Faculty affiliates

Barry Rabe

J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy; Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; Professor of Environmental Policy; Professor of Political Science; Professor of the Environment

Barry Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School. He is also the Arthur Thurnau Professor of Environmental Policy, with courtesy appointments in the Program in the Environment, the Department of Political Science, and the School for Environment and Sustainability. Rabe examines the political feasibility and durability of environmental and energy policy, with a particular emphasis on efforts to address climate change in the United States and other nations. This includes ongoing study of the conditions under which political systems are capable of adopting market-based carbon pricing policies such as carbon taxes or cap-and-trade, as examined in his 2018 book Can We Price Carbon? (MIT Press). Rabe emphasizes the need for considering a policy life-cycle analysis, moving beyond initial adoption to consider longer-term implementation questions, including performance and equity.

Rabe's research regularly considers political and policy issues in the context of federalism, including his 2020 Brookings Institution Press book, Trump, the Administrative Presidency, and Federalism, co-authored with Frank Thompson and Kenneth Wong. This book examines the Obama and Trump presidencies, considering their heavy reliance on executive actions across multiple policy areas and the ability of state coalitions to lead effective efforts to thwart them. Federalism also looms large in many of his previous publications, including such books as Greenhouse Governance (Brookings, 2010), Statehouse and Greenhouse (Brookings, 2004), Beyond NIMBY (Brookings, 1994), and When Federalism Works (Brookings, 1986).

Rabe in recent years has joined the venerable team of Norman Vig and Michael Kraft as a co-editor of one of the leading environmental politics and policy textbooks. Their latest edition of Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century was published by CQ/SAGE Press in 2021. The book is used widely in undergraduate and graduate courses around the United States.

He is the recipient of four American Political Science Association awards in honor of his research and publications. This includes the 2017 Martha Derthick Award in recognition of the book on federalism and intergovernmental relations that has had an enduring impact for more than a decade. This award recognized Statehouse and Greenhouse, which previously won the Lynton Caldwell Award for its contribution to environmental politics and policy.

Rabe is a non-resident senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He writes frequently in blogs and other venues for both institutions. His recent policy engagement has included service as co-chair of the Assumable Waters Committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on National Academy of Public Administration panels examining governance challenges facing the Department of Interior, Department of Commerce, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. He is regularly quoted in leading media outlets, including the New York Times, the Economist, National Public Radio, and E&E News. University of Michigan service included a role as commissioner from 2019-2021 on the University of Michigan President's Commission on Carbon Neutrality. Rabe co-directed the National Surveys on Energy and Environment from 2011 to 2021 and directed the Center for State, Local, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) from 2012 to 2019.

View Barry's profiles on the Brookings Institution and National Academy of Public Administration sites.

Educational background

  • PhD in political science, University of Chicago
  • MA in social sciences, University of Chicago
  • BA in history, Carthage College

Professional affiliations

  • Elected fellow, National Academy of Public Administration (visit NAPA profile)
  • Non-resident senior fellow in governance studies, Brookings Institution (visit Brookings profile)
  • American Political Science Association
  • Midwest Political Science Association
  • Western Political Science Association

Current research

  • Political and technical viability of applying market and regulatory policy tools to methane and hydrofluorocarbons, intensive but short-lived climate pollutants.
  • Political feasibility and durability of carbon pricing in the United States and other federal systems.
  • Durability and performance of Biden era executive action on climate change.

Recent publications

  • Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century, co-edited with Norman Vig and Michael Kraft (CQ/SAGE, 2021).
  • Trump, the Administrative Presidency, and Federalism, co-authored with Frank Thompson and Kenneth Wong (Brookings, 2020)
  • Steward Natural Resources and Address Climate Change: An Agenda for 2021, co-authored with Bob Perciasepe, et al. (National Academy of Public Administration, 2020).
  • "Taxing Flaring and the Politics of State Methane Release Policy," Review of Policy Research, vol. 37, no. 1 (2020), co-authored with Claire Kaliban and Isabel Englehart.
  • Can We Price Carbon? (MIT Press, 2018)