‘A Leader in Validating Diversity’ UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to host its first schoolwide Diversity Recruitment Fair

By Stan Paul

“Diversity and excellence are not mutually exclusive.”

For Gerry Laviña, director of field education and associate director of the D3 (Diversity, Differences and Disparities) Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, those words by former Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. made “a clear statement and immediately said to our community that Luskin values diversity.”

In Los Angeles and around the world, “diversity is a social justice issue,” Laviña said. “And now we have seen this being challenged.” The unequal playing fields of opportunity and wages — as well as institutional barriers and discrimination — are the issues Luskin students and faculty members grapple with as practitioners and scholars every day, he said.

Laviña, who also serves as the faculty co-chair of the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (DEI) Committee in Social Welfare, and advises the Luskin dean on related issues, said that, ideally, the products of the students’ and School’s continuing efforts are inclusive and equitable situations in which diversity and diverse viewpoints are valued.

“Luskin is a leader in validating diversity — look at our students, the communities we serve, the student orgs, the research centers, D3, the Gilliam Social Justice Awards, our Diversity Fair, etc. Yet, we always have more work to do,” Laviña said.

In this spirit, the Luskin School will be hosting its first schoolwide Diversity Recruitment Fair starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. The all-day fair at the Ackerman Grand Ballroom and the Luskin School will bring together the departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning for an informative program of interest to prospective graduate students, especially those underrepresented in higher education and professional fields.

Throughout the Luskin School’s history there have been diversity events and programs organized by student groups, said Laviña, who is on the organizing committee of academic advisers and staff as well as student diversity group representatives.

Diversity is a common thread at Luskin that runs from students and faculty to staff and alumni, all of whom are part of organizing the event. Luskin’s Leadership Development Program is also helping to organize and sponsor it.

“We have talked about it for a few years and this year decided to join together — pooling resources, knowledge, people power — to benefit each department and Luskin overall,” Laviña said. “We need to do more work collectively and across departments, so this will be a wonderful, concrete way to do so.”

Delara Aharpour, a second-year master of public policy (MPP) student representing the public policy student group Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity (PPDE), said she was happy to see UCLA Luskin making a concerted effort on diversity. “It makes us really proud to be part of this program,” Aharpour said. “We all believe in making the School accessible to everyone.”

Other groups participating are Social Welfare’s Diversity Caucus and Planners of Color for Social Equity, an Urban Planning organization.

“We hope this is our largest, most successful diversity fair as well as an example of the great work that can be done when all departments have the opportunity to collaborate with each other,” said Ambar Guzman, a second-year master of social welfare (MSW) student representing the Social Welfare Diversity Caucus. “My hope is that prospective students will get a sense of the collaborative and supportive community we have continued to build within the Luskin School of Public Affairs,” she said.

Jackie Oh, a second-year master of urban and regional planning (MURP) student representing Planners of Color for Social Equity, said that the purpose of the diversity admissions fair is to demonstrate to prospective applicants the department’s commitment to social justice and urban planning, and to reach out to those historically underrepresented graduate programs. The fair’s workshops are meant to be both informative and geared toward strengthening the applications of aspiring planners, especially those of color, Oh said. Information on financial aid and statements of purpose will be available at the fair.

“The opportunity to network with our current students, staff and alumni welcomes our visitors to the department and helps them envision joining our community and advancing their planning interests at UCLA,” Oh said. Among participants in the event will be Ed Reyes, Urban Planning alumnus, Luskin Senior Fellow and former longtime Los Angeles City Councilmember.

Interim Dean Lois Takahashi explained why diversity is so important to the mission of the Luskin School: “At the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, we see diversity and excellence as mutually reinforcing dimensions of education, research, and public/community engagement. As such, we are committed to supporting diversity in ideas, in people and in projects across the school.”

For information, schedule and registration, please visit the Luskin Diversity Recruitment Fair web page.

Gary Segura Named UCLA Luskin Dean A faculty member at Stanford since 2008, Segura is the Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science and Chicana/o studies

By George Foulsham

Gary Segura, the Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science at Stanford University, has been named new dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“Chancellor [Gene] Block and I are confident that Gary will provide outstanding leadership as dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh said in an announcement.

Segura’s anticipated start date is Jan. 1, 2017. He will succeed Lois Takahashi, who has served as interim dean since August 2015.

