Amy Below

Oregon State University
Political Science

330E Ballard Hall
Corvallis, OR
97331 |  Visit Personal Website

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My current research agenda focuses on two strains. One investigates foreign policy decision making as regards climate change, specifically historic decisions to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in the Americas. I have a regional focus in the Americas. I adopt a Levels of Analysis framework in analyzing the interplay between international, domestic and individual level variables to explain decision making in the region. The other strain focuses on the formulation of US energy security policy. Two current projects focus on the roles of presidents and Congress in policy framing. One focuses on the politics behind framing, the other on differences in policy strategy. I conduct my research primarily using qualitative methodologies.

Below, Amy. (2008). "U.S. Presidential Decisions on Ozone Depletion and Climate Change: A Foreign Policy Analysis." Foreign Policy Analysis, 1-20.
Abstract: The overarching question this paper addresses is whether and, if so, to what extent can existing IR theories commonly associated with high politics decision making be applied to low politics issue areas, specifically international environmental policy. The paper serves to test poliheuristic theory against two case studies, The Montreal Protocol and The Kyoto Protocol, to assess its ability to explain the decision-making processes of our United States presidents. The paper concludes that poliheuristic theory adequately explains the presidents' behavior in virtually all cases. It is especially effective in explaining the first phase of the decision making process. The paper also suggests in the conclusion that a president's environmental beliefs may affect his decision-making behavior in the first phase.
Below, Amy. (2014). Environmental Politics and Foreign Policy Decision Making in Latin America: Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. New York, NY: Routledge.
Abstract: Although the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to address global climate change, has been regarded by many as an unsuccessful treaty both politically and environmentally, it stands as one of the world’s few truly global agreements. Why did such a diverse group of countries decide to sign and/or ratify the treaty? Why did they choose to do so at different times and in different ways? What explains their foreign policy behavior? Amy Below’s book builds off the increasing significance of climate change and uses the Kyoto Protocol as a case study to analyze foreign policy decision making in Latin America. Below’s study takes a regional perspective in order to examine why countries in Latin America made disparate foreign policy choices when they were faced with the same decision. The book looks at the decisions in Argentina, Mexico, and Venezuela via a process-tracing method. Below uses information obtained from primary and secondary documents and elite interviews to help reconstruct the processes, and augments her reconstruction with a content analysis of Conference of the Parties speeches by presidents and country delegates. The book complies with convention in the field by arguing that systemic, national, and individual-level factors simultaneously impact foreign policy decisions, but it makes the additional claim that role theory most accurately accounts for relationships between variables. This book considers a variety of factors on individual, national, and international levels of analysis and shows that the foreign policy decisions are best viewed through the prism of role theory. The book also draws conclusions about the value of role theory in general and about environmental foreign policy decisions in developing countries, which will be of value to both policy makers and academics.
Below, Amy. (2013). "Obstacles in Energy Security: Ananalysis of Congressional and Presidential Framing in the United States." Energy Policy, 62: 860-868.
Abstract: Despite decades of policymaking, the U.S. has only recently made significant strides in becoming a more energy secure nation. With a focus on the executive and legislative branches, this paper investigates two possible political obstacles to achieving this policy goal. The first question it asks is whether or not the two branches have been defining energy security in the same way. As the concept itself has no universal definition, it is possible that the branches have been focusing on different aspects of the term. Results from a content analysis of presidential speeches and congressional hearings suggest that no such division has occurred. The subsequent question asks whether or not the two branches, in tandem, are providing the foundation for sound policy. Results suggest that Congress and presidents have defined and discussed energy security in a generally balanced, comprehensive, and internally non-conflictual way. What policy emerges from these discussions should be the subject of future research.
Below, Amy. (2007). "The Missing Link: Regionalism as a First Step Toward Globalizing U.S. Environmental Security." Politics & Policy.
Abstract: Especially since September 11, 2001, national security has been a high policy priority for the United States. Unfortunately, this has come at the detriment of other policies and relationships with foreign nations, including its fellow North American neighbors, Canada, and Mexico. What the current U.S. administration has overlooked in its reprioritization of policy goals is the close relationship between security and environmental protection. This article discusses the need to more closely incorporate environmental and/or ecological security into a traditional notion of national security and it highlights the specific link between traditional conceptions of security and global climate change. The study additionally debates the question of U.S. participation in a North American environmental security agenda, namely one that coordinates efforts to address global warming.
Below, Amy. (2010). "Latin American Foreign Policy." International Studies Compendium Project. Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.
Abstract: This review essay will survey existing literature in the field, extracting and highlighting common themes and dialogues as they pertain to the goal of explaining and understanding Latin American foreign policy. The essay also includes, based on the ongoing dialogue in existing literature, a discussion of whether or not a theory of Latin American foreign policy exists. While extensive work has been conducted in public and private institutions and a plethora of articles have been written in popular magazines on Latin America in the international system, this review will focus on scholarly writings in academic books and journal articles.

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy
Environmental Policy SECONDARY
International Relations PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY