Current Program Emphases

The Community Studies Program areas of study, though naturally interdisciplinary and intersectional, are organized in two emphasis groups from which students in the major pick their focus as they embark on their upper-division elective coursework:

  • Health Justice: This is a multidimensional concept with objective and subjective aspects. Justice refers to equity, not simply equality but fairness. Health is both a state of well-being --how is  well-being distributed? -- and a capacity to create and improve health at individual, community, and institutional/structural levels. In this context, health justice refers to the fair distribution of health care and fair distribution of opportunities to prevent illness, enhance well-being for all, and reduce human suffering. We focus on the interplay between structure and agency, formal and informal power, deficit and strength narratives arising when communities act to build health equity. 
  • Economic Justice & Political Economy: This concept refers to the study of the social relations, and especially the power relations (for example of race, class, gender, age, and sexuality), shaping the production, distribution and consumption of resources in society.  In Community Studies, the political economy of cities and regions can be usefully thought of as the political economy of place.  The focus is on developing knowledge about how people and communities gain access to basic human needs like housing, jobs, credit, even food.  How are those markets structured, why, and by and for whom?  What are the relationships among private enterprise, the public sector (government at all levels) and the nonprofit (or third) sector in meeting human needs?