“I am honored and excited to be selected as dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, and to come to UCLA,” Segura said. “The Luskin School and its distinguished faculty represent an outstanding intellectual community whose work makes important contributions in addressing human problems at the individual, community, national and global levels. The three nationally prominent departments and the affiliated centers are asking and answering critical questions about the challenges — personal and structural — that real people face every day.  It will be my privilege to join them and do whatever I can to broaden and deepen their impact in Los Angeles, across California and beyond.”

A member of the Stanford faculty since 2008, Segura is also a professor and former chair of Chicana/o-Latina/o studies. Additionally, he is a faculty affiliate of African and African American studies; American studies; feminist, gender and sexuality studies; Latin American studies; and urban studies. In addition, he is the director of the Center for American Democracy and the director of the Institute on the Politics of Inequality, Race and Ethnicity at Stanford.

In 2010, Segura was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining Stanford, he was a member of the faculty at the University of Washington, the University of Iowa, Claremont Graduate University and UC Davis.

Segura received a bachelor of arts magna cum laude in political science from Loyola University of the South, and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on issues of political representation and social cleavages, the domestic politics of wartime public opinion and the politics of America’s growing Latino minority.

Segura has published more than 55 articles and chapters, and he is a co-editor of “Diversity in Democracy: Minority Representation in the United States” and a co-author of four books: “Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation”; “Latinos in the New Millennium: An Almanac of Opinion, Behavior, and Policy Preferences”; “The Future is Ours: Minority Politics, Political Behavior, and the Multiracial Era of American Politics”; and “Latino Lives in America: Making It Home.”

Active in professional service, Segura is a past president of the Western Political Science Association, Midwest Political Science Association and Latino Caucus in Political Science. From 2009 to 2015, he was the co-principal investigator of the American National Election Studies. Segura has also briefed members of Congress and senior administration officials on issues related to Latinos, served as an expert witness in three marriage equality cases heard by the Supreme Court, and has filed amicus curiae briefs on subjects as diverse as voting rights, marriage equality and affirmative action.

“I am thrilled that Gary Segura is taking the helm as the next dean of the Luskin School,” Takahashi said. “He is the perfect leader to bring the Luskin School into its next phase of growth. I look forward to working with him on what I know will be a smooth transition.”

In his announcement, Waugh praised Takahashi and the search committee.

“I want to thank search/advisory committee members for assembling an outstanding pool of candidates and for their roles in recruiting Gary,” Waugh said. “I also want to recognize and thank Lois Takahashi for her distinguished leadership of the school as interim dean during the past year.”

The search committee was chaired by Linda Sarna, interim dean, UCLA School of Nursing; professor and Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Endowed Chair in Nursing. Other members were: Rosina Becerra, professor of social welfare; Evelyn Blumenberg, professor and chair, Department of Urban Planning; Michael Chwe, professor of political science; Todd Franke, professor and chair, Department of Social Welfare; Vickie Mays, professor of psychology, and of health policy and management; Mark Peterson, professor and chair, Department of Public Policy, and professor of political science and of law; Susan Rice, chair, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Board of Advisors, and senior consulting associate, Brakeley Briscoe Inc.; Daniel Solorzano, professor of social sciences and comparative education, GSE&IS; and Abel Valenzuela Jr., professor and chair, César Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies, and professor of urban planning.

Hilda Solis Named 2016 Commencement Speaker Former Secretary of Labor and current L.A. County Supervisor to deliver address at Luskin ceremony on June 10

By George Foulsham

Hilda L. Solis, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and current First District Supervisor for Los Angeles County, has been named the 2016 Commencement speaker for the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Solis, who served as Labor Secretary from 2009 to 2013 under President Obama, will speak during the Luskin ceremony at 9 a.m. on June 10 at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.

“Supervisor Solis is both an advocate and a legislator who works to address the needs of the Los Angeles community,” Luskin Interim Dean Lois Takahashi said. “She is a champion of issues that we care about here at UCLA Luskin: access to affordable health care, environmental protections and workers’ rights.

“Supervisor Solis can speak to the opportunities and challenges our graduates will face in the job market,” Takahashi added. “As an experienced public servant at all levels of government, and as the first Latina to hold a cabinet-level position, Supervisor Solis has a unique perspective on the contributions our graduates can make.”

Solis was sworn in as Los Angeles County Supervisor on Dec. 1, 2014. Prior to serving as Secretary of Labor, Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, a position she held from 2001 to 2009.

A nationally recognized leader on the environment, Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000 for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues. Her California environmental justice legislation, enacted in 1999, was the first of its kind in the nation to become law.

