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Renewable Energy

The goal of this project is to better understand public opinions and responses to renewable energy technologies and proposals, including wave, wind, and microgrid projects.

PPOL 441/541: Energy, Climate, and Society

Energy systems are inextricably bound to both micro and macro level social systems. Culture has both shaped and is shaped by the use of energy. This system of positive and negative feedback is at the heart of understanding the complex relationship between energy and society. Energy systems also play a role in creating and maintaining social inequalities, an issue that will be strongly examined in this course. That examination will emphasize the role of energy in critical social issues, including but not limited to: domestic and international conflict, poverty, political disenfranchisement and marginalization, social change, intergenerational inequality, and environmental justice. We also look at the evolution of energy use through history, and the role that it has played in shaping social behavior and relevant institutions.

SOC 471/571: Social Movements

This course introduces students to social movements and associated sociological theories. What constitutes a social movement? Why do social movements form, and why do they form when they do? Who joins movements and why? How are movements organized, and what strategies and tactics do they use? How do institutions such as the media and the state affect movements? How effective are movements as agents of social change? Why do they decline? What impacts have they had on law, policy, culture, and the social imagination? Studying a range of movements allows students to reflect on these questions, and reflect also on broader questions about inequality, power, and the relationship between social structures, human agency, and social change.

PPOL 523 Qualitative Research Methods

An introduction to the theory and methods of qualitative research. Students will be exposed to various qualitative research methods through practical field exercises. These include ethnographic field observation, content analysis, interviewing, focus groups and unobtrusive measures. Other commonly used methods of collecting qualitative data are also examined.

PPOL 524 (formerly SOC 519): Applied Research Methods

Applied social science is about putting social science methods to work collecting information about problems that people face in the everyday world and then using the resulting understanding to help ease those problems through changes in social policy or other practices. This course will explore how social science research methods can be used for effective problem solving. To do so, we design and conduct a research project for an off-campus client.

View past research projects

PPOL 507 First Year Seminar

This course is designed to re-familiarize students with the full range of policy and theoretical frameworks for the development and implementation of appropriate policies in a variety of settings. Our focus is on finding ways for each student to apply a relevant policy or theoretical framework to their own work that is leading to the MPP essay. We will also plan for your successful completion of the MPP program.

PPOL 614 Advanced Policy Theory II

Second course in a two-course series providing a comprehensive review of public policy theory. The course examines theoretical approaches to understanding the complex and contentious assumptions and premises that pose challenges to the way we conduct public policy.

PPOL 628: Advanced Qualitative Methods

In this advanced methodology course, the focus is on epistemological approaches, research design, data analysis techniques and critiques of qualitative research. It aims to familiarize students with the different ways of knowing and doing qualitative research on a more advanced level, culminating in the written and oral presentation of a qualitative research proposal, including preliminary results from fieldwork conducted during the course. We consider a range of qualitative methodological approaches with special emphasis on observational and interview-based research.

Smart and Connected Kids for Sustainable Energy Communities

The goal of this line of research is to develop and test energy use interventions in the community of Fremont, California, engaging children, youth and their families in the analysis of high-resolution energy data while fostering energy data literacy and conservation.