Meet 2018 Carnegie Fellow Beth Simmons

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program recognizes an exceptional group of both established and emerging scholars, journalists, and authors with the goal of strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving both natural and human environments. 

Beth Simmons is the Andrea Mitchell University Professor in Law, Political Science and Business Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is best known for her research on international political economy during the interwar years, policy diffusion globally, and her work demonstrating the influence that international law has on human rights outcomes around the world. Two of her books, Who Adjusts? Domestic Sources of Foreign Economic Policy During the Interwar Years and Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics, won the American Political Science Association’s Woodrow Wilson Award for the best book published in the United States on government, politics, or international affairs.

These days, I’m also interested in documenting the multiple social and political anxieties presented by globalization that seem to intensity the demand for more and more border securitization in many parts of the world.”

How will the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program impact your research and overall career?

Simmons: This major award will turbocharge my research on the politics and consequences of border securitization. I’m using it while I am on sabbatical from the University of Pennsylvania, in residence at the Radcliffe Institute, to further my research documenting the thickness of state presence at international border crossings, and the nature and intensity of sentiments in popular discourse and policy with respect to international borders as places of threat versus opportunity. This is a multidisciplinary research project that will be a comprehensive documentation and analysis of the factors that have led modern polities to enhance their international edges with rules, walls and filtering capacities.  The centerpiece is a unique global dataset based on satellite imagery coded to document state presence at every major land border crossing in the world.

What research topics do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?

Simmons: I have worked a lot on international human rights and international law. My research is available here.  and also through google Scholar and SSRN. This turn to international borders is a major pivot, and a return to some of my earlier work on international borders as institutions that create joint gains for neighboring states and international society.

See an example here.  These days, I’m also interested in documenting the multiple social and political anxieties presented by globalization that seem to intensity the demand for more and more border securitization in many parts of the world.

Do you have any advice for students in political science, including tips on how to find funding and support for research projects?

Simmons: One strategy to find funding for your work is to look at the CVs of a dozen or so scholars whose research interests are similar to your own. Look for where they receive their funding, and give those sources a try! Give them multiple tries! Don’t give up easily!