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David A. Rochefort

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

A member of the department since 1982, David A. Rochefort became Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the end of the 2022-23 academic year after serving as Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor from 2001-23. His specializations include American public policy, policy analysis, and quantitative techniques. A recipient of the university’s Excellence-in-Teaching Award, he has contributed a variety of new courses in health politics and policy, social welfare, literature and politics, and social justice to the Political Science and Honors Program curricula at the university. Between 2001 and 2011, he also founded and directed a “Community-Based Research Initiative” in the Political Science Department involving upper-level undergraduates and graduate students in applied research projects that were conducted in partnership with local nonprofit groups and government agencies.

Professor Rochefort’s visiting appointments have included research and/or teaching positions at the University of Montreal, University of Toronto, Brown University, and Smith College. He also completed an NIMH postdoctoral fellowship in the Rutgers-Princeton Program in Mental Health Research. His books include Mental Health and Social Policy, 6th edition, with David Mechanic and Donna McAlpine (2013); Foreign Remedies, with Kevin P. Donnelly (2012); and From Poorhouses To Homelessness: Policy Analysis and Mental Health Care, 2nd edition (1997), among other titles. His edited volume with Roger W. Cobb, The Politics of Problem Definition (1994), is a frequently cited work. Rochefort’s latest book, System from Hell: Problem Definition and the Literary Portrayal of Failure in Our Social Institutions and Public Policy, is under contract with SUNY Press.

In his role as a policy consultant, Rochefort has collaborated with groups such as The Rockefeller Institute of Government, The Brookings Institution, Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, Human Services Research Institute, and The Romanow Commission for the Future of Health Care in Canada. From 1993 to 2000, Rochefort served as Vice-President for Public Policy, then President, of the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island.

View CV
  • Distinguished Professor, College of Arts & Sciences, Northeastern University (2001-2023)
  • Portz Award, Northeastern University, Recognition for Outstanding Contributions to the Northeastern University Honors Program (2014)
  • Practice-Oriented Education Award, Northeastern University (2006)
  • Beverly Visiting Professor, The Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, University of Toronto (fall, 1999)
  • Northeastern University Excellence-in-Teaching Award (June 1998, with subsequent re-nominations in 2007, 2010)
  • President’s Outstanding Service Award, Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (1998)
  • Fulbright Scholar Award, University of Montreal (fall 1996)
  • Board Member of the Year, Mental Health Association of Rhode Island (1995)
  • Winner, 1994 Better Government Competition, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Theodore Lowi Award for Outstanding Policy Studies Article of 1994, Policy Studies Organization

Making Single-Payer Reform Work for Behavioral Health Care: Lessons from Canada and the United States,” International Journal of Health Services 50 (Number 3, 2020) 334–349.

Innovation and Its Discontents: Pathways and Barriers in the Diffusion of Assertive Community
Treatment,” The Milbank Quarterly 97 (December 2019): 1151-1199.

Community-Based Policy Analysis,” Sage Research Methods Cases (London, UK: Sage Publishing, January 3, 2019).

The Affordable Care Act and the Faltering Revolution in Behavioral Health Care,” International Journal of Health Services 48 (Number 2, 2018): 223–246.

Reimagining the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Journal of Medical Humanities 39 (Number 1, 2018): 3-14.

“Agenda Setting, Problem Definition, and their Contributions to a Political Policy Analysis,” in
Handbook of Public Policy Agenda-Setting, ed. Nikolaos Zahariadis (Cheltenham, UK: Edward
Elgar Publishing, 2016), pp. 35-52.

“Mental Health and Social Policy: 1960s-Present,” in Guide to U.S. Health and Healthcare Policy, ed.
Thomas Oliver (Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press/Sage, 2014), pp. 349-362.

(Coauthor with Kevin P. Donnelly) “The Lessons of ‘Lesson Drawing’: How the Obama Administration
Attempted to Learn from Failure of the Clinton Health Plan,” Journal of Policy History 14 (April 2012): 184-223.

(Senior author with Kevin P. Donnelly) “Agenda Setting and Political Discourse: Major Analytical
Frameworks and their Application,” in Routledge Handbook of Public Policy, eds. Eduardo Araral et
al. (New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 189-203.


Working Papers

(Senior author with M. Ganim) Rhode Island: Individual State Report (Final). State-Level Field Network Study of the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Rockefeller Institute of Government (State University of New York), The Brookings Institution, and Fels Institute of Government (University of Pennsylvania). October 2016.

(Senior author with Kevin Donnelly) “Holding Teachers Responsible for Failing Schools: The Battle Over Education Reform in Central Falls, Rhode Island,” The Electronic Hallway, Evans School, University of Washington, 2011.

Mental Health Care in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, ISSUE BRIEF no. 6. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University, November 1999.

  • Education

    PhD, 1983, American Civilization
    Brown University

  • Contact

  • Address

    9th Floor Renaissance Park
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA 02115