Bridget K. Kelley

Political Science / Ph.D. Candidate


American Politics, Public Administration and Policy


Climate change policy and politics, state and local politics, water resources, issue definition, bureaucratic policy advocacy


Bridget is pursuing a PhD in political science in order to fulfill two long-standing goals: (1) to get young people excited about the potential of the American political system and their role in it and (2) to better understand the politics of climate change and environmental policy making.  Currently, she is working on her dissertation which examines the role that local bureaucrats have in shaping and implementing local flood, storm water, and drought management policy in the United States.  When she is not fastidiously working on her dissertation, Bridget enjoys knitting, baking, learning yoga (and how not to fall over as much), and spending time by the beautiful Finger Lakes of Central New York.  

Dissertation Information

"Adapting to climate change – Local bureaucrats as gatekeepers" under the advisement of Sarah Pralle, PhD (chair), Pete Wilcoxen, PhD, and Quinn Mulroy, PhD.

 This project examines front-line bureaucrats’ ability to help or hinder community climate change adaptation.  Using case studies of localities at high risk from climate-related flooding and drought, this project seeks to understand the development of an emerging, polarized, and potentially high-cost/high-risk policy area.  It looks specifically at local bureaucrats as key players in policy development, especially when traditional policy making routes are stymied by polarization and partisan gridlock.

Research Projects

“F.E.M.A. Disaster Recovery Rules and Local Climate Adaptation Efforts,” presented at the American Political Science Association Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania September 2016

“Of Bags, Bikes, and Lawsuits: Local Policy Innovation and Adoption in the Age of California’s Environmental Quality Act,” to be presented at the Northeastern Political Science Association Conference in Boston, Massachusetts November 2016, with Brandon Metroka and Hengel Reina

“The Role of Bureaucrats in Development Climate Adaptation Policy,” presented at the Northeastern Political Science Association Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania November 2015

Teaching Information


Syracuse University Political Science Department, Summer 2015, Spring 2017

PSC300: Marijuana, NSA Spying, and Climate Change: Controversial Topics in U.S. Policymaking (designed course)

Teaching Associate

Syracuse University, Maxwell School Interdisciplinary Courses, 2014 to present

Quantitative Methods for the Social Sciences – Fall 2015 through Fall 2016

Critical Issues for the U.S. – Fall 2014 and Spring 2015

Teaching Assistant

Introduction to Political Analysis (Jon Hanson), Fall 2013 and Spring 2014

The Judicial Process (Rick Trunfio), Spring 2013

Politics of US Public Policy (Sarah Pralle), Fall 2011 and Spring 2011 

American National Government and Politics (Matt Guardino), Spring 2012