This thesis provides a first-of-its kind benchmark on the extent to which academically-trained professionals in the United States are availed of opportunities to directly deliver evidence to the United States Congress, as well as how contemporary party politics shapes this system. We randomly sample and manually code the educational backgrounds of 2,147 witnesses from 32 Congressional Committee Hearings that occurred between 2001 and 2020. This study reveals three key findings. The first is that academically-trained professionals have extensive access to the halls of Congress. Second, that all types of degrees have at least some representation amongst witness calls. The third is that the above patterns are the same regardless of which party is in charge, and relatively similar even across topics.
Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Public Policy (CLA)
Nathan R. Lee
Adair, Benedicte, "The Role of Experts in Policymaking: An Assessment of Witness Educational Backgrounds in Congressional Testimony" (2022). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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