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Social Welfare Hosts International Youth Conference Young people from 180 countries participated online and in-person during a conference presented in collaboration with United Nations entities

From May 30 to June 2, UCLA Luskin Social Welfare served as host during the 9th edition of the International Youth Conference, which brought together youth from around the world for a series of in-person and online discussions, workshops and collaborations. Hector Palencia of the field faculty was the Luskin School’s local representative to the organizing group, with assistance from students and staff that included Carmen Mancha, Lorraine Rosales and Tera Sillett. The sessions taking place in the Public Affairs Building at UCLA were made available to a global audience of more than 720,000 people via live streaming on IYC’s digital platforms. Participants from 180 countries attended the conference online and in-person. The overarching focus was on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and youth inclusion in policymaking. In addition to Palencia, UCLA Luskin faculty members Laura Wray-Lake, Randall Akee and David Turner participated in conference events and panel discussions. They were joined by other scholars from UCLA and other universities, youth activists, civil society leaders and luminaries in international peace and security, science and technology, and global governance transformation.  The media partner for this event was ABC7 in Los Angeles, which sent a news crew to campus to interview participants for a story that aired during a May 31 newscast.

View photos from the conference

International Youth Conference

Watch a highlights video about the conference

‘It’s Never Too Late to Learn … Even For Me’

When Emily Wang moved from China to California with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, she knew just one person in this country. Settling near Los Angeles, Wang worked as a restaurant cashier and contemplated options for her future. Learning English was key, so she enrolled in ESL classes at El Camino College in Torrance. A counselor told her about transferring to a four-year university. Wang was 34 at the time, with a first-grader in tow. “They told me it’s never too late to learn,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wow, really? Even for me?’” With assistance from the Center for Community College Partnerships, she successfully transferred to UCLA and will graduate this spring with a bachelor of arts in public affairs from the Luskin School. The process of applying to the UC system also stoked her desire to pursue policy work, as she discovered that she was technically an undocumented immigrant. The family had come to the U.S. legally, applied for asylum and had work permits. But eight years have passed, and Wang has had no updates about her case since she and her husband separated during the pandemic. “I thought, since I’m stuck in this situation, I’m going to use my undocumented identity as my strength to advocate,” she says. “We need more support systems to help undocumented immigrants who are already here, like my daughter.” Now 40 and a single parent, Wang plans to continue her work in political advocacy and — when her daughter, now 11, is a bit older — return to school for a law degree.

Read the full story about Emily Wang as well as other transfer students across the UC system.

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Trivia, Tacos and a Sudden-Death Finale

It was a showdown that will go down in Super Quiz Bowl history. Heading into the final round of UCLA Luskin’s last-ever clash of trivia titans, three teams — one each from Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning — were poised to seize the last spot on the Quiz Bowl trophy. After the dust settled … it still wasn’t over! A tie-breaker was called to determine the final results:

1st Place: Bearly Here, Social Welfare (Norma A. Miller, Julia Kim, Andi Levenson, Marcelo Amora Rios, Laurel Mayeda)

2nd Place: Academic Probation, Public Policy (Alexa Moghadam, Joaquin Escalante, Xalma Palomino, Mikey Rincon, Alberto Vargas)

3rd Place: Planning Popcorn Shrimps, Urban Planning (Myranda Denise Arreola, Zeltxin Angon, Michelle Rivera, Erick Gasca, Dominique Ong) 

In the individual competition, Karina Ourfalian of Public Policy took the top prize.

The May 30 competition brought the UCLA Luskin community together on the School’s rooftop terrace for trivia, tacos and a little friendly trash-talk. Quiz master Carlos Campos tested the players’ knowledge of Vegas casinos, college mascots, “Shrek” lore and more — including how to spell our interim dean’s last name. (It’s “Loukaitou-Sideris.” Don’t forget the hyphen.) Proceeds from Super Quiz Bowl will support Grad Nights for the Luskin School’s three graduate programs. Half the proceeds will be divided among the three departments that fielded teams, Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning. Public Policy will receive additional funding for having the highest percentage of attendance, team participation and staff participation. This year’s Super Quiz Bowl brings to a close UCLA Luskin’s 12-year tradition of fun, food and friendly competition to wrap up the academic year.

