I am a Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University. I am also currently the Associate Dean for Research and Engagement in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences My research work has two broad, overlapping themes. I am a theorist of the public policy process, working in the "policy process" tradition to understand how public policy changes. I am particularly interested in whether and to what extent policy changes as the result of sudden events we call focusing events.​​ I am also an internationally known expert in the politics of disasters and crises. I have studied a range of such events, from oil spills to nuclear power accidents, to earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural phenomena. I've also written about food poisoning, schools shootings, and other events that changed--or, perhaps, should have changed--public policy.

Works (90)

2020 entry reference

Crisis Agenda-Setting and Aviation Security Policy After the September 11 Attacks

By: Z. Lewis, K. Schwaeble & T. Birkland

Sources: Crossref, ORCID
Added: November 24, 2020

2019 entry reference

Agenda Setting and the Policy Process: Focusing Events

By: T. Birkland & K. Schwaeble

Sources: ORCID, Crossref
Added: July 29, 2020

2019 book

An introduction to the policy process: theories, concepts, and models of public policy making

(Fourth Edition). New York: Routledge.

By: T. Birkland

Event: at New York

Source: ORCID
Added: July 29, 2020

2019 journal article

Breaking the Ice: ISE to Play Key Role in Shaping Arctic’s Future

ISE Magazine, 51(11), 28–33.

By: T. Sharkey, T. Birkland, M. Grabowski, M. Lowe & W. Wallace

Sources: ORCID, NC State University Libraries
Added: July 29, 2020

2019 entry reference

Natural Hazards Governance: An Overview of the Field

By: T. Birkland

Sources: ORCID, Crossref
Added: July 29, 2020

2019 chapter

The Politics and Governance of Mitigation

In The Routledge Handbook of Urban Disaster Resilience (pp. 76–91).

By: K. Taylor & T. Birkland

Sources: Crossref, ORCID
Added: November 24, 2020

2017 journal article

Citizen participation in disaster recovery projects and programmes in rural communities: a comparison of the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina

Disasters, 42(3), 498–518.

By: L. Pyles, J. Svistova, S. Ahn & T. Birkland

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID, Crossref
Added: August 6, 2018

2017 chapter

Focusing Events, Risk, and Regulation

In E. J. Balleisen, L. S. Bennear, K. D. Krawiec, & J. B. Wiener (Eds.), Policy Shock (pp. 107–128).

By: T. Birkland & M. Warnement

Ed(s): E. Balleisen, L. Bennear, K. Krawiec & J. Wiener

Sources: Crossref, ORCID
Added: March 25, 2019

2016 other

Attention and natural disasters

By: T. Birkland

Sources: Crossref, ORCID
Added: March 25, 2019

2016 journal article

Conceptualizing resilience

Politics and Governance, 4(4), 117–120.

By: T. Birkland

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID, Crossref
Added: August 6, 2018

2016 book

Policy Process Theory and Natural Hazards

In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science.

By: T. Birkland

Sources: Crossref, ORCID
Added: March 20, 2019

2015 book

An Introduction to the Policy Process: Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making

(4th ed.). New York: Routledge.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: March 28, 2019

2015 chapter

Critical Infrastructure in Extreme Events

In D. L. Kleinman, K. A. Cloud-Hansen, & J. Handlesman (Eds.), Controversies in Science and Technology (Fourth, pp. Chapter 3). New York: Oxford University Press.

By: T. Birkland & M. Warnement

Ed(s): D. Kleinman, K. Cloud-Hansen & J. Handlesman

Event: at New York

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: April 21, 2019

2015 chapter

Focusing events and policy windows

In Routledge Handbook of Public Policy.

By: T. Birkland & S. DeYoung

Sources: Crossref, ORCID
Added: March 25, 2019

2015 chapter

Organizational and Policy Learning: Post Crisis Assessments

In N. Schiffino, L. Taskin, C. Donis, & J. Raone (Eds.), Organizing after Crisis: The Challenge of Learning (pp. 235–256). Brussels: Peter Lang.

