Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz is a Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs in the School of Public Policy. She joined the School this year after spending 12 years at the University of Rhode Island, where she was a Professor of political science and Director of the Social Science Institute for Research, Education and Policy.
Pearson’s research and teaching interests focus on land use and housing policy, public opinion, political polarization, racial and economic inequality, and state and local government. She greatly enjoys involving students in the research process and has developed programs in which students help public officials understand the policy environment of social issues and the drawbacks and benefits of different policy choices. She also has run several election exit polls, as well as polling projects in which hundreds of students engage the community to gauge land use preferences.
Pearson’s research has been funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the Rhode Island State Government.
Pearson is a native of the Washington, D.C. area. Before attaining her Ph.D. and beginning her academic career, she worked as a legislative director for a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, a community health specialist for a community recovery service provider, and a high school teacher.
- Social policy; education policy; housing policy; land management; state & local government; racial & economic inequality in government & public policy; evolution of political parties in the United States; political polarization