View photos on Flickr.

Super Quiz Bowl 2024

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New Book Chronicles Citizen Action to Combat Environmental Injustice

In communities around the world, toxic pollution has taken a terrible toll on public health, leading to more than 12.5 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. In her new book “Slow Harms and Citizen Action: Environmental Degradation and Policy Change in Latin American Cities,” UCLA Luskin’s Veronica Herrera sheds light on the struggle against toxic exposure and the role of grassroots activism in crafting effective environmental policies. “For the millions of communities around the world where pollution is a slow-moving, long-standing problem, residents born into toxic exposure often perceive pollution as part of the everyday landscape,” writes Herrera, an associate professor of urban planning. The book, published by Oxford University Press, shares her pathbreaking research into river pollution on the poor fringes of three Latin American capitals: Bogotá, Colombia; Lima, Peru; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Through original interviews, photographs, maps and other sources, Herrera illustrates how human rights movements that had previously helped dismantle state-sponsored militarized violence have also laid the groundwork for successful environmental activism. “In many instances, citizen-led pressures are increasingly the environmental regulatory institution of last resort in Global South cities,” Herrera writes.

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Violence, Aggression Against Educators Grew Post-Pandemic, Study Finds

While threats and violence against pre-K to 12th-grade teachers and other school personnel in the United States declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, after the restrictions were lifted, incidents rebounded to levels equal to or exceeding those prior to the pandemic. As a result, the percentage of teachers expressing the intention to resign or transfer rose from 49% during the pandemic to 57% afterward. These are the findings of new research led by the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Violence Against Educators and School Personnel, whose members include UCLA Luskin Social Welfare Professor Ron Avi Astor. “Aggression and violence against educators and school personnel are major concerns that affect the well-being of school personnel and the students and families they serve,” the researchers concluded. They recommended an overhaul of existing policies, with the goal of bringing school personnel, students, parents and communities together to work toward improving campus climate, work environment, and student learning and well-being. The study compared the results of two surveys of educators and school personnel from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The first was conducted during the height of the pandemic in 2020-2021 and the second in 2022, after many campuses had lifted COVID-19 restrictions. Respondents were asked about their encounters with various forms of violence, including verbal, cyber and physical, from students, parents and guardians, colleagues and administrators. They were also asked if they intended to quit, retire early or transfer to another position within the school system. The study was published May 30 in the journal American Psychologist.

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UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Institute Hosts Briefing in State Capital

California’s housing and environmental justice challenges were the focus of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute’s fifth annual policy briefing held at The California Endowment in Sacramento. Over 80 people representing legislative offices, community organizations, staff and students were welcomed to the May 1 event by Amada Armenta, LPPI’s associate faculty director and a UCLA Luskin associate professor of urban planning. “At LPPI, we like to say that all issues are Latino issues. And we know that to address these issues, you need data,” Armenta said. “Our research is led by a Latino team that draws on their personal experiences, as well as their deep expertise, to produce research that shines a light on communities that are too often ignored so you can serve your constituents through targeted and data-driven policy interventions.” California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara opened the session, followed by a panel on the complexities of environmental challenges, moderated by LPPI co-director of research Silvia González MURP ’13, PhD ’20. The briefing also shared research on the high prevalence of “doubled-up homelessness,” in which individuals share overcrowded and substandard housing, and highlighted the Latino Data Hub, the digital data platform developed by LPPI researchers. More than 20 UCLA students attended the briefing as part of the institute’s leadership fellowship curriculum. “Today, I see experts, scholars and students who are the future leaders. I see the staff for elected offices who have the knowledge, passion and power to change the trajectories and lives of our communities,” said Lila Burgos MURP ’13, deputy director of LPPI. — Cristian Rivera

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