Social Inequality

SPP is the recipient of the first-ever Social Equity Award from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration. The award was created to honor a public administration, affairs or policy program with a comprehensive approach to integrating social equity into its academic and practical work. Research by SPP faculty is on the cutting-edge, generating innovative ideas about contemporary social and political problems and their solutions.


  • Social Movements and Public Policy (SPP)
  • Social Inequalities, Technology and Public Policy (SPP)
  • LGBT Social Science and Public Policy (SPP)
  • Topics in Urban and Housing Policy (SPP)
  • Communication Campaigns and Public Advocacy (SPP)
  • Immigration Debates and Public Policy (SPP)


Examples of SPP faculty research in the area of social inequality and justice include:

  • M.V. Lee Badgett studies employment discrimination and has written extensively on policies related to same-sex couples, including the groundbreaking book Money, Myths and Change: The Economic Live of Lesbians and Gay Men.
  • Jane Fountain founded and directs the National Center on Digital Government, and examines inequalities with respect to science and technology, including access to the internet.
  • Krista Harper's work on environmental justice movements confronts notions of how societies can and do address global inequalities. Her book Wild Capitalism: Environmental Activists and Post-Socialist Ecology in Hungary explores how the meanings of "environment," "citizenship" and "civil society" changed in Hungary during the years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • Dean Robinson is an expert on racial disparities in health outcomes. He is the author of Health Disparities by Race and Class: Why Both Matter and The Black Family and U.S. Social Policy.

Additional Social Justice and Equity Initiatives

  • The Public Engagement Project which trains scholars to shape their ideas for use by policymakers, social movement organizations and the media.
  • The Wellspring Collaborative is creating an engine for new, community-based job creation in inner-city Springfield based on the purchasing power of area anchor institutions.
  • The Massachusetts Care Policy Network was founded by several UMass faculty, including Nancy Folbre, to reach out to state policymakers concerning gender equity issues related to child, elder, foster, and health care.