Skip to main content

PUBLIC POLICY AND ORGANIZATIONS is the study of what governments decide to do (or not do) and the organizations that implement government decisions. At UMass our approach seeks understand how and why public policies are created and sustained, and to illuminate the implications and effects of public policies on the state and civil society. Faculty associated with this field study institutions, ideas, and processes for understanding public policy utilizing multiple methodologies and approaches.  Our faculty bring diversity in theoretical orientations and empirical foci with strong ties to the UMass School of Public Policy.


  • Domestic, Global and Comparative Social Policy. This stream of work connects Public Policy faculty working on US social policy to those in American Politics studying health policy, race, education; and IR scholars’ work on global human security policy.
  • Nongovernmental Actors in Politics and Policy. Faculty in this cluster share an interest in the influence of non-state actors on all levels of domestic and global policy processes: issue construction, policy framing and implementation, effectiveness, and legitimacy. Whether studying the impact of lobbying and political finance on policymakers, the role of foundation in policymaking, or the role of advocacy networks in shaping or constraining policy options, we take seriously the role of the "sovereignty-free" layer in local, national and global politics.
  • Expertise, Knowledge and Governance. Faculty in this cluster share an interest in the role of science and expertise in the management of complex systems at multiple levels of politics; and in the legitimacy, usability, and ethics of science advice, as well as broader patterns of public policy, emergence, and self-organization of complex political systems. We are open to drawing on insights from computer science, organizational theory, cognitive psychology, as well as political science.
  • Institutions. Our faculty in this cluster research government and nongovernmental institutions and their roles in public policy and civil society.
  • Feminist Politics. The Feminist Politics research cluster explores issues related to gender and politics – whether US policy toward women in sports, women’s movements in the US or Latin America, or gender justice in international criminal law and the global human rights movement, we use multiple methods and perspectives to analyze gender as a form of social power and a force for change. 
  • Computational Social Science. Our faculty engage with the UMass Computational Social Science Institute, which is a cross-disciplinary research effort to use computational models and methods to help us understand the social world.