By: M. Warnement & T. Birkland

Ed(s): N. Schiffino, L. Taskin, C. Donis & J. Raone

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: March 29, 2019

2015 article

Pathways of power: the dynamics of national policymaking

American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 45, pp. 627–629.

By: T. Birkland & W. Kretzer

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2014 journal article

Focusing events in disasters and development

Environmental Hazards, 39–60.

By: T. Birkland & M. Warnement

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2013 review

Catastrophic politics: How extraordinary events redefine perceptions of government

[Review of ]. Public Opinion Quarterly, 77(4), 1032–1034.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: August 6, 2018

2013 chapter

Disasters, Focusing Events, and Sociolegal Studies

In S. Sterrett (Ed.), Disaster and Sociolegal Studies. New Orleans: Quid Pro Books.

By: T. Birkland

Ed(s): S. Sterrett

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: March 29, 2019

2012 journal article

Building a Theory of Recovery: Institutional Dimensions

International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 30(2), 147–170.

By: G. Smith & T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: March 29, 2019

2011 journal article

Emergency response, doctrinal confusion, and federalism in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Publius, 41(3), 471–493.

By: T. Birkland & S. Deyoung

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2011 review

Learning from catastrophes: Strategies for reaction and response

[Review of ]. Public Administration, 89(3), 1201–1494.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: August 6, 2018

2010 chapter

Federal Disaster Policy Learning, Priorities, and Prospects for Resilience

In A. Boin, L. Comfort, & C. Demchak (Eds.), Designing Resilience: Preparing for Extreme Events. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

By: T. Birkland

Ed(s): A. Boin, L. Comfort & C. Demchak

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: March 28, 2019

2010 journal article

Retrospectives and prospectives on hurricane katrina: Five years and counting

Public Administration Review, 70(5), 669–678.

By: L. Comfort, T. Birkland, B. Cigler & E. Nance

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2010 book review

Review of Robert R M. Verchick, Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World

[Review of ]. H-Net Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=30991

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 21, 2019

2009 journal article

Advancing FEMA in the Post-9/11 World

[Invited comment]. Natural Hazards Observer, 34(2), 18–20.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 21, 2019

2009 journal article

Disaster Research and Social Network Analysis: Examples of the Scientific Understanding of Human Dynamics at the National Science Foundation

Population Research and Policy Review, 27(6), 1–10.

By: L. Suter, T. Birkland & R. Later

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: March 29, 2019

2009 journal article

Disaster research and social network analysis: Examples of the scientific understanding of human dynamics at the National Science Foundation

Population Research and Policy Review, 28(1), 1–10.

By: L. Suter, T. Birkland & R. Larter

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2009 journal article

Disasters, catastrophes, and policy failure in the homeland security era

Review of Policy Research, 26(4), 423–438.

By: T. Birkland

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2009 journal article

Disasters, lessons learned, and fantasy documents

Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 17(3), 146–156.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2009 newspaper article

Economics Nobel Sends a Message

Birkland, T. A. (2009, October 14). Charlotte Observer. Retrieved from http://www.charlotteobserver.com/viewpoint/story/999836.html

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2009 chapter

Emergency Management and the Courts in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

In A. Sarat & J. Lezaun (Eds.), Catastrophe: Law, Politics, and the Humanitarian Impulse. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

By: T. Birkland

Ed(s): A. Sarat & J. Lezaun

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: March 29, 2019

2009 newspaper article

FEMA Again a Victim of Politics

Birkland, T. A. (2009, May 8). Wilmington Star-News. Retrieved from http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20090508/ARTICLES/905084006?Title=Thomas-Birkland-FEMA-again-a-victim-of-politics.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 21, 2019

2009 journal article

Media framing and policy change after columbine

American Behavioral Scientist, 52(10), 1405–1425.

