The Labor, Work, and Society track provides a multi-disciplinary perspective on the organization, valuation, and governance of work. Focus areas include employment relations, working conditions, labor and globalization, gender and work, labor education, and the future of work. Students will learn about strategies to support a variety of outcomes, including social justice, worker well-being, democracy, and economic success.

Sample Programs and Optional Sociology Concentration for Primary and Secondary Fields

We lay out nine sample programs for students in the program, which can be adapted for either primary or secondary fields in the Ph.D. program. Students should consider these programs as models of the kinds of individualized programs they can devise. They are designed to stimulate thoughtful planning, and we encourage students to adapt these in consultation with their committees. An individual program is limited only by the imagination of the student, working in consultation with his/her advisers. Please note that not all of the courses listed in these sample programs are offered every year, so the course of study has to be based on the course offerings for each year.

The first six programs are completed primarily in the IRHR program, the final three are examples of a sociology concentration (described below). These programs are flexible so that any can be constructed with or without a concentration in sociology. The sample programs are:

  1. Organizations and workplace transformation
  2. Diversity and inclusive organizations
  3. Labor education
  4. Labor and employment policy
  5. Dispute resolution
  6. Employee ownership, profit sharing, and broad-based stock options
  7. Labor and globalization
  8. Gender and work
  9. Labor and social movements

In the second semester of their first year, each student with Labor, Work, and Society as a primary field will work with the Ph.D. Director to assemble an advisory committee of 3 faculty members, who will advise the student’s Master’s thesis and provide on-going advice on curriculum, research opportunities, conferences, and general intellectual development. This committee’s membership may change over time as the student works on his or her qualifying exam and dissertation.

Optional Sociology Concentration

Students in the Labor, Work, and Society field have the option of a concentration in sociology. This will tie the study of employment relations to sociological theory and methods, and provide training that can prepare students for academic jobs in sociology along with many other types of positions. Students taking this concentration will have at least one sociologist on their advisory committees, and at least one on their dissertation committees. In consultation with their committee chair and the Ph.D. Director, students choosing the sociology concentration may wish to include a committee member from the Sociology Department on their committee, or a sociologist from SMLR. A Sociology Department member may chair a dissertation after being appointed as a member of the IRHR graduate faculty, or may otherwise serve as an external member on a dissertation committee.

This concentration will require that students:

a) take at least 2 of their 4 required Ph.D. methods courses in the Sociology Department

b) take at least 1 Ph.D. theory class in the Sociology Department

c) take at least 3 Ph.D. substantive classes in the Sociology Department. The specific courses will be chosen in consultation with the student’s committee and the Ph.D. Director.