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

Francesca Ammon - American Studies, Yale University

Project: Waging War on the Landscape: Demolition and Clearance in Postwar America

Ammon photo

Francesca Ammon is Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Professor Ammon is an historian of the built environment. Her teaching, research, and writing focus on the changing shapes and spaces of the 20th- and 21st-century American city. She grounds her interdisciplinary approach to this subject in the premise that the landscape materializes social relations, cultural values, and economic processes. In particular, Professor Ammon is interested in the ways that visual culture informs planning and design, the dynamic relationships between cities and nature, the politics of place and space, and the roles of business and the state in shaping the physical landscape.

Professor Ammon is currently a colloquium member of the Penn/Mellon Foundation Humanities + Urbanism + Design Initiative. She is on the board of the Society for American City & Regional Planning History (SACRPH). Before joining the PennDesign faculty, Professor Ammon was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She has also held the Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship, jointly sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). While completing her Ph.D. in American Studies, she held a fellowship as a Whiting Fellow in the Humanities and was the John E. Rovensky Fellow with the Business History Conference.

Professor Ammon was the 2010-2011 Miller Center Ambrose Monell Foundation Fellow in Technology and Democracy.

Selected Recent Publications

“Post-Industrialization and the City of Consumption: Attempted Revitalization in Asbury Park, New Jersey.” Journal of Urban History 41. no. 2 (March 2015): 158-174.

“Unearthing Benny the Bulldozer: The Culture of Clearance in Postwar Children’s Books.” Technology and Culture 53, no. 2 (April 2012): 306-336.


Josh Ashenmiller - History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Project: The Strange Career of Environmental Impact Assessment

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Josh Ashenmiller is Professor of History at Fullerton College in California.

Ashenmiller has taught U.S. history at Fullerton College since 2006. Prior to that, he taught at Scripps College, Claremont-McKenna College, Cal State Northridge, Campbell Hall School, and River Oaks School. He has published articles in the Pacific Historical Review and various historical encyclopedias. In addition to teaching, he has worked on the Faculty Senate, Program Review Committee, and the accreditation self-study.

Ashenmiller wrote his dissertation on environmental impact assessment (EIA) and discussed a strong continuity between environmental impact assessment and the long tradition of federal attempts to manage economic growth, dating to the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887.


Leif Fredrickson - History, University of Virginia

Project: "The Age of Lead: Metropolitan Development, Environmental Health, and Inner City Underdevelopment"

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Leif Fredrickson has been selected as the Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded Fellowship in Technology and Democracy.

Leif Fredrickson's dissertation seeks to answer two questions. First, how did twentieth-century metropolitan development affect lead exposure? To answer this, Fredrickson examines how policies and markets came together to affect energy, housing, and transportation infrastructures that led to increased and often disproportionate exposure from lead in sources such as paint, gasoline and batteries. His second question is: How did lead exposure affect individuals, communities and governments in the metropolis? To answer this, Fredrickson examines how lead affected education, income, medical expenses and other social outcomes for individuals, and how those effects in turn shaped the outcomes of families and communities. He argues that these effects contributed to the long-term inequalities we see across classes, “races,” and metropolitan areas (i.e., the suburbs and the inner city). Fredrickson also looks at how victims and their families and communities dealt with these problems, proactively and retroactively. Finally, Fredrickson examines how the ramifying effects of lead challenged local governments, who faced expensive measures to eradicate lead poisoning but also expensive costs from failing to eradicate lead problems.   


Jonathon Free - History, Duke University

Project: Redistributing Risk: The Political Ecology of Coal in Late-Twentieth Century Appalachia

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Free has been selected as the Miller Center/Hagley Library Dissertation Fellow in Business and Politics.

Jonathon Free’s dissertation traces the U.S. coal industry’s increased reliance on surface mining in the late twentieth century. During the late 1960s and 1970s, Congress passed new mine safety regulations that significantly lowered the number of deaths from explosions, roof-falls, and other underground disasters. Coal companies responded to safety legislation by expanding surface mining operations, which were less accident-prone but more environmentally destructive than underground mines.

This redistribution of the risks of mining had profound implications for the political culture of coal mining communities. In Appalachian states like Kentucky and West Virginia, where coal companies traditionally played a major role in the local economy, the mining jobs that remained became more precious, as did the few mountains left untouched by surface mining operations. Meanwhile, the risks of surface mining became more acceptable to many coalfield residents as the industry depicted it as a way to provide the energy that the nation needed while also improving both the aesthetic quality and economic attractiveness of the land. As a result, the debate over surface mining became a point of fracture in increasingly divided communities.

While scholars of environmental policy, American business, or working-class communities have tended to analyze the history of each subfield separately, this project draws on the history of capitalism, critical geography, and interdisciplinary studies of regulation to argue that the shared history of policymakers, business people, and workers did not unfold in insolated silos. 


Charles Halvorson - History, Columbia University

Project: "Valuing the Air: The Politics of Environmental Regulation from the Clean Air Act to Carbon Trading"

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Charles Halvorson has been selected as the 2016 Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellow.

