Professor Sundstrom is on sabbatical leave during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom (PhD, Stanford University) joined the department in 2002 and teaches courses in international relations and comparative politics. Her regional area of expertise is Russia and the former Soviet Union, and her major research interests include democratization, human rights, the politics of international democracy assistance, and NGO activism in both domestic and transnational politics. She also maintains a research interest in comparative climate policy.

Her 2006 book from Stanford University Press was based on extensive interview research, concerning the influence of foreign assistance programs on the development of women’s and human rights NGOs in Russia. She also published a book, co-edited with colleague Kathryn Harrison, on the comparative politics of climate policies (MIT Press, 2010). Ongoing research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, examines Russian human rights NGOs’ interactions with the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights, and the impact of those interactions on NGOs themselves and human rights practices in Russia.

Two recent SSHRC-funded research projects are currently culminating as book manuscripts underway. The first, co-authored with Laura Henry of Bowdoin College, explores how NGOs from the BRICS countries are engaging with new, multistakeholder global governance initiatives on climate, forest certification, corporate social responsibility, and HIV/AIDS. Based on in-depth field research in Russia and secondary research on the other BRICS countries, the book examines variations in NGO participation in global governance initiatives, as well as how NGOs mediate their diverse domestic contexts in implementing global initiative principles and policies.

The second book, collaborating with Valerie Sperling of Clark University, investigates the puzzling question of why there are so few gender discrimination cases being submitted to the European Court of Human Rights from the Council of Europe states in general, and Russia in particular, despite tens of thousands of other types of case applications from Russia and plenty of gender discrimination taking place in the country. With comparative analysis of gender discrimination cases and violations in Turkey, as well as LGBT discrimination cases emerging from both countries, the analysis identifies the key roles of activist lawyers who are specially trained in gender discrimination and the ECtHR, as well as systematic data-gathering to substantiate discrimination claims, in the rare successful cases.

I am most interested in supervising student theses on topics of democratization, authoritarianism, civil society, Russian/ post-Communist politics, Western aid, and NGOs in global politics.
Current and recent MA students:

• Lynn Hancock (MA 2012) – explaining variations in levels of academic dissent in surrounding countries in the wake of the Arab Spring.

• Ryan Freiburger (MA 2010) — exploring relationship between strength of civil society and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

• Daria Boltokova (MA 2009) — explaining variations in indigenous language revival across Russia’s national republics.

• Priya Bala-Miller (MA 2009) — varying forms of mobilization and representation and their relationship to “voice accountability” in internet advocacy campaigns.

• Freddy Osorio-Ramirez (MA 2008) — investigating the relationship between legitimacy and democratic stability, examining Ecuador as a case.

• Melanie Butler (MA 2008) — Orientalist narratives of national and individual identity in Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.

• Jessica Pautsch (MA 2007) — the coming crisis of environmental refugees and why states have not reacted.

• Rodolfo Franco (MA 2006) — explaining the relative strength of democracy norms in regional organizations (examining the OAS primarily, with comparison to the EU, ASEAN, and African Union).

• Kristin Cavoukian (MA 2006) — nationalist struggles of “third” ethnic groups, caught between two larger groups (cases of Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks).

• Steven Noakes (MA 2005) — horizontal networks and social movement cohesion (case of the Falun Gong).

• Anne-Lise Loomer (MA 2005) — civil society’s growing involvement in the UN system (case studies of disease eradication campaigns).

• Kim Swanzey (MA 2004) — The causes of Islamic extremist dissent in Central Asia.
Current and recent PhD students:

• Mendee Jargalsaikhan – explaining the domestic regime reactions of small Asian communist states at the end of the Cold War.

• Yana Gorokhovskaia – the role of local elections in competitive authoritarian regimes, with Russia as a case.

• Priya Bala-Miller – explaining when large institutional investors engage corporations on human rights conduct in conflict zones.

