Deborah Potter, PhD

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies


An associate professor, Dr. Potter is a medical sociologist with a joint PhD (Sociology; Social Policy) from Brandeis University. Informed primarily by critical theory and social constructionism, her three primary areas of research are: a) lay/public involvement in health and mental health policy and service delivery; b) medicalization of deviant behaviors among marginalized populations, and c) the reification and contestation of healthicization. Dr. Potter also has experience in applied research and program evaluation. For eight years, including the time she wrote her dissertation, she worked in a non-profit agency as a lead evaluator of state and national mental health programs. Prior to that, for ten years, she was a health research scientist for a health policy research organization. She teaches undergraduate courses on medical sociology; sociology of women’s health; sociology of mental health; and research methods. In the PhD program, she teaches courses and independent studies in program evaluation; social policy; and the sociology of health and illness. Outside of her academic life, she pursues her passion for dog agility.

Research Areas
Medical sociology
Mental health lay professional collaboration in health/mental health policy and service delivery
Medicalization of vulnerable and marginalized populations
Socialinequality in health and health care

Teaching Areas
SOC 303 Research Methods

SOC 435 Medicine, Health and Illness
SOC 440 The Health Care System
SOC 450 Health Social Movements and Health Activism
SOC 740 Social Policy