Marion E. Orr Frederick Lippitt Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies

Marion Orr is the Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions and the Fred Lippitt Professor of Public Policy, Political Science and Urban Studies at Brown University. He previously was a member of the political science faculty at Duke University. A native of Savannah, Georgia, he earned his B.A. degree in political science from Savannah State College, M.A. in political science from Atlanta University (now Clark-Atlanta University), and a Ph.D. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is affiliated with the Urban Studies Program.


He is the author and editor of four books, Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore (University Press of Kansas), which won the Policy Studies Organization's Aaron Wildavsky Award for the best book published in 1999, and The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics and the Challenge of Urban Education (Princeton University Press), which was named the best book in 1999 by the American Political Science Association's (APSA) Urban Politics Section. He is the editor of Transforming the City: Community Organizing and the Challenge of Political Change and Power in the City: Clarence Stone and the Politics of Inequality. He is also the author of numerous scholarly articles, essays, and reviews.



He is currently gathering data for a study of the community organizing efforts of local affiliates of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a national network of local, community-based organizations founded by the late Saul Alinsky. He also conducts research on various aspects of politics and urban policy pertaining to Providence, Rhode Island.



Professor Orr has held a number of fellowships, including an appointment as Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Presidential Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley, and a fellowship from the Ford Foundation.



During 2003-04, Professor Orr served as President of the APSA's Organized Section on Urban Politics. From 2000-2006 he was an elected member of the Governing Board of the Urban Affairs Association (UAA), an international organization devoted to the study of urban issues. In 2005-2006 he served as Chair of UAA's Governing Board. Dr. Orr has also served as a member of the executive councils of the American Political Science Assocation and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. He has served, or is currently serving, on the editorial boards of the Journal of Urban Affairs , Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis , and Urban Affairs Review .

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

"The Struggle for Black Empowerment in Baltimore." In Rufus Browning, Dale Marshall, and David Tabb (eds.), Racial Politics in American Cities 3rd edition (New York: Longman Press, 2003), pp.255-277.

"Hanes Walton, Jr." In Glenn H. Utter and Charles Lockhard (eds.) American Political Scientists: A Dictionary (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003).

"Downtown Malls as Engines of Economic Development, Community Spirit, and Political Capital," Economic Development Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 2, (May 2003), pp. 193-204 (with D. West).

"The Struggle for Black Empowerment in Baltimore." In Rufus Browning, Dale Marshall, and David Tabb (eds.), Racial Politics in American Cities 3rd edition (New York: Longman Press, 2003), pp.255-277.

"Hanes Walton, Jr." In Glenn H. Utter and Charles Lockhard (eds.) American Political Scientists: A Dictionary (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003).

"Downtown Malls as Engines of Economic Development, Community Spirit, and Political Capital," Economic Development Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 2, (May 2003), pp. 193-204 (with D. West).

"Citizens' Views on Urban Revitalization: The Case of Providence, Rhode Island." Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 37, No. 3, (January 2002), pp. 397-419 (with D. West)

"Citizens' Views on Urban Revitalization: The Case of Providence, Rhode Island." Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 37, No. 3, (January 2002), pp. 397-419 (with D. West)

Review of Wilbur C. Rich, Black Mayors and School Politics in National Political Science Review, Vol.8 (2001), pp. 290-293.

"BUILD: Governing Nonprofits and Relational Power." Policy Studies Review, Vol. 18, No. 4, (Winter, 2001), pp.71-90.

"The Literature on African-American Politics: The Decade of the Nineties." Politics and Policy Vol. 29, (December 2001), pp. 753-782 (with H. Walton, Jr. et al.).

"BUILD: Governing Nonprofits and Relational Power." Policy Studies Review, Vol. 18, No. 4, (Winter, 2001), pp.71-90.

"The Literature on African-American Politics: The Decade of the Nineties." Politics and Policy Vol. 29, (December 2001), pp. 753-782 (with H. Walton, Jr. et al.).

(January 2000), pp. 440-442.

"Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development: Exploring the Role of Governing Nonprofits," Richard C. Hula and Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore (eds.), Nonprofits in Urban America (Westport, CT: Quorom Books, 2000), pp. 151-167.

"Congress, Race, and Anticrime Policy" in Yvette Marie Alex-Assensoh and Lawrence W. Hanks (eds.), Black and Multiracial Politics in America (New York: New York University Press, 2000), pp. 225-256.

"Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development: Exploring the Role of Governing Nonprofits," Richard C. Hula and Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore (eds.), Nonprofits in Urban America (Westport, CT: Quorom Books, 2000), pp. 151-167.

"Congress, Race, and Anticrime Policy" in Yvette Marie Alex-Assensoh and Lawrence W. Hanks (eds.), Black and Multiracial Politics in America (New York: New York University Press, 2000), pp. 225-256.

The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics, and the Challenge of Urban Education (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999) (with J.Henig, R. Hula, and D.Pedescleaux).

"School Reform in Baltimore: Race, Jobs, and Politics," in Clarence N. Stone (ed.), Changing Urban Education (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1998), pp. 93- 117.