Fifty years ago, the environmental movement convinced Americans that strong regulations were needed to protect human health and the natural world against the compounding detritus of industrial society. Meanwhile, environmental economists offered a different solution: let markets value the environment by pricing the social effects of degradation. Congress went with the environmentalists, passing legislation in the early 1970s to protect the public health from noxious emissions and effluents, regardless of the costs involved.

But as the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) quickly discovered, defending major regulatory interventions against an onslaught of criticism from regulated industries required environmental advocates to convincingly establish the economic benefits of environmental protection. Over the 1970s, EPA officials invested millions of dollars in staffing economists at the agency and funding critical new research on the pecuniary benefits of regulatory protection at universities across the country. In the late 1970s, the agency began experimenting with emission trading and other market and economic incentive programs, putting EPA at the forefront of the larger regulatory reform movement.  

By leaning on cost/benefit analysis to justify regulations and turning to market trading to lower the costs of enforcement, EPA contributed to the ascendance of economics in policymaking. Yet by simultaneously rejecting economists’ calls to let markets price the environment, EPA preserved into the present the political salience of the moral and romantic values of 1970s environmentalism. 


Christopher Jones - History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

Project: Energy Highways: Canals, Pipes, and Wires Transform the Mid-Atlantic

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Fellowship year: 2009

Mentor: John McNeill, Georgetown University

Christopher Jones is Assistant Professor of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University.

Jones is a historian of energy, technology, and environment who studies how we have come to use and depend on fossil fuel energy sources and how these decisions have changed the ways we live, work, and play. 

Jone's dissertation argued that energy transporters occupied a central position between producers and consumers and actively shaped the mid-Atlantic's energy history through choices about how canals, pipes, and wires were built, how they were operated, and where they went. His project consisted of three sections analyzing the transportation and consumption of coal (1820–1860), oil (1860–1900) and electricity (1900–1930). In his work, Jones drew on and integrated the insights of historians of technology, energy, industrialization, regional development, and the environment. He additionally highlighted the social effects of the transportation of energy and included social policy implications.

Selected Recent Publications

Christopher Jones is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

Routes of Power: Energy and Modern America (Harvard University Press, 2014).


Caroline Lee - Sociology, University of California, San Diego

Project: Compromising Natures: Moral Economies of Environmental Decision Making

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Fellowship year: 2006

Mentor: Mark Landy, Boston College

Caroline Lee is Associate Professor of Sociology at Lafayette College.

Lee is a comparative institutional sociologist with research and teaching interests in the following areas: political sociology, social movements, economic sociology, law and society, sociology of knowledge and culture, urban and environmental sociology, and research methods. Her work is located in the broader multidisciplinary field of American political development.

Lee's dissertation explored obstacles to civic engagement in local environmental politics. Lee compared a spectrum of conservation decision-making bodies in three different U.S. communities to find that the devolved public deliberation formats heralded by researchers over the last 10 years have in fact encouraged Balkanization and allegations of exclusion. On the other hand, informal partnerships between national environmental organizations and local elites have brokered unlikely alliances that involve reluctant stakeholders in habitat restoration, even in politically conservative communities. These public-private partnerships, which Lee called "conservation machines," increase participation by minimizing contention with local growth networks and generating manifold opportunities for public input. Lee hypothesized that the national environmental interest groups that critics malign as out of touch with the grassroots have played important backstage roles encouraging power sharing on the ground in select communities. She argued that these outcomes suggest that political theorists should reconsider the idealization of deliberation and the presumed sources of civic alienation.

Selected Recent Publications

Do-it-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry. (Oxford University Press, 2015)

ed. with Michael McQuarrie, and Edward T. Walke Democratizing Inequalities: Dilemmas of the New Public Participation. (New York: NYU Press, 2015)

"Democracy's New Discipline: Public Deliberation as Organizational Strategy." with Zachary Romano, Organization Studies 34, no. 5-6 (April 22, 2013):733-753.

"Hard Times, Hard Choices': Marketing Retrenchment as Civic Empowerment in an Era of Neoliberal Crisis." with Kelly McNulty and Sarah Shaffer, Socio-Economic Review 11, no. 1, (September 21, 2012):81-106.


Paul Milazzo - History, University of Virginia

Project: Legislating the Solution to Pollution: Congress and the Development of Federal Water Pollution Control Policy in the United States, 1945-1975

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Paul Milazzo is Associate Professor of History at Ohio University.

Milazzo's areas of concentration include politics, political institutions, and federal policy, particularly after 1945. Professor Milazzo's recent research has focused on environmental policy making in the United States Congress. He received his A.B. from Amherst College (1991), and his M.A. (1994) and Ph.D. (2001) from the University of Virginia. His book, Unlikely Environmentalists: Congress and Clean Water, 1945-1972 was published by the University Press of Kansas in 2006. He has appeared on numerous television and radio broadcasts, including C-SPAN, Bloomberg Radio, and PBS.