A native of Los Angeles County, Solis grew up in La Puente, Calif. She was born in 1957 to Juana and Raul Solis, who met in citizenship classes in California. Her mother, a native of Nicaragua, worked on an assembly line while her father, a Mexican immigrant, worked as a steward for the Teamsters union.

As the third of seven children, Solis served as a role model for her younger siblings by becoming the first person in her family to attend college, at Cal Poly Pomona.

“He always reminded us that it was important to stand up for your rights, and regardless of who you are and where you come from, to hold your head up high with dignity and respect,” Solis said of her father during a 2001 interview with California Journal.

Solis was also the first Latina elected to the California State Senate, in 1994. While serving as a state senator, she helped push through legislation to increase the minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.75 an hour.

“We are looking forward to hearing from one of L.A.’s leading public servants,” Takahashi said.

Shining a Powerful Light on Social Injustice Urban Color-Lines and the Dispossessions of Our Times: New UCLA Luskin Institute Launched to Focus on Global Inequality and Democracy

By Stan Paul and George Foulsham

In one of the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago, an African-American mother and her children face eviction amid a patchwork landscape of foreclosed and empty dwellings.

Across the globe and in another hemisphere, South African shack dwellers face the constant fear of eviction, violence and police brutality in the post-Apartheid era.

In Delhi, India, where more than 75 percent of inhabitants reside in “unplanned” and, therefore, “spatially illegal” dwellings, basic necessities such as water are denied.

And, south of the United States, the poor in countries such as Brazil experience a familiar scenario: eviction and being pushed out to the favelas, at the periphery of the urban center.

These are the “dispossessions of our times,” and the “enduring color-lines” of the 21st century, say founders and collaborators of the new Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. The launch of the new center at UCLA brought together scholars from various disciplines as well as those on the front lines of grassroots efforts fighting eviction and social injustice worldwide.

“The theme of Urban Color-Lines is especially important for us today in Los Angeles, a city and region marked by its own historic struggles for equality and justice,” Lois Takahashi, Interim Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and professor of Urban Planning, said in her opening remarks.

The two-day event, held at UCLA and Los Angeles venues, included not only scholars and activists but artists, performers and a movie screening to give expression to these global and ongoing problems, to highlight these issues and to bring to the fore emerging efforts to fight eviction, displacement and discrimination.

“The scope and purpose of the Institute have been shaped in conversation with movements such as the L.A. Community Action Network and the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign,” said Ananya Roy, founding director of the new center. “You will see how we strive to learn from these movements, their ideas and practices,” which create openings for social change, added Roy, who is also a professor of Social Welfare and Urban Planning at Luskin.

“We are launching the Institute on Inequality and Democracy this week with an ambitious mandate: to advance radical democracy in the world through research, critical thought and alliances with social movements and racial justice activism,” Roy said. “In doing so, we recognize that democracy is not an antidote to inequality; that, in fact, democracy is constituted through inequality.”

Day 1

Markets, Race, and the Aftermath of Slavery

Urban Color-Lines: Inaugurating the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

SLIDE SHOW: 131 Photos, Urban Color-Lines: Inaugurating the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Providing context for day one was UCLA law professor Cheryl Harris, a recognized leader in civil rights education and critical race theory. The author of “Whiteness as Property,” an important and influential law review treatise, discussed how slavery was not a pre-capitalist system, but quintessential in the system of trade and finance and “central to the development of capitalism itself.”

“The market is not a neutral field,” said Harris, outlining the role that race continues to play in the making of exclusion as well as profit. For example, she noted that the high and disproportionate rate of minority incarceration in America provides cost savings in the form of labor as well as a market for products of prison labor. Harris added that the incarcerated themselves are also forced to be consumers of goods and services related to their incarceration.

The Right to the City: From South to North

Harris’ keynote presentation led into contributions by scholars and activists representing ongoing worldwide struggles against eviction, banishment and spatial injustice from Chicago and Brazil to South Africa and India.

Toussaint Losier, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and co-founder of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, shared his experiences from the front lines of anti-eviction action, including eviction blockades, inspired by work being done in South Africa. “Why aren’t you doing this in the U.S.?” was the take-away question from a trip to South Africa by Losier, who said that this connection became the model for action in Chicago.

Raquel Rolnik, professor, architect and urban planner from Brazil, and former Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing at the United Nations, spoke about a global pattern of evictions and land grabs fueled by financialization. She described this as a “permanent transitory” state for the urban poor.

