Ph.D., New York University, 1990
Professor, Dept. of Human & Organizational Development
Professor Perkins works in three main areas: (1) Community Psychology: social capital (citizen participation, empowerment, sense of community, neighboring, networks); community development; social ecology/change; organizational change/development; program evaluation; community research methods; international & interdisciplinary studies. (2) Environment & Behavior: interdisciplinary study of community environmental problems (environmental criminology, housing/homelessness, deterioration, neighborhood revitalization, urban planning & design) and individual, community, and governmental responses. (3) Social Psychology, Law & Public Policy: research dissemination & policy use; interfaith and intercultural dialogue and understanding; disorder, crime & youth violence prevention; reactions to crime; deviance & social control theories. He is currently studying the global development of applied community studies in psychology, sociology, community development, social work, anthropology, economics, public health, public administration, urban/regional planning, and education.
Professor Perkins studies and works with voluntary associations, grassroots and non-profit community organizations, and government agencies responding to such issues, at all levels but especially local government. His conceptual orientation stresses ecological systems frameworks and multiple levels of analysis (individuals, families, organizations, communities). His populations of interest include neighborhood residents and leaders, the disenfranchised, low-income, minorities, and at-risk youths.
After getting degrees in Psychology (and minoring in Sociology & Anthropology) at Swarthmore College and MA and PhD in Community Psychology at New York University, Professor Perkins taught in Criminal Justice at Temple University, and later Environment & Behavior in the Department of Family & Consumer Studies at the University of Utah. Arriving at Vanderbilt in 2000, he was the founding director of the Ph.D. Program in Community Research & Action, of Graduate Studies in Human & Organizational Development, and of the interdisciplinary Center for Community Studies at Peabody College, Vanderbilt. He is a Fellow of the Society for Community Research and Action. He has conducted collaborative research with community and university partners in the U.S. and Europe, and organized participatory student Fieldschools in Intercultural Education & Research in China and South Africa).
Professor Perkins has taught Community Psychology, Community Intervention & Change, Global Dimensions of Community Development, and other courses. His teaching philosophy and methods emphasize a participatory seminar format, collegial atmosphere, and relevant and experiential learning. His students look at the community settings they live and work in and identify real-life social or environmental issues affecting them and then study and try to solve them collaboratively and systemically.