Susan L. Moffitt

Associate Professor of Political Science, Brown University; and Director, Alfred A. Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy
Areas of Expertise:
  • Revitalizing U.S. Democracy
  • Education
  • Food & Drug Regulation

Connect with Susan

About Susan

Moffitt’s scholarship focuses on the development of state capacity to implement policy in the context of democracy, specifically in the domains public education and public health.  Parts of her research focus on how to effectively gather, distribute, and use knowledge.  Other parts of her research focus on how the public, organizations, and government officials engage in and affect the policy implementation process.  Effective July 1 2017, she will be the Director of the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy at Brown University.



The Ordeal of Equality: Did Federal Regulation Fix the Schools? (with David K. Cohen) (Harvard University Press, 2009).

Argues the absence of an infrastructure of instructional practice—including common curricula, materials, professional learning, and assessments—helps explain limits with various reform efforts including standards-based reform, merit pay, new school leadership, mayoral control of schools, and human capital programs.  

"The Complications of Controlling Bureaucratic Timing: FDA Review Deadlines and Postmarket Drug Safety" (with Daniel P. Carpenter, Jacqueline Chattopadhyay, and Clayton Nall). American Journal of Political Science 56, no. 1 (2012): 98-114.

Argues that deadlines for FDA drug reviews lead to a piling of decisions shortly before the deadline elapses.  These ‘just-before-deadline’ decisions are then linked with significantly higher rates of post-marketing drug safety problems. 

Making Policy Public: Participatory Bureaucracy in American Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Challenges the conventional wisdom that government bureaucrats inevitably seek secrecy, and demonstrates how and when participatory bureaucracy manages the enduring tension between bureaucratic administration and democratic accountability in the context of pharmaceutical regulation and educational assessments.

"The State of Unequal Educational Opportunity: The Coleman Report 50 Years Later" (with Margot Jackson). ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (forthcoming).

Brings together different research traditions to engage with each other, to deepen understanding of some of the issues that the Equality of Educational Opportunity Survey opened up, to advance the study of inequality and educational opportunity and build on Coleman Report’s insights and findings. 

In the News

"Five Questions with: Susan Moffitt," Susan L. Moffitt, Interview with Emily Gowdey-Backus, Providence Business News, March 9, 2018.