Miller Center

Miller Center Fellows 2009 – 2010

The GAGE Program at the Miller Center has awarded a Miller Center Fellowship to nine scholars for the 2009–2010 academic year. The Fellowship awards each fellow a one-year $20,000 grant to support his or her research and writing which may focus on American politics, foreign policy and world politics, or the impact of global affairs on the United States. Along with the fellowship grant, the Miller Center helps the Fellow choose a senior scholar who serves as a "dream mentor" throughout the fellowship year.


Gwendoline Alphonso
Gwendoline Alphonso

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

Gwendoline Alphonso, Cornell University
Mentor: Adam Sheingate, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University

Gwendoline Alphonso is Assistant Professor of Politics at Fairfield University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Cornell University. She also received a Doctor of Science of Law (JSD) from Cornell University in 2006 and a Bachelor of Civil Laws in European and Comparative Law (BCL) from Oxford University in 2000. She earned her B.A. from the National Law School of India University in 1999. Alphonso has served as a research workshop facilitator in family law at the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute at Smith College and as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies at Ithaca College.

Her 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.

Recent Publications:
“Hearth and Soul: Economics and Culture in Partisan Conceptions of the Family in the Progressive Era, 1900-1920.” Studies in American Political Development, (October 2010)



Christy Chapin
Christy Chapin

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

Christy Chapin, University of Virginia
Mentor: Deborah Stone, Visiting and Research Professor in the Department of Government and the Rockefeller Center, Dartmouth College

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

Chapin received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia. She received her B.A. from the College of William and Mary in 1996. She has served as a graduate teaching assistant for a diverse array of courses at the University of Virginia, including The History of the Civil Rights Movement; Viewing America: American History since 1945; and Shaping the Modern World, 1900–1946. Chapin received the Bankard Fellowship in Political Economy in 2008.

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
Lily Geismer

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

Lily Geismer, University of Michigan
Mentor: Nancy Maclean, Professor of History and African American Studies, Northwestern University

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

Lily Geismer received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan. She received her B.A. from Brown University in 2003. She has served as a graduate student instructor in History of the Family in the United States, United States History Since 1945, and History of American Suburbia. 

Her 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.

Brendan Green
Brendan Green

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

Brendan Green, Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Mentor: James McAllister, Associate Professor, Political Science Department, Williams College

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

Brendan Green is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received his A.B. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 2003. 

His 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.

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

Zane Kelly
Zane Kelly

Finance at War: Debt, Borrowing, and Conflict

Zane Kelly, University of Colorado at Boulder
Mentor: Eric Gartzke, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California at San Diego (UCSD)

Zane Kelly is a Social Science Analyst at the Department of Defense. 

Zane Kelly received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his B.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2003. He has served as a graduate part-time instructor, teaching courses on strategic defense, global development, and American foreign policy. His 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
Eric Lomazoff

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

Eric Lomazoff, Harvard University
Mentor: Stephen Skowronek, Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political and Social Science, Yale University

Eric Lomazoff is Assistant Professor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma and affiliated with the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage.

He received his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, working with Freed Professor of Government Dan Carpenter. Lomazoff received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. He has served as a teaching fellow in a senior thesis writer's workshop in American politics, American Government, and Constitutional Democracy in America at Harvard University. He has also served as the head teaching fellow in The Theory and Practice of Republican Government and American Constitutional Law.

His 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.

Recent Publications:
“Approval Regulation and Endogenous Consumer Confidence: Theory and Analogies to Licensing, Safety, and Financial Regulation.” Regulation & Governance, (December 2010)

Aaron Rapport
Aaron Rapport

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

Aaron Rapport, University of Minnesota
Mentor: Jack Levy, Board of Governors' Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University

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

He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, where he worked with 2001 Miller Center Fellow Ronald Krebs. He received his B.A. from Northwestern University in 2003. He has served as a teaching assistant in American Democracy in a Changing World, Racial Attitudes and Intergroup Relations, and United States Foreign Policy. His main areas of concentration are international relations, American politics, political psychology, and political methodology.

His 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.

Rapport drew on a branch of psychology called construal level theory that proposes that individuals think about the risks and benefits associated with temporally distant events differently than when thinking about those in the near future. He argued that senior U.S. decision-makers who have highly valued future objectives – or more colloquially, are "farsighted" – are thus biased toward assessing the desirability, rather than feasibility, of their policy aims. Decision-makers who place a disproportionate emphasis on desirability may commit themselves to a course of action they would not have had they given greater weight to the feasibility of their goals.

Recent Publications:
"Whatever He Decides, Afghanistan Will Hurt Obama." The Providence Journal, (October 2009)
“Unexpected Affinities?  Neoconservatism’s Place in IR Theory.” Security Studies, (2008)

Vanessa Walker
Vanessa Walker

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

Vanessa Walker, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Mentor: Jana Lipman, Assistant Professor of History, Tulane University

Vanessa Walker is Assistant Professor of History at Amherst College.  She was previously an Educator Assistant Professor of History and Director of Undergraduate Advising at the University of Cincinatti.  As a Ph.D. candidate, she worked with Professor Jeremi Suri at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her B.A. from Whitman College in 2000 and received her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2004. Her research interests include the history of human rights, international history of the Cold War; U.S.-Latin American relations, international activism, the Carter presidency, and the domestic-international nexus in policymaking.

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.