Craig Volden

Craig Volden

Professor of Public Policy and Politics and Co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking

Education & Training
Ph.D., Political Economics, Stanford University Graduate School of Business, 1996
B.A., Political Science, with honors, Stanford University, 1992

Craig Volden is a professor of public policy and politics at the University of Virginia, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Department of Politics. He studies the politics of public policy, with a focus on what policy choices arise within legislative institutions and within American federalism. He is founder and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking (

His most recent book, Why Bad Policies Spread (and Good Ones Don’t), co-authored with Charles Shipan, explores the conditions under which governments learn from one another’s policy experiences and why that process often goes awry. This research is part of his long-standing interest in the diffusion of public policies, having published numerous articles of this topic in such journals as American Political Science Review, American Journal of Public Policy, and the Journal of Politics.

His work on effective lawmaking includes Legislative Effectiveness in the United States Congress: The Lawmakers, co-authored with Alan Wiseman, which develops a methodology for scoring the lawmaking effectiveness of each member of Congress, identifying how lawmakers could better address the nation’s policy problems. That work won the Fenno Prize for the best book on legislative politics and the Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the best book on U.S. national policy. It has spurred his larger research agenda on how to cultivate effective lawmaking at the individual and institutional level in Congress and the state legislatures.