David Blanding

Faculty Director of the Master of Public Affairs program, Associate Professor of the Practice of International and Public Affairs
111 Thayer Street, Room 210
Areas of Expertise Race, Identity & Ethnicity
Areas of Interest Race and Public Policy, Civil Rights

Biography

David Blanding is the Faculty Director of the MPA program. In this capacity, he provides high-level strategic direction to the MPA program, leading curricular development and other efforts to strengthen the program's impact and visibility. As Faculty Director, Professor Blanding also chairs the MPA program’s Faculty Committee, serves as a faculty advisor in the program, and represents the program at national conferences and alumni engagement events. In his ongoing role as an associate professor of the practice, he will teach Policy Analysis in the fall of 2023, Race and Public Policy in the spring of 2023 and Policy in Action in the spring of 2023.

Professor Blanding joined Watson from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan agency that conducts research on federal policies and programs for Congress. David supported GAO’s mission in multiple roles. As a senior methodologist on the Applied Research and Methods team, he helped interdisciplinary audit teams design and execute a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including focus groups, interviews, surveys and statistical analyses. Later, as the Director of Leadership and Executive Development Programs in GAO’s Learning Center, he managed a portfolio of services and programs — including coaching, mentoring, psychometric assessments, instructor-led training, and organizational development — that helped agency staff hone key leadership competencies. David has also taught political science, public policy and law at American University, McDaniel College and Brown University and published research on U.S. voting, economic development and social welfare policies. Earlier in his career, he supported racial justice advocacy at the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Professor Blanding earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Brown University and was a recipient of a dissertation fellowship from the Ford Foundation/National Research Council. He also received an undergraduate degree in political science from Boston University. Outside of his work in government and academia, he has been active in a number of not-for-profit organizations focused on educational equity, mentoring and employment opportunities. 

Research

The Voting Rights Act
School Desegregation 

Teaching

MPA 2226: Race and Public Policy
MPA 2229: Principles and Practices of Stakeholder Engagement
MPA 2800: Policy In Action Course

Recent News

News from Watson

Student Spotlight: Gulsima Young ’24 MPA

Gulsima Young, who believes good policy-making must include kindness, appreciates the community and collegial environment Brown's Master of Public Affairs program provides.
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This fall the Watson Institute hosted a unique study group in collaboration with Brown's Undocumented, First-Generation College, and Low-Income Student Center (U-FLi). The study group, which was open to all students, focused on skill-building and leadership development for first-generation, low-income and undocumented students.
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News from Watson

Top ‘News from Watson’ stories of 2023

2023 was an exciting year at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs with the Institute welcoming its largest-ever cohort of military fellows, celebrating 10 years of the China Initiative and welcoming new leaders. This year’s top 10 stories from the Watson Institute appear below.
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David Blanding, who earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University, returned to the University a year ago as an associate professor of the practice of international and public affairs. This year, he steps into a new role as director of Watson's Master of Public Affairs program.
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News from Watson

Student Spotlight: Andrew Davis ’24 MPA ’25 MPH

Master of Public Affairs and Masters of Public Health dual-degree student Andrew Davis is finding ways to incorporate his activism in sexual violence prevention into his coursework. He says he has found a receptive community among the students, faculty and staff at Brown who are eager to support him.
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