• Anastasia Salnykova – deliberative capacity in ethnically divided democracies, focusing on Ukraine as a case.

• Ana Lukatela (PhD 2014) — gender mainstreaming policies in United Nations agencies’ country teams in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania.

• Kristi Kenyon (PhD 2013) — why NGOs choose to frame health issues as human rights issues, examining African HIV/ AIDS NGOs as cases.

• Olga Beznosova (PhD 2013) — opposition and dissent in petro-states, focusing on Russia as a case.

• Catherine Hecht (PhD 2012) — Inclusiveness and status in international organizations: Cases of democratic norm development and implementation in the UN and CSCE/OSCE.


Global Commons, Domestic Decisions: The Comparative Politics of Climate Change, co-edited with Kathryn Harrison. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010. I co-authored the introduction and conclusion with Harrison and the chapter on Russia with Laura Henry.

Funding Civil Society: Foreign Assistance and NGO Development in Russia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

Russian Civil Society: A Critical Assessment, edited by Alfred B. Evans, Jr., Laura A. Henry, and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom. Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2005. My contributions include co-authoring the introductory and concluding chapters and sole-authoring a chapter on soldiers’ rights organizations in Russia. The book is a wide-ranging and in-depth introduction to contemporary Russian civil society and how it has developed over time. Contributors include Western political scientists who are well-known experts on Russian civil society.

Articles and Chapters:

Russian NGOs and the European Court of Human Rights: A Spectrum of Approaches to Litigation.” Human Rights Quarterly 36(4) (2014): 844–68.

Advocacy Beyond Litigation: Examining Russian NGO Efforts on Implementation of European Court of Human Rights Judgments.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45 (September 2012): 1-18.

Russia’s Climate Policy: International Bargaining and Domestic Modernisation,” co-authored with Laura A. Henry, Europe-Asia Studies 64.7 (September 2012): 1297-1322.

“Russian Women’s Activism: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back,” in Women’s Movements in a Global Era, edited by Amrita Basu (Westview Press, 2010). This volume is a sequel to a highly successful and widely cited previous volume edited by Basu (The Challenge of Local Feminisms, Westview Press, 1995).

“Western Aid and the State-Society Balance in Novgorod and Khabarovsk,” co-authored with Olga Beznosova, Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 56, no. 6 (November/ December 2009): 21-35.

The Comparative Politics of Climate Change,” co-authored with Kathryn Harrison. This is the introductory overview chapter for a special issue of Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 7, no. 4 (November 2007).

Russia and the Kyoto Protocol: Seeking an Alignment of Interests and Image“, co-authored with Laura A. Henry, Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 7, no. 4 (November 2007).

“Russia and the Kyoto Protocol in Comparative Perspective,” co-authored with Laura A. Henry, in Global Climate Treaties: Risks and Benefits for Russia and Other Countries, published in both Russian and English (Moscow: Environmental Projects Consulting Institute and Environmental Defense, 2006), pp. 19-30. Laura Henry and I were invited by Alexander Kosarikov, Deputy Chair of the Ecology Committee in the Russian State Duma to contribute this chapter.

“Hard Choices, Good Causes: Weighing Options for Canada’s Distribution of Overseas Democracy Assistance,” Policy Matters, Vol. 6, no. 4 (September 2005). Available on the website of the Institute for Research on Public Policy (

Foreign Assistance, International Norms, and Civil Society Development: Lessons from the Russian Campaign,” International Organization, Vol. 59, no. 2 (spring 2005): 419-49.

“Carrots and Sticks for Democracy in the OAS: Comparison with the East European Experience,” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 10, no. 3 (2003).

“Limits to Global Civil Society: The Gaps between Western Donors and Russian NGOs,” in Global Civil Society and Its Limits, edited by Sandra Halpern and Gordon Laxer (Palgrave Publishers, 2003).

“Women’s NGOs in Russia: Struggling from the Margins,” Demokratizatsiya, Vol. 10, no. 2 (Spring 2002).