People

Joshua Sapotichne

Joshua Sapotichne

Associate Professor
Office: 310 S. Kedzie
Phone: 517-355-4859

Dr. Joshua Sapotichne (PhD, University of Washington, 2009) is an Associate Professor of Political Science who teaches and researches in the areas of American public policy and urban politics.

Current research projects examine the changing policy relationship between the US national government and American cities (work for which he received the 2010 Best Dissertation Award from the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association), the direct and conditional impacts of state institutions and policies on the policy priorities and fiscal behavior of city governments (supporting research for which was supported in 2014 and again in 2015 by the C.S. Mott Foundation [co-PI Eric Scorsone]), and the optimal design and structure of local governments for navigating an increasingly complex American federal system.  Prior research addressed the degree to which the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 disrupted policymaking across a varity of public risk sectors and the consequence of these disturbances vis-à-vis a design of coherent homeland security policy in the US.

Josh’s prior and ongoing research has resulted in a series of journal articles published in such journals as Policy Studies Journal, Urban Affairs Review, City Culture, and Society, and Urban Research and Practice.  He was recently selected as a Norton Long Young Scholar (2011) and as a Stone Scholar (2010); both awards are granted by the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association for outstanding scholarship in the field of urban politics at a young age.  He (along with co-authors Peter May and Ashley Jochim) received the 2012 Theodore Lowi Prize for Best Article in Policy Studies Journal for the article “Constructing Homeland Security: An Anemic Policy Regime.”

Josh’s new paper, “Beyond State Takeovers: Reconsidering the Role of State Government in Local Financial Distress, with Important Lessons for Michigan and its Embattled Cities,” examines nearly a half-centruy of state and local financial data, supplemented by input from anaylsts, state officials, and legal experts, to systematically assess how state governments contribute to local financial distress.  Most relevant to policymakers and practitioners in Michigan: the state imposes a particularly toxic mix of policies and legal structures that combine to make fiscal life hard for Michigan’s hundreds of local governments.  Simply put, we argue that the State of Michigan has “structured local fiscal policymaking in a way that effectively incubates financial distress.”  An assessment of the impact of Michigan’s local financial distress policy on the fiscal health of Flint, Michigan is provided in The Flint Fiscal Playbook: An Assessment of the Emergency Manager Years (2011-2015).  Research for this ongoing project is supported by the C.S. Mott Foundation (co-PI Eric Scorsone).

Josh is co-Instructor (with Eric Scorsone) of InnovateGov, a College of Social Science/Department of Political Science supported summer internship and service learning program that provides students with the opportunity to learn about public sector innovation by doing real work on real public problems in Michigan’s beleagured cities.  Watch the 2015 summer program video here, and access more information at the program webpage.