I am an associate professor of political science and the director of the International Nongovernmental Organizations Studies program at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island.
My research and teaching interests in the field of international relations and comparative politics include human rights and international law and norms, specifically, LGBTIQ rights, and the rights of children.
How does an idea that forms in the minds of a few activists in one part of the world become a global norm that nearly all states obey? How do human rights ideas spread? In this book, I track the diffusion of a single human rights norm: the abolition of the death penalty for child offenders or juvenile offenders under the age of 18.
Through detailed case studies and a qualitative, comparative approach to national law and practice, I argue that children played an important – though little known – role in the process of state consolidation and the building of international order.
The book offers insight into the origins, spread, and adoption of human rights norms and law by elucidating the roles and contributions of principled actors at different stages of diffusion, and by identifying a previously unexplored pattern of change whereby resistant states were brought into compliance with the norm against the child death penalty.
From the institutions and legacy of colonialism to the development and promotion of the global child — a collection of related, still changing norms of child welfare and protection – I demonstrate how a specifically Western conception of childhood and ideas about children shaped the international system.
My current research explores efforts by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to advance LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer) human rights at the United Nations and in international law and global civil society.
I focus on the emergence and continuing growth of LGBTIQ civil society, through the development of an LGBTIQ transnational advocacy network engaged in international activism. By means of qualitative interviews with LGBTIQ activists, and through archival and historical research, I examine key moments in the history and development of the transnational network. This body of research has received project support from the American Political Science Association and the Faculty Development Grant program at Rhode Island College.
Relatedly, I am also working on a project about children's agency in international law, focusing on the denial of children's rights to sexuality, sexual expression, and gender identity. In this project, I explore the relationship between the state and sexuality and consider the evolving idea of childhood innocence. I am particularly interested in the construction of childhood innocence and the ways in which the state and the international system have developed at the expense of this construction.
For my published work, please visit my Google Scholar page.
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science,
Rhode Island College, 2016–present.
Visiting Scholar, The New Zealand Center for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice,
Auckland Law School, University of Auckland, Spring 2018.
Director, International Nongovernmental Organizations Studies,
Department of Political Science,
Rhode Island College, 2011–present.
Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, 2010.
Fields: International Relations and Comparative Politics.
Minor: Human Rights. Adviser: Professor Kathryn Sikkink.
M.A. in International Relations, University of Delaware, 2001.
B.A. in Philosophy, Religious Studies, certificate in Women’s Studies,
Indiana University—Bloomington, 1994.
The Globalization of Childhood: The International Diffusion
of Norms and Law against the Child Death Penalty,
Oxford University Press, August 2016.
“Teaching Progress: A critique of the grand narrative
of human rights as pedagogy for marginalized students”
(co-authored with Mikaila Muriel Lemonik Arthur).
Radical Teacher, vol. 103 (2015).
“The Globalization of Childhood: The international diffusion
of norms and law against the child death penalty,”
European Journal of International Relations, 20, no. 2 (2014): 544–568.
“The Carlson Company and Global Corporate Citizenship:
The protection of children in the travel and tourism industry”
(co-authored with Dick Eisenbeis). Case Research Journal (2011).
"From Rapists to Superpredators: What the practice
of capital punishment says about race, rights, and the American Child,"
International Journal of Children’s Rights, 19 (2011): 127–150.
My teaching interests closely reflect my research interests because I am passionate about the issues I study and I enjoy sharing these with students. My approach is centered on collective learning and intensive engagement with pressing current issues. I encourage students to challenge common assumptions and to develop and evaluate their own theories about contemporary problems.
I have taught Global Politics, Human Rights (advanced), International Law and Organization, International Nongovernmental Organizations, Social Entrepreneurship, Comparative Social Movements, Political Activism and Social Justice, and first-year seminars on human rights.
Spring 2019 course offerings:
POL 350 Political Activism and Social Justice
INGO 302: Social Entrepreneurship
Access the library resources page for world politics.
254 Gaige Hall
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
Phone: (401) 456-8278