Social Policy and Sociology

J. Lawrence Aber
  • Distinguished Professor of Applied Psychology and Public Policy, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

  • Board chair, Institute of Human Development and Social Change

Aber is an internationally recognized expert in child development and social policy. His basic research examines the influence of poverty and violence, at the family and community levels, on the social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive and academic development of children and youth.  Aber also designs and conducts rigorous evaluations of innovative programs and policies for children, youth and families, such as violence prevention, literacy development, welfare reform and comprehensive services initiatives.  Aber testifies frequently before Congress, state legislatures and other deliberative policy forums.  The media, public officials, private foundations and leading non-profit organizations also frequently seek his opinion or advice about pressing matters concerning child and family well-being. 

He has co-edited Neighborhood Poverty: Context and Consequences for Children (1997, Russell Sage Foundation), Assessing the Impact of September 11th 2001 on Children Youth and Parents: Lessons for Applied Developmental Science (2004, Erlbaum) and Child Development and Social Policy: Knowledge for Action (2007, APA Publications). 

Currently, he conducts research on the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on children’s development in South Africa (in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council), and on school- and community-based interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee).

Aber earned his Ph.D. from Yale University and an A.B. from Harvard University.

Arjun Appadurai
  • Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

Arjun Appadurai is the Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, where he is also Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge. He also serves as Tata Chair Professor at The Tata Institute for Social Sciences in Mumbai and as a Senior Research Partner at the Max-Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Gottingen. He was previously Senior Advisor for Global Initiatives at The New School in New York City, where he also held a Distinguished Professorship as the John Dewey Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences. Arjun Appadurai was the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The New School from 2004-2006. He was formerly the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of International Studies, Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Center on Cities and Globalization at Yale University. Appadurai is the founder and now the President of PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research), a non-profit organization based in and oriented to the city of Mumbai (India).

Professor Appadurai was born and educated in Bombay. He graduated from St. Xavier’s High School and took his Intermediate Arts degree from Elphinstone College before coming to the United States. He earned his B.A. from Brandeis University in 1967, and his M.A. (1973) and Ph.D. (1976) from The Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

During his academic career, he has also held professorial chairs at The New School, Yale University, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has held visiting appointments at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the University of Delhi, the University of Michigan, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Iowa, Columbia University and New York University.. He has authored numerous books and scholarly articles, including The Future as a Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition (Verso 2013), Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (Duke 2006) and Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, (Minnesota 1996; Oxford India 1997). His books have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and Italian.

Arjun Appadurai has held numerous fellowships and scholarships and has received several scholarly honors, including residential fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto (California) and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and an Individual Research Fellowship from the Open Society Institute (New York). He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997.

He has also served as a consultant or advisor to a wide range of public and private organizations, including many major foundations (Ford, MacArthur, and Rockefeller); UNESCO; UNDP; the World Bank; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the National Science Foundation; and the Infosys Foundation. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Asian Art Initiative at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Forum D’Avignon in Paris.

Dalton Conley
  • University Professor of the Social Sciences


    Professor of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences


    Professor, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine

Dalton Conley is University Professor at New York University. He holds faculty appointments in NYU's Sociology Department, School of Medicine and the Wagner School of Public Service. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Community Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). In a pro bono capacity, he is Dean of Arts and Sciences for the (University of the People)--a tuition-free institution committed to expanding access to higher education. He has previously served as Dean for the Social Sciences and Chair of Sociology at NYU.

Conley’s research focuses on the determinants of economic opportunity within and across generations. In this vein, he studies sibling differences in socioeconomic success; racial inequalities; the measurement of class; and how health and biology affect (and are affected by) social position. In 2005, he became the first sociologist to win the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, given annually to one young researcher in any field of science, mathematics or engineering. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow.

Conley holds a B.A. from the University of California – Berkeley, an M.P.A. & a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University, and an M.S. & M.Phil. in Biology from NYU. He is currently pursing a Ph.D. in Biology at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at NYU, studying phenotypic capacitance and socially regulated genes.

