Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Susan Moffitt

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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


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 implement policy 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 implement public policy and support democratic accountability. Given the fragmented form of American bureaucracy that appears in many policy domains, policy development and implementation depend fundamentally on the capabilities of both government bureaucrats and implementers outside bureaucrats’ hierarchical jurisdictions.

What forms of bureaucratic decision making support building capabilities inside and outside government hierarchy? How can the design of governance – including professions, private organizations, and government agencies – connect policy with the capabilities of practice needed to implement policy? How can we reconcile these forms of decision- making and quasi-public designs of governance with democratic accountability? And, how can we do these things – structure government to support capabilities for policy implementation within a democratic framework – to address the needs of vulnerable populations? These are the fundamental questions that guide my research program, with particular emphasis on health and education policy.


MPA 2160  Management and Implementation in Public and Non-Profit Organizations

Spring 2016

POLS 1823Z: Gender and Public Policy


Margot I. Jackson, and Susan L. Moffitt. The State of Unequal Educational Opportunity: Introduction to the Special Issue on the Coleman Report 50 Years Later. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Sage Journals. October 25, 2017. 

David K. Cohen, Susan L. Moffitt, and Kelly B. Smith.  Forthcoming.  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.  Expected publication in 2017.

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. 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.

Paul Manna and Susan Moffitt. 2014. New Education Advocacy Organizations in the U.S. States: National Snapshot and a Case Study of Advance Illinois. New York: Wallace Foundation Report.

Daniel P. Carpenter, Jacqueline Chattopadhyay, Susan Moffitt and Clayton Nall.  2012.  The Complications of Controlling Bureaucratic Timing: FDA Review Deadlines and Postmarket Drug Safety. American Journal of Political Science 56 (1): 98-114. 

News|Recent News

Small rise in California's math and reading scores in 2018 (research by Susan Moffitt cited)

October 4, 2018 Ed Source

One of the studies to examine the rollout of California's new academic standards in the recently released Getting Down to Facts project found encouraging signs from teachers and principals whom researchers interviewed. “There were strong signals from teachers in high poverty schools that they were seeing improvement” in teaching and in training in the standards, said Professor Susan Moffitt.


Five questions with: Susan Moffitt

March 9, 2018 Providence Business News

Providence Business News asked Susan Moffitt, director of the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy, questions about her top priorities, the major challenges the center faces and the center's role in educating Brown students about American politics and policy.


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