Study of global economy takes professor around the world
May 10, 2007
UW Tacoma founding faculty member earns 2007 Distinguished Research Award.
In his 17 years at UW Tacoma, Professor Anthony D'Costa has logged about 500,000 airline miles — all in the name of research.
Recognized internationally as an expert in the global economy, D'Costa travels the world to research examples of how industry, education and the workforce fit together — and how the world is changing as people become more mobile. The University of Washington Tacoma is honoring D'Costa with the 2007 Distinguished Research Award, which recognizes UW Tacoma faculty for exceptional research in their field.
A professor of comparative international development in UW Tacoma's Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program, D'Costa focuses on industrial development and political economy in India and Asia. For the past decade, his work has focused on the information technology industry in India, where the software-development field is booming.
"I am a migrant professional, so this research fits with my own personal experience," said D'Costa, who emigrated from India to study in the U.S.
D'Costa began his research as a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1980s, at a time when the steel industry was beginning a massive downturn. He intended to study problems connected to the steel industry in developing countries—but his research led him to a new and fascinating issue.
"I started to wonder how Pittsburgh and the steel industry were connected to the rest of the world," he said.
His musings led to a six-month, grant-funded expedition to steel towns in India, Korea, Japan and Brazil, and eventually to a book, The Global Restructuring of the Steel Industry. He then became interested in the auto and high-tech industries in the region, especially the rapid growth of the technology sector in his native India, which has the world's second-fastest-growing economy.
In the past, leaders in India were concerned about educated citizens leaving the country for more lucrative work in the U.S. Today, though, India draws businesses and experts from other countries, especially expatriate Indians. Companies like Microsoft are moving portions of their business overseas. India is becoming a major player in the world's lucrative software market, but the growth is creating a divide between the educated workforce and the poor. Nearly half of the country's population lives in poverty, and education is not yet available to the masses.
"I am concerned about issues of the poor in countries where these industries are growing," D'Costa said. "In the end, all of my studies have something to say about the people who are not well connected to the high-tech sector and economy."
D'Costa has written two books, including one on the Indian software industry in a global context. He has also written a number of scholarly and non-academic articles and is in demand internationally as a lecturer and instructor—which creates a hectic schedule of teaching and travel.
A founding UW Tacoma faculty member who teaches full time, D'Costa spends several months each summer performing research abroad. Recent travels have taken him to India, Japan, Chile, Singapore, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and China. He spent last summer in Oslo as a visiting scholar and will spend the upcoming summer in Singapore with his wife and two children, ages 7 and 10.
At home in Tacoma, he juggles teaching and research with a well-structured schedule—he's at his desk by 9:10 every morning, he says, and stays up until 1 a.m. writing papers or working on his next book, an examination of how the world economy is changing as the high-tech workforce moves around the globe.
"You have to have energy and enthusiasm for the research and be willing to put in a lot of sheer hard work."