Social Justice Specialization


We live in a society that continues to struggle with socio-political and ecological challenges. Specializing in Social Justice, students critically examine these widespread issues and the opportunities to alleviate unjust and unsustainable ways of life. Courses focus on theories and analytic tools that provide scholarly perspective on social justice.


  • Core Course: PPD 599a Seminar in Social Justice and Public Policy (4 units)
  • Methodology Course: PPDE 661b Methods for Equity Analysis (4 units) or PPD 616 Participatory Methods in Planning and Policy (4 units)         

 a These PPD 599 courses will be assigned different prefix numbers in the near future under the PPDE prefix
 b PPDE 661 Methods for Equity Analysis requires the prerequisite class of PPD 558 Multivariate Statistical Analysis

Core and Methodology Course Descriptions

PPD 599 Seminar in Social Justice and Public Policy:
The politics of public policy is, as often as not, driven by competing claims about what the right thing is to do. Disparate notions of individual liberty and private property are often set against collective notions of the public good. Where do these ideas come from, and what effect do they have on our professions?

In this course, students learn:

  • Theories of social justice prevalent in the U.S. and globally
  • How theories of social justice influence policy, urban planning, and public administration
  • Ways to bridge theories of justice with one’s own professional identity and practice

PPD 599 Methods for Equity Analysis:
This course provides various ways to analyze social inequities such as income distribution and segregation of metropolitan populations. Students also learn causal inference techniques to assess the efficacy of policies that have been enacted to reduce disparities in society. Policy issues include housing, access to financial capital, education, and the environment.

PPD 616 Participatory Methods in Planning and Policy:
Since the 1960s, the legal requirements for public access and consultation in decision making have given rise to experimentation and innovation related to citizen engagement. In this course, students examine how to link the purposes of public participation to the designs and techniques used for citizen engagement.

Electives Course

Students choose four unit elective course selected from the following:

  • PPD 606 – Urban Health Policy
  • PPD 616 – Participatory Methods in Planning and Policy
  • PPD 617 – Urban Demography and Growth
  • PPD 618 – Housing Facilities and Community Development
  • PPD 628 – Urban Planning and Social Policy
  • PPD 686 – U.S. Immigration Policy
  • PPDE 663 – Media for Policy Change
  • COMM 653 – Research, Practice & Social Change
  • MST 560 – Readings on Race and Ethnicity (4, FaSp)
    • Exploration of research on race and ethnicity in the United States as it pertains to political, social, economic, cultural and historical issues.
  • AMST 580 – Readings in Cultural Studies (4, FaSp)
    • Seminar in theoretical approaches to cultural studies, with an emphasis on the analysis of race, gender, sexuality, and class in the U.S.
  • SOCI 552 – Sex and Gender in Society
  • PPD 690 – Alternative Dispute Resolution

Please note: AMST and SOCI are PhD classes. American Studies limits the number of master’s students in their courses to 2 per course each semester.

For more information:

If you are interested in learning more about the Social Justice Specialization, please e-mail your questions to Jennifer Hong at