Alumni (National Fellow)

Kathleen Ferraiolo

National Fellow
B.A. College of the Holy Cross (1998)
M.A. Grad (2001)
Ph.D. University of Virginia (2004)
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Professional Sector:
Dream Mentor:
Marc Landy
Boston College
Fields of Interest:
American Political Development
Legal History


Kathleen Ferraiolo is professor of political science at James Madison University. Dr. Ferraiolo is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Sigma Alpha, and Alpha Sigma Nu honor societies and she was the 2016 recipient of the James Madison University General Education Distinguished Teacher Award. She received her B.A. in political science magna cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the University of Virginia. Professor Ferraiolo’s research agenda focuses primarily on the politics of morality policy as well as the use of direct democracy as a policymaking institution in the American states. Ferraiolo’s work has been published in Policy Studies Journal, Politics & Policy, Polity, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Policy & Internet, World Medical & Health Policy, The American Review of Politics, The Journal of Policy History, and Teachers College Record.

Thesis Description:

A Theory of Drug Control Policy in the Twentieth Century and the Success of Drug Law Reform in the 1990s
Ferraiolo’s dissertation explained the success of medical marijuana initiatives and the willingness of a majority of Americans to reject an important component of federal drug policy. She began by placing the medical marijuana movement in the historical context of twentieth century federal drug control policy. Ferraiolo argued that the institutional locus of control over policy, the way the drug issue was framed, and the formulators and administrators of policy created a federal drug control regime that was highly resistant to fundamental reform. Further, she proposed that changes in these factors - a shift in institutional venue from the federal government to the states and the direct democracy process, a new way of framing drug policy debates that emphasized patient rights and compassion, and an alliance between marijuana activists and political campaign professionals who had the resources to challenge the federal government - helped bring about policy change.

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