“The language of liberalism and the markets is inadequate to describe the world we are living in,” said Richard Pithouse, a scholar at Rhodes University in South Africa. Pithouse said that a “proper name” does not yet exist in academia. “Maybe it is in the struggle but not in the university,” said Pithouse, asking where the locus of academic work should be. “It’s a messy space, but it is the space if you are serious about struggle.”

Gautam Bhan, who teaches urban politics, planning and development at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in Bangalore, also looked inward at institutions such as universities to talk about the problem of inequality.

“Institutions have become predictable. We’ve lost the ability to fight with anyone that thinks another way … some of our thinking has to be about practice,” said the Berkeley-trained scholar (and former student of Ananya Roy), who has focused on the politics of poverty in India including urban displacement and affordable housing. Bhan described India’s contemporary politics of “you shouldn’t be here” to explain the predicament of the overwhelming majority of people who are unrecognized as residents and do not have a “right to the city.”

Black, Brown and Banished: Ending Urban Displacement in 21st Century Democracies

Black Brown & Banished: Ending Urban Displacement in 21st Century Democracies

SLIDE SHOW: 65 Photos, Black Brown & Banished: Ending Urban Displacement in 21st Century Democracies

The first day of the institute’s inauguration concluded with an evening gathering at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles. It included a series of dramatic arts performances, and ended with a panel discussion on eviction/action featuring testimony of those who have both lived through and fought back against eviction.

The performances included a reading, Nonfiction Eviction Depiction: Excerpts from Oral History Transcripts, featuring Bernard Brown, Dorothy Dubrule and Robert Een; and a dance performance, “Champion,” featuring Valerie Braaten, Leanna Bremond, Timna Naim, Silvia Park, Raphael Smith and Bernard Brown, who also wrote and directed the performance.

The anti-eviction discussion included dramatic testimony from Ashraf Cassiem, of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign in South Africa; Willie “JR” Fleming, with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign; Patricia Hill, also with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign; and Pete White, with the LA Community Action Network, who wore a t-shirt that said “This Is a Movement, Not a Moment.”

Fleming talked about his group’s campaign in Chicago, calling what was happening there an “urban and economic cleansing.” He proudly pointed out that the members of the anti-eviction campaign “broke the law to change the law.”

And Hill, a retired police officer and public school teacher, recounted how banks twice arbitrarily increased her mortgage payments on a house she had owned for years, almost forcing her and her children to move out, until the anti-eviction campaign stepped in and helped her save the home in 2011. “I’m still there,” she said to loud applause.

“This is about our responsibility to leave a world that’s better for our women and children,” Fleming said.

Day 2

Debtors’ Prisons and Debtors’ Unions: Direct Action in Finance Capitalism

Hannah Appel is a UCLA scholar who describes herself as an economic anthropologist and an activist who looks at the daily life of finance capitalism and debt through different lenses: as “racialized social control” and as a “potential platform for collective action.” Appel, who also works with ongoing Occupy Wall Street projects such as Debt Collective, said her viewpoints are grounded and informed by her work as an organizer, thinker, critic and dreamer in this “particular moment in finance capitalism.”

“I want to talk about how capitalism shape shifts, about how attention to the everyday life of finance and its inverse, debt, offers unexpected opportunities for financial disobedience, rupture and transformation,” said Appel. She pointed out that while the debt financing of everything has rewarded the creditor class from the time of colonial plunder and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, today it has left the overwhelming majority of U.S. households with consumer debt. This debt includes college, health care, housing, “and even our own human caging, or incarceration,” said Appel. She also discussed the more virulent forms of debt like pay day loans — so-called high-interest, sub-prime world of “ghetto loans” to modern debtors prisons as described in U.S. cities such as Ferguson.

“In sum, questions of debt, colonialism and sovereignty within and beyond the U.S. are everywhere still with us,” she said.

But, Appel said, using the “economic imagination” envisions possibilities for radical action within and against finance capitalism, including disrupting the way debt is thought about, as shameful or moral failure. “In this terrain of mass indebtedness … what might economic disobedience look like?” she asked, pointing to the collective leverage of debt, which can be powerful, and which she said is taking hold in America.

“You get inspiration in the weirdest places,” said Appel, citing J.P. Getty: “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” Extending this to the more than $1.3 trillion in student debt, Appel said “Together, arguably, in different moments and different configurations, we can be the bank’s problem.”

Decolonizing the University

An international group of scholars and activists examined the role that the university plays now and can play in the future, not only as an outside, objective observer, but from within the institution.

