March 2009 Issue • Volume 37 • Issue 3

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ASA Announces the
2008-09 Congressional Fellow

The ASA is pleased to welcome Sada Aksartova as the new Congressional Fellow for the 2008-2009 year.

Aksartova began her work in the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which conducts investigations, audits, and oversight for the U.S. Congress, on January 21. She is working with the International Affairs and Trade team, where she collaborates on projects that evaluate U.S. foreign policy and international assistance.

A Global Experience

Aksartova’s interest in foreign policy and international affairs stems in part from her own international background. She was born in Kazakhstan and received her bachelor’s degree in English from Moscow State University. Her first job was working with Greenpeace, an international non-governmental peace and environmental organization, in Russia. During her three-year tenure at Greenpeace, she served as a nuclear disarmament campaigner and sought to direct the public and policy-makers' attention to the issue of Russia’s aging nuclear submarine fleet and its lasting environmental impact.


Sada Aksartova

Aksartova received her master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and continued her graduate studies in the United States. In 2005, Aksartova received her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University. Her dissertation, "Civil Society from Abroad: U.S. Donors in the Former Soviet Union," analyzed the cultural and institutional effects of U.S. civil society assistance for post-Soviet, non-governmental organizations. After Princeton, Aksartova spent two years in Tokyo, Japan, as a postdoctoral fellow at Hosei University, where she researched Japanese assistance for post-Soviet Central Asia as well as recent changes in Japanese foreign aid.

Most recently, Aksartova served as a visiting research fellow at George Mason University’s Center for Global Studies, where she continued her research on U.S. and Japanese foreign assistance and taught a graduate seminar on the politics of global development.

Work at the GAO

Aksartova believes that international sociology should play a more important role in the American policy-making process and hopes that her sociological training will benefit the work of GAO’s International Affairs and Trade team. At the same time, Aksartova said, "Sociological analyses of how U.S. foreign and aid policies are designed, implemented, and evaluated, in both Congress and the executive branch, can expand the scope of sociology as well as offer insights that can be used by policy-makers."

As a congressional fellow, Aksartova looks forward to learning more about GAO’s investigative and analytical practices from an insider’s perspective as well as understanding the process by which GAO creates knowledge that is deemed policy-relevant and nonpartisan. She hopes to gain an insight into the intellectual capital that members of Congress have at their disposal for developing and overseeing U.S. policies on a range of international issues. She expects that this experience will improve her research and teaching on global sociology, the sociology of U.S. government, and related topics.

In addition to working on Capitol Hill, the ASA Congressional Fellow often spends time preparing briefing materials, participating in ASA congressional or media briefings on a timely topic, and contributing stories to Footnotes. The ASA Spivack Program on Applied Social Research and Social Policy administers and funds the fellowship. The next application deadline is February 1, 2010. See the ASA website at and click on "Funding" for application information. logo_small


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