I am a Lecturer on Government and Social Studies at Harvard University and a Research Affiliate with the Program on Education, Policy and Governance. My research focuses on interest groups and policy change in education. I teach two undergraduate seminars in the fall, "Democracy and Education in America" and "Philanthropy, Nonprofits and the Politics of Education." In the Spring, I am the course director for the required course for all Government concentrators, Gov 97: The Sophomore Tutorial. I am also a thesis advisor.
I defended my dissertation, titled "Group Power and Policy Change in Education" in June 2017. Using the case of education reform, it examines how controversial policy changes occur when opposed by powerful groups with a stake in the status quo. Across four papers, it uses several novel datasets and qualitative interview data collected during a year of fieldwork to examine how foundations, education reform groups and teachers' unions influence education reform policy passage across the American states. I was awarded the Senator Charles Sumner Dissertation Prize in 2018 for the project.
My office hours for Fall 2018 are Thursdays from 10 to 12pm and 2 to 4pm. Please sign up for a slot if you would like to attend: https://calendly.com/leslie-finger/office-hours