Chappell Lawson to discuss Mexico’s transborder crime and governance

The border between the United States and Mexico has been a source of tremendous controversy in both countries. MIT political science professor Chappell Lawson will discuss Mexico’s transborder crime and governance in an upcoming lecture as part of the Great Decisions series.

Lawson’s lecture will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 in the Bazarsky Lecture Hall. Seating is limited and those interested in attending should contact the Pell Center at (401) 341-2927 or

Historically, the U.S.-Mexico border has been the main site of illegal immigration into the U.S., but it also sees more than 200 million legal crossings every year. More recently, it has been marked by intense violence on the Mexican side. And it remains one of the busiest commercial crossings in the world. How can both countries collaborate to manage their border – from law enforcement to commerce, from migration to stewardship of shared natural resources?

Lawson is an associate professor of political science at MIT, director of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives and secretary of the faculty. His major research interests are Mexican politics, democratization, political communication and voting. Lawson’s recent work has focused on voting behavior in Mexico, the effect of candidates’ physical appearance on their electoral success, the psychological basis of political clientelism, and the conditions under which political leaders effect large-scale political outcome (such as regime change).

From September 2009 through February 2011, Lawson was on leave from MIT as a political appointee in the Obama administration, serving as executive director and senior adviser to the commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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