Erica Simmons

Position title: Booth Fowler Professor: Comparative Politics | Political Methodology | Faculty Director, International Studies Major


221 North Hall
Office Hours: Thursdays, 1:30-3pm.


Affiliated with Sociology, International Studies


Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Chicago, 2012; M.P.P. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2005; A.B. in Social Studies, Harvard College 1999

Research Interests:

Civic Society, Globalization, Human Rights, Latin America, Methodology, Revolution, Social Movements


Erica Simmons is Professor of Political Science and International Studies and holds the Department of Political Science Booth Fowler Professorship. In 2023 she was awarded a Romnes Faculty Fellowship by the University of Wisconsin–Madison and was also recognized by the American Political Science Association with the David Collier Mid-Career Award for her contributions to qualitative methods. Simmons also holds a courtesy appointment with the Department of Sociology and is the Faculty Director of the International Studies Major.

Simmons’ research and teaching are motivated by an interest in contentious politics, particularly in Latin America. Simmons received an AB from Harvard College (1999) and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (2012). Her current work explores the intersection of market reforms and political resistance in the region and her dissertation on the topic was awarded the Latin American Studies Association/Oxfam America 2013 Martin Diskin award. She is the author of Meaningful Resistance: Market Reforms and the Roots of Social Protest in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2016) which was awarded the 2017 Charles Tilly award for distinguished contribution to scholarship on collective behavior and social movements. Simmons is currently working on two book projects, one on target response to social mobilization and another on the intersection of resource extraction, redistribution, and indigenous politics in Latin America. Her work on contentious politics has appeared in World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, and Theory and Society, among others.

Simmons also writes on ethnographic and qualitative methods, co-editing (with Nicholas Rush Smith) Rethinking Comparison: Innovative Methods for Qualitative Political Inquiry (Cambridge University Press, 2021), and co-authoring articles in Comparative Politics, PS: Political Science and Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and Qualitative and Multi-Method Research. She is currently working with Smith on new project on approaches to generalizability. Her qualitative methods work has twice been recognized with the Sage Paper Award for the best paper developing or applying qualitative methods presented at the American Political Association Annual Meeting.

Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, the Mellon Foundation, and the Tinker Foundation, among others.


PS 987: Comparative Politics Colloquium Spring 2022-2023

PS 919: Seminar-Advanced Methodology: Qualitative Methods Spring 2018-2019

PS 101: Introduction to International Studies Spring 2015-2016

PS 919: Qualitative Methods Spring 2016-2017

PS 431: Introduction to Contentious Politics Spring 2016-2017

PS 667: Introduction to Contentious Politics Fall 2015-2016

PS 431: Introduction to Contentious Politics Fall 2015-2016



Romnes Fellowship

American Political Science Association David Collier Mid Career Award


Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award for Meaningful Resistance

APSA Science Technology and Environmental Police Best Article Award for “Market Reforms and Water Wars”

National Science Foundation Grant, “Rethinking Comparison in the Social Sciences.”


Sage Paper Award for the best paper applying or developing qualitative methods presented at the American Political Science Association. Awarded to “Comparison and Ethnography: What Each Can Learn From the Other” (with Nicholas Rush Smith).

Hilldale Undergraduate Research award for her work with Gillian McBride on the project, “A Microcosm of Global Insecurities: Community and Landscape Changes in El Salvador Following the 1973 Oil Crisis.”

Honored Instructor Award


Honored Instructor Award


Latin American Studies Association-Oxfam America Martin Diskin Award for best dissertation involving a combination of scholarship and activism (co-awarded).


Mellon  Foundation Dissertation-Year Fellowship.


Sage Paper Award for the best paper applying or developing qualitative methods presented at the American Political Science Association. Awarded to “Informative Regress: Critical Antecedents and Historical Causation” (with Dan Slater).

Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award.

Hear from Professor Simmons on this episode of the 1050 Bascom Podcast!