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Digital Trade and Global Internet Governance

Gain an appreciation of how policymakers and private actors struggle to keep the Internet stable, open and trustworthy.

Today we work, study, consume, and find our soul mate online. The Internet has become an essential platform as well as an engine for economic development, trade, and the protection of human rights. But the Internet is not always a force for good; the Internet has also become a platform for cyber-enabled theft, trade in illegal products such as drugs; and trade in exploits, botnets, and private information. Some governments even wage war online.

Although the Internet has become central to our lives, most of us have little understanding of how it works and how it should be governed. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt noted that “the Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand.” Former President Bill Clinton once likened the web to “jello” and warned that no government could control it.

The first part of the course will focus on defining the internet and learning about ideas, international mechanisms, and institutions for internet governance.We will then focus on how policymakers use trade policy to regulate the internet. Next we will examine issues regarding the internet such as online copyright, and privacy, human rights online, surveillance; and explore cyber-enabled theft and cyber-insecurity. We will gain new insights into the role of trust and human rights online. In so doing we will gain an appreciation of how policymakers and private actors struggle to keep the internet stable, open and trustworthy.


Your Instructor


Susan Aaronson
Susan Aaronson

Susan Ariel Aaronson is Research Professor at The George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and the former Minerva Chair at the National War College. Aaronson’s research examines the relationship between economic change and human rights.

She is currently directing projects on digital trade and digital rights, repression and civil conflict, trade, trust and transparency; and whistleblowers as human rights advocates. Her work has been funded by major international foundations including MacArthur, Ford, Rockefeller; governments such as the Netherlands, US, and Canada; the UN, ILO, and World Bank, and US corporations including Ford Motor and Levi Strauss.

Dr. Aaronson is a frequent speaker on public understanding of globalization issues and international economic developments. She was a regular commentator on "All Things Considered" in 1994–1995, "Marketplace" from 1995–1998, and "Morning Edition" from 1998-2001. She has also appeared on CNN, the BBC, and PBS to discuss trade and globalization issues. Aaronson was a Guest Scholar in Economics at the Brookings Institution (1995–1999); and a Research Fellow at the World Trade Institute 2008-2012.

Dr. Aaronson is the Treasurer of Giganet (the association of scholars working on the Internet); a member of Working Group 2 of the Freedom Online Coalition (24 governments working on digital rights); the Advisory Board for Human Rights Under Pressure (a doctoral program funded by the German and Israeli government to teach human rights); and Business and Human Rights.org.

Aaronson is also the Director of the eBay Policy Scholars and is working with Professor Esther Brimmer to develop a new international affairs curriculum on international Internet issues for graduate schools of foreign affairs. In recent years, she has been a pro-bono advisor to the UN Special Representative on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights, and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

She has also consulted for the ILO; the World Bank; Free the Slaves; the Ford Foundation; the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; the Progressive Policy Institute the Stanley Foundation; several corporations; and the governments of Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands, among others.


Class Curriculum



Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.

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