Watson Institute at Brown University
International and Public Affairs
Susan Moffitt

Susan Moffitt

+1 401 863 9335
111 Thayer Street, Room 318

Downloadable CV

Susan Moffitt

Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy
Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: Education policy, regulatory policy, health policy.


Professor Moffitt’s research focuses on American political institutions and public policy.  Her research examines the politics of information gathering, distribution, and use, with particular emphasis on developing the capacity to put policy into practice in the fields of public education and public health. Her latest book, Making Policy Public: Participatory Bureaucracy in American Democracy, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. Her first book, The Ordeal of Equality: Did Federal Regulation Fix the Schools, co-authored with David K. Cohen, was published by Harvard University Press in 2009. Her other scholarship has appeared in The American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, The American Journal of Education, Medical Care, and numerous edited volumes.  Before joining the faculty at Brown, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in health policy research at Harvard University. She holds a PhD (political science) and a master of public policy degree from the University of Michigan.


Susan Moffitt’s research focuses on the development of knowledge and capability to support policy implementation—to put policy into practice at the frontlines of service provision—and to do so in ways consistent with democratic accountabilities that incorporate the voices and needs of vulnerable populations.  

How can designs of governance – including community organizations, private organizations, and government agencies – support capacities for frontlines service provision? How do these designs of public governance support democratic accountabilities, or not? How do these designs and accountabilities incorporate the voices and needs of vulnerable populations, or not? These are the fundamental questions that guide my research program, with particular emphasis on health and education policy.


Fall 2019

POLS 1823Z: Gender and Public Policy

Spring 2020

POLS 1770: Education, Inequality and American Democracy


Paul Manna and Susan L. Moffitt.  Forthcoming.  Traceable Tasks and Complex Policies: When Politics Matter for Policy Implementation.  Policy Studies Journal.

Susan L Moffitt and Neal Finkelstein.  2018. Implementing the Common Core State Standards in California Schools: A Work in Progress. Getting Down to Facts II.

Jeffrey R. Henig, Melissa Arnold Lyon, Susan Moffitt and David Plank. 2018. Creating Coherent Systems to Support Education Improvement. Getting Down to Facts II.

Susan L. Moffitt, Matthew J. Lyddon, Michaela Krug O’Neill, Kelly B. Smith, Marie Schenk, Cadence Willse, and David K. Cohen.  2018. Frontlines Perspectives on Instructional Improvement in the Common Core Era. Technical Report, Getting Down to Facts II: Current Conditions and Paths Forward for California Schools.

Susan L. Moffitt, Matthew J. Lyddon, Domingo Morel, Michaela Krug O’Neill, Kelly B. Smith, Cadence Willse, and David K. Cohen.  2018. State Structures for Instructional Support in California. Technical Report, Getting Down to Facts II: Current Conditions and Paths Forward for California Schools.

Margot I. Jackson and Susan L. Moffitt.  2017.  The State of Unequal Educational Opportunity: The Coleman Report 50 Years Later. ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 674: special issue.

David K. Cohen, Susan L. Moffitt, and Kelly B. Smith.  2017. The Influence of Policy on Practice. In Shaping Education Policy: Power and Process, 2nd edition, Douglas E. Mitchell, Robert Crowson, and Dorothy Shipps (eds). Taylor and Francis.  

Susan L. Moffitt.  2016.  The State of Educational Improvement: The Legacy of ESEA Title I. History of Education Quarterly 56 (2): 375-381.

Susan L. Moffitt and David K. Cohen.  2015. The State of Title I: Building Capability for Instructional Improvement. RSF: Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 1(3): 187-202.

Daniel Carpenter, Jeremy Greene and Susan Moffitt.  2015.  The Drug Efficacy Study and its Manifold Legacies.  In FDA in the 21st Century: The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies, Holly Fernandez Lynch and I. Glenn Cohen (eds).  New York: Columbia University Press.

Susan L. Moffitt.  2014.  Making Policy Public: Participatory Bureaucracy in American Democracy.  New York: Cambridge University Press.