Gaye Theresa Johnson, an associate professor of African American Studies and Chicano Studies at UCLA, has been active with the Los Angeles Community Action Network’s efforts for housing and civil rights in L.A.’s skid row area. The author of a book on “spatial entitlement “ in Los Angeles described the university as a site of invention and of contestation.

“We have to rethink the nature of knowledge itself. We have to do a psychic overhaul, really, of the perception of the work that we do,” said Johnson.

Camalita Naicker is a Ph.D. candidate from Rhodes University in South Africa, where she is studying the practice of popular politics in that country. She is also a student activist in the Black Student Movement at Rhodes, writing about urban land occupations and popular movements in South Africa. Her presentation questioned what an African university today should look like, what it should teach and being a black student in colonial space.

“Who teaches and what they teach matter,” said Naicker, asking what an affordable education in South Africa might look like in a decolonized university.

“Dominant knowledge produces and reproduces coloniality of knowledge and power,” said Carlos Vainer, an economist and sociologist at the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning and Research and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Hoping to put some “fingers in the wounds,” he included both universities and scholars as part of this dynamic in which “coloniality is co-essential to modernity, to capitalism.”

Vainer said that while the necessity of decolonizing the university is clear, how this is possible is not, pointing to both “new relations with non-academic knowledge” in the north and south as well as reciprocity of scholarship. “You must read us,” he said, citing the lack of translated scholarly works in his own country to use in mainstream academia.

Marques Vestal, a doctoral student in history at UCLA, grew up in Los Angeles, which provided him with an up-close view of black housing politics, culture and residential segregation. And, as a student, his interest is in the implications of private student debt, “a material relationship contrary to social justice,” which produces a mass of indebted students, he said.

“Indebtedness restricts movement,” and “makes commitments to social justice precarious,” said Vestal, describing what it is like for students whose education is “a commodity that must be purchased.”

The Audacity of Despair

the Audacity of Despair with David Simon

SLIDE SHOW: 59 Photos, The Audacity of Despair with David Simon 

David Simon, the journalist, screenwriter and producer of the award-winning HBO series “The Wire,” provided the exclamation point for the two-day inauguration of the institute. His appearance, part of the Luskin Lecture Series, entertained and informed the crowd at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater.

“As Mr. Simon’s creative and journalistic contributions indicate, the university is not the sole producer of knowledge,” Roy said as she introduced Simon. “It is not the sole mover of debates. But it has a role. And it has a responsibility.

“It is the role and responsibility of the university, among other actors, to challenge policies, to contest the willful separation of two separate societies, and, perhaps, to acknowledge how we might also be complicit in producing and perpetuating those policies,” Roy added.

After a screening of an episode of “Show Me A Hero,” another Simon series on HBO, he spoke passionately about, among other things:

The war on drugs: “It was a war about dangerous narcotics, but in truth it was a war on the poor.”

Democracy: “Democracy itself is centrist and incremental. If you’re doing the right things, it gets a little better every day. If you’re doing the wrong things, it gets a little worse every day. Freedom is never won entirely.”

And what can be done: “The only solution for bad government or a weak democracy is better government and a stronger democracy — to have a democracy start to engage democratic ideals, representative ideals and to represent the entire society. It’s all hard work. There’s no singular moment. Let’s start by getting rid of the drug war. That’s job one.”

Finally, Simon gave a heartfelt blessing and endorsement to the new Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin.

“I’m very enamored of the idea of this institute being here,” Simon said. “I can’t think of anything that a university can do that would be more important than to address these issues and to argue these issues.”

New Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy to Launch with Series of Events Feb. 4-5 Inauguration will include panels with scholars, activists and organizers, plus a Luskin Lecture and special screening featuring David Simon, writer and creator of “The Wire” and “Treme”

By Stan Paul

A new kind of Institute has come to UCLA.

Led by Ananya Roy, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs professor and center director, the newly established Institute on Inequality and Democracy will launch on Feb. 4-5 with two days of events at UCLA and the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles.

“We analyze and transform the divides and dispossessions of our times, in the university and in our cities, across global South and global North,” is stated as part of the mission of the Institute which will encompass multidisciplinary, collaborative work led by UCLA faculty. Planned areas of work include: multi-disciplinary research collaboratives to advance knowledge about key social problems; contributing to policy frameworks via activist practices and community organizing; graduate student working groups that foster connections across and beyond UCLA; and offering intellectual space for debates within progressive thought.

From discussions on “Markets, Race, and the Aftermath of Slavery” to “Decolonizing the University,” the upcoming launch, titled “Urban Color-Lines,” will serve as an introduction to key themes to be explored at the new Institute based in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and made possible by a generous donation from Meyer and Renee Luskin.

