Thomas A. Birkland, newest professor in the departments of Public Administration & Policy and Political Science and the Graduate School of Public Affairs, looks at the politics of environmental policy, specifically how events put issues on the public and government agenda.
"Iím looking at what causes the government to pay more attention to a problem and what leads to policy change," he said. He is currently focusing on the policy ramifications of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, in addition to industrial disasters such as oil spills and nuclear power plant accidents.
Birkland is also now working on a book proposal called "Toward a Theory of Focusing Events and Agenda Change." The courses he has taught have included one class on the Supreme Court and Introduction to Public Administration and Policy.
Citing his reasons for coming to Albany, he said, "The University was always highly regarded by my advisors at my previous school, the University of Washington." He went on to say that "the entire SUNY system has a very good reputation and the Universityís Rockefeller College itself is highly regarded ó and very plugged in to the workings of New York State government. "In addition, my colleagues at here at Albany are committed to teaching, and thatís something I respect very much. Iím very happy to be here."
Along with his research, Birkland would like to do more course instruction in environmental politics. He believes there is a "commitment on the part of the University administration to offer more in that area," said he will likely be working on helping to develop these new courses.
Birkland received his Masterís from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of Washington in Seattle.
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