Helen V. Milner is the B. C. Forbes Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and the director of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton's School of Public and International Affairs. She was the chair of the Department of Politics from 2005 to 2011. She was president of the International Studies Association (ISA) for the 2020-2021 term and was president of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) from 2012-14. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations. She has written extensively on issues related to international and comparative political economy, the connections between domestic politics and foreign policy, globalization and regionalism, and the relationship between democracy and trade policy.
Some of her writings include Resisting Protectionism (1988), Interests, Institutions and Information: Domestic Politics and International Relations (1997) (ebook link), Votes, Vetoes, and the Political Economy of International Trade Agreements (2012), The Political Economy of Economic Regionalism (1997), Internationalization and Domestic Politics (1996), "Why the Move to Free Trade? Democracy and Trade Policy in the Developing Countries" (International Organization 2005), "Why Democracies Cooperate More: Electoral Control and International Trade Agreements." (International Organization 2002), "The Optimal Design of International Institutions: Why Escape Clauses are Essential." (International Organization 2001); "The Politics of Foreign Direct Investment into Developing Countries: Increasing FDI through International Trade Agreements?" (American Journal of Political Science, 2008); and "Who Supports Global Economic Engagement? The Sources of Preferences in American Foreign Economic Policy" (International Organization 2011); "International Systems and Domestic Politics: Linking Complex Theories with Empirical Models in International Relations" (International Organization Spring 2015).
Another strand of her recent research deals with American foreign policy and the so-called grand strategy of "Liberal Internationalism." She investigates the sources of public and elite preferences for international engagement and the role of the President (vs Congress) in setting foreign policy. The research explores many of the different tools that the President has for effecting foreign policy–from the international economic ones in the areas of international trade, foreign aid, sanctions, and immigration to the more military oriented ones such as military spending and interventions. It shows that domestic politics constrains the president’s use of some of these tools (the economic ones) more than others (the military ones) and points out that this asymmetry pushes US foreign policy to become militarized. Her newest book is Sailing the Water’s Edge: Domestic Politics and American Foreign Policy, coauthored with Dustin Tingley (Princeton University Press, 2015). It won the 2016 Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book published in the field of U.S. national policy. You can read more about the book in recent reviews published in Harvard Magazine, Perspectives on Politics, Governance, the New England Journal of Political Science, and Passport.
She works on topics related to globalization and development, such as the political economy of foreign aid, the "digital divide" and the global diffusion of the internet, and the relationship between globalization and democracy. Her research in these areas concerns Africa, in particular the politics of foreign aid in Uganda and Ghana and the resource curse associated with non-tax income in such countries. She also looks at how globalization interacts with political change in Tunisia in another branch of research.
She is currently a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, working on a book about globalization's challenges to democracy.