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Quinn Mulroy

Quinn Mulroy

  • Assistant Professor, Human Development and Social Policy
  • Assistant Professor (by courtesy), Political Science
  • Faculty Associate, Institute for Policy Research

Affiliated Center(s)

Politics & Policy Lab (PPL)

Institute for Policy Research

Research Interests

American politics, racial inequality, civil rights policy (education, employment, housing), policy history, law and society, American political development.


Quinn Mulroy is a political scientist who studies the political development of education, employment, and housing civil rights policies. Her research focuses on how ideas about what equal opportunity means in America are reshaped and redefined in policy implementation processes.

Her first book, Agents of Litigation: How the American State Mobilizes Private Litigation to Make Policy Work, is forthcoming with the Studies in Post-War American Political Development series at Oxford University Press. The book examines how formally constrained civil rights and environmental agencies created during the Rights Revolution developed creative strategies for implementing policy over the course of the last half of the twentieth century - in particular, by mobilizing private citizens to bring lawsuits against violators in court. Earlier versions of this project received the Leonard D. White Best Dissertation Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA), and a Best Conference Paper Award from APSA’s Law & Courts Section.

Her next book project with Heather McCambly (University of Pittsburgh) examines the rise of what they call "(e)quality politics" in educational and workplace policy. The project investigates how quality-based arguments in policy settings can come to form the backbone of a sustained backlash to civil rights policies and shape the delivery of racialized policy benefits and burdens over time. Research from this project received the 2022 David Brian Robertson Best Paper Award from APSA's Politics and History Section.

Mulroy's research has appeared in leading political science and education journals, including The Journal of Politics, Studies in American Political Development, The Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, Educational Researcher, and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Her work has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, the American Bar Foundation, Princeton University’s Law and Public Affairs Program, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University, and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy.

Mulroy earned her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and her doctorate in political science from Columbia University. Before joining SESP, she was an assistant professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.


  • PhD, Political Science, Columbia University, 2012
  • BA, Political Science, University of California-Berkeley, 2012

Awards and Honors

  • David Brian Robertson Award, Best Conference Paper in Politics and History, American Political Science Association, 2022.
  • Outstanding Professor Award, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University, 2018.
  • Best Conference Paper Award, American Political Science Association, Law and Courts Section, 2012.
  • Leonard D. White Best Dissertation Award, American Political Science Association, 2012.
  • National Fellowship in Politics and History, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, 2010-11.

Selected Publications

Mulroy, Quinn. Forthcoming. Agents of Litigation: How the American Bureaucracy Mobilizes Private Lawsuits to Make Policy Work. Oxford University Press.

Cowhy, Jennifer, Quinn Mulroy, and Tabitha Bonilla. Forthcoming. “Conceptualizing Parents as Policy Agents in Special Education,” Educational Researcher.

McCambly, Heather and Quinn Mulroy. “Constructing a “Quality” Education Crisis: (E)quality Politics and Racialization Beyond Target Beneficiaries.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, in special issue on "Critical Approaches to Education Policy Research." (2023)

Nuamah, Sally and Quinn Mulroy. “‘I am a Child!’: Public Perceptions of Black Girls and their Punitive Consequences,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, v. 8, no. 2 (2023): 182-201.

Mulroy, Quinn and Shana Gadarian. “Off to the Courts? Or the Agency? Public Attitudes on Legal and Bureaucratic Approaches to Policy Implementation,” Laws, special issue on "Intersection between Law, Politics and Public Policy," v. 7 (2018): 1-18.

Mulroy, Quinn. “Approaches to Enforcing the Rights Revolution: Private Civil Rights Litigation and the American Bureaucracy,” in The Rights Revolution Revisited: Perspectives on the Role of Private Enforcement of Civil Rights in the U.S., ed. Lynda Dodd, Cambridge University Press (2018): 27-45.

Katznelson, Ira and Quinn Mulroy. “Was the South Pivotal? Situated Partisanship and Policy Coalitions during the New Deal and Fair Deal,” Journal of Politics, v. 74, no. 2 (2012): 604-620.

Bimes, Terri and Quinn Mulroy. “The Rise and Decline of Presidential Populism,” Studies in American Political Development, v. 18, no. 2 (2004): 136-159.