Daytime events for both days will be held at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and will include eminent UCLA scholars as well as intellectuals and activists who are actively working on human rights and social justice issues — locally, nationally and internationally.


Day 1, Feb. 4

First-day events begin at 11 a.m. at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, room 2355, with Why Think About Inequality & Democracy Together? Luskin Interim Dean Lois Takahashi will provide welcome remarks followed by Roy’s introduction of the Institute and events.

Markets, Race, and the Aftermath of Slavery
11:30 a.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Chair: Leobardo Estrada, Chair, Academic Senate, UCLA

Speaker: Cheryl Harris, UCLA School of Law and Chair, African American Studies

The Right to the City: From South to North
1 p.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Chair: Chris Tilly, Urban Planning, UCLA

Speakers: 

Toussaint Losier, Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and co- founder, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

Raquel Rolnik, Urban Planning, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Richard Pithouse, Unit for Humanities at Rhodes University, South Africa

Gautam Bhan, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, India

Day 1 Evening

The Feb. 4 evening presentations and performances will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. (with a reception from 6 to 6:30 p.m.) at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. Round-trip transportation from UCLA will be provided.

The program includes:

Black, Brown, and Banished: Ending Urban Displacement in 21st Century Democracies

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles 

Performances:

Bodies on the Line: Artists Fight Back
Curator: Dan Froot, 501 (see three) ARTS and UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Dance by Bernard Brown

Dance/Spoken Word by Sandy Vazquez and Ericka Jones

Excerpts from Oral Histories of Displaced Angelenos, by Dan Froot with Dorothy Dubrule


Eviction/Action:

Moderators:

Laura Pulido, American Studies and Ethnicity, USC, and Ananya Roy, Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Speakers:

Ashraf Cassiem, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, South Africa

Willie (JR) Fleming, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

Patricia Hill, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign

Pete White, LA Community Action Network 

Day 2, Feb. 5:

What Do We Hope to Achieve Today and Now?
10:15 a.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Ananya Roy, Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Debtors’ Prisons and Debtors’ Unions: Direct Action in Finance Capitalism
10:30 a.m., Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Chair: Robin D.G. Kelley, African American Studies and History, UCLA

Speaker: Hannah Appel, Anthropology, UCLA

Decolonizing the University
Noon, Room 2355, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Moderator: Ananya Roy, Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Speakers:

Gaye Theresa Johnson, African American Studies and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA

Camalita Naicker, Political and International Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa

Carlos Vainer, Chair, Forum of Science and Culture, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Marques Vestal, History, UCLA

Day 2 Evening program (7-9 p.m.)

The Audacity of Despair

James Bridges Theater, UCLA

Screening: Show Me a Hero

Keynote Lecture: David Simon, writer and creator, “The Wire,” “Treme,” and “Show Me a Hero” 

Information and Registration

Registration, a detailed program of events, and more about the Institute may be found at:  challengeinequality.luskin.ucla.edu

In Memoriam: Jacqueline Leavitt (1939 – 2015), Professor Emerita of Urban Planning

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UCLA Urban Planning scholar, committed teacher and mentor, and community activist dedicated to social justice passes away following distinguished career.

By Stan Paul

The UCLA Urban Planning Department mourns the loss of Professor Emerita of Urban Planning Jacqueline “Jackie” Leavitt who passed away November 27 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 76.

Professor Leavitt’s research during her decades-long career focused on housing and community development policy, public housing, and the multiple meanings of home, among many other urban and social issues. As a founder of the American Planning Association (APA) Planning and Women Division she is considered a pioneer in research on gender and community development. Additionally, her work brought to light the ways in which low-resourced populations managed to live, work, and survive in cities and regions across the globe.

“I entered urban planning believing in its ability to support social movements through both rigorous research and ethical practice,” she said in a 2008 interview by Progressive Planning Magazine. “In a country where rights are being usurped, and where the government has an ability to demolish public housing…, I still hold to beliefs for social and economic justice, and have tried to develop ways to bring those themes into my classrooms, not as an afterthought but an integral and basic goal.”

“Jackie loved her students, cared for her friends, had passion for her work and community activism. She was as comfortable inspiring her students to change the world, or talking at international gatherings for the rights of the poor, as she was holding the hand of public housing tenants and bringing holiday gifts to their children. We will miss her greatly,” said UCLA Luskin Associate Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris.

