Melissa Schnyder, Ph.D.

American Public University

Country: United States (Illinois)

About Me:

Dr. Melissa Schnyder is Professor in the Doctoral Program in Global Security at American Public University. A former Fulbright Fellow to the European Union, her research focuses on European Union politics, transatlantic relations, human security policy issues (forced displacement, climate change, sustainability, food security), and the political participation of non-state actors in these policy areas. Dr. Schnyder has been awarded competitive grant funding for international research projects involving large-scale surveys of NGOs in 28 countries and fieldwork in more than six countries. Her research has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Contemporary European Research, Journal of European Integration, Comparative European Politics, Social Movement Studies, Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, and includes books published by Roman and Littlefield International Press, Sage Publications Ltd., and Lexington Press. Over the past several years, she has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal, Global Security and Intelligence Studies, and currently teaches courses on Global Governance, Quantitative Methods, and Statistics.

Research Interests

European Politics

Immigration & Citizenship

Networks And Politics



International Law & Organization

Research Methods & Research Design

Countries of Interest



Journal Articles:

(2019) Norm-based Strategies for Political and Social Change: An Analysis of Migrant Justice Advocacy, Social Alternatives

This article examines issues surrounding migrant justice to illustrate how civil society organisations (CSOs) integrate social norms into their advocacy work in order to bring about social and political change. Drawing on specific examples, it explores how CSOs use two strategies – normative reframing and normative innovation – to dismantle problematic existing social norms and advance alternative norms in their place. Because deliberate efforts to advance normative change can ultimately lead to institutional reform, the analysis is relevant to broader CSO efforts to tackle seemingly intractable problems.

(2018) Does Europeanization Stick? National Policies and Sustained Europeanization Strategies by Domestic Migrant and Refugee Organizations, Comparative European Politics

How domestic civil society organizations (CSOs) “Europeanize” their political activities has become a popular area of research. Most Europeanization research has focused on how groups Europeanize, or why some choose to Europeanize and others do not. Although these are important questions, scholars have not thoroughly investigated what drives the Europeanization of organizations’ political activity in the first place, or how enduring it tends to be. Using survey data of CSOs across Europe working in the area of migrant and refugee rights, along with domestic policy data, this study aims to fill this gap by analyzing how domestic policies facilitate or constrain sustained interactions with European Union (EU) officials and EU organizations. It contributes to research that aims to determine whether Europeanization tends to resemble sporadic interactions, or regular patterns that endure over time. This study goes beyond past research in two main ways: First, it broadens the empirical lens by including CSOs across every EU Member State, and secondly, it adds a precise temporal dimension in evaluating the frequency of interaction with specific EU actors over given periods of time, allowing for an assessment of how enduring (or sporadic) Europeanization tends to be on a larger scale and with more precision than previous studies have been able to achieve.

(2015) The Domestic Issue-Specific Political Opportunity Structure and Migrant Inclusion Organization Activity in Europe, Social Movement Studies

This analysis compares broad and issue-specific political opportunity structures (POS) to help explain the domestic conditions under which migrant inclusion organizations across the European Union undertake political activity. Using data from an original survey of European migrant inclusion organizations, the analyses model nine domestic activity types that range from conventional lobbying to more confrontational tactics. The results show that the national issue-specific POS is a stronger predictor of groups' domestic action, mobilizing participation across a range of activities. In contrast, the broad POS tends to decrease participation after controlling for issue-specific factors. The results lend support to the importance of refining the concept of the POS to include variables specifically relevant to the movement in question. Moreover, they demonstrate that the nation-state is an important factor in explaining groups' activities.

Books Written:

(2019) Refugee Protection in the European Union: Norm-based Advocacy Strategies by Civil Society Organizations, Lexington Books

The book draws on different strands of theory in political science to examine how civil society groups use norm-based advocacy strategies to change the nature of the public and political debate on refugee protection in five European countries and at the EU level. We seek to understand and explain how and why pro-refugee advocacy groups choose to use specific norm-based strategies of advocacy in their effort to shift public opinion on the issues of asylum and refugee protection and ultimately bring about policy change.

(2015) Activism, NGOs, and the State: Multilevel Responses to Immigration Politics in Europe, Rowman & Littlefield International

This book empirically investigates the rich varieties of cooperative cross-border activity, and compares how the same groups behave at both the national and transnational levels. It uses an original survey – the Survey of European Migrant Inclusion NGOs – to document four types of cooperative political tactics used by NGOs cross the European Union: information-sharing, technical expertise-sharing, resource-sharing, and coordination of common projects. It also looks across the current EU member states to analyze how differences in the national policy context specific to migrants’ issues facilitate and constrain these varied forms of transnational cooperation. In doing so, the book argues that to understand the overall prevalence of transnational mobilization and the extent to which it represents the emergence of a global civil society, we need to expand the focus of social movement studies beyond just visible, public displays of contentious activity.

Media Appearances:

Newspaper Quotes:

(2005) One Europe Magazine

special issue on Human Rights and Transatlantic Relations

Blog Posts:

(2015) In Homeland Security

n recent years, Europe’s refugee crisis has become an increasingly acute issue in need of a coordinated political response. Political instability to Europe’s south has prompted a surge in the number of asylum-seekers seeking refuge in the European Union.

(2015) In Homeland Security

A string of recent terror events including the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the attacks in Copenhagen at a free-speech event and synagogue, and the anti-terror raids in Belgium that brought down a potential plot to kill police officers illustrate the threat of homegrown jihadism in Europe. This threat has become an increasing concern for European governments, which are devoting resources to monitor thousands of their own citizens who leave Europe for Syria to train and fight alongside the terrorist group ISIS.

(2013) In Homeland Security

International relations scholars and policy analysts have become increasingly concerned with global environmental problems over the last few decades. A growing focus has emerged on the potential for intra-state conflict as a result of overuse of shared natural resources, as well as conflict due to growing resource scarcity. The focus tends to be on the actions of nation-states – either alone or via international organizations – in trying to understand how institutions and regimes can present solutions to shared environmental concerns, reducing the likelihood of resource overuse and conflict. However, a growing body of research is recognizing that citizens play an important role in the governance of communal resources to address shared environmental problems.