The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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.