Andrea Mitchell University Professor
Beth Simmons is widely recognized as one of the world’s top specialists in international affairs. Her award-winning work has redefined scholarship—and influenced policy—in international political economy, the influence of international law on human rights outcomes, and policy diffusion. She is also a universally-admired teacher and mentor who has helped countless students launch their own illustrious careers.
Distinguished by her creativity and independence of thought, Simmons was among the first to identify the significance of global policy diffusion—the process by which economic ideas and policies spread throughout the world. Her work on this issue has markedly advanced contemporary understanding of the influences at play in foreign economic policy transitions.
Simmons also dispelled the widely-held erroneous belief that international law is ineffectual against pervasive human rights abuses. Her award-winning book, Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics, has been called the most thorough empirical analysis of the effect of human rights treaties to date, and as such has profoundly impacted policymakers’ understanding of how international law can be used to meaningfully alter state behavior and protect human rights.
Former director of Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Simmons has worked at the International Monetary Fund, served as president of the International Studies Association, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and has presented her research around the world. Her extensive experience and internationally-heeded voice edge her ever closer to realizing her enduring goal of securing human rights across the world.
With appointments at Penn Law and Penn Arts & Sciences, Simmons’ extraordinary ability to bring inter-disciplinary knowledge to bear on global policy challenges promises to catalyze international engagement across the University, leveraging Penn’s unique strengths to improve and protect the lives of the most vulnerable individuals and communities around the world. She is currently leading a multidisciplinary Borders and Boundaries research project at the Perry World House.