Christopher Sands

Christopher Sands

Senior Research Professor
Director of the Center for Canadian Studies
Canadian Studies

Nitze 504


  • Canada
  • American Defense Policy
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Domestic Influences On Foreign Policy
  • Economics
  • Globalization
  • Labor Economics and Outsourcing
  • Foreign Direct Investment
  • Corporate Governance and Financial Markets
  • American Economic Policy
  • Privitization and Private-sector Development
  • Elections and Foreign Policy
  • Energy Issues
  • Energy and Security
  • Energy Technologies
  • U.S. Energy Policy
  • European Union and Transatlantic Relations
  • Intelligence
  • International Economics
  • International Law
  • International Political Economy
  • International Relations
  • Multinational Corporations
  • Nation-building and Democratization
  • NATO
  • Natural Resources
  • Oil Politics
  • Political Economy & Development
  • Politics
  • U.S. Congress and Foreign Policy
  • U.S. Presidency and Foreign Policy
  • French

Background and Education

Christopher Sands is a Senior Research Professor and Director of the Center for Canadian Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a graduate division of Johns Hopkins University. Professor Sands teaches courses on Federalism in North America and Europe (SA.840.705) and Middle Power Diplomacy (SA.840.706) and an annual Policy Consulting Practicum (SA.840-718). He serves as a faculty advisor to the Johns Hopkins University Research Administration (JHURA), the university-wide office for sponsored research, and on the editorial board of the SAIS Magazine. Previously, he taught as the G. Robert Ross Distinguished Visiting Professor in the College of Business and Economics at Western Washington University (2012-2017) and as an adjunct professor at the American University School of Public Affairs (2005-2012).

Dr. Sands began his career as a policy research scholar, and is a nonresident Senior Associate of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) the Washington think tank where he was a resident specialist on Canadian affairs from 1993 until 2002. He is also an associate member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) in London. Previously, Sands was a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute (2007-2016) and Director for Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation for the International Republican Institute (2002-2007) a core institute of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy. His policy research has been published by think tanks in Canada and the United States including the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the C.D. Howe Institute, the Fraser Institute, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, the Migration Policy Institute and the Woodrow Wilson Center. He is a member of the board of the Canada – United States Law Institute, a joint venture of the law schools of Case Western Reserve University and the University of Western Ontario.

Dr. Sands was elected in 2017 to a two-year term as a member of the executive council of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, and he is a member of the American Political Science Association (where he served as treasurer and a member of the executive of the Canadian Politics Group from 2010 until 2017) and the International Studies Association. Sands earned a B.A. in political science from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota inn 1989, and his M.A. in international economics (1994) and Ph.D. in international relations and Canadian Studies (2009) from Johns Hopkins SAIS. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan Sands now lives with his wife and their dog in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Download Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

2016-12-01 00:00:00 
Assessing the Restructuring of U.S. Contiental Defense
This study is b...

This study is being conducted with the support of the Defence Engagement Program of the Government of Canada.

2016-01-01 00:00:00 
Understanding Bilateral Information Sharing and Funding Collaboration
This study was ...

This study was conducted on behalf of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the Canadian Privy Council Office in partnership with Dickinson Wright PLLC. SAIS students conducted interviews with seniorofficials of both governments to better understand the complexities of sharing information and transferring funds between the two governments as part of the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council initiative.

2015-01-15 00:00:00 
Implications for Global Trade Liberalization
This paper, com...

This paper, commissioned by the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, BC will set out the current status of IP protection for drug and medical device companies from an international perspective. The paper should encompass a discussion of the WTO regarding IP protection as it applies to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, as well as the positions taken by the U.S., Canada and other countries in the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations, as well as the TPP negotiations. The paper will also address the policies of large emerging market economies, most notably China and Brazil – including their use of TRIPS flexibilities and specific pieces of domestic legislation that permit the production of generic copies of patented drugs by home country domestic manufacturers. The implications of such policies of the U.S. Canadian and Western European drug and medical device companies will be discussed‎. The paper will conclude with a consideration of the implications of the trends in international IP negotiations for Canada's domestic IPR regime which has been challenged by the U.S and other developed countries for its similarities to developing county regimes that enable generic drugs production for the domestic market at the expense of foreign patent holders. The paper will offer a perspective on the question of whether the Canadian approach to IPR  represents a sustainable compromise, or one that will be forced to change by international pressure.

2017-01-14 00:00:00 
Improving the U.S.-Canadian Border
This study is a...

This study is an update of Dr. Sands' 2009 study for the Brookings Institution, Toward a New Frontier: Improving the U.S.-Canadian Border, and will review border security cooperation efforts during the Obama administrations and ongoing challenges that will confront the Trump administration. It will be publihed by the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Fall 2015 
International r...
International relations scholarship pays close attention to the Great Powers, and concern over failed states. With the formation of the G20, there is a multilateral forum where Great Powers and the Rising Powers of Brazil, Russia, India, and China can shape the global agenda. Yet in every era and every stable international order there is an important role for Middle Powers – countries whose capacity to foster or disrupt order leads them to “punch above their weight” in international relations. Canada self-identifies as a Middle Power, but today the status of Middle Power is claimed by states in every region and on every continent.
This course considers the dilemmas and strategies of Middle Power diplomacy, and how the United States, Great Powers and Small States interact with them. Over the course of the semester, we will consider what role Middle Powers play in the contemporary international system, and what to do about it.
Spring 2017 
The Spring 2017...
The Spring 2017 SAIS Business Policy Practicum will analyze the challenges for the Canadian Province of British Columbia as it develops a natural gas industry as well as infrastructure enabling LNG exports by sea. The class will work together as a consultancy team that will produce a report along with specific policy recommendations to the Practicum clients, the Government of British Columbia Ministry of Natural Gas Development. Students will interact directly with these clients in accordance with an MOU negotiated between SAIS and the BC government (available to students at the first class session).

Fall 2016 
Citizens of cou...
Citizens of countries in North America and Europe govern themselves with multiple, overlapping layers of governmental institutions that in practice compete for support, whether that support is expressed in the form of tolerance of taxation, compliance with regulation, or legitimacy.
Whatever the interests you represent – governments, firms, non-governmental organizations, industry associations, labor unions – all have learned to navigate the two-level (and more!) political dynamics of federalism to their advantage. No traction at one level of government? Try the other! Momentum can be generated anywhere and often carries over to the other side of the equation.
This course is designed to examine how to capitalize on the structure and performance of intergovernmental policy competition in North America (where Canada, Mexico and the United States are all constitutional federations, and supranational institutions are few and relatively weak) and Europe (where several countries are federations to varying degrees, and the supranational institutions of the European Union are relatively sophisticated). 
Spring 2015 
This two-credit...
This two-credit seminar will consider the emerging geopolitical, economic, and environmental imperatives in the Arctic as well as the imperatives for the region's inhabitants from economic development to participation in decisionmaking. Professor Charles F. Doran, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on U.S. Arctic Policy will lead the course with Professor Sands.