PhD student wins a Canada-US Fulbright Award

David Sarai, a doctoral candidate in political science at York, has won a Canada-US Fulbright Award to research the US Treasury Department in Washington, DC.

                                     Right: David Sarai

Canada-US Fulbright Awards offer students and scholars in Canada and the United States an opportunity to explore contemporary issues relevant to both countries as well as to the relationship between the two countries.

Sarai is focusing on the historical development and internationalization of the US Treasury Department. He became interested in the US role in the global economy while completing his MA at York in international relations. Unlike other nations, the US has not experienced globalization as a “golden straitjacket” — a phrase coined by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman — that subordinates governments to the dictates of the global economy. Instead, the US seems to be leading globalization. “I became interested in what role the US was playing in globalization and that led me to an examination of US federal institutions, of which the most important is the Treasury Department.”

Sarai quickly discovered very little had been written in Canada about the US Treasury Department and questioned whether he should pursue the topic as his thesis. But his advisers Stephen Gill and Leo Panitch encouraged him. “This was an opportunity to look at something that had not been looked at before.” With help from York reference librarian Amanda Wakaruk, he discovered some American government documents but not enough to do a thesis. Doing research in the US “would be absolutely essential for this project.”

Now, thanks to the Fulbright, he is ensconced in an apartment in Washington, only a 15-minute walk from the Treasury. “It’s very exciting,” he says. He is delving into documents daily at the Treasury library and the National Archives. “Not only do I get to look at primary documents, I also get to do interviews with Treasury officials,” says Sarai.

Sarai says, given the US impact on the global economy and how closely integrated Canada’s economy is with that of the US, more work needs to be done by Canadian political scientists on American power and influence.

The Canada-US Fulbright Awards is a bi-national program supported by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the US State Department and a large number of public- and private-sector partners.