Miller Center

Miller Center National Fellowship

Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, the National Fellowship Program, a longstanding initiative of the Miller Center, will fall under the leadership of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation at U.Va.. The Jefferson Scholars Foundation, created in 1980, currently offers the premier graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship at the University. To learn more about the National Fellows Program, including how to apply, click here.

Meet The Fellows

Gwendoline Alphonso - Government, Cornell University

Project: Progressive & Traditional Family Orders: Parties, Ideologies, and the Development of Social Policy across the 20th Century

Alphonso photo

Gwendoline M. Alphonso is Assistant Professor of Politics at Fairfield University.

Alphonso is interested in the study of state-society relations, particularly the intersection of culture and morality with law and political development. Her primary research interests are two-fold: first those pertaining to American Politics: United States Congress, Political Parties, American Political Development, Gender and Politics, Politics of the Family, Social Policy; and second those relating to Law: Feminist Legal Theory, Family Law, Comparative Constitutional Law and Theories of Criminal Law and Punishment.

Alphonso's dissertation examined the origins and evolution of partisan family ideology and its effect on social policy through three periods in 20th century American political history – the Progressive Era (1900–1920), the postwar Period (1946–1960), and the Contemporary period (1980–2005). The overarching contention is that the family has been a central organizing principle of political development and the historical development of American social policy, a claim that has been largely overlooked in political and policy analysis. Through extensive inductive analysis of party platforms, congressional hearings, family bill sponsorship/co-sponsorship and roll call data in the House and Senate, she identified patterns in the development of partisan family ideologies, contending that there have been two competing family ideologies – the progressive and traditional – that have persisted across the past century. She explored the two family ideologies as part of broader family political orders, defined as "constellations of ideas, policies, institutions, and practices regarding the family that hang together and exhibit a coherence and predictability." The dissertation documented and explained the change and evolution of the progressive and traditional family orders, their partisan composition and attendant social policies. By inserting social policies into evolving family orders and unearthing elite interests, partisan dynamics, electoral family conditions, and family ideologies, the project hoped to account for why certain types of policy ideas, such as same-sex marriage, gain ascendance during certain periods while others decline.

Selected Recent Publications

"Resurgent Parenthood – Organic Domestic Ideals & the Southern Family Roots of Conservative Ascendancy, 1980-2005.Polity 48 (2016): 205-223. 

"From Need to Hope: The American Family & Poverty in Partisan Discourse." Journal of Policy History 27, no. 4 (Autumn 2015): 592-635.

Public & Private Order: Law, Race, Morality and the Antebellum Courts of Louisiana, 1830-1860.”  Journal of Southern Legal History 23 (2015): 117-160. 

Of Families or Individuals?Southern Child Workers & the Progressive Crusade for Child Labor Regulation, 1899-1920.” in James Marten (ed). Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Period (New York: New York University Press, 2014).


Christy Chapin - History, University of Virginia

Project: Ensuring America's Health: Publicly Constructing the Private Health Insurance Industry, 1945–1970

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Fellowship year: 2010

Mentor: Deborah Stone, Dartmouth College

Christy Chapin is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Her interests include political, business, and economic history as well as capitalism studies. Chapin has published articles in Studies in American Political Development and the Journal of Policy History. Her book, Ensuring America’s Health: The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Insurance System, was published by Cambridge University Press in summer 2015.  Professor Chapin is now at work on a new project entitled The U.S. Economy and the Emergence of Financial Capitalism.

Her dissertation explored how insurance companies became the primary financiers and coordinators of health care by evaluating how federal policy and debates interacted with two institutional levels: first, trade and professional associations and second, ground-level organizations such as individual firms and physician offices. She showed that by 1970, government policy had helped create an expensive, corporate model of health care. Cost problems were built into the system, because doctors behaved as semi-autonomous "managers" whose interests and pecuniary concerns diverged from those of the financiers – insurance companies. Chapin concluded that federal policy helped position insurance companies at the heart of a distinctive public-private system.


Lily Geismer - History, University of Michigan

Project: Don't Blame Us: Grassroots Liberalism in Massachusetts, 1960-1990

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Fellowship year: 2010

Mentor: Nancy Maclean, Duke University

Lily Geismer is Assistant Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College.

Geismer's teaching and research focuses on the intersections of political realignment, public policy, grassroots social movements and metropolitan history since World War II. Her first book Don’t Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party will be released in December 2014. She is currently beginning work on a new project that will examine the privatization of public policy, and the increasing promotion of market-based and individualist ideology to address social inequality by both political parties since the 1960s.

