New to Pitt: GSPIA professor helps connect students to policy process


In life, says Brooke Shannon, “everything we come into contact with is a policy decision” — from whether a street has sidewalks to how local schools operate.

That’s why Shannon, new assistant professor of public policy analysis & evaluation in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, says she wants, through her teaching, to connect students to government and policy processes at every level — particularly how to make it work better at the local level. Her first course last semester, “Policy Theory,” focused on how issues get on government agendas, how new policies are formed and how citizens can measure outcomes — and assess success.

Shannon joined Pitt last Aug. 1. From her native Denver to the places where she earned her graduate degrees — Memphis and Austin — she has been active in local economic, health and race concerns, first with the Colorado Progressive Coalition and later Memphis’ Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

“I really fell in love with Memphis and organizing there,” Shannon says. She helped to get the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board established there and then wrote her master’s thesis on it.

Here at Pitt, she says, she appreciates how interdisciplinary her students are at GSPIA: “I’m really looking forward to learning from them as well about the local issues that they face.

“The campus is really lovely; it’s been very welcoming,” she adds — as has been the city itself. “My neighbors have really taken me in,” introducing her to the best places to get pizza, including Spak Brothers in the Bloomfield/Garfield area and their pickle pizza.

“My favorite thing to do, especially when discovering new places, is to seek out the record stores,” she says. Her favorite so far has been The Attic in Millvale.

Shannon also appreciates the neighborhoods with their own individual histories — “apart from the fact that it is way more hilly than I expected.”

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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