Doctoral Program in Community and Public Affairs (PhD)
Public Scholarship on Issues Impacting Communities Near and Far.
The PhD program in Community and Public Affairs (CPA) prepares students for academic or policy-related careers that emphasize applied research on issues impacting communities near and far. Applied research on topics such as healthcare policy for aging populations, violence against women, substance abuse prevention in schools, as well as sustainable communities, are strengthened through the integration of diverse theories and research methods. 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 administration, social work, and student affairs administration) as well as a commitment to social justice, human rights, public service, social welfare, and/or community transformation.
The social-ecological framework 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 approaches for studying social issues. Students in our program are trained as social scientists who are well prepared in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Applied research, emphasizing a variety of methods for ecological analysis (e.g., multilevel structural equation modeling, social network analysis, critical ethnography, geographic information systems, and youth-led participatory action research), is also a unique focus within our program. Additionally, as one approach for bridging research and practice, the CPA program prepares students for public policy analysis, formation, and change.
Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty to develop research studies that promote positive human, organizational, and community development. Working alongside faculty in schools 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 the CPA doctoral program are trained for careers as researchers 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.