four students and a professor touch the trophy given to the winning team

Battle of Wits Returns to In-Person Glory

After two years marked by dogged perseverance as a pandemic-compliant virtual competition, the ever-entertaining annual Super Quiz Bowl returned to its rightful place as a face-to-face-to-farce battle of useless knowledge and quick-wittedness on May 26 inside the Public Affairs Building.

As UCLA Luskin Director of Events Tammy Borrero said in an email to staff and students: “The competition remained fierce and over the top!”

The roomful of fierce over-toppers consisted of seven teams representing all three graduate departments, with staff and faculty being well-represented.

Having someone with inside knowledge at their table, such as Public Policy staff members Cristy Portlock and Kevin Franco, certainly benefited some teams during a round of competition that focused on Luskin School trivia. Erin Collins from the dean’s office had no problem deducing the three Ds in D3 Initiative (Diversity, Disparities and Difference, of course). And the student competitors of Doing it for the Clout had little trouble figuring out how to piece together jigsaw pieces to re-form a photo of teammate Mark Peterson, professor and incoming chair of Public Policy.

Urban Planning alum Khristian Decastro helped her team, The Perceptrons, get off to an early lead, and Associate Professor Adam Millard-Ball, a Quiz Bowl first-timer, helped another team of urban planners, CEQuizzers, rally into a tie with just one round to go.

In the end, however, Super Quiz Bowl 2022’s bronze, silver and gold medals — actually red, blue and gold ribbons — all went to teams from Public Policy. (Disclaimer: Those listed as registered participants below may not reflect actual participants because of some last-minute seat shuffling and, well, COVID.)

Third place — Quiz Queens (Marium Navid, Richard Diaz, Lily Cain, Maneesha Horshin, Stacey Hirose), Public Policy

Second place — Risky Quizness (Chinyere Nwonye, Colin Ries, Jessee Espinosa, Jesse Ostroff, Ronaldo Avina), Public Policy

Winners — Doing it for the Clout (Abhilasha Bhola, Nick Perloff, Connie Kwong, Sydney Saubestre, Mark Peterson), Public Policy

Unlike during the virtual years, there was no individual competition.

Here are the historical results:

  • 2013: Urban Planning
  • 2014: Public Policy
  • 2015: Urban Planning
  • 2016: Public Policy
  • 2017: Social Welfare
  • 2018: Public Policy
  • 2019: Social Welfare
  • 2020: Social Welfare and Urban Planning
  • 2021: Public Policy
  • 2022: Public Policy

As always, Grad Night funding was bolstered by participation, and Borrero said Social Welfare shared in 40% of the proceeds by fielding a team against the previously mentioned PP and UP. Urban Planning took the audience attendance award, with Public Policy sweeping the other categories — faculty/staff/alumni attendance and team participation.

View photos from the event (and get inspired for next year’s competition) in this Flickr album:

Quiz Bowl 2022

delegats at conference tables with international flags

UCLA Luskin Scholars on Strengthening Democracy in the Americas

A June 8 conference on how to strengthen the collective defense of democracy in the Americas featured several scholars from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. The hybrid in-person discussion and webinar was a companion event to the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. The webinar focused on strengthening the Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted in 2001 by 34 countries of the Organization of American States. The goal is to generate and advance realistic policy recommendations to improve the charter’s application by OAS member states. President Gabriel Boric of Chile offered the keynote address . In addition to Dean Gary Segura, participating UCLA Luskin faculty included Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier, Professor of Urban Planning Susanna Hecht, Associate Professor of Urban Planning Veronica Herrera and Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Planning Paavo Monkkonen. The webinar is sponsored by the UCLA Burkle Center for International RelationsUCLA Latin American Institute and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and co-sponsored by the Latin American Program at the Wilson CenterThe Carter Center and the Community of Democracies


View photos from the event on Flickr:

Defense of Democracy

man's portrait and logo of labor relations association

Tilly Wins Award From Labor Relations Group

Urban Planning chair Chris Tilly has been named a 2022 Academic Fellow by the Labor and Employee Relations Association (LERA). The award, which recognizes scholars who have made contributions of unusual distinction to the field of labor and employee relations, was given at the association’s annual membership meeting, held virtually from June 3-5. Françoise Carré of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, was also honored with an Academic Fellow award. Tilly and Carré are co-authors of the award-winning 2017 book “Where Bad Jobs Are Better,” which identifies room for improvement in the U.S. retail sector. Citing a rigorous study of working conditions in seven countries, the authors conclude that low wages, unpredictable work schedules and limited opportunities for advancement are not inevitable characteristics of the retail sector. Tilly and Carré also collaborated on a chapter in 2020’s “Creating Good Jobs: An Industry-Based Strategy.” The LERA Academic Fellow awards are given annually to scholars who have served more than 10 years studying disciplines including industrial relations, labor law, economics, human resources, business, sociology, political science and organizational behavior. The nonprofit association also bestows Fellow Awards on practitioners in the labor and employment relations field. A full list of the award winners is available on the LERA site.

