Sheila S. Kennedy

Indiana University and Purdue University,Indianapolis
Public and Environmental Affairs

801 W. Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN
46202 |  Visit Personal Website

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My research agenda is best described as an exploration of American constitutional culture. The investigation of "constitutional culture" has a considerably broader scope than legal analysis; it focuses upon the ongoing dialectic between legal norms and the broader culture within which those norms are situated and must be understood. I am concerned with the operation of constitutional values in a heterodox culture, and in tracing the effects of that interaction on policy choice and contestation. Choices made by those who designed our constitutional architecture have shaped our contemporary definitions of public and private, our notions of governmental and personal responsibility, and our conceptions of human rights. They dictate the manner in which we frame civic responsibility, and allocate collective social duties among governmental, nonprofit and private actors. In short, those initial constitutional choices have become constitutive of a distinctive American culture. My research involves the exploration and explication of those connections, from the more obvious relationship between constitutionalism and public administration, to the ongoing tension between majoritarianism and individual rights, to the intersection of religion and government, to the mutual dependence of governmental and nonprofit agencies, to more subtle effects of the constitutional culture on policy areas like health and human services. I am currently examining the consequences of widespread constitutional illiteracy on our ability to function politically.

Kennedy, Sheila Suess. “Religious Philanthropies and Government Social Programs” in Issues and Tensions in Religious Philanthropy, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Thomas Davis, editor. (2011).
Abstract: Analysis of religious organizations and government contracting
Kennedy, Sheila Suess, and David Schultz. 2010. “American Public Service: Constitutional and Ethical Foundations.” Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Abstract: This college textbook explores the constitutional and ethical foundations of American public administration and public policy.
Kennedy, Sheila Suess. 2007. God and Country: America in Red and Blue. Baylor University Press.
Abstract: The role of religion in some policy debates is obvious: attitudes about capital punishment, abortion, gay rights and similar social issues are clearly influenced by religion. This book examines the far less obvious ways in which religious worldviews operate to produce policy preferences in such ostensibly secular areas as the environment, the economy (particularly welfare programs), foreign policy and criminal justice.
Kennedy, Sheila Suess. 2009. Distrust, American Style: Diversity and the Crisis of American Confidence. Prometheus Books.
Abstract: An examination of Putnam's assertion that rising levels of distrust are a result of growing diversity. This book offers an alternate thesis, drawing upon the scholarship examining interpersonal and institutional trust.

Substantive Focus:
Law and Policy PRIMARY
Education Policy
Governance SECONDARY
Social Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory SECONDARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY