As some of you know, the Luskin School is a bit unusual compared with other institutions.
The juxtaposition of Social Welfare, Urban Planning and Public Policy sets us apart from most other universities where schools of Social Work and schools of Public Policy are often standalone units, while Urban Planning rests in Design, Architecture or Environmental colleges. Policy and planning can occasionally be found together, but to have the three disciplines together makes the Luskin School something of a unicorn.
This is to our benefit, I believe. When I share our vision with donors, scholars and prospective students, I talk about our unique capacity to examine human well-being from different levels and units of analysis. At UCLA Luskin, we are interested in individuals, families and organizations; municipalities, metros and regions; states, nations and the globe. This is a strength. But to make use of this variety of perspectives, we require places — real and virtual — for faculty with these perspectives to share, cooperate and collaborate. This is the key virtue of our centers and institutes — to serve as a locus of dialogue and collaboration across the entire School.
The Luskin School is blessed to have sizable clusters of faculty interested in housing and homelessness, transportation, the environment, health and mental health, youth and child development, criminal justice and policing, international policymaking and its impacts, race, class and inequality, and so much more. What these various foci have in common is that each has faculty and student researchers in more than one department and, in some instances, all three. In order for the School to have its greatest impact, as a locus for pathbreaking research and to provide the best possible training for our students at every level, breaking down the organizational silos is critical.
In addition, nearly all UCLA Luskin centers/institutes have active participation from faculty outside of the School, within which the research unit provides a mechanism of collaboration and interdisciplinary dialogue. Today, faculty from dozens of departments and programs across nearly every division/school on the campus participate in one or more UCLA Luskin research center.
In this issue of Luskin Forum, we highlight some of the excellent work being done by these centers and institutes, and the ways in which that work advances the mission of the Luskin School.
And there is much, much more to come.