Geismer's dissertation recasted the conventional narratives of liberalism, civil rights, suburban politics, and electoral realignment. Most accounts of postwar suburban politics have focused primarily on Republican mobilization and fail to acknowledge that during the last half-century the Democratic Party has also become primarily suburban-centered in both base and outlook. Geismer's community study explored how suburban liberals shaped the social and political landscape in the Bay State and the nation in both progressive and problematic ways. Throughout the postwar period, grassroots liberal activists in Massachusetts proved particularly effective at working within the established channels of government to achieve the passage of laws that aligned with their suburban-centered vision of democracy and fairness. Many of these policies, nevertheless, provided individualist solutions to structural problems that often constrained more than enabled the achievement of spatial and racial equality. Tracing the evolution of this activism and ideology through the overlapping arenas of civil rights, housing, education, growth and development, environmentalism, feminism and antiwar activism, her dissertation revealed how Massachusetts has been able to preserve both its liberal reputation and racially and spatially segregated landscape. In doing so, her project aimed to prove to politicians, policymakers, and scholars across a variety of disciplines that both suburban liberals and Massachusetts need to be understood less for the reasons that they stood against the national tide and more for what they represent about American society and politics over the last 50 years.

Selected Recent Publications

Good Neighbors for Fair Housing: Suburban Liberalism and Racial Inequality in Metropolitan Boston.” Journal of Urban History 39, no. 3 (May 2013): 454-477.
Kennedy’s Liberalism.” in A Companion to John F. Kennedy, ed. Marc Silverstone, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).
Integrating Gender and Political History into Courses on Post-1945 U.S. History.” with Tamar Carroll, Perspectives on History: The Newsmagazine of the American Historical Association (March 2012): 28-30.


Brendan Green - Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Project: Two Concepts of Liberty: American Grand Strategy and the Liberal Tradition

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Brendan Green is the Stanley Kaplan Visiting Fellow in the Department of Political Science and Leadership Studies at Williams College.

Green's dissertation synthesized and added to scholarly literature that explores the effect of liberal ideology on political life in America and liberalism's influence on American foreign policy traditions. Green argued that differing visions of the concept of liberty led to the splintering of American liberal thought. He developed a theory of liberalism's effects on foreign policy and tested it on American Grand Strategy toward Europe in the 20th century, arguing that the early 20th century and inter-war period featured a back and forth contest between positive and negative versions of liberalism, resulting in the American intervention in World War I, followed by two decades of isolation. After World War II, Green contended, a still relevant conception of negative liberty among American foreign policy elites shaped America's search for an exit from Europe because it was perceived to be less costly; the expansion of the state and the mobilization of resources for foreign policy was perceived to interfere with liberty at home. He argued that by the early 1960s, positive liberty had achieved widespread acceptance among the foreign policy elite, causing a switch to a firm commitment in Europe. Not only was there no longer any perceived trade-off with liberty at home, but the positive conception of liberty implied a need to reinforce and spread market democracy abroad – key prerequisites of achieving a positive notion of political freedom. This led to a continued European commitment and its expansion, through peaceful and warlike means, after the Cold War.

Selected Recent Publications

U.S. Military Innovation Since the Cold War: Creation Without Destruction, with Harvey Sapolsky and Benjamin Friedman, (Routledge 2009).


Zane Kelly - Political Science, University of Colorado, Boulder

Project: Finance at War: Debt, Borrowing, and Conflict

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Fellowship year: 2010

Mentor: Erik Gartzke, University of California, San Diego

Zane Kelly is Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Washington.

Kelly's areas of specialization include international relations, comparative politics, and political methodology.

In his dissertation, Kelly argued that the foreign policy options available to states are strongly conditioned by their financial circumstances and relationships. Sovereign debt and access to international credit influence the range of choices available to even the most powerful nations; yet international relations literature largely overlooks the impact of finance on state behavior. War finance involves strategic choices between taxes and debt, and between international and domestic creditors. By making government accountable to a diverse international constituency, borrowing abroad allows leaders to sidestep the conventional relationship between taxpayers and government.

His dissertation contributed to existing literature in three ways: by offering an alternative explanation for peace among nations; by expanding regime characteristics to include variation in credit-worthiness; and by enlarging state-capacity beyond taxation and domestic elements. Kelley argued that as the ratio between wartime demand for capital relative to domestic capacity increases, so does the likelihood that states will seek foreign investment during wartime. He then explored four main conclusions: first, states that are able to raise money through sovereign debt will be more likely to engage in conflicts and international borrowing is more likely to precede major wars; second, controlling for other measures of state capacity, overall higher levels of sovereign debt will act as a constraint on belligerent leaders; third, mutual holdings of debt will make states less likely to engage in conflict with one another; fourth, changing terms of foreign loans reflect both the likelihood of interstate war and the probability that one side will prevail over another.


Eric Lomazoff - Government, Harvard University

Project: The Life and Death of the Hydra-Headed Monster: Antebellum Bank Regulation and American State Development, 1781–1836

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Eric Lomazoff is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University.

