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David A. Rochefort

Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Political Science

David A. 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. Rochefort’s books include Mental Health And Social Policy, 6th edition, with David Mechanic and Donna McAlpine (2013); Foreign Remedies: What the Experience of Other Nations Can Tell Us About Next Steps In Reforming U.S. Health Care, with Kevin P. Donnelly (2012); and From Poorhouses To Homelessness: Policy Analysis And Mental Health Care, 2nd edition (1997), among other titles in social policy. Within public policy analysis, his edited volume with Roger W. Cobb, The Politics of Problem Definition (1994), is a commonly cited work.

During the decade between 2001 and 2011, Rochefort founded and directed a Community-Based Research Initiative (CBRI) in the Political Science Department. Its focus was the completion of applied policy research projects in partnership with local, state, and regional stakeholder groups on topics ranging from media coverage of mental health problems, to container recycling, to cuts in public library services.

Rochefort’s activities as a policy consultant have involved collaboration with such groups as The Rockefeller Foundation (SUNY), The Brookings Institution, Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, Human Services Research Institute, Brown University Department of Community Medicine, Rhode Island Department of Health, New Jersey Department of Human Services – Office of Policy and Program Evaluation, Expert Reviewer for the U.S. Congress – Office of Technology Assessment, 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-present)
  • 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

    923 Renaissance Park
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA 02115

  • Office Hours

    Summer 2 2020 - Thursdays 3-5 pm
    Fall 2020 - TBA


Course catalog
  • Health Policy and Politics

    PPUA 7240

    Examines contemporary healthcare policies, programs, and politics. Discusses the structure of the healthcare system and its costs, efforts to develop universal health coverage, the spread of managed care, and related topics.

  • Social Fact From Fiction: Using Novels to Examine Contemporary Public Policy Issues

    HONR 3310

    There is a long tradition of concern in American fiction with emerging or neglected social problems. At its best, such work has had far-reaching effects, first in raising public awareness, and second in triggering public policy reforms. The purpose of this honors seminar will be to examine the way that novelists on the contemporary scene are using their writing to explore poverty, homelessness, mental illness, race relations, domestic abuse, and other important issues. By focusing on a series of noteworthy realist novels, this course aims to cover both the factual basis of the texts and the narrative devices, such as plotting, characterization, symbolism, reification, and normative judgment, that are used by authors to cast a spotlight on social problems and their impacts.

  • U.S. Health and Welfare Policy

    POLS 2385

    Introduces students to U.S. social welfare policy. Emphasizes contemporary debates over welfare, mental health, healthcare, education, and Social Security reform. Examines key issues and processes related to the politics, design, and implementation of public policy in the context of the American governmental system. Incorporates multiple media and methods of instruction into the course, including lectures, in-depth class discussions, and documentary films.