Merze Tate Award 

Nominations for the 2024 APSA Awards have closed.

The Merze Tate Award honors the best doctoral dissertation in the field of international relations, law, and politics.

The award is presented at the APSA Annual Meeting and carries a cash prize of $750.  This award was previously known as the Helen Dwight Reid Award.

Nomination Information

  • Eligibility: Nominees do not have to be members of APSA, affiliated with an institution in the United States, or an American citizen in order to be considered for an award.

    Dissertations must have been successfully defended within the previous two calendar years (dissertations for the 2024 award must be defended in 2022 or 2023).

    Self-nominations are accepted. Nominations from non-PhD departments and institutions are also welcome if the nominee is currently employed there.

    APSA will accept only one nomination for the Tate Award per school or political science department.

Donate now to Merze Tate Award fund


Merze Tate Award Committee

Chair: Dr. Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham
University of Maryland, College Park

In Song Kim
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Sebastian Rosato
University of Notre Dame

Year Author Dissertation Submitted by


D.G. Kim

Anti-Asian Racism and the Racial Politics of U.S.-China Great Power Rivalry

University of California, San Diego


Rachel Myrick

Partisan Polarization and International Politics

Stanford University


Danielle Gilbert

The Logic of Coercive Kidnapping

George Washington University


Erik Lin-Greenberg

Remote Controlled Restraint: The Effect of Remote Warfighting Technology on Crisis Escalation


Ranjit Lall

Making International Organizations Work: The Politics of Institutional Performance

Harvard University


Christoph Mikulaschek

The Power of the Weak: How Informal Power-Sharing Shapes the Work of the United Nations Security Council

Princeton University


Rochelle Terman

Backlash: Defiance, Human Rights, and the Politics of Shame

University of California, Berkeley


Melissa Lee

Mind the Gap? The International Sources of Sovereignty and State Weakness

Stanford University


Nicholas Miller

Hegemony and Nuclear Proliferation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Joshua David Kertzer

Resolve in International Politics

Ohio State University


Aila Matanock

International Insurance:  Why Militant Groups and Governments Compete with Ballots Instead of Bullets

Stanford University


Margaret E. Peters

Open Trade, Closed Borders: Immigration Policy in the Era of Globalization

Stanford University


Daniel Levine

Critical Wrestlings: The Problem of Sustainable Critique in International Theory

Johns Hopkins University


Stephen Craig Nelson

Creating Credibility: the International Monetary Fund and the Neoliberal Revolution in the Developing World

Cornell University


Jessica Chen Weiss

Powerful Patriots:  Nationalism, Dipolomacy, and the Strategic Logic of Anti-Foreign Protest

University of California, San Diego


Margarita Hristoforova Petrova

Leadership Competition and the Creation of Norms

Cornell University


Jason M.K. Lyall

Paths of Ruin: Why Revisionist States Arise and Die in World Politics

Cornell University


Alexander B. Downes

Targeting Civilians in Wartime

University of Chicago


Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

Globalizing Human Rights? How International Trade Agreements Shape Government Repression

Nuffield College, Oxford University


Helen M. Kinsella

The Image Before the Weapon: A Genealogy of the 'Civilian' in International Law and Politics

University of Minnesota


Stephen G. Brooks

The Globalization of Production and International Security

Yale University


Tanisha Fazal

Born to Lose and Doomed to Survive: State Death and Survival in the International System

Stanford University


Jon C. Pevehouse

Democracy from Above? Regional Organizations and Democratization

University of Wisconsin, Madison

The Helen Dwight Reid Award was awarded annually for the best dissertation successfully defended during the previous two years in the field of international relations, law, and politics. The Helen Dwight Reid Award was presented for the first time in 1966 and was originally sponsored by the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation.

Minutes from APSA Council meetings at the time give little indication as to why Helen Dwight Reid was selected as the scholar for whom the award was named. However, Helen Dwight Reid was a friend and compatriot of the then-APSA Executive Director, Evron Kirkpatrick, and his wife, Jeanne Kirkpatrick. 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.”

About Helen Dwight Reid
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.

Renaming the Award
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 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.

About Merze Tate
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.”