By: T. Birkland & R. Lawrence

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2009 newspaper article

Still Too Much Risk in the Beach Plan

Birkland, T. A. (2009, September 22). News and Observer. Retrieved from http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/columnists_blogs/story/60531.html.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2009 chapter

The Politics and Policy Challenges of Disaster Resilience

In C. P. Nemeth, E. Hollnagel, & S. Dekker (Eds.), Resilience engineering perspectives: Vol. 2: Preparation and Restoration. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

By: T. Birkland & S. Waterman

Ed(s): C. Nemeth, E. Hollnagel & S. Dekker

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2008 article

Disaster policy and politics: Emergency management and homeland security

Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Vol. 5.

By: T. Birkland

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2008 journal article

Environmental and socioeconomic dynamics of the Indian Ocean tsunami in Penang, Malaysia

Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 29(3), 307–324.

By: B. Horton, M. Bird, T. Birkland, S. Cowie, O. Eong, A. Hawkes, G. Khoon, L. Law ...

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2008 journal article

Is federalism the reason for policy failure in Hurricane Katrina

Publius, 38(4), 692–714.

By: T. Birkland & S. Waterman

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2007 journal article

Emergency management in the courts: Trends after September 11 and Hurricane Katrina

Justice System Journal, 28(1), 20–35.

By: T. Birkland & C. Schneider

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2007 book

Encyclopedia of media and politics

Washington, D.C: CQ Press.

Ed(s): T. Schaefer & T. Birkland

Event: at Washington, D.C

Source: ORCID
Added: July 29, 2020

2007 journal article

Review of Meeting the Challenge of 9/11: Blueprints for More Effective Government

Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 4(2).

By: T. Birkland

Sources: NC State University Libraries, Crossref, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2007 conference paper

Socio-technological systems integration to support Tsunami warning and evacuation

Proceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

By: R. Little, T. Birkland, W. Wallace & P. Herabat

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2007 article

The Storm

Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Vol. 4.

By: T. Birkland

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: August 6, 2018

2006 chapter

Agenda Setting

In F. Fischer, G. Miller, & M. S. Sidney (Eds.), Handbook of Public Policy Analysis. New York: Taylor and Francis.

By: T. Birkland

Ed(s): F. Fischer, G. Miller & M. Sidney

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2006 book

Encyclopedia of Media and Politics

Washington: CQ Press.

Ed(s): T. Schaefer & T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2006 chapter

Environmental Policy in New York State

In J. Stonecash & R. Pecorella (Eds.), Chapter in Governing New York State (4th ed.). Albany: State University of New York Press.

By: T. Birkland, S. Madden, J. Mapes, K. Roe & A. Stein

Ed(s): J. Stonecash & R. Pecorella

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2006 conference paper

Learning from disaster: The process and politics of learning from earthquakes and other extreme events

8th US National Conference on Earthquake Engineering 2006, 15, 8752–8761.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2006 book

Lessons of Disaster: Policy Change After Catastrophic Events

In Georgetown University Press.

Source: ORCID
Added: June 7, 2020

2006 book

Lessons of Disaster: Policy Change after Catastrophic Events

Washington: Georgetown University Press.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2006 journal article

The impact of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on tourism in Thailand

Earthquake Spectra, 22(SUPPL. 3).

By: T. Birkland, P. Herabat, R. Little & W. Wallace

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2005 journal article

Review of Mark Considine, Making Public Policy: Institutions, Actors, Strategies

Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 7(4), 371–372.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: June 8, 2019

2004 journal article

"The world changed today": Agenda-setting and policy change in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks

Review of Policy Research, 21(2), 179–200.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2004 report

Emergency Planning and the Judiciary: Lessons from September 11

Retrieved from Center for Court Innovation website: www.courtinnovation.org

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2004 journal article

Environmental Successes and Continued Challenges in the Hudson Valley

Albany Law Environmental Outlook, 8(2), 187–211.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2004 journal article

Everything Has Changed—Or Has It? Policy Change in the Months after September 11

Review of Policy Research, 21(2), 177–198.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2004 journal article

Guns, hollywood, and school safety: Defining the school-shooting problem across public arenas

Social Science Quarterly, 85(5 SPEC. ISS.), 1193–1207.

