The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Brenda K. Bushouse

Professional Title: 

Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

Service Role: 

  • Field Clerk - Public Policy


Thompson 624


Office Hours: 

Fridays 11-12:30 and by appointment


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


My research program has two intersecting foci.  The first is a lasting interest in the realm of activity that is neither market nor state.  I research the politics of nonprofit organizations in the policy process (see my 2017 Policy Studies Journal article).  What intrigues me is the work of people and organizations who work to fulfill a social mission.  I am particularly interested in utilizing institutional analysis to understand the provision of goods and services by nongovernmental actors (see Bushouse 2011 and Bushouse et al. 2016).  Currently I am exploring the role of foundations as actors in the policy process, an understudied but important policy player (Bushouse and Mosley 2019).    

A second lasting area of my research focuses on the most vulnerable in our society: children.  In Universal Preschool: Policy Change, Stability, and the Pew Charitable Trusts (SUNY Press 2009; awarded the Virginia Hodgkinson Research Prize) I explain why state governments invested in pre-kindergarten education. I studied a similar policy passed in New Zealand (awarded the Ian Axford Fellowship in Public Policy) to understand why New Zealander chose to fund universal early childhood education rather than a targeted program (Bushouse 2008, 2009).  Currently I am working on a book manuscript focusing on the role of foundations and philanthropists in social movements and policy advocacy for children in the U.S. from 1900 - 2015.  This historical perspective allows for analysis of advocates,  foundations and philanthropists, and policy actors in four policy domains (child labor, child health and nutrition, child abuse, and early education) over time as well as cross-domain interactions.  

I serve on the board of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, the primary scholarly association for nonprofit scholars.  I am conference co-chair for the 2019 conference to be held November 21 - 23 in San Diego, CA. 




Area of Study: 

  • Public policy and organizations


  • Nonprofit organizations and policy process


  • Political Science