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This Month's Centennial Center Visiting Scholars

This month, the Centennial Center Visiting Scholar Program is pleased to support the following scholars as they pursue their research in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This program has hosted a diverse array of APSA members from every field of study, and from the United States and abroad. Check back each month to learn more about what our current Visiting Scholars are researching and teaching during their stay with the Centennial Center.

The Centennial Center, its facilities, and research support programs have been made possible since 2003 by the generous donations of APSA friends and members. 

Interested in becoming a Visiting Scholar? Learn more about the Visiting Scholar Program here.

Virginia Beard, Hope College
"Political History of Homelessness in America"

Homelessness – in the United States as well as around the world – persists in spite of efforts by policy makers, service providers, individual citizens and community groups to combat the symptoms and perceived root causes of people living without stable, secure housing. In the context of the United States, homelessness as an issue seemed to burst into national dialogue in the mid-1980s, culminating in the 1987 passage of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Persons Assistant Act. Literature exists investigating the causes of homelessness – falling primarily into two camps. One set of research focuses on individual-level, personal factors as the presumptive causal dynamics behind homelessness – lack of education, drug and alcohol abuse, poor decision-making, mental illness. The other takes as its starting point assumptions at the macro-structural level as the causal factors behind homelessness – lack of affordable housing, lack of quality jobs, a problematic criminal justice system, institutionalized racism. Which perspective is accurate? Do both hold aspects of truth? Have and how have perceptions regarding structural versus individual factors causing homelessness changed over time? And have/how have such beliefs impacted the resulting policies and programs targeting homelessness, vagrancy, hobos, transients? Are such perspectives currently framing or driving policy and programmatic responses to homelessness and, if so, how? If one perspective is more accurate and the other is driving policy, how is this affecting the effectiveness of efforts to alleviate homelessness? 

Carolina Ferrerosa-Young, Columbia University

My dissertation is the inaugural attempt of a research agenda aimed at mapping governmental response to interest group advocacy through the lens of representational inequality. At the first stage of the project, I will be focusing on national-level response. This dissertation will focus on the U.S. Congress, with the intention of studying other levels of government in future projects. For this project, I will partner with a non-governmental organization and conduct a fi eld experiment on the effects of lobbying efforts on behalf of constituent preferences from different levels of resources and expertise. This research will shed light on how and under what conditions lobbying efforts for differing constituencies can affect representation in government. I begin with a broad question: Under what conditions are public advocacy groups' voices heard and represented in American government? I follow with a narrow question: If we randomly assign U.S. politicians to receive lobbying contacts on behalf of a constituent versus an expert, who gets heard and responded to?

Sharan Grewal, Princeton University
"Coup-Proofing and Democratization"

Perhaps the most frequented topic in comparative politics has been the study of democratization. Despite this widespread interest, the critical role of the military has been largely neglected. A recent account laments that nearly 25 years after Stepan's (1988) observation that the military has probably been the least studied of the factors involved in new democratic movements," the situation has not changed drastically." The absence of the military is a significant omission in theories of democratization, as empirically the leading cause of collapse of a democratic transition is a military coup (Svolik 2015). Understanding what drives militaries to thwart democratic transitions could provide an important piece of the puzzle of why some transitions succeed and others fail. This dissertation argues that a military's decision to thwart or accept a democratic transition is shaped by its former autocrat's coup-proofing strategies. It first develops a new typology of coup-proofing strategies, noting that autocrats can manipulate the military's corporate interests (through counterbalancing or cooptation) and its composition (through stacking or favoritism). The dissertation then examines the downstream consequences of these coup-proofing strategies on the prospects for democratization. It finds that counterbalancing and favoritism are particularly conducive to democratization, while cooptation and stacking are more problematic.

Carl LeVan, American University

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