By: R. Lawrence & T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2004 report

Information, Technology and Coordination: Lessons from the World Trade Center Response

Albany, NY: Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany, SUNY.

By: S. Dawes, T. Birkland, G. Tayi & C. Schneider

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: June 8, 2019

2004 article

Information, Technology, and Coordination: Lessons from the World Trade Center Response

Dawes, S. S., Birkland, T., Tayi, G. K., & Schneider, C. A. (2004, June). Center for Technology in Government, SUNY Albany.

By: S. Dawes, T. Birkland, G. Tayi & C. Schneider

Source: ORCID
Added: July 29, 2020

2004 journal article

Learning and policy improvement after disaster: The case of aviation security

American Behavioral Scientist, 48(3), 341–364.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2004 journal article

Risk, disaster, and policy in the 21st century: Introduction

American Behavioral Scientist, 48(3), 275–280.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: April 18, 2019

2003 report

Information Needs for Sustainable Development

In Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (ELOSS). The United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and EOLSS Publishers.

By: T. Birkland & J. Krausnick

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2003 newspaper article

Jokes Aside, The Case for Being Prepared

Birkland, T. A. (2003, February 20). Times Union (Albany, NY).

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 21, 2019

2003 report

Major Terrorism Events and Their U.S. Outcomes (1988-2001)

(Working Paper No. 107). Boulder, Colorado: Natural Hazards Research Applications and Information Center.

By: C. Rubin, W. Cumming, I. Renda-Tanali & T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2003 journal article

River ecology and flood hazard mitigation

Natural Hazards Review, 4(1), 46–54.

By: T. Birkland, R. Burby, D. Conrad, H. Cortner & W. Michener

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2002 newspaper article

New York's Beasts of Burden: Counties are creatures of the state, so mandates come with the turf

Birkland, T. A. (2002, September 13). Newsday (Long Island).

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 21, 2019

2002 journal article

Program evaluation in a challenging authorizing environment: Intergovernmental and interorganizational factors

New Directions for Evaluation, 2002(95), 5–22.

By: K. Fredericks, J. Carman & T. Birkland

Sources: Crossref, ORCID
Added: April 12, 2019

2002 journal article

The Social and Political Meaning of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Spill Science and Technology Bulletin, 7(1-2), 3–4.

By: T. Birkland & R. Lawrence

Sources: ORCID, NC State University Libraries
Added: March 16, 2019

2001 journal article

Expertise and policy change after "focusing events"

Journal of Urban Technology, 8(3), 121–124.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2001 newspaper article

Our Political System Will Keep Doing its Job

Birkland, T. A. (2001, September 30). Times Union (Albany, NY).

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 24, 2019

2001 book review

Review of Rutherford Platt, Disasters and Democracy

[Review of ]. Environmental Hazards.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 21, 2019

2001 journal article

Scientists and coastal hazards: Opportunities for participation and policy change

Environmental Geosciences, 8(1), 61–67.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2001 chapter

The Exxon Valdez and Alaska in the American Imagination

In S. Biel (Ed.), American Disasters. New York: New York University Press.

By: T. Birkland & R. Lawrence

Ed(s): S. Biel

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

2000 journal article

Business and political dimensions in disaster management

Journal of Public Policy, 20(3), 275–303.

By: T. Birkland & R. Nath

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

2000 newspaper article

Earthquakes and Weather: Lessons for Policy and Science

Birkland, T. A. (2000, April). [Guest editorial]. Weatherzone.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: June 8, 2019

1998 journal article

[Review of Economic Consequences of Earthquakes: Preparing for the Unexpected, by B. G. Jones]. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 16(2), 221–222.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: June 17, 2019

1998 journal article

Disasters and the Courts' Agenda

Judges’ Journal, 37(4), 7–11.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

1998 journal article

Environmental taxes: China's bold initiative

Environment, 40(7).