An award winning scholar, Professor Leavitt was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to study the privatization of rental housing in New Zealand and Los Angeles, and won first place in the “New American House” competition earlier in her career. She studied the impact of privatization on tenants living in public housing and led projects that helped community organizations reverse disinvestment in underprivileged urban areas. Most recently, she worked with UCLA Emeritus Law Professor Gary Blasi to study the working conditions of taxi drivers in Los Angeles, expanding this research to include women taxi drivers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.

Professor Leavitt held both master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Urban Planning from Columbia University, where she is recognized as one of the school’s outstanding practitioners and a central figure in the feminist movement within Urban Planning.

She came to UCLA in 1983 as a visiting lecturer after teaching posts in prestigious planning programs at Columbia University, New York University (NYU), Cornell and City University of New York, and taught continuously in the UCLA Urban Planning Department for the last 32 years. Throughout her career, Professor Leavitt was a committed teacher and mentor, serving as faculty director of the Urban Planning Department’s undergraduate Urban and Regional Studies minor and teaching undergraduate courses in Urban Planning and UCLA’s Undergraduate Honors Collegium. Since 1999, she served as the director of the UCLA Urban Planning Department’s Community Scholars Program, a joint program with the UCLA Labor Center (a unit of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, IRLE), bringing labor and community leaders together with urban planning graduate students to conduct applied research projects. Professor Leavitt’s work “embodied her deep commitment to participatory planning, and both brought the university into the community and brought the community into the university,” said Chris Tilly, IRLE Director and Professor of Urban Planning.

The impact of her research and practice was far reaching. She served as a consultant to nonprofit resident groups, the Swedish Council for Building Research, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the New York City Housing Preservation and Development Agency. She also served on the Nickerson Gardens Community Development Corporation, which was formed to assist one of the largest public housing projects in Los Angeles.

“Jackie Leavitt was a fierce and stalwart critic of the systems and forces that marginalized so many. She was strong willed and articulate, and creative and innovative. That combination of fierceness and creativity is how I will remember her. She was one in a million,” said Luskin Interim Dean Lois Takahashi.

“Jackie was a long time Urban Planning colleague whose passionate commitment to social justice touched every aspect of her research and teaching on housing, gender, labor, and community development. She will be greatly missed by many of us,” said Evelyn Blumenberg, Professor and Chair of the UCLA Department of Urban Planning.

Professor Leavitt is survived by her brother Howard Leavitt and his family. A celebration of her life will be held in Los Angeles and New York (locations to be determined), where her ashes will be distributed. The UCLA Department of Urban Planning will hold a gathering in celebration of her life on Sunday, March 6 at UCLA.

In Memoriam: Edward Soja (1940-2015), Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning Edward Soja, UCLA scholar and Urban Planning faculty member, passed away

By Stan Paul

Edward Soja, longtime UCLA scholar and Urban Planning faculty member, passed away Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015 in Los Angeles at the age of 75.

Dr. Soja was born in New York in 1940. He earned his Ph.D. in Geography from Syracuse University and began his career as a specialist on Africa at Northwestern University. After being recruited to UCLA in 1972, he began focusing his research on urban restructuring in Los Angeles, as well as the critical study of cities and regions. His interests were wide-ranging, including questions of regional development, planning and governance, and the spatiality of social life.

“Ed was a towering figure in the fields of urban planning and the social sciences and a strong force in the Department of Urban Planning for almost 40 years,” said Evelyn Blumenberg, Professor and Chair of Urban Planning. “His insight, wit and leadership will be greatly missed.”

His numerous publications, as writer, editor and collaborator — with fellow UCLA Urban Planning faculty, scholars from across the United States and around the world — include, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places (1996), The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century (1996, co-edited with Allen J. Scott), Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions (2000), and Seeking Spatial Justice (2010).

His most recent book, My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization (2014), covered more than four decades of urban development in Los Angeles as well as other urban regions. In his introduction, Soja wrote of Los Angeles:

“Its iconic imagery provokes exaggeration, fomenting emotionally excessive repulsion as well as unbridled attraction….Further complicating any understanding of the actual place, Los Angeles for the past century has been a fountainhead of imaginative fantasy, emitting a mesmerizing force that obscures reality by eroding the difference between the real and the imagined, fact and fiction.”

“Ed Soja was respected globally for his innovation in conceptualizing ‘the urban’ and his teaching and mentoring of scholars,” said Lois Takahashi, Interim Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “But I will remember him most for his enthusiastic greetings, his incisive humor and his inspiring curiosity. I will miss him terribly.”

