Doctoral Program in Community and Public Affairs (PhD)

Preparing public scholars to address social and community issues 

The PhD program in the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) prepares students for careers as public scholars focused on addressing critical social and community issues (e.g., educational inequality, racism, gender-based violence) near and far. Our curriculum draws from varied disciplines (e.g. anthropology, demography, criminology, geography, sociology, and psychology) to research the dynamic interplay among individuals, the organizations serving them, as well as the communities and societies in which they are embedded.

Students entering our program typically have several years of practice experience in a variety of fields (e.g., education, counseling, human services, public health, public administration, social work, and student affairs administration) as well as a commitment to health and wellbeing, social justice, human rights, public service, social welfare, and/or community transformation. 

The ecological systems framework of human development organizes our program, guiding students to conceptualize their research topics across multiple levels of analysis (individual, organizational, community, and societal), emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary and engaged approaches for studying community and social issues (e.g., healthcare policy for aging populations, substance abuse prevention, development of sustainable communities).  Ecological systems research that utilizes a variety of emerging methods (e.g., social network analysis, critical ethnography, and youth-led participatory action research), and which bridges theory and research to address community and social issues, is also a unique focus within our program.  In all of our courses, we emphasize the importance of academics as public scholars working in collaboration with communities as we seek understanding and solutions.
Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty to develop research studies that promote individual, organizational, and/or community health and wellness, build empowerment, and social justice near and far.  Working alongside faculty in schools, organizations, and communities as well as on college campuses, students in our program are researching issues such as disproportionalities in student discipline, local housing and community development, and evidence-based brief alcohol interventions with college students who drink heavily.    Graduates of our program are trained for careers as public scholars in a variety of settings including academia, research institutions, and policy organizations.
For additional information, please contact Elizabeth Mellin, Associate Professor & PhD Program Director, (607) 777-9243.


Last Updated: 8/26/16