Professor Dowd’s research focuses on social justice issues connected to family law, and touches on not only family law but also juvenile law, constitutional law, race and gender analysis, and social change theories. She is currently engaged in research and writing about a developmental model of equality and focusing on the life course of African American boys from birth to age 18. She has published several articles and a book chapter on that research, and is currently completely a book project on that subject. Two of Professor Dowd’s most recent books focus on the radical reform needed in the juvenile justice system. Justice for Kids (NYU Press 2011) brings together activists and scholars to articulate ways to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system, by diversion into other more helpful and supportive resolutions. A New Juvenile Justice System (NYU Press 2015) articulates the vision of a new youth justice system focused on child well being and public safety. Her other recent book is The Man Question: Male Privilege and Subordination (2010), in which she explores masculinities theories as a means to expand gender analysis and also incorportate other hierarchies that affect gender, particularly race and class.
Professor Dowd served as the Director of the Center on Children and Families until 2015, and in that role focused on issues of juvenile justice, social justice, non-traditional families, gay and lesbian rights, and collaboration with the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations on issues of race and families. While director, she was also involved with successful grants that established the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic, a groundbreaking collaboration between law and medicine to establish a cutting edge clinic. That work has exposed the importance of trauma informed scholarship and service, and feeds back into Professor Dowd’s current scholarship as well.