Doctoral Program in Community and Public Affairs (PhD)

Research for the public good

The interdisciplinary PhD program in Community and Public Affairs (CPA) is designed to prepare students to enter a community of scholars, educators, and advanced practitioners who focus on interdisciplinary approaches for addressing complex challenges experienced by individuals, organizations, and institutions.  Multifaceted research questions on issues such as health care, school readiness, diversity and equity in higher education, obesity, homelessness, building sustainable communities, and college student drinking are strengthened through the integration of diverse theories and methods.  Our curriculum draws from varied disciplines (e.g. anthropology, demography, criminology, geography, sociology, and psychology) as well as professions (e.g. counseling, human development, public administration, student affairs administration, and social work) to research the dynamic interplay among individuals, the organizations serving them, and the institutions in which they are embedded. 

Our program guides students to conceptualize their research topics from a social-ecological context that reflects specific attention to cultural, structural, and political elements of issues facing individuals, organizations, and institutions.  Relevant research methods particularly suited for social-ecological research such as ethnography, social network analysis, geographic information systems, and visual voices, emphasizing translational research, civic engagement, and public scholarship, are highlighted in our program  Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty across the college and university to support the development of interdisciplinary and methodologically rigorous research on multifaceted issues.

Faculty and students in the CPA program also work collaboratively on interdisciplinary research projects that integrate theories and methods to address real world problems.  As a part of their training, students are engaged in yearlong research experience that involves them in research design, data collection and analysis, as well as publication.  These experiences are designed to sharpen research skills, gain experience working with interdisciplinary teams, and to prepare students for their dissertation.  Graduates of the CPA doctoral program are trained for careers as researchers in a variety of settings including academia, research foundations, government, and nonprofit organizations.

For additional information, please contact Elizabeth Mellin, PhD Program Director, (607) 777-9243.


Last Updated: 10/28/15