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

1998 journal article

Focusing Events, Mobilization, and Agenda Setting

Journal of Public Policy, 18(1), 53–74.

By: T. Birkland

Sources: ORCID, Crossref
Added: April 18, 2019

1998 journal article

In the Wake of the Exxon Valdez: How Environmental Disasters Can Spur Policy Change

Environment, 40(7), 4–9 , 27–32.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

1998 journal article

In the wake of the Exxon Valdez: How environmental disasters influence policy

Environment, 40(7).

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: April 18, 2019

1998 journal article

Law, policymaking, and the policy process: closing the gaps

Policy Studies Journal, 26(2), 227–243.

By: S. Barclay & T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

1998 journal article

National Earthquake Probabilistic Hazard Mapping Program

[Review of , by E. Mittler, C. Taylor, & W. Petak]. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 16(3), 371–373.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: June 8, 2019

1997 book

After Disaster: Agenda Setting, Public Policy, and Focusing Events

Washington: Georgetown University Press.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

1997 book

After Disaster: Agenda Setting, Public Policy, and Focusing Events

In Georgetown University Press.

Source: ORCID
Added: June 7, 2020

1997 journal article

Factors inhibiting a national hurricane policy

Coastal Management, 25(4), 387–403.

By: T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

1996 journal article

Natural Disasters as Focusing Events: Policy Communities and Political Response

International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 14(2), 221–243.

By: T. Birkland

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: April 12, 2019

1994 journal article

Earthquake risk reduction: an examination of local regulatory efforts

Environmental Management, 18(6), 923–937.

By: P. May & T. Birkland

Source: ORCID
Added: March 16, 2019

1990 journal article

Integrating Strategic Planning and Budgeting: A Case Study at the New Jersey Department of Transportation

Transportation Research Record, 1305, 147–152.

By: C. Bishop-Edkins & T. Birkland

Sources: NC State University Libraries, ORCID
Added: April 12, 2019

chapter

Emergency Management, Climate Change, and Complex Governance in Arctic Alaska

In More than ‘nature’: Research on infrastructure and settlements in the North.

Source: ORCID
Added: January 17, 2020

Employment

2007 - present

North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina, US
Professor Public Administration

2001 - 2007

University at Albany State University of New York Albany, NY, US
Director Center for Policy Research

1995 - 2007

University at Albany, SUNY Albany, NY, US
Assistant Professor; Associate Professor Public Administration

2006 - 2007

National Science Foundation Arlington, VA, US
Program Director, IMEE Civil and Mechanical Systems

1985 - 1987

New Jersey Department of Transportation Ewing, NJ, US
Research Analyst Bureau of Policy Analysis

Education

1984 - 1985

Rutgers University New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ, US
MA Political Science Eagleton Institute of Politics and Political Science

1980 - 1984

University of Oregon Eugene, OR, US
BA (Cum Laude) Political Science

Funding History

Funding history based on the linked ORCID record.

grant September 15, 2011 - August 31, 2014
DRRC: Dynamics between Local and Foreign Actors: Influences on Capabilities in Post-Earthquake Rural Haiti and Hurricane Impacted Rural Gulf Coast
National Science Foundation
grant June 1, 2008 - May 31, 2013
Enabling the Next Generation of Hazards and Disasters Researchers
National Science Foundation
grant March 1, 2005 - February 29, 2008
HSD SGER: Physical and Social Infrastructure Impacts and Interdependencies in the December 2004 Tsunami in Southern Thailand
National Science Foundation
grant June 1, 2004 - May 31, 2008
Exploring Flood Mitigation Policy: A System Dynamics Approach
National Science Foundation
grant July 15, 1998 - June 30, 2002
Determinants of State-Level Disaster Policy Change, Improvement, and Learning
National Science Foundation