During his long and distinguished career as a scholar at UCLA, Dr. Soja also devoted himself to teaching both graduate and undergraduate students and serving as doctoral academic advisor to numerous Ph.D. candidates from the Department of Urban Planning. In addition to courses on regional and international development, he also taught courses in urban political economy and planning theory. He was also a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, in The Cities Program, an international center for architects, engineers, city planners, social scientists, community groups, public servants and leaders in the private sector.

Most recently, Dr. Soja received the Vautrin-Lud International Prize for Geography for 2015. This award, often known as the ‘Nobel Prize of Geography’, was announced during the 26th International Festival of Geography. This prize honors the career of a distinguished geographer whose work has been very influential within and beyond the discipline. Unfortunately, Dr. Soja was unable to be present at the event in Saint-Dié, France and could not deliver the customary plenary lecture. Instead, his work was explored in an effective round table discussion between many of his international peers.

“Ed Soja’s passing is a great loss to the Urban Planning department,” said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Professor of Urban Planning and Associate Dean of the School of Public Affairs. “He was a giant in the field of social sciences, someone whose work has inspired and will continue to inspire us for generations. His recent award of the Vautrin Lud Prize or ‘Geography’s Nobel Prize’ underlined the enormity of his contributions to our field.”

As his friend and former UCLA graduate student, Costis Hadjimichalis, recently said, “Edward Soja has now gone to his own personal ‘Third Space.’”

A gathering in celebration of his life will be held Monday, January 25 from 4:00PM-6:00PM at the UCLA Faculty Center, Sequoia Room.

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs will establish the Edward Soja Memorial Fellowship in his memory.

Takahashi Named UCLA Luskin Interim Dean The Urban Planning and Asian American studies professor will lead the School during the search for Dean Gilliam’s permanent successor

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Lois M. Takahashi, a professor of Urban Planning and Asian American studies and a noted scholar on service delivery to vulnerable populations, will serve as interim dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh announced today.

Takahashi assumes the leadership role from Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., who was named chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in May.

A member of the UCLA faculty since 2001, Takahashi is professor of urban planning and of Asian American studies. In addition to her current service as associate dean of research at UCLA Luskin and as associate director of the University of California Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Multicampus Research Program, she has also served as chair of the Department of Urban Planning (2011-13) and chair of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center’s Faculty Advisory Committee (2010-13).

Outside UCLA, Takahashi is the vice president/president-elect of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, a board member of the Western Center on Law & Poverty and a member of the editorial boards of three journals: Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of the American Planning Association, and AIDS Education and Prevention. A National Institutes of Health-funded scholar, her research focuses on public and social service delivery to vulnerable populations in the U.S. and Southeast Asian cities, HIV/AIDS, homelessness and environmental governance. She has published more than 60 articles and chapters, and she is the author of Homelessness, AIDS, and Stigmatization: The NIMBY Syndrome in the United States at the End of the Twentieth Century and a co-author of Rethinking Environmental Management in the Pacific Rim: Exploring Local Participation in Bangkok, Thailand.

Takahashi received a Ph.D. in urban planning from the University of Southern California, an M.S. in public management and policy/architecture from Carnegie Mellon University and an A.B. in architecture from UC Berkeley.

In the coming months, Provost Waugh will form a committee to search for candidates to permanently serve as dean of UCLA Luskin.

 

Lois Takahashi

UCLA Luskin professor emeritus Takahashi’s research focuses on public and social service delivery to vulnerable populations in the U.S. and in Southeast Asian cities. Her expertise spans several issues, including homelessness and HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles, community opposition directed at social services (the NIMBY syndrome) in the U.S., social capital and health for vulnerable populations, and environmental governance in the U.S. and Southeast Asian cities.

She is currently investigating the dynamics of social capital, especially related to health in impoverished and marginalized communities. Her environmental governance research (with her collaborators Amrita Daniere and Jeffrey Carpenter) has investigated the role of low-income residents and non-governmental organizations in environmental management and policy making in Bangkok, Thailand and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

She is a past Director of the University of California Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy Multicampus Research Program (UC AAPI Policy MRP), where she worked with state elected officials and community organizations to develop policy relevant studies that highlight areas of importance for California’s AAPI population. Recent reports have focused on educational disparities and victimization/incarceration patterns.

She has served as president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.

She taught courses on Planning Theory and History, Locational Conflict; Homelessness: Housing and Social Service Issues and Urban Policy and Planning.

Takahashi served as interim dean during the time that a search was underway for a permanent successor to Frank D. Gilliam, Jr.