Bednar adds depth in political science and politics to Ford School offerings

July 16, 2020

The Ford School is pleased to announce that political scientist Jenna Bednar will be joining the faculty as a professor of public policy with tenure. Bednar is also a professor of political science, as well as a research professor with the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research. She continues her work as the Edie N. Goldenberg Endowed Director for the Michigan in Washington Program, an opportunity for 45-50 U-M undergraduates to spend a semester in Washington D.C. combining coursework with an internship that reflects their particular area of interest.

“The Ford School is known and respected as a leader in thoughtful, interdisciplinary public policy analysis, where scholars approach their work with equal parts rigor and joyful curiosity,” said Bednar.  “I’m honored to join this vibrant community.”

Bednar's research combines positive political theory and systems theory to analyze how institutions, such as laws, electoral rules, or constitutions, remain effective in complex environments. She has contributed to the scholarly inquiry of the design of federalism; theoretical and experimental work on cultural evolution and institutional performance; and applied realms such as campaign contributions, transboundary water systems, and environmental sustainability.

“Jenna will add much-needed depth and diversity to our faculty in the areas of political science, American politics, federalism and state politics, with fresh theoretical and modeling perspectives, and we anticipate she will be a valued mentor for junior faculty and students alike,” said Dean Michael S. Barr of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. “She will be a strong contributor to our teaching program at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”


Jenna Bednar’s expertise in federalism, constitutional theory and design, and institutional analysis has garnered been widely recognized among her peers for her scholarly contributions. She received the American Political Science Association (APSA) 2020 Daniel Elazar Distinguished Federalism Scholar Award. Her book, The Robust Federation, was selected as the 2019 winner of APSA’s Martha Derthick Best Book Award, for its “lasting contribution to the study of federalism and intergovernmental relations.”