Krzysztof Pelc: Professor of Political Science and award-winning author

Professor Pelc is the recipient of the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize

Krzysztof Pelc was born in Warsaw Poland, and raised as a Francophone in Quebec. He is an Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Political Science at McGill, was the recipient of the 2017 McGill Arts Award for Distinction in Research, and is the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize winner for his narrative Green Velvet.

Pelc received his PhD from Georgetown University in 2009, where his dissertation, “The Cost of Wiggle-Room: On the Use of Flexibility in International Trade Agreements”, was awarded with distinction. Before coming to McGill, he was also a Post-doctoral Fellow at Princeton' Niehaus Center.

Pelc’s research examines the international political economy, with a focus on international rules. This has led him to ask how international institutions are designed to solve specific cooperation challenges. One of these challenges is the question of flexibility: how can binding rules, represented by unchanging written words, adapt to unexpected events like civil wars, natural disasters, or economic shocks? In his monograph, “Making and Bending International Rules”, he showed how the designers of rules solve a recurrent challenge that has been identified by scholars going back four centuries: how do we allow sufficient flexibility in rules to deal with unexpected events, while preventing the abuse of such flexibility?

His current research focuses on two new questions. The first of these is, how can governments effectively redistribute the gains from international integration among domestic groups? He will examine how governments attempt this compensation, whether it has attained the sought-out objectives, and whether some approaches work better than others. The second project will focus on some 12,000 international treaties dating from 1648 to 1900 that he has recently digitized. Now machine-readable, these texts will permit him to treat the universe of historical treaties as a single corpus, which will make it possible to apply current text analysis methods to address an age-old question about international relations: how can leaders make their promises to one another credible?

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