Malcolm M. Renfrew Interdisciplinary Colloquium Web Archive

Preserving access to past MRIC web content.


Collections A-Z

Understanding Federalism
MRIC 2013/14

Please note: this is archived content harvested from a web page and may not display as originally intended. Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

Understanding Federalism

"Understanding Federalism: Punctuated Equilibrium and the Evolution of Political Equity"

Tuesday, April 92, 2014 | 12:30-1:30 p.m. 
Whitewater Room, Idaho Commons

Brian Ellison, Professor of Political Science & Director, The Martin School


It is a truism that federalism has evolved in theory and practice since the founding of the country. Federalism has changed in theory because we have changed the U.S. Constitution and our understanding of it in profound ways. Federalism has evolved in practice because we think about governing differently; good government does not mean the same thing today that it meant in 1789. The interesting question, however, is whether changes in theory lead to changes in practice or changes in practice lead to changes in theory. The purpose of this paper is to examine this question through the lens of punctuated equilibrium theory. The paper offers refinements to Baumgartner and Jones’s ideas about federalism as a system of policy venues (2009), and attempts a theoretical contribution by looking specifically at the relationship between equity and policy change in the context of an evolving federalism.

Brian A. Ellison is a professor of political science and director of the Martin School at the University of Idaho. He previously served as chair of the Department of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University, as director of the Joint MPA Program at the College of Charleston/University of South Carolina, and as director of the MPA program at Missouri State University. His primary fields of study are environmental politics, public administration and policy and federalism. Ellison has taught as either a visiting professor in China, Russia, and Armenia, and as a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Bulgaria.

Original url: