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


David Blanding is the Faculty Director of the Master of Public Affairs (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. In his dual role as an associate professor of the practice, he teaches both core and elective courses in the MPA program. He is currently working on a public policy textbook and conducting research on policing in the United States. 

Professor Blanding joined the MPA program from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan agency that conducts research on federal policies and programs for Congress. He started as a senior methodologist in GAO's Applied Research and Methods mission team before becoming the Director of Leadership and Executive Development Programs in the Learning Center. He has also taught political science, public policy and constitutional law at American University, McDaniel College, and Brown University, and published research on U.S. voting rights, 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 awarded 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 not-for-profit organizations focused on educational equity, mentoring and workforce development. 



The Voting Rights Act
School Desegregation 


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

Recent News

Three Watson Master of Public Affairs students and one alumna were named finalists for the prestigious Presidential Management Fellows class of 2024. They are now eligible to apply for positions as fellows in the federal workforce where they hope to make an impact on a variety of public policy issues.
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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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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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