Well, act if you want to — but since that is almost certainly