Lomazoff's dissertation engaged the long, discontinuous, and tortured life of the Bank of the United States (1791–1811 and 1816–1836), the lynchpin of Federalist political economy which grew into a regulatory role vis-a-vis state-chartered commercial banks. Lomazoff used this neglected policy instrument of the Early Republic to address both micro- and macro-level themes within the broad literature on institutional development. A focus on multiple short-run episodes in the life of the Bank – its creation, conversion, postwar resurrection, and demise – permits the testing of standing disciplinary hypotheses concerning institutional choice, change, reproduction, and decline. By contrast, zooming out from these discrete historical moments presents an opportunity to evaluate early, if failed, national state-building efforts over the long durée. That is, the Bank's protracted and uneven career begs for a chronicle of antebellum financial state development and the forces which explain its sharp vicissitudes over time. Lomazoff argued that we may learn just as much about the early state of "court and parties" from the institutions which died away as from those which persistently organized antebellum American politics.

Selected Recent Publications

"Symmetry and Repetition: Patterns in the History of the Bank of the United States." in Randall Parker and Robert Whaples, eds., Routledge Handbook of Major Events in Economic History (New York: Routledge, 2013): 3-14. 
"Turning (Into) 'The Great Regulating Wheel': The Conversion of the Bank of the United States, 1791-1811." Studies in American Political Development 26, no. 1 (April 2012): 1-23. 
"Speak (Again), Memory: Rethinking the Scope of Congressional Power in the Early American Republic.Tulsa Law Review 47, no. 1 (Summer 2011): 87-98. 
"Approval Regulation and Endogenous Consumer Confidence: Theory and Analogies to Licensing, Safety, and Financial Regulation." with Daniel Carpenter and Justin Grimmer, Regulation & Governance 4, no. 4 (December 2010): 383-407.


Aaron Rapport - Political Science, University of Minnesota

Project: Planning in the Shadow of the Future: U.S. Military Interventions and Time Horizons

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Fellowship year: 2010

Mentor: Jack Levy, Rutgers University

Aaron Rapport is a Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University.

He is also a Fellow at Corpus Christi College and was previously an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Rapport's research interests include international security, political psychology, and U.S. foreign policy. He has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on these topics, as well as qualitative research methodology.  His book, Waging War, Planning Peace: U.S. Noncombat Operations and Major Wars came out in 2015 and was part of Cornell University Press’s Security Affairs series. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals International Security, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Peace Research, and Security Studies.

Rapport's dissertation examined cases of major U.S. involvement in military campaigns from 1945 to 2003 in order to illuminate factors that caused state leaders to underestimate the long-term costs of foreign military intervention. Scholars of international relations have noted that the tendency to underestimate long-term costs of military action has pervaded thinking in the United States as well as that of other state leaders considering intervention. He argued that the cognitive process by which people evaluate future events can help account for poor strategic assessment.

Selected Recent Publications

Waging War, Planning Peace: U.S. Noncombat Operations and Major Wars (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015).

"Whatever He Decides, Afghanistan Will Hurt Obama.The Providence Journal, October 2009.
 


Vanessa Walker - History, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Project: Ambivalent Allies: Advocates, Diplomats, and the Struggle for an 'American' Human Rights Policy

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Vanessa Walker is the Joseph W. And Diane Zerbib Assistant Professor of History at Amherst College.

Walker's primary areas of interest are the history of U.S. foreign relations and the history and politics of human rights. With both of these topics, she likes to focus on the interchange between international and domestic spheres and actors. She approaches foreign relations in broad terms to engage ideology, race, gender, culture, and (of course) policy, as important forces in shaping the United States’ global interactions through out its history.  Moreover, she likes to explore how foreign entities—both governmental and non-governmental—have shaped the country domestically, influencing American ideals, identities, society, and government institutions. Her current book project, for example, brings together high-level diplomatic and political history with that of activist networks and social movements to argue for the centrality of Latin America in the development of U.S. human rights policies and debates in the Ford and Carter presidencies. At its core, the project is a study of how foreign policy is made in a democracy, situating diplomacy in a larger social and political domestic context, and it traces the deep and inextricable connections between international structures and policies, and domestic dissent and reform in the 1970s. Although her primary focus is on the United States, Walker has also done research in Latin America and the Middle East, and enjoys offering comparative and transnational courses rooted in broader global contexts, such as seminars on Cuba and the United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Walker's dissertation examined the interactions between advocacy groups and foreign diplomats in the 1970s and early 1980s, revealing the way human rights policy was conceptualized, implemented, and evaluated. Highlighting the role that Chilean and Argentine advocates played in catalyzing the emerging human rights movement in Washington, D.C., her dissertation sought to place this advocacy-diplomacy relationship in its proper international context. More broadly, Walker considered how the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations approached human rights as a component of the U.S. relations with Latin America. Her dissertation placed particular emphasis on the Carter administration's relations with Chile and Argentina, and reevaluated its successes and failures in the context of a larger human rights moment, and its objectives to redirect U.S. foreign policy away from Cold War containment and intervention.

Selected Recent Publications

At the End of Influence: Rethinking Human Rights and Intervention in U.S.-Latin American Relations.Journal of Contemporary History, 46, No. 1 (January 2011): 109-135.

Critically Relevant and Genuinely Critical.” In "Fifty Years of William Appleman Williams’ Tragedy of American Diplomacy: An Anniversary, a Discussion, and a Celebration,” Passport, 40, No. 2 (September 2009): 35-6.


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