Professor Brenda K. Bushouse of the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy and Department of Political Science has been awarded a two-year Learning Sciences Exchange fellowship for her work on early childhood policy. The fellowship is a partnership of the Jacobs Foundation, New America, and the International Congress of Infant Studies.
The Learning Sciences Exchange bridges the divide between academic researchers in the fields of early childhood learning and development, the media, and policymakers—a divide that can prevent academic insights and advancements from being translated into practical solutions to help children.
“Too often, new findings on children 0-5 are either left to wilt in inaccessible academic journals, contorted by splashy headlines, or too complicated to lead to real policy changes,” according to the Learning Sciences Exchange. The fellowship program brings together fifteen researchers, policymakers, and media professionals from the US and Europe to collaborate on creative ways to bridge that divide and to effectively communicate about learning sciences to the general public. At the end of the fellowship, participants will deliver “LSX Talks” on their work, to be broadcast via international media.
Bushouse’s research is driven by the question of why governments underinvest in programs to benefit their most vulnerable members: children. Her book Universal Preschool: Policy Change, Stability, and the Pew Charitable Trusts analyzed how state government successfully invested in early education; she conducted a similar study of New Zealand. Her current book focuses on US federal child policy since the twentieth century to understand the roles played by foundations and philanthropists in funding policy change. In particular, she is looking at how this support led to landmark laws governing child labor and establishing programs for child health and nutrition, yet failed to create federal standards and funding for early childhood education and care.
During her fellowship, Bushouse will work to find ways to communicate the insights gleaned from her years of research about why policy change advocacy sometimes succeeds and other times fails to help support the advancement of more effective child policy.
“I look forward to working with this international cohort with diverse expertise,” she said. “My goal is to work with my cohort of media, entertainers, policy scholars, and scientists to create impactful ways to improve the lives of young children.”
- Faculty News