Rosalind Fredericks
  • Assistant Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Fredericks’s research and teaching interests are centered on the political economy of development, global urbanism and postcolonial identities in Africa. With a background in cultural geography, her work is focused on urban politics and social movements in contemporary Dakar, Senegal. Fredericks’s research has won major funding support from the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays and the National Science Foundation. After completing her Ph.D. in geography at University of California, Berkeley, she was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. At Columbia, she taught with the Institute for African Studies and co-organized the series The World and Africa for the Committee on Global Thought.

Fredericks is currently co-editing two collections (one in French) on African cities with Mamadou Diouf as well as preparing her book manuscript on the politics of garbage collection in Dakar.  Her general interests include African cities, youth studies, Islam, critical development studies, feminist geography and political ecology.

Eric Klinenberg
  • Director, Institute for Public Knowledge

  • Professor, Sociology, Public Policy, and Media, Culture, and Communications, Faculty of Arts and Science

  • Affiliated Faculty, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

  • Affiliated Faculty, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Klinenberg directs the Institute for Public Knowledge—which is a social science arm of the Marron Institute. Klinenberg teaches courses on the sociology of cities, culture, and media, as well graduate seminars on research methods, ethnography, and urban design. He is editor of the journal Public Culture and the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, and Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media. Klinenberg is currently working on a variety of research projects related to cities, culture, and climate change.

In addition to his books and scholarly articles, Klinenberg has contributed to popular publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Fortune, Time, The London Review of Books, The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique, Slate, and the radio program This American Life. Klinenberg received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Klinenberg teaches courses on the sociology of cities, culture, and media, as well graduate seminars on research methods, ethnography, and urban design. He is editor of the journal Public Culture and the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, and Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media.

Klinenberg is currently working on a variety of research projects related to cities, culture, and climate change. In addition to his books and scholarly articles, Klinenberg has contributed to popular publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Fortune, Time, The London Review of Books, The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique, Slate, and the radio program This American Life.

Klinenberg received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Mary McKay
  • Professor, Silver School of Social Work


    Director, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy & Research

Dr. McKay joined New York University Silver School of Social Work in September 2011 as Professor and Director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy & Research. Prior to joining Silver, she served as the Head of the Division of Mental Health Services Research at Mount Sinai. She has received substantial federal funding for research focused on meeting the mental health and health prevention needs of inner-city youth and families. Working with colleagues in the field, she developed a substantial body of research findings around engagement practices to improve involvement in family-based HIV prevention programs and mental health services by children, youth, and families in poverty-impacted urban areas. She has significant expertise in services and implementation research methods, as well as 15 years of experience conducting HIV prevention and care oriented studies, all of which has been supported by continuous NIH funding. In addition, she has collaborated with the National Institute of Mental Health, the New York State Office of Mental Health, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create evidence-based engagement interventions and to test models of dissemination and training for mental health professionals in engagement best practices.

The study that began her career in HIV science is CHAMP (Collaborative HIV Prevention and Adolescent Mental Health Project), a collaborative effort between university and community members to provide HIV prevention and mental health promotion services in urban, low income communities. This project began in Chicago and has been replicated in New York City, South Africa, and Trinidad and expanded to new populations, homeless families and prenatally infected youth and their adult caregivers. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications on the topics of mental and behavioral health, HIV/AIDS prevention and behavior modification, and other urban health issues.

Harvey Molotch
  • Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Science

Molotch is a leading urban sociologist, conducting research on issues of city growth and urban security as well as on product design and development. He has also researched issues in news media, the sociology of art, neighborhood racial integration, and the sociology of the environment.

His awards include Distinguished Contribution to the Discipline of Sociology, Award for Lifetime Achievement in Urban and Community Studies, Award for Career Achievement in the Sociology of Environment and Technology (Buttel Award) and Outstanding Scholarly Publication in Urban and Community Studies (Robert Park Award).  

His most recent book is Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger (Princeton Press, 2012). Prior works include Urban Fortunes (with John Logan) and Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers, and Many Other Things Come to Be As They Are. A recent edited collection (with Laura Noren) is Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing (NYU Press, 2010). Those funding his past work include NSF, Gates Foundation, Russell Sage, Hewlett-Packard, and Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.

