Two innovative researchers selected as 2018 Carnegie Fellows

Daniel Q. Gillion and Beth Simmons have been selected to receive the fellowship, allowing them to devote as long as two years to research and writing. 


Two researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have been selected as 2018 Andrew Carnegie Fellows.

Daniel Q. Gillion and Beth Simmons, along with 29 others, will receive the fellowship, which carries a $200,000 stipend allowing them to devote as long as two years to research and writing. 

Created in 2015 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the fellowship program supports high-caliber scholarship and research that applies perspectives from the humanities and social sciences to address pressing issues.

Gillion Daniel 4x

With an innovative approach that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, Gillion, the Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt Presidential Associate Professor of Political Science in the School of Arts and Sciences, will examine “The Loud Minority: Why Protests Matter in American Democracy,” focusing on how activism influences elections and voter turnout.

“Protest is the pulse of American democracy that indicates the inevitable changing political tide. It places issues on the political agenda and makes certain issues salient,” says Gillion, the author of two award-winning books, “The Political Power of Protest: Minority Activism and Shifts in Public Policy” and “Governing with Words: The Political Dialogue on Race, Public Policy, and Inequality in America.” “As protests shifts into politics, our democratic values are challenged and our American democracy inevitably evolves,” he says.

Gillion’s work will also consider if protests allow marginalized groups to have a greater voice, rekindling an old debate over whether the “silent majority” is swayed by the “loud minority.” Zeroing in on the political consequences of protest activities across the partisan divide, the project will study the ways protests act as an avenue of communication between activists and non-activists, providing a space for greater discussion on difficult issues.

To complete his project, Gillion will evaluate media reports regarding protests from 1940 to 2018 and conduct a national survey of voters following the 2018 midterm elections. He will also look at whether gerrymandering endangers democracy and heightens racial inequality. 

Simmons, a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and the Andrea Mitchell University Professor in Law, Political Science, and Business Ethics, will focus on “Structures and Sentiment: Understanding Anxieties About International Borders in the Modern World.”

Simmons Beth

In her work, Simmons studies international political borders during an age of globalization. She hypothesizes that many states have intensified physical structures on their international borders and explores why this is happening. 

She advances and measures the concept of “border orientation,” or the extent to which states increasingly display their authority to exert control at their borders, reflecting their effort to filter “wanted” from “unwanted” goods, services, and people. Her research will also examine some of the consequences of intensified state authority at international borders and border crossings around the world.

Her project will develop two databases. One is a first-of-its-kind global satellite-generated database of major border crossings. The second documents public sentiments that view international borders as spaces of opportunity versus threat.

“This innovative research will give us a fresh understanding of both architectural structures and societal sentiments that point to contemporary anxieties about international borders,” Simmons says. “It will provide essential data to ultimately understand the consequences of thickened and hardened borders for human rights, health, security, and well-being in the border regions.”

The next phase of Simmons’ project examines the built environment at border crossings in their broader institutional contexts. She will work to understand the layers of official bordering that support the filtering of mobility and trade.