Beth Simmons is Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government at Harvard University. She is known primarily for her research in international relations, law and economics. She is best known for her research on policy diffusion globally and her work demonstrating the influence that international law has on human rights outcomes around the world. She received her PhD. from Harvard University in the Department of Government and has taught international relations, international law, and international political economy at Duke University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard. Simmons has directed the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, and is a past president of the International Studies Association.

Research Interests

Using a variety of social science methodologies, Simmons studies the establishment, diffusion, and effects of international norms and institutions. In particular, she looks at the ways in which international institutions shape and are shaped by domestic political systems. She has studied this relationship in the context of the interwar political economy (Who Adjusts' Domestic Sources of foreign Economic Policy during the Interwar Years, 1994) as well as international human rights (Mobilizing for Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics, 2009). This latter project identified strategies of legal and social mobilization that the ratification of international treaties supports, and estimated the contribution of such agreements to human rights practices within countries. Simmons has also contributed to understanding processes of globalization with her research on the diffusion of capital market and investment liberalization worldwide.

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Primary Section

Section 53: Social and Political Sciences