University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Brenda K. Bushouse

Professional Title: 

Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy


Thompson 302

Phone Number: 



Office Hours: 

Fall 2016: Tuesday 12:20-2:00PM & by appointment


Ph.D., Indiana University 1999, M.P.A. Syracuse University 1992


My research program has has a lasting focus on the realm of activity that is neither market nor state.  I research both the politics of nonprofit organizations in the policy process (see forthcoming article in Policy Studies Journal) and also the roles nonprofit perform in delivery of services that are also provided by governments and for-profit businesses (see Bushouse 2011 and forthcoming 2016 special issue of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly).  In a new direction, I am collaborating with a team of natural and social scientists to explore the connections between environment and human use of urban parks (pending grant application to the National Science Foundation) with my expertise being utilized to understand the role of "friends groups" on ecosystem management. 

A second lasting area of my research focuses on the most vulnerable in our society: children.  The focus began with my dissertation on the mixed economy for child care, continued with my book, Universal Preschool: Policy Change, Stability, and the Pew Charitable Trusts(SUNY Press 2009), comparative research on early childhood policy in New Zealand, and continues with two current projects.  The first is my current book project (with Doug Imig) analyzing social movements and policies for children in the U.S. from 1900 - 2015.  The second involves state level research on the pre-kindergarten movement that includes a 37-state analysis of the impacts of the recession on state pre-k and in-depth state case studies in Illinois, New York, and Connecticut (funded by the Graustein Memorial Fund).  

Throughout my scholarly career I have extended my nonprofit research to include strategies to connect the academy to communities (Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 2010, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 2012).  I incorporate community engagement into my courses through service-learning projects with nonprofit organizations (see publications in the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning and the Journal of Public Affairs Education).  Currently I chair the Five College Public Policy Initiative Mellon Policy and Social Innovation Bridging Project.  This three-year grant builds pathways between the liberal arts and professional education through exposing Five College faculty to innovative pedagogy (case method, simulations, team-based learning) and mentoring development of course offerings.  The goal of this grant is to expose liberal arts college students with social change aspirations to the professional pathways for achieving their visions and to infuse professional students with liberal arts education. 



Area of Study: 

  • Public policy and organizations