Jonathan Morduch
  • Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

  • Executive Director, Financial Access Initiative

Professor Morduch’s research centers on microfinance, social investment, and the economics of poverty. He is Executive Director of the Financial Access Initiative (, a consortium of researchers focused on financial inclusion.
Morduch's current work tracks the financial lives of low-income Americans. He is co-author of Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day (Princeton Press, 2009) and The Economics of Microfinance (MIT Press, 2nd edition 2010).  Morduch has worked with the United Nations and World Bank, and advises global NGOs. Morduch holds a BA from Brown and Ph.D. from Harvard, both in Economics.  He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in December 2008 in recognition of his work on microfinance.

Pedro Noguera
  • Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development


    Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education

Dr. Noguera is a sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions and the factors that obstruct and promote student achievement. He holds tenured faculty appointments in the departments of Teaching and Learning and Humanities and Social Sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development at NYU. Dr. Noguera is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS). In 2008, he was appointed by the Governor of New York to serve on the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

Dr. Noguera received his bachelors’ degree in Sociology and History and a teaching credential from Brown University in 1981. He earned his masters’ degree in Sociology from Brown in 1982 and received his doctorate in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 1989. Dr. Noguera was a classroom teacher in public schools in Providence, RI and Oakland, CA. He has held tenured faculty appointments at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2000-2003), where he served as the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools and at the University of California, Berkeley (1990-2000), where he was also the Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change. Dr. Noguera has published over one hundred and fifty research articles, monographs and research reports on topics such as urban school reform, conditions that promote student achievement, youth violence, the role of education in community development in national and international contexts, and race and ethnic relations in American society. Dr. Noguera is the author of several books, including: The Imperatives of Power: Political Change and the Social Basis of Regime Support in Grenada (Peter Lang Publishers, 1997), City Schools and the American Dream (Teachers College Press, 2003), Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools (Josey Bass, 2006), The Trouble With Black Boys…and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education (Wiley and Sons, 2008), Creating the Opportunity to Learn with Dr. A. Wade Boykin (ASCD, 2011) and Invisible No More: Understanding and Responding to the Disenfranchisement of Latino Males with Aida Hurtado and Edward Fergus (Routledge, 2011). Dr. Noguera appears as a regular commentator on educational issues and other topics on CNN, National Public Radio, and other national news outlets.

Katherine O’Regan
  • Associate Professor of Public Policy, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

  • Director, Public and Nonprofit Management and Analysis Program, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

O’Regan’s primary research interests are at the intersection of poverty and space—the conditions and fortunes of poor neighborhoods and those who live in them.  Her current research includes work on a variety of affordable housing topics, from whether the Low Income Tax Credit contributes to increased economic and racial segregation, to whether the presence of housing voucher households contributes to neighborhood crime rates. She is working on a large project with Ingrid Gould Ellen examining neighborhood transitions over the past few decades, including possible broad causes (changes in federal housing policy, and changes in crime, in particular), and outcomes (including possible displacement, and improvements in neighborhood conditions).

She serves on the board of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, the Nonprofit Association for Academic Centers, the editorial board for the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and the research advisory board for The Reinvestment Fund. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley and spent ten years teaching at the Yale School of Management prior to joining the Wagner faculty in 2000. She teaches courses in microeconomics, poverty, program evaluation, and urban economics, and has received teaching awards from Berkeley, Yale, and NYU Wagner.

Andrew Ross
  • Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Ross is a contributor to the Nation, the Village Voice, New York Times, and Artforum, he is the author of many books, including, most recently, Bird On Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, Nice Work if You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times, Fast Boat to China--Lessons from Shanghai, Low Pay, High Profile: The Global Push for Fair Labor, No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs, and The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney’s New Town.

