivity rates have doubled Mexico’s in the past ten years,” Wise explains, adding, “I need to keep my countries straight!”

But who can blame her? Wise, an associate professor of international relations, admits herself that she is “pretty transnational.” She has written several books on Latin American economic policies—focusing on Mexico, Argentina and Peru—examining such issues as exchange rate politics, trade strategies and the social impact of financial crises.

And thanks to two Fulbrights awarded to her this year, she will be undertaking a “truly North American project” that will look back at the expectations planted by politicians and policy makers when NAFTA was signed ten years ago, and the realities of domestic social policies in Canada and Mexico today.

Wise argues that NAFTA is responsible for deteriorating social programs in Canada and the increasing poverty gap in Mexico. “I’m looking at two different trends: how domestic social policy has interacted with NAFTA and how the relationship between politics and economics has shaped some of these outcomes.

“The notion that all boats rise together can’t possibly be true,” Wise says. “By definition, integration means there are winners and losers. So this project is a balanced assessment and an attempt to explain what has produced these patterns.”

Steve Lamy, director of the School of International relations says that Wise’s scholarship is “first-rate” and that her research has brought a great deal of attention to USC and the School of IR.

Next February, Wise will depart for Ottawa, where she will hold the Fulbright Chair of North American Studies at Carleton College. The U.S. Department of Education awarded her the Fulbright-Hays Senior Faculty Award and she will use it to complete her research in the fall at the University de los Americas in Puebla, Mexico.