"School Reform in Baltimore: Race, Jobs, and Politics," in Clarence N. Stone (ed.), Changing Urban Education (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1998), pp. 93- 117.

Review of Wilbur C. Rich, Black Mayors and School Politics in Urban Affairs Review Vol.33, No.1 (September 1997), pp. 146-148.

"African American Mayors and National Urban Policy: The Fiscal Politics of Urban Federalism." In Hanes Walton, Jr. (ed.) African American Power and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 341-351 (with H. Walton, Jr.).

"Social Policy: The Politics of Disappearances." Black Scholar, Vol.27, No.3/4 (Fall/Winter 1997), pp.73-77 (with H. Walton, et al.).

"Urban Politics, Governing Nonprofits and Community Revitalization." Urban Affairs Review, Vol.32, No.4 (March 1997) (with R. Hula, and C. Jackson).

"The Struggle for Black Empowerment in Baltimore: Electoral Control and Governing Coalitions." In Rufus Browning, Dale Marshall, and David. Tabb (eds.), Racial Politics in American Cities Revisited 2nd edition (New York: Longman Press, 1997), pp. 201-219.

"African American Mayors and National Urban Policy: The Fiscal Politics of Urban Federalism." In Hanes Walton, Jr. (ed.) African American Power and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 341-351 (with H. Walton, Jr.).

"Social Policy: The Politics of Disappearances." Black Scholar, Vol.27, No.3/4 (Fall/Winter 1997), pp.73-77 (with H. Walton, et al.).

"Urban Politics, Governing Nonprofits and Community Revitalization." Urban Affairs Review, Vol.32, No.4 (March 1997) (with R. Hula, and C. Jackson).

"The Struggle for Black Empowerment in Baltimore: Electoral Control and Governing Coalitions." In Rufus Browning, Dale Marshall, and David. Tabb (eds.), Racial Politics in American Cities Revisited 2nd edition (New York: Longman Press, 1997), pp. 201-219.

Review of Charles Wesley Harris, Congress and the Governance of the Nation's Capital: The Conflict of Federal and Local Interests in Political Science Quarterly Vol. 111, No.3 (Fall 1996), pp. 564-565.

Review of Charles Wesley Harris, Congress and the Governance of the Nation's Capital: The Conflict of Federal and Local Interests in Political Science Quarterly Vol. 111, No.3 (Fall 1996), pp. 564-565.

Review of Chandler Davidson and Bernard Grofman, (eds.), Quiet Revolution in the South: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act, 1965-1990 in Southeastern Political Review Vol.24, No.2 (June, 1996), pp. 388-390.

"Language, Race and Politics: From "Black" to "African-American." Politics & Society Vol.24, No.2 (June 1996), pp.137-152 (with R.W. Grant). Reprinted in Adalberto Aguirre, Jr. and David V. Baker, editors, Sources: Notable Selections in Race and Ethnicity, 2nd edition (Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill 1998).

"Urban Politics and School Reform: The Case of Baltimore." Urban Affairs Review, Vol.31, No.3 (January 1996), pp.314-345.

"Language, Race and Politics: From "Black" to "African-American." Politics & Society Vol.24, No.2 (June 1996), pp.137-152 (with R.W. Grant). Reprinted in Adalberto Aguirre, Jr. and David V. Baker, editors, Sources: Notable Selections in Race and Ethnicity, 2nd edition (Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill 1998).

"Urban Politics and School Reform: The Case of Baltimore." Urban Affairs Review, Vol.31, No.3 (January 1996), pp.314-345.

"Baltimore and the Human Investment Challenge." In Fritz W. Wagner, Timothy E. Joder, and Anthony J. Mumphrey, Jr. (eds.), Urban Revitalization: Policies and Programs (Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1995), pp. 38-68 (with D. Imbroscio, T. Ross, & C. Stone).

"Baltimore and the Human Investment Challenge." In Fritz W. Wagner, Timothy E. Joder, and Anthony J. Mumphrey, Jr. (eds.), Urban Revitalization: Policies and Programs (Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1995), pp. 38-68 (with D. Imbroscio, T. Ross, & C. Stone).

"Black Political Recall and Black Politics: A Case Study." In Hanes Walton, Jr. (ed.), Black Politics and Black Political Behavior: A linkage Analysis (West Port, CT: Praeger, 1994), pp. 187-208.

"Black Political Recall and Black Politics: A Case Study." In Hanes Walton, Jr. (ed.), Black Politics and Black Political Behavior: A linkage Analysis (West Port, CT: Praeger, 1994), pp. 187-208.

"Urban Leadership and Regimes in Detroit." Urban Affairs Quarterly Vol.30, No.1 (September 1994), pp.48-73 (with G. Stoker).

"Urban Leadership and Regimes in Detroit." Urban Affairs Quarterly Vol.30, No.1 (September 1994), pp.48-73 (with G. Stoker).

"The Congressional Hearing on National Freedom Day: An African American Holiday." Southeastern Political Review Vol. 21, No.3, (Summer 1993), pp. 626-646 (with H. Walton, et al.).

