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Professor of Government



Office: HAR230

Democracy From Above?, Dr. McNulty's most recent book, is out and can be purchased here.

Click here to go to Dr. McNulty's website.



Dr. McNulty, Associate Professor of Government, is a Latin Americanist with expertise in  participatory governance, gender, decentralization, and development. She is also the Director of Faculty Diversity Initiatives at Franklin and Marshall College, where she leads efforts to diversify the faculty and promote inclusive pedagogy.

Her newest book, Democracy from Above?, explores the effects of nationally mandated participatory reforms in the developing world. These reforms have become more common as elected officials seek to reduce the gap between dissatisfied citizens and unresponsive governments. The book tests the hypothesis that top-down national participatory reforms strengthen democratic governance over time. The project employs qualitative and quantitative research methods to document changes after these reforms and explore explanations for the outcomes observed. The first cross-national comparison on this issue, the study contributes to both scholarly and policy debates about whether it is possible to mandate democracy from above.

McNulty is also a global expert on participaotry budgeting and has contributed to several volumes and reports about the state of the art of this innovoate way of making local budgetary descisions. For example, she recently spent seven months in Peru observing participatory budgeting (PB) meetings to explore the issue of inclusion. This research projects asks if historically marginalized political actors participate in PB, and if not, why? Her research suggests that participatory democratic institutions in Peru suffer from paternalism and patriarchy and are not, in fact empowering new voices through democratic channels.

McNulty's work has been published in several academic journals, such as Latin American Politics and Society and the Journal of Development Studies. In addition to Democracy from Above? (Stanford University Press, 2019) she is the author of Voice and Vote: Decentralization and Participation in Post-Fujimori Peru (Stanford University Press, 2011). Voice and Vote explores the origin and implementation of Peru's 2002 decentralization reform, which is considered to be one of the most participatory in Latin America.

Dr. McNulty has worked, lived, and conducted extensive fieldwork in Chile, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, and Guatemala. She has a Ph.D. in Political Science from The George Washington University and a M.A. in Political Science from New York University. In addition to studying, teaching, and researching in several Latin American countries, Dr. McNulty worked for several years in the field of international development as a program manager and a monitoring and evaluation specialist. This experience led her to work on many USAID-funded projects around the world, including Guatemala, Bolivia, Liberia, and Kosovo.




2017. “The Fujimori Effect: Political Instability and Paralysis in Peru.” NACLA

2017. “Perú 2016: Continuity and Change in an Electoral Year.” Revista de Ciencia Política.

2016. “Peru’s Participatory Decentralization Reform.” Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_2571-1 

2015. “Barriers to Participation: Exploring Gender in Peru’s Participatory Budget Process.” Journal of Development Studies 51(11). 1429-1443. 
2015. “Mandating Participation: Evaluating Guatemala’s Top Down Participatory Governance SystemPensamiento Propio 40. Special issue on “Citizen Participation in Latin America.

2014. “US helped create crisis along border.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 31.

2013. "Institutions of Participatory Governance: Latin America's Response to a Failing Party System." SpazioFilosofico 9: 415-427.

2013. “Participatory Democracy? Exploring Peru’s Efforts to Engage Civil Society in Local Governance.” Latin American Politics and Society 55, 3: 69-92.  Download PDF.

2012. “An Unlikely Success: Peru’s Top-Down Participatory Budgeting Experience,Journal of Public Deliberation 8(2), Article 4.

2011.Voice and Vote: Decentralization and Participation in Post-Fujimori Peru. Stanford University Press.  (Reviewed in Perspectives on Politics and Comparative Political Studies)

2011. “Does Participatory Governance Matter? Exploring the Nature and Impact of Participatory Reform,” co-authored with Brian Wampler. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.

2011. “In leading women, U.S. lags.” The Philadelphia Inquirer A11, January 4.

2007. “Participación y sociedad civil: Las experiencias con los CCRs y los presupuestos participativos en el Perú.” In Aldo Panfichi (ed.) La Participación Ciudadana en el Perú. Disputas, confluencias y tensiones. Lima, Peru: Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica.

2007.“Decentralization and Participatory Local Governance: A Decision Space Analysis and Application to Peru.” Co-authored with Jennifer and Derrick Brinkerhoff. In Dennis Rondinelli and Shabbir Cheema (eds.) Decentralizing Governance: Devolution, Capacity, and Partnership. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.


Professor McNulty has a Ph.D. in Political Science from The George Washington University and a M.A. in Political Science from New York University. She also has a B.A. in Politics from Washington and Lee University.

Grants & Awards


  • Hewlett Foundation. “The State of the Art of Participatory Budgeting.” With Brian Wampler and Mike Touchton. 2017.
  • American Association of University Women American Postdoctoral Fellow. 2012-2013.
  • American Political Science Association’s Small Research Grant. 2012.
  • Faculty Hackman and Committee on Grants Awards. Franklin & Marshall College.
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, Peru. November 2004 – October 2005.
  • Fulbright Scholar, Peru. January - October 2004.
  • Consortium for Qualitative Research Methods, Tempe, Arizona. January 2003.
  • George Washington University Fellow, George Washington University, Washington, DC. 1999-2002.
  • Research Fellow, PromPerú, Lima, Peru. 1996.
  • Rotary International Fellow, Santiago, Chile. 1992-1993. Graduate study at Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile.

Course Information

Introduction to Comparative Politics

Latin American Politics

Politics of Development

Politics, Poverty,  and Gender