Selected Recent Publications

Unlikely Environmentalists: Congress and Clean Water, 1945-1972 (University Press of Kansas, 2006)

"Environmental Policy: An Overview.” in Oxford Encyclopedia of American Political, Policy, and Legal History, ed. Donald T. Critchlow and Philip R. VanderMeer. (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Introduction to Business Tides: The Newsweek Era of Henry Hazlitt (Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2011), pp. xxvi-liv

Nixon and the Environment.” in A Companion to Richard M. Nixon, ed. Melvin Small (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011): pp. 270-91.


Tore Olsson - History, University of Georgia

Project: Agrarian Crossings: The American South, Mexico, and the Twentieth-Century Remaking of the Rural World

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Tore Olsson has been selected as the Ambrose Monell Foundation Funded Fellowship in Technology and Democracy.

Tore Olsson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tennessee.  Olsson's teaching and research examine the twentieth-century United States in global perspective, with an emphasis on agriculture, food, environment, rural history, and Latin America, particularly Mexico.

He is currently working on his first book, titled Remaking the Rural World: The American South and Mexico in the Twentieth Century (under contract, Princeton University Press), which weaves together the agrarian history of two places seldom discussed in common context: the American Cotton Belt and Mexico. On one hand, it illustrates how U.S. southerners and Mexicans in the first half of the twentieth century confronted similar problems in their countrysides, particularly uneven land tenure, racialized labor regimes, and plantation monoculture. More importantly, however, it reveals how cosmopolitan rural reformers in each place acknowledged their common struggle and fostered a lively transnational dialogue on questions of land, agriculture, and rural life. The book makes two primary arguments: first, it demonstrates how the American South served as the domestic laboratory for the Green Revolution, the most important Third World “development” campaign of the twentieth century. Secondly, it argues that the rural New Deal in the United States was radicalized by observations of Mexican revolutionary rhetoric and action. Rather than a comparative history, Remaking the Rural World is a history of comparisons and the way that comparison impacted policy, moved people, and remade landscapes.

Olsson’s book is based on his 2013 dissertation, which was recently the winner of the Oxford University Press USA Dissertation Prize in International History, granted by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the Gilbert C. Fite Dissertation Award for best dissertation in agricultural history from the Agricultural History Society. His research for the dissertation and manuscript has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the Miller Center, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and several others.

At the University of Tennessee, Professor Olsson teaches courses on food and agriculture, U.S. foreign relations, and U.S. and Latin American social and political history.

Selected Recent Publications

Remaking the Rural World: The American South and Mexico in the Twentieth Century (in progress, under contract in Princeton University Press’s “America in the World” series).

Sharecroppers and Campesinos: The American South, Mexico, and the Transnational Politics of Land Reform in the Radical 1930s.” Journal of Southern History (August 2015).


Sarah T. Phillips - History, Boston University

Project: Acres Fit and Unfit: Environmental Liberalism and the American State, 1925–1955

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Sarah Phillips is Associate Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Boston University.

She received her Ph.D. from the History Department at Boston University in 2004 and spent five years as an assistant professor at Columbia University before returning to BU. She is the author of This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal, published by Cambridge University Press in 2007, and, with co-author Shane Hamilton, The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics, published by Bedford/St. Martins in 2014.  She has written essays and articles on environmental history, antebellum reform, transatlantic agricultural developments, the interwar economy, and the conservation and environmental policy of state governors. Her current book project, The Price of Plenty: From Farm to Food Politics in Postwar America, under contract with Oxford University Press, examines the domestic politics sustaining the massive farm surpluses of the post-World War II era that established the United States as the predominant and most problematic of the state actors in the international food regime.

Selected Recent Publications

This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics: A Brief History with Documents, with
 Shane 
Hamilton (Bedford/St.
Martins,
 
2013)

Reflections on One Hundred and Fifty Years of the United States Department of Agriculture.” Agricultural History, 87, no. 3 (Summer 2013): 314-367.


McGee Young - Political Science, Syracuse University

Project: Therapy and Poverty: Private Social Service in the Area of Public Welfare

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McGee Young is Head of Product at Open Energy Efficiency.

Previously, Young taught in American politics with a specialty in political organizations and public policy at Marquette University. He is also the Founder and CEO of MeterHero, a software platform for tracking water and energy data. He was a winner of the Midwest Social Innovation Prize, a finalist in the Clean Energy Challenge, and his company was selected for the inaugural class of the Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator. Prior to MeterHero, Young founded H2Oscore, a web-based portal for water utilities to help promote conservation. He previously served as the Faculty Entrepreneur Fellow in the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship in the School of Business. In 2014, he was named as one of Milwaukee's "40 under 40" by the Milwaukee Business Journal. 

Young's dissertation examined the development of the small business and environmental lobbies through the prism of 20th century American political development. He analyzed the relationship between the strategies and tactics of interest groups and the structure of political opportunities. Young additionally argued that political constraints placed on groups by preceding institutional and political configurations, together with the relationship between groups and political parties as well as groups' own internal organizational struggles, shape the capacity for groups to influence the political process.

Selected Recent Publications

"From Conservation to Environment: The Sierra Club and the Organizational Politics of Change.Studies in American Political Development 22, no. 2 (2008): 183-203.

"The Political Roots of Small Business Identity.Polity 40, no. 2 (2008): 436-463.


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