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Social Equity

Rutgers SPAA is committed to promoting and practicing social equity through teaching, service, and research, and engaging in intentional, active, and ethical efforts in order to serve and safeguard all people, especially the most vulnerable in our society.

SPAA is proud to be recognized as a leader in the advancement of social equity as the recipient of the 2019 Social Equity Award from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).


Social equity is embedded in course content and design throughout the curriculum and is the primary focus of several MPA courses.

  • Alan Sodovnik's “Education in Newark” course explores issues related to education and social equity including the relationship between poverty and schooling, and efforts to raise high school graduation rates and college attendance. 
  • Norma Riccucci includes several lectures on social equity and diversity in her Human Resources Administration course, a core course of the MPA program.
  • Rachel Emas redesigned two core MPA courses – Introduction to Public Administration and Applied Research Design – to use only cost-free course materials and to make these materials more accessible for students with special needs such as those who are visually impaired.


Service activities to promote social equity are a critical component of SPAA's mission.

  • The Office of Public Engagement (OPE) at SPAA facilitates faculty and student engagement and collaborative endeavors with government and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Newark area and throughout New Jersey. OPE sponsors events for Newark high school students on topics relating to diversity and social equity.
  • Rutgers SPAA hosted the 18th annual Social Equity Leadership Conference (SELC) on June 5-7, 2019 at Rutgers University–Newark, co-sponsoring the conference with the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). The conference – with a theme of "Achieving Social Equality in Turbulent Times: A Grand Public Administration Challenge" – brought together more than 150 scholars and practitioners to share their expertise on the best ways to address social justice issues, including racial and gender disparities in education, health, housing, and treatment in the criminal justice system.
  • The Minnowbrook 50 Social Equity Manifesto [pdf], produced and signed by a group including Norma Riccucci at the Minnowbrook 50th Anniversary Conference, documents the need to include social equity as a central principle in public administration.
  • Rachel Emas has served as the Strategic Management Advisor and an Advisory Board Member of Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. (Newark SAS), a community-driven, nonprofit organization based in Newark that assists with the creation of equitable, self-sustaining, and environmentally-friendly communities by developing pathways for green jobs and broader community empowerment.
  • Suzanne Piotrowski has consulted with the World Bank Institute on an evaluation of Thailand’s Official Information Act and with the Carter Center on a project assessing how access to information differentially affects women.
  • Marilyn Rubin has been an advisor to the Korean Woman’s Development Institute and to the governments of San Francisco, CA and Fulton County, GA on gender budgeting. She also served as a UN advisor to integrate women into public policy and economic development projects.


A primary research focus of several SPAA faculty is social equity across a range of policy domains including employment, health care, education, criminal justice, fiscal policy and security.

Employment Policy 

  • Norma Riccucci is a recognized authority on social equity issues, especially as related to employment policy. Her publications include “On Our Journey to Achieving Social Equity: The Hits and Misses,” PS: Political Science & Politics; “Antecedents of Public Service Motivation (PSM): The Role of Gender,” Perspectives on Public Management and Government; and “Representative Bureaucracy:  A Lever to Enhance Social Equity, Co-Production, and Democracy,” Public Administration Review (with Gregg Van Ryzin).
  • Gregg Van Ryzin has co-authored articles with Norma Riccucci on social equity issues related to employment policy including "The Role of Gender," Perspectives on Public Management and Government.
  • Madinah Hamidullah has co-authored articles with Norma Riccucci on social equity issues related to government employment policies including “Intersectionality and Family-Friendly Policies in the Federal Government: Perceptions of Women of Color," Administration & Society.

 Health Policy

  • Frank Thompson researches and publishes across several domains, including health care policy with a focus on Medicaid, a program designed to promote social equity. His 2012 book, Medicaid Politics: Federalism, Policy Durability, and Health Reform examines the genesis and expansion of Medicaid and its impact on the American health care system.
  • Charles Menifield has done extensive research on state implementation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other health care programs and their impact on minority groups. His publications include "The State Children’s Health Insurance Program: Has the Effort of the Federal Government Worked?" Journal of Health and Human Services Administration (with Audwin B. Fletcher); "Infant Mortality in Southern States: A Bureaucratic Nightmare," Journal of Health and Human Services (with Jacob Dawson); "Obesity in America," Association of Black Faculty Nursing Journal (with Nicole Doty and Audwin Fletcher); "Disparities in Health Care: Minority Elders at Risk," Association of Black Faculty Nursing Journal (with Lisa Byrd and Audwin Fletcher).

Education Policy

  • Alan Sadovnik has authored and edited numerous books and articles focusing on education and social equity including his 2008 co-edited book No Child Left Behind and the Reduction of the Achievement Gap: Sociological Perspectives on Federal Educational Policy. He has also published urban education policy reports on Newark, NJ, and the nation.
  • Charles Menifield has examined education outcomes, focusing on African American males as described in his article "Lottery Funded Scholarships in Tennessee: Increased Access but Weak Retention for Minority Students," Journal of Education Finance.
  • Cleopatra Charles has co-authored "Beating the Odds: Female Faculty, Students and Administrators in Schools of Public Affairs" in Maria J. D’Agostino and Helisse Levine (Eds.), Women in Public Administration: Theory and Practice.

Criminal Justice Policy

  • Charles Menifield has studied critical issues related to criminal justice and social equity and was the lead author of a 2018 article published in the Public Administration Review entitled "Do White Law Enforcement Officers Target Minority Suspects?"
  • Norma Riccucci and Gregg Van Ryzin (with co-author Karima Jackson) published “Representative Bureaucracy, Race and Policing: A Survey Experiment," Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.

Fiscal Policy

  • Marilyn Rubin is a recognized authority on gender related social equity issues such as how governments can use their budgets to achieve social justice for women. She was co-author of a 2005 article entitled "Integrating Gender into Government Budgets: A New Perspective," the first article on gender budgeting published in the Public Administration Review.


  • Ariane Chebel D’Appolloni has written on issues relating to security, ethnic diversity and immigration. Her publications (co-edited with Simon Reich) include Managing Ethnic Diversity After 9/11: Integration, Security and Civil Liberties in Transatlantic Perspective and Immigration, Integration and Security: America and Europe in Comparative Perspective.