Frank R. Baumgartner is the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished
Professor of Political Science at The University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. He joined the department in 2009 as the first holder
of the Richardson professorship. A native Detroiter, he attended
Detroit's Cass Technical High School and then received all his academic
degrees at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BA 1980; MA 1983,
PhD 1986). He held academic positions at The University of Iowa
(1986-87); Texas A&M University (1987-98); and Penn State University
(1998-2009) where he served as Department Head (1999-2004), Distinguished
Professor (2005-07), and then was the first holder of the Bruce
R. Miller and Dean D. LaVigne Professorship (2007-09). He has had
visiting professor appointments at Caltech (1998-99) and at the
universities of Michigan, Washington, Bergen (Norway), Aberdeen
(Scotland), the Institute for Public Management (Paris), Sciences
Po (Paris), the European University Institute (EUI, Florence, Italy),
the Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France), and the University of Barcelona
(Spain). He has a continuing appointment as a visiting researcher
at the Center for European Studies / Sciences Po in Paris, and has often
travelled there to teach a graduate class in public policy in May-June.
He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal
of Public Policy, Public Administration, Policy Studies Journal,
Political Research Quarterly, the Journal of European
Public Policy, Gouvernement et Action Publique, and
other journals. His work focuses on public policy, agenda-setting,
and interest groups in American and comparative politics and has
appeared in such journals as the American Political Science
Review, American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics,
Comparative Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy,
and Legislative Studies Quarterly.
With Bryan D. Jones, he created the Policy Agendas Project (www.policyagendas.org),
and they continue to co-direct it, with John Wilkerson. Books from
that project include The Politics of Information (with Bryan D. Jones, University of Chicago Press, 2014); The Dynamics of Policy Change in Comparative
Perspective, special issue of Comparative Political Studies
(August 2011, vol. 44, no. 8; co-edited with Sylvain Brouard, Christoffer
Green-Pedersen, Bryan D. Jones, and Stefaan Walgrave); Comparative
Studies of Policy Agendas, a special issue of the Journal
of European Public Policy (13,7, September 2006; coedited with
Bryan D. Jones and Christoffer Green-Pedersen); The Politics
of Attention: How Government Prioritizes Problems (with Bryan
D. Jones; University of Chicago Press, 2005); Policy Dynamics
(co-edited, with Bryan D. Jones; University of Chicago Press, 2002);
and Agendas and Instability in American Politics (with
Bryan Jones; University of Chicago Press, 1993; second edition 2009).
In 2001, the APSA Organized Section on Public Policy awarded the
Aaron Wildavsky Award for this book as "a work of lasting impact
on the field of public policy."
Other books include Basic Interests (with Beth Leech),
on the importance of interest groups in American politics and political
science (Princeton University Press, 1998) and Conflict and
Rhetoric in French Policymaking (Pittsburgh, 1989), on agenda-setting
in French politics.
In 2008, his book The Decline of the Death Penalty and the
Discovery of Innocence (Cambridge University Press, 2008, with
Suzanna De Boef and Amber E. Boydstun) was awarded the Gladys M.
Kammerer Award by the American Political Science Association for
the best book on US national policy. He remains involved in various
projects relating to the death penalty including its use in the
state of North Carolina.
In 2009, the University of Chicago Press published Lobbying
and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why (Frank R. Baumgartner,
Jeffrey M. Berry, Marie Hojnacki, David C. Kimball, and Beth L.
Leech), reporting the findings from the Lobbying and Policy Advocacy
Project, based on interviews with over 300 Washington lobbyists
and policymakers. This book won the Leon D. Epstein Outstanding
Book Award from the APSA Section on Political Organizations and
Parties in 2010.
In 2015 the University of Chicago Press will publish The Politics of Information (Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones), reflecting years of work on the policy agendas project. The book focuses on the inherent tension between the overwhelming complexity of the issues confronting government and the need for order, clarity, and clear lines of hierarchical control. Search, information, and monitoring systems that are well adopted for dealing with complexity involve redundancy, overlap, and networks of actors whose actions may be only partially coupled to others within the system; this is well reflected in the shared but conflicting institutions designed into the US government through the separation of powers and federalism. However, institutional designs for clear and efficient delivery of known and well-understood policy solutions should be more efficient. The book demonstrates this dynamic and provides a new understanding of the growth and development of the US government with a focus on the post-1947 period. It takes some of the ideas of complexity and bounded rationality first developed in The Politics of Attention and explores their implications in new ways.
His current research projects focus on extensions of the Policy
Agendas Project. Comparative policy
agendas projects are underway in Canada, England, France, Belgium,
the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, Israel,
Germany, Italy, Australia, Turkey, for the state of Pennsylvania, and in
Hong Kong. He is also involved in various projects relating to the
use of the death penalty in North Carolina and elsewhere, in particular
issues of racial bias, cost, and innocence. Further projects relate
to issue-framing more generally both in the media as well as in lobbying efforts by interest groups. This work is equally balanced between US and European applications. In 2013-14 his main writing focus relates to a co-authored book on agenda-setting in Spain, based on the Spanish agendas project, and one relating to racial symbolism and the death penalty in North Carolina, with Isaac Unah and Seth Kotch. He is also active in analysis of North Carolina police traffic stops data, assessing the degree of possible racial bias in the likelihood of being searched after a traffic stop; this work has led to considerable news coverage across the state and is engaging policymakers to address the problem of racial profiling.
In 2011 the APSA Section on Political Organizations and Parties
named Baumgartner the recipient of the Samuel J. Eldersveld Award
for Career Achievement.
He is active in University service activities, serving as an elected member of the University-wide Faculty Council, as the Diversity officer for Political Science, and in various other service capacities. In 2013-14 he was director of admissions for the PhD program in political science. Beginning in Fall 2014 he took over from Jim Stimson as the department's director of placement, helping our new PhD graduates to find their first jobs in the profession.
He occasionally makes comments in the media, and is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network; click here to go to his SSN profile.
He is married to Jennifer E. Thompson, co-author of the New York Times best-seller Picking Cotton and advocate for judicial reform, increasing awareness about sexual violence, and the elimination of the death penalty. Click on her photo below to go her her professional web site.
Links to the left of this page will take you to information concerning
his CV, teaching materials, published books and articles, conference
papers, and links to web sites and research projects in which he
Prof. Baumgartner has a bajillion nephews and a lovely and inspiring wife.