Institute on Assets and Social Policy

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PhD Dissertation Abstracts

Coursework, seminars, independent study, and research experience culminate in the development and execution of a student's dissertation. Students work with an adviser during their residency years to assure that they are laying the foundation to achieve this goal. After submitting a passing comprehensive paper, students are eligible to name a four-person dissertation committee tailored to the needs of their specific dissertation topic. The committee members serve as mentors and guides through the dissertation process and always include a scholar from outside the Heller community.

A Heller dissertation must be independent scholarly research that analyzes a significant social policy issue and makes an original contribution to the field. Students have the option of presenting the problem statement, review of literature, methodology, findings, and policy implications of their dissertation project as a traditional monograph-style dissertation, or may opt to prepare three publishable papers on related topics. Full-time doctoral students have 10 years from the date of entry into the program to complete all requirements for the degree, including the dissertation. The average time from matriculation to completion is six years.

Sara Chaganti, MS

Dissertation Abstract: Ready for Work: Preparing Low-Income Adults for Employment through Job Readiness Training

Sara Chaganti, MS, is a doctoral candidate in Social Policy and Sociology, focusing on economic inequality, and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis. She received an MA in Social Policy from Brandeis, an MS in Law, Policy and Society from Northeastern University and a BA in Anthropology from Yale University. Her research interests include workforce development policy, the sociology of work and organizations, and the intersection of race and gender in the work place. Sara is particularly interested in racial and gender disparities in employment outcomes, and the experience of minorities in service sector work. Her dissertation research focuses on soft skills training programs for disadvantaged workers. She is a Behavioral Health concentrator.

Graham Wright, MPP

Dissertation Abstract: The Policy Implications of Americans' Concern for Increasing Economic Inequality

Callie Watkins Liu, MRP

Dissertation Abstract: Making Social Change: Questioning the Study of Social Movements, and Investigating Organizational Dynamics and Network Strategies in a Social Movement Case

Callie Watkins Liu, MRP,  is a doctoral candidate. She received an MRP in City and Regional Planning (2010) from Cornell University and her BA in Psychology, Spanish and Portuguese (2005) from Harvard College. Her research interests include community mobilization and social change especially among vulnerable populations. Current work also includes a study to understand racial dynamics between faculty and students of color in doctoral programs. She is an Assets and Inequalities concentrator.


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