New Faculty 2009-10
Susan Moffitt The Mary Tefft and John Hazen White Sr. Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Credit: John Abromowski/Brown University

Susan Moffitt
The Mary Tefft and John Hazen White Sr. Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

By Deborah Baum  |  September 9, 2009  |  Email to a friend

Susan Moffitt’s research investigates how knowledge is gathered and used in the political process, specifically within the spheres of health and education.

“My work links education and health policy because I see both public education and public health as vital to democratic political participation,” said Moffitt, the Mary Tefft and John Hazen White Sr. Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy.

Moffitt’s work in education policy investigates what is needed to put federal policy into local practice. Her first book, The Ordeal of Equality: Did Federal Regulation Fix the Schools? (Harvard University Press, 2009), is an historical policy analysis of K-12 education and federal regulation. Published this fall, the book looks at the development of the Title I program and how its goals have evolved from a “very modest supplement to local school programs to a much more ambitious effort to overhaul the American school system.” She and her co-author, David K. Cohen, call attention to the enormous gaps that currently exist between policies and what the current system is able to accomplish.

In the context of health policy, Moffitt’s work focuses on pharmaceutical regulation and product safety. Some of her current work, in collaboration with Daniel P. Carpenter, examines the Federal Drug Administration’s use of deadlines during its new drug review process and what implications those deadlines may have on product safety. Their work suggests that drugs approved in a rush to meet deadlines (that is, in the months just before a deadline elapses) are more likely to experience safety-related regulatory issues once they reach the market, compared with other drugs.

Moffitt earned a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1992 and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan in 1994. Since receiving a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan in 2005, she has served as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University, a research specialist at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, and most recently, a fellow at the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University.

Moffitt says Brown is the ideal space for her to delve into the theories that underlie the political processes that interest her, while also answering more applied questions. “Political science provides me with rigorous frameworks for understanding political puzzles while public policy gives me room to apply those frameworks to timely policy problems,” she said.

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