Adjunct faculty

Jeff Sternberg

Lecturer in Public Policy

Jeff Sternberg is the a lecturer at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and director of data and community research at the City of Detroit’s Community Health Corps. In his current roles, Jeff works at the intersection of data science, community research, and urban policy to provide stakeholders in the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, the mayor’s office, City Council, and Detroit residents with data to drive their decision-making and advocacy around key policy issues. 

Jeff brings together subject-matter expertise in urban and regional economic development with data-driven research and methodologies to investigate subjects such as remote work & co-living, workforce development, labor markets, transitional & affordable housing, place branding, technology incubators & entrepreneurialism, community health and development, social vulnerability, inter-community collaboration, and the impacts of trends in the future of work on the residents of cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Having felt the limitation of research done in a purely academic setting, Jeff has worked to transfer these skills over to applied and policy driven work, putting his research skills in the service of crafting policy and providing analysis backed by subject-matter expertise and grounded in a social justice and inequality-focused framework of action to positively impact people’s lives in the real world.

Jeff grew up in Metro Detroit, graduated with a BA in philosophy with concentrations in political theory and media studies from Michigan State University, and a MA in sociology from Northeastern University. Between his bachelors and masters, he spent two years performing national community service as both an AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps member responding to natural disasters and building response capacity and an AmeriCorps Vista working in community outreach, political education and policy research at Texas Impact in Austin, TX, spending time at the State House during a legislative session organizing constituent visits and conducting legislative drop-offs. Both these experiences of national service took him inside both the Federal and State government in various capacities, revealing the connection between public advocacy, policy, and its execution within bodies of the State. This drove him to want to conduct data-driven policy research shaped and informed by community voices and desires, taking him to graduate school.

Jeff received his PhD in Sociology from Northeastern University in 2021, specializing in urban sociology, global political economy, community and economic development, data Science, and qualitative research methodology. His research in graduate school investigated the intersection of the future of work, development and urbanization from a labor-oriented perspective. His dissertation looked at the class formation and spatial decision-making of digital nomads (and other location-independent workers) by charting their novel urban/rural trajectories of mobility and investigating the ways their choice of residence impacted global and local patterns of development and urbanization, and how local policies could be employed to attract this population and control the forms of local development resulting from them.

Before coming back to Michigan, Jeff worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s IC2 Institute and Bureau of Business Research. At UT, Jeff’s research investigated sustainable regional economic development across the State of Texas, focusing on cooperative commercial and community organizational models to build sustainable collaboration between communities within and outside of urban corridors. In this position, he collaborated on a number of quantitative and qualitative projects partnering with government agencies, universities, chambers of commerce and economic development corporations, contributing to economic impact reports, co-authored academic publications, and city programs evaluations.

Educational background

  • PhD in sociology, Northeastern University
  • MA in sociology, Northeastern University
  • BA in philosophy, Michigan State University

Professional affiliations

  • Director of Data and Community Research, Community Health Corps, City of Detroit

Current research

New municipalism, sustainable local development, community wealth-building, cooperative models of production, social vulnerability, community health & well-being, vacancy