Amy Ellen Schwartz
  • Professor of Public Policy, Education, and Economics, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

  • Director, Institute for Education and Social Policy

Schwartz’s research is primarily in applied econometrics, focusing on issues in urban policy, education policy and public finance. Her current research in K-12 education examines the relationship between student performance and housing and neighborhood change; the role of schools and neighborhoods in shaping childhood obesity; immigration and mobility in urban schools, and the efficacy of school reforms.  Research on urban economic development has included work on Business Improvement Districts, housing investment, school choice, and investment in infrastructure, among other issues in public finance. Her research has been supported by grants from the Spencer Foundation, NIH, IES, NSF, WT Grant Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation among others.  

Schwartz received her Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.

Richard Sennett
  • University Professor

  • Professor of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Science

  • Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics

Sennett is a preeminent scholar on cities, labor, and culture. His research entails ethnography, history, and social theory and has explored how individuals and groups make social and cultural sense of material facts—about the cities in which they live and about the labor they do. He focuses on how people can become competent interpreters of their own experience, despite the obstacles society may put in their way. Sennett is a prolific writer; a full list of his publications can be found on his website(

Sennett has an accomplished track record of developing new interdisciplinary approaches to the study of cities, including founding the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, chairing the UNESCO Commission on Urban Studies, and creating the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics. 

Sennett trained at the University of Chicago and at Harvard University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1969. He has served as Bemis Professor of Urban Studies at MIT and the John Loeb Senior Fellow at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. In the mid-1990s Mr. Sennett began to divide his time between New York University and the London School of Economics. In addition to these academic homes, he maintains informal connections to MIT and to Trinity College, Cambridge University.

Patrick Sharkey
  • Associate Professor of Sociology

  • Affiliated Faculty, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Sharkey’s research focuses on various issues related to inequality in urban neighborhoods. One strand of research seeks to describe and explain the persistence of neighborhood inequality in America’s cities, and the mechanisms by which this inequality persists over time and across generations of family members. A second strand of his work focuses on the consequences of persistent neighborhood inequality for the life chances of individuals from different racial and ethnic groups in America. This research involves incorporating the neighborhood environment into empirical models of economic and social mobility, and estimating the cumulative influence of neighborhoods on adolescent developmental outcomes.

Sharkey has published research examining how aspects of the neighborhood environment influence the choices that adolescents make as they navigate potentially violent streets, and his current work focuses on the relationship between long-term neighborhood disadvantage and individual cognitive development, violent behavior, and victimization. Sharkey’s new book, Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2013.

He received a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University and a B.A. in Public Policy and American Institutions from Brown University.

Beth C. Weitzman
  • Vice Dean and Professor of Health and Public Policy, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Beth C. Weitzman is Vice Dean and Professor of Health and Public Policy at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Prior to her joining the Steinhardt School in 2009, Dr. Weitzman spent more than 20 years on the faculty at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School.

Dr. Weitzman’s research interests focus on urban policies affecting poor families and their children; she has evaluated a range of programs aimed at meeting their health, social service, housing, and educational needs. Dr. Weitzman brings to her research extensive experience in program evaluation and in primary data collection. She conducted more than a decade of research on homeless families, beginning in the late 1980’s, with funding from New York City’s Human Resources Administration, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. More recently, Dr. Weitzman directed the national evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Urban Health Initiative which won the 2010 Outstanding Evaluation Award from the American Evaluation Association. Current research includes evaluations of a program integrating supportive housing with medical case management services and of policies requiring calorie labeling in fast-food restaurants. Her work has been published in such journals as the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Adolescent Health, and the American Journal of Evaluation, where she serves on the editorial board.

Dr. Weitzman holds a B.A. from Vassar College (1978) and an M.P.A. (1980) and Ph.D. (1987) from NYU.

Caitlin Zaloom
  • Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, Faculty of Arts and Science

  • Director, Metropolitan Studies

Zaloom specializes in culture and economy; cities and globalization; financial markets; and social theory. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a National Science Foundation Research Grant and recently published Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London (University of Chicago Press. 2006), which considers how cities, culture, and technology shape everyday life in the new global economy.

Zaloom holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and Modern Culture and Media from Brown University.