Beth Simmons is Andrea Mitchell University Professor of Law, Political Science and Business Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. She researches and teaches international relations, international law and international political economy. 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 (2004) and Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics (2009) 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. The latter was also recognized by the American Society for International Law, the International Social Science Council and the International Studies Association as the best book of the year in 2010. Simmons directed the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, is a past president of the International Studies Association and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
Simmons is leading the Borders and Boundaries Project, part of our Global Shifts theme, at Perry World House. Her research group is documenting and will explain the paradox of hardening international borders between states in an era of globalization using satellite imagery as evidence of state presence at international border crossings. The Borders and Boundaries research group is also documenting the location in time and space of border walls and fences round the world. A new research subgroup is also developing text analysis strategies to document and analyze border sentiments world-wide. Simmons’s goal is to write a book probing the politics, economics and social anxieties behind international border “thickening.”