"Racial Tension and Conflict Reflect Black Community Organization." Public Affairs Report Vol.34, No.2 (March, 1993), pp.1-7.

"Urban Regimes and School Compacts: The Development of the Detroit Compact." Urban Review Vol. 25, No.2 (1993), pp.105-124.

"The Congressional Hearing on National Freedom Day: An African American Holiday." Southeastern Political Review Vol. 21, No.3, (Summer 1993), pp. 626-646 (with H. Walton, et al.).

"Racial Tension and Conflict Reflect Black Community Organization." Public Affairs Report Vol.34, No.2 (March, 1993), pp.1-7.

"Urban Regimes and School Compacts: The Development of the Detroit Compact." Urban Review Vol. 25, No.2 (1993), pp.105-124.

"Urban Regimes and Human-capital Policies: A Study of Baltimore." Journal of Urban Affairs Vol. 14, No.2, 1992, pp.173-187.

"Urban Regimes and Human-capital Policies: A Study of Baltimore." Journal of Urban Affairs Vol. 14, No.2, 1992, pp.173-187.

"The Reshaping of Urban Leadership in U.S. Cities: A Regime Analysis." In Mark Gottdiener and C.G. Pickvance (eds.), Urban Life in Transition (Beverly Hills: Sage Press, 1991), pp. 222-239 (with C. Stone & D. Imbroscio).

"The Reshaping of Urban Leadership in U.S. Cities: A Regime Analysis." In Mark Gottdiener and C.G. Pickvance (eds.), Urban Life in Transition (Beverly Hills: Sage Press, 1991), pp. 222-239 (with C. Stone & D. Imbroscio).

"R.R. Wright, Congress, President Truman and the First National Public African American Holiday: National Freedom Day." PS: Political Science & Politics Vol.24, No.4 (December, 1991), pp. 685-688 (with H. Walton, et al.).

"R.R. Wright, Congress, President Truman and the First National Public African American Holiday: National Freedom Day." PS: Political Science & Politics Vol.24, No.4 (December, 1991), pp. 685-688 (with H. Walton, et al.).

Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore, 1986-1998 (University Press of Kansas, 1999).

Review of Richard A. Keiser, Empowerment or Subordination?: African-American Leadership and the Struggle for Urban Political Power in Urban Affairs Review Vol.35

"The Limits of Mayoral Control of Urban Schools: Baltimore." In Jeffrey R. Henig and Wilbur C. Rich (eds.), Mayors in the Middle: Politics, Race and Mayoral Control of Urban Schools (Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming).

"The Limits of Mayoral Control of Urban Schools: Baltimore." In Jeffrey R. Henig and Wilbur C. Rich (eds.), Mayors in the Middle: Politics, Race and Mayoral Control of Urban Schools (Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming).

research overview

Professor Orr's research is in the areas of American government and politics, urban politics, race and politics, community organizing, urban public policy, and the politics of urban schools.

research statement

I am currently working on a book-length project, Community Organizing and the Ecology of Civic Engagement . The book examines community organizations in Baltimore, Memphis, and New York. The framework for the research centers on the ecology of civic engagement. By ecology of civic engagement, I mean the terms by which major sectors of the city relate to one another and their role in the structure and function of local political regimes. Relationships are central to politics. People and institutions form relationships, or are brought together, in order to change public policy or enhance the capacity of government to address an important problem. My book project is concerned with uncovering factors that allow (or inhibit) community organizations to claim a prominent place in a body of civic and political relationships. Its aim is to provide a balanced examination of the strengths and limitations of community organizing, especially in urban communities.

With Professor Hilary Silver (Sociology, Brown University) I have gathered data for a research project, "Regime Politics in Providence." The research assesses whether the election of Mayor David Cicilline has ushered in a shift in both the electoral and the governing regime of Providence. A regime change would be indicated by the incorporation of new groups into the majority electorate and local government, a shift in the composition of agenda-setters and decision-makers in the ruling governing coalition, and the elevation of a new set of priorities to Providence's policy agenda. Many urban scholars have wondered how, despite its well-known history of political malfeasance, Providence managed to revitalize its downtown and many of its neighborhoods. The research examines the role of political and economic leadership in that transformation, and asks if a new urban regime is in the process of formation.

I developed a data-base of all the urban articles published in four political science journals ( Journal of Politics, American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science and Political Science Quarterly ) and (with Valerie Johnson) to publish articles examining the treatment of urban issues in the discipline's major journals. This work has already produced a forthcoming book chapter, "Race and the City: The View from Two Political Science Journals" and builds on my previously published article, "Political Science and Education Research: An Exploratory Look at Two Political Science Journals."

funded research

"Community Organizing and the Ecology of Civic Engagement," Salomon Faculty Research Grant, Brown University, 2003 ( $11,000)

"BUILD: Continuing the Legacy of Maryland's Civil Rights Movement," Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Historical Trust, 2001-02 ($25,000)

"Big-City School Reform and State Politics: The View from Maryland and Baltimore," Duke University Research Council, 1996 ($1,200)