Jennifer McCoy

Jennifer McCoy, PhD, is professor of political science at Georgia State University and non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2021-23). She was a Senior Core Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Budapest, Hungary in spring 2019.  McCoy was chosen for the inaugural class of Distinguished University Professorships at Georgia State University in 2013.  Specializing in international and comparative politics, Dr. McCoy’s areas of expertise include democratic resilience, democratic erosion and partisan polarization; crisis prevention and conflict resolution; democracy promotion and collective defense of democracy; election processes and international election observation; and Latin American Politics.

McCoy’s current research project on Polarized Politics aims to identify the causes, consequences for democracy and solutions to polarized societies around the world, including the United States. She coined the term “pernicious polarization” to refer to the political polarization that divides societies into mutually distrustful “Us vs. Them” camps, and undermines the capacity of democracies to address critical policy problems.

McCoy served as Director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program (1998-2015), leading projects on democratic strengthening, mediation and dialogue, and hemispheric cooperation. She led over a dozen international election observation missions to Latin America. An internationally-known expert on Venezuelan politics, McCoy represented the Carter Center in the tripartite mediation effort with the UN and OAS in 2002-2004, led election observation missions and media-strengthening projects until 2015, and has published numerous articles and books about Venezuela.  McCoy organized former President Carter’s historic trips to Cuba in 2002 and 2011, advised on the Colombia Peace Accord 2014-2016, mediated between Ecuador and Colombia in 2009-2010, and led democracy-strengthening projects in Central America, Bolivia, and Peru.

Dr. McCoy has authored or edited six books and dozens of articles.  Her recent volumes include Polarizing Polities: A Global Threat to  Democracy (2019) and   Polarization and    Democracy: A Janus-faced Relationship with Pernicious Consequences (2018), both co-edited with Murat Somer, and International Mediation in Venezuela, with Francisco Diez (2012).   McCoy is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Women’s Forum and the Scholars Strategy Network.