Merze Tate Award

The Merze Tate Award (before 2017, known as the Helen Dwight Reid Award) is awarded annually for the best dissertation successfully defended during the previous two years in the field of international relations, law, and politics. It carries a prize of $750.  

Nominations for the 2020 Tate Award will close on Friday, February 14, 2020.  Please click here to submit a nomination.

All prior Helen Dwight Reid / Merze Tate Award winners

About Helen Dwight Reid & Merze Tate

The Helen Dwight Reid Award was presented for the first time in 1966. For many years, the award was funded by the Helen Dwight Reid Foundation, established in tribute to the Kirkpatricks, and for the purpose of “advance[ing] effective American leadership and engagement in ways that promote democratic development, human rights, and a just peace.”

Helen Dwight Reid’s primary contribution to scholarship was International Servitudes in Law and Practice, published in 1932 by the University of Chicago Press. Her book catalogs and classifies “international servitudes”, which are agreements among independent states “whereby the territory of one state is made liable to permanent use by another state, for some specified purpose” (p. 25). These include, among others, agreements about the use of natural resources, fishing rights, transit routes, military bases, and demilitarized zones. Reid argues that these agreements facilitate redistribution of resources without limiting sovereignty.  

In 2010, the Helen Dwight Reid Foundation ceased to exist, and sponsorship of the award ended. The APSA Council constituted a committee to consider renaming and refunding options for the Helen Dwight Reid Award in 2015. The Committee was chaired by Brett Ashley Leeds, Rice University, and included David Bearce, Erica Chenoweth, Mark Crescenzi, Juliet Johnson, and Laura Sjoberg. 

At the 2015 Annual Meeting, the committee developed criteria for a new name of the award, then charged each committee member to brainstorm candidate names. The committee members evaluated the resulting candidates based on the criteria they had established. After discussion, the committee unanimously decided to support a recommendation that the Helen Dwight Reid Award be renamed the Merze Tate Award. Merze Tate’s name was originally brought to the attention of the committee by Paula D. McClain, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University. The APSA Council unanimously adopted the committee’s recommendation at its spring 2016 meeting in Chicago, IL.  

Merze Tate was the first African American woman studying international relations to receive a doctoral degree in Government (1941, Radcliffe). She published many books and articles, including The Disarmament Illusion: The Movement for a Limitation of Armaments to 1907 (New York: MacMillan and Co., 1942), The United States and Armaments (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948), and The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom: A Political History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965). Most of her career was spent as a professor of History at Howard University, although she also traveled as a foreign correspondent. Tate and her work have been profiled in such publications as PS: Political Science and Politics (profile written by Maurice C. Woodard and published in the January 2005 issue) and White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations, by Robert Vitalis (Cornell University Press, 2015). Tate is the subject of at least one intellectual biography in progress. In choosing to name the award after Merze Tate, the committee noted that “her perseverance in the face of significant structural obstacles is inspiring and particularly meaningful for a dissertation award.”

Merze-Tate Award Committee

Chair: Dr. David G. Victor
University of California, San Diego
[email protected]

Dr Jennifer S Hunt
Australian National University
[email protected]

Dr. Kathy L. Powers
University of New Mexico
[email protected]