Public policy is all about action — at least when it comes to decision-making and analysis of governmental decisions. Those decisions can cover topics as broad as health and as specific as the CIA. The following top 10 most influential public policy professors have made their niche with publications, public service, research and in teaching at high-profile universities. When you follow the links to their faculty pages, you can read more about their degrees and how they came to be so influential.
The following list is arranged alphabetically by surname.
- Dr. Joel Fleishman joined the faculty of Duke University in 1971, combining his background in public policy and law as founding director of the Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs, a position he held until 1983. He has been professor of law and public policy studies since 1974 and is the faculty chair for the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society. Dr. Fleishman’s scholarly work reflects his long-standing interest in ethics, public policy and not-for-profit organizations and has written articles concerning urban studies, the postal service and the financing of federal elections.
- Jacob S. Hacker, PhD, is an expert on the politics and character of U.S. social policy and on American political institutions. Dr. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University, and a resident fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies. He is also a fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., and a former junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He is the author of numerous books and publications and, with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, he also is developing a new index of economic security and overseeing a new public opinion survey on perceptions of economic insecurity in the United States.
- Dr. Robert O. Keohane is professor of International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. Following the publication of his influential book, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Economy, Dr. Keohane became widely associated with the neoliberal institutionalism in international relations theory. Professor Keohane won the 1989 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order and the 2005 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, has received honorary degrees from two universities, and is the 2007-2008 Harold Lasswell Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
- Dr. Mark A. R. Kleiman is professor of public policy in the UCLA School of Public Affairs. His academic interests include political philosophy and the study of imperfectly rational decision-making and how to make policy to accommodate it. In addition to his academic work, Dr. Kleiman provides advice to local, state, and national governments on crime control and drug policy. He is the author of Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control and Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results, and has recently completed When Brute Force Fails. Dr. Kleiman edits the Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin.
- Dr. Paula D. McClain is a professor of political science and professor of public policy and African American studies at Duke University. She also is co-director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences at Duke University and also directs the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Summer Institute hosted by Duke University, and funded by the National Science Foundation and Duke University. Dr. McClain also sits on many boards and has accumulated a number of grants for publications, research and teaching.
- Dr. Joseph S. Nye is Dean Emeritus of the Kennedy School, Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations, and a member of the Belfer Center Board of Directors. Dr. Nye is the co-founder, along with Robert Keohane (see above), of the international relations theory neoliberalism, developed in their 1977 book, Power and Interdependence. Dr. Nye is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Diplomacy and a member of the Executive Committee on the Trilateral Commission. he received distinguished service awards for his government work from 1977 to 1995.
- Robert Reich, JD has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He also served on President-Elect Obama’s transition advisory board. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. Dr. Reich’s commentaries can be heard weekly on public radio’s “Marketplace.” He currently is the Chancellor’s Professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley. In 2008, Time Magazine named him one of the Ten Most Successful Cabinet Members of the century.
- Dr. Leiyu Shi [PDF] is professor of health policy and health services research from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management, and co-director of Johns Hopkins Primary Care Policy Center. Dr. Shi’s research and professional experience includes primary care, health disparities and vulnerable populations. He is the author of seven textbooks and over 100 journal articles and has received numerous awards for his work, including the Distinguished PRC Scholar award and Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare.
- James Q. Wilson, PhD is the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy. He is the author or co-author of fourteen books, including The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families, Moral Judgment, and Moral Sense. His textbook on American government is more widely used on university campuses than any other government textbook. Dr. Wilson has served on a number of national commissions concerned with public policy, and the American Political Science Association presented Wilson a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2001.
- Dr. Amy B. Zegart is associate professor at UCLA’s School of Public Affairs, a fellow at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Zegart has been featured by The National Journal as one of the ten most influential experts in intelligence reform. Her first book, Flawed By Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS and NSC, won the highest national dissertation award in political science and has become standard reading for several U.S. military and intelligence training programs.