Center for Public Policy and Administration at UMass Amherst Wins National Social Equity Award

October 26, 2011

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AMHERST, Mass. - The Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been recognized as tops in the country when it comes to social equity research, teaching and service.

The award is from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. Its Social Equity Award, new this year, was created to honor a public affairs, public administration or public policy program with a comprehensive approach to integrating social equity into its academic and practical work.

"We are very honored to be the first program to receive this award from our professional association," says M.V. Lee Badgett, CPPA director. "CPPA’s students, staff and faculty build a social justice component into everything we do: our courses, our research and our public engagement. We’re not here only to study public policy; we want our work to make a difference in people’s lives."

The center’s research spans many disciplines. Much of that scholarship examines existing social inequities, such as environmental harms, employment discrimination, health disparities, gender inequalities, marriage access inequalities and the digital divide. But CPPA’s faculty members go beyond studying these fields; they proactively seek possible policy remedies for these inequities.

For example, Jane Fountain, political science and public policy professor, chaired the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government for the World Economic Forum in 2010 and 2011. She has worked with leaders from nongovernmental organizations around the world on such social equity issues as government openness and citizen engagement, as well as social enterprise models for economic development across the globe.

Badgett is widely recognized as an authority on civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. She was the first economist to publish an article identifying the gay wage gap. In 2009 Badgett’s award-winning book When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage was published, and the following year she testified as an expert witness in the federal Proposition 8 trial related to same-sex marriage in California.

In addition to the faculty’s research, the center works to advance social justice goals on the UMass Amherst campus and throughout the region. Through its Springfield Project, CPPA lecturer Fred Rose is working with community leaders to establish an economic development process that would create worker cooperatives, offering inner-city residents well-paying, entry-level jobs.

Since its founding in 1998, CPPA has placed a strong focus on issues of social justice and diversity. "Our mission includes promoting social change and solving problems for the common good," Badgett says.

The award lends prestige not only to CPPA, but also to UMass Amherst’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, which houses the center. "I am so proud that CPPA has won this award. Congratulations to Lee for her fine leadership," says Robert S. Feldman, the college’s dean.

CPPA is the hub of interdisciplinary public policy research, teaching and engagement at UMass Amherst. Its faculty and alumni are effective policy leaders, from the local to the global levels, in addressing topics such as family and care policy, environmental issues, emerging technologies, social inequalities and governance.