Lifting the Stigma of Sex Work

UCLA’s Global Lab for Research in Action, in collaboration with a coalition of advocacy organizations, activists and researchers, has launched a data-driven national social awareness campaign to address the dangers and stigma that sex workers face. The Red Umbrella Campaign will share extensive research and amplify voices of individuals with lived experience in the sex trade to inform the public about the harms created by the criminalization of sex work. “Decades of research from around the world shows that the criminalization of sex work is what makes the work fundamentally unsafe, and impacts the safety of the wider community, too,” said Janine N’jie David, co-founder and deputy director of the Global Lab, which is housed at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Sex workers have a 45% to 75% chance of experiencing workplace violence, according to research. However, it is not only physical and sexual violence that prevents sex workers from being safe, but also constraints accessing housing, health care, other forms of employment and a myriad of basic needs. “Sex work tends to be a taboo subject, despite being one of the oldest professions in the world, and public knowledge is understandably limited,” N’jie David said. “But we shouldn’t allow our lack of understanding — or quite frankly, discomfort — prevent us from tackling challenging issues.” The campaign, announced on June 2, International Sex Workers’ Day, is led by UCLA’s Global Lab in collaboration with Decriminalize Sex Work, the Woodhull Freedom FoundationOld Pros, and individual researchers and activists.

multicolored text reading "What Gay and Bisexual Men Need to Know About Monkeypox"

Facts on Monkeypox and the Gay Community

Amid a global outbreak of the virus monkeypox, the Gay Sexuality and Social Policy Initiative (GSSPI) at UCLA Luskin launched an outreach campaign to share accurate information with gay and bisexual men. Monkeypox is not exclusive to LGBTQ communities, stressed the initiative’s directors, Ian Holloway and Alex Garner. However, “anxiety about contracting monkeypox among many gay men is compounded by negative messaging being disseminated about gay men and the virus, some of which echoes the stigmatizing rhetoric from the early days of the HIV epidemic,” they said. GSSPI collaborated with the Los Angeles LGBT Center to produce an infographic explaining how monkeypox is spread, what symptoms to look for, and what steps to take if an infection is suspected. It also encourages its audience to be wary of stigmatizing language. “At GSSPI, we remain committed to conducting research to understand health issues that impact our communities, and challenging stigma about gay sex and gay sexuality,” said Holloway, a professor of social welfare who also directs the UCLA Hub for Health Intervention, Policy and Practice. “We also remain committed to education and community empowerment.” Holloway and Garner advised the LGBTQ community to stay up to date with changing information about monkeypox, and stick to sources that are reliable and evidence-based, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The side of a school bus with cordon tape that reads "CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS".

Scholars Issue Call for Evidence-Based Action to Prevent School Violence

A nationwide coalition of scholars who have conducted decades of research into school safety has issued an eight-point plan for immediate government action to reduce gun violence. The coalition, including Ron Avi Astor, a professor of social welfare and education at UCLA, called for a comprehensive public health approach to gun violence that is informed by scientific evidence. The recommendations come days after a shooting rampage at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead. “The recent mass shootings across the country are another painful reminder of failed efforts to stop the kind of gun violence that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly 10 years ago,” according to a statement by the coalition known as the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence. The researchers called for a new mindset that prioritizes prevention over reaction. “A focus on simply preparing for shootings is insufficient,” they said. “Prevention entails more than security measures and begins long before a gunman comes to school.” Several of the recommendations focus on limiting access to firearms, including a ban on assault-style weapons and comprehensive background checks for gun buyers. The coalition also calls for a national program to train culturally proficient crisis intervention and threat assessment teams at the school and community level, as well as a requirement that schools assess their learning environments to ensure that they are physically and emotionally safe. “It is time for federal and state authorities to take immediate action to enact these proposals,” the coalition said. “We contend that well-executed laws can reduce gun violence while protecting all constitutional rights.”

young people from UCLA pose outside the Statehouse in Sacramento

LPPI Policy Fellows Gain Direct Experience With Advocacy in Sacramento

Policy fellows from the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) recently traveled to Sacramento to gain experience in direct advocacy with the California Legislature. During three days from May 2-4, they presented LPPI research, proposed bills to lawmakers, and met with key policy stakeholders and governmental agencies. The trip culminated in a policy briefing luncheon hosted by LPPI experts. Silvia R. González, Yohualli B. Anaya and Misael Galdámez provided lawmakers with an in-depth look at new research and data insights on housing insecurity, inequities in access to telehealth, the impact of COVID-19 on higher education outcomes and other issues affecting California’s varied Latino communities. Fellows also met with legislators in their Capitol offices to advocate for bills on topics ranging from alternatives to incarceration to Cal Grant system reform. Policy fellows and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients Aimee Benitez and Marcos Ruiz Rojas had an especially powerful experience meeting with Sen. Ben Hueso and seeing people like themselves represented in his staff. “Senator Hueso is a Latino Bruin who has hired people from our community, including other DACA recipients,” Benitez said. “He took the time to talk with us about the trajectory of his career path, saying one day when he is out of office, we’ll be the ones to take over.” LPPI representatives on the Sacramento trip also recognized the Latino Legislative Caucus for its efforts to champion LPPI and secure state funding to enable a transition from an initiative to an institute. — Alise Brillault