SARAH E. JAMES
Ph.D. in Government & Social Policy
Government & Social Studies Lecturer
In 2021-22, I am a lecturer in Government and Social Studies at Harvard University. I earned my PhD in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University in May 2021. My current book project examines the political responses to policy failure and how the design of state institutions impacts social policy. I have been a graduate fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy.
My research examines barriers to addressing racial and economic inequalities in the United States, with an eye to specifying how public officials and communities can overcome these obstacles. I focus on state-level institutions and politics, given their increasing power over the design and funding of the American social safety net.
POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF POLICY FAILURE
My dissertation book project, When is Hindsight 20/20?, studies the conditions under which public officials are willing to recognize and respond to policy failure, particularly as it relates to social policies.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT & POLITICAL MOBILIZATION
What experiences and conditions encourage civic engagement and political participation? What strategies can organizations use to effectively mobilize new supporters?
BUREACRACY, STATE CAPACITY FOR POLICY LEARNING, THE POWER OF DATA
Under what conditions do public officials invest in state institutions dedicated to policy research. In the age of big data, what structures must be in place for state bureaucrats, elected public officials, and the public to learn from and respond to information about policy outcomes? What features make data most likely to draw attention to systemic inequality?
TEACHING & ADVISING
Excellent social science courses teach students both skills and content in order to prepare them to participate in and improve their communities. Mastering the skills of political science—reading critically, analyzing data, writing coherently and understanding civic institutions and processes—are critical to students’ future careers, and, just as importantly, their civic lives.
I grew up moving around Central and South America. As a result I love traveling abroad (because I always have) and throughout the US (to learn more about the country I spent so little time in growing up).
I enjoy all things related to amazing food. I experienced autumn for the first time after moving to Boston, and I particularly enjoy cooking with the ingredients native to New England during that time of year. My family keeps me busy when I am not teaching, researching or writing. We are on a mission to visit every Presidential Museum & Library, and are about halfway there.