UMass Amherst Department of Political Science

Brenda K. Bushouse

Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

Thompson 302
Office Hours: Spring 2015: On leave
Phone: (413) 545-1453

My research interests include public policy with particular focus on the role of 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations in policy processes and an empirical focus on early childhood education and care. 


My research has a lasting focus on the realm of activity that is neither market nor state.  I am currently working (with Rob Christensen and Brent Never) on a project that connects the research of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis with scholarship on nonprofit and voluntary action.  To date, we have led four conference sessions on the topic and are currently developing a special issue of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.  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.  I have two current projects: one project analyzes the impacts of the Breat Recession on state pre-kindergarten budgets.  Co-author Doug Imig, Richelle Long and I completed a 37- state study and are now in the process of conducting case studies to better understand how policy design and advocacy impact state policy decisions.  The second project (with Doug Imig) analyzes social movements for children from the 20th century to the current pre-k movement.  This book project will be the primary focus during my spring 2015 sabbatical.  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 pedgogies (case method, simulations, team-based learning) and graduate student mentoring of undergraduate students.  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.

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

Courses Taught:
Public Policy (undergraduate, masters, doctoral); Nonprofit Program Management; Nonprofit Governance; Social and Environmental Innovation; Public Management; Urban Politics and Government; Inequality in theU.S.

Current Projects:
My research on the impacts of the recession on state pre-kindergarten funding is expanding in several directions: state case studies in Illinois, New York, and Tennessee, connect with scholars researching recession impacts on health and social services on an APSA panel, presenting the case research at ARNOVA focusing on the role of foundation funding and advocacy capacity, a book manuscript on social movements for children, and connecting with European early childhood scholars to explore comparative studies. The special issue of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly focused on connection the work of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom, founders of the Indiana University Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis, to nonprofit and voluntary action research is nearing completion. We plan to continue building these connections in the years to come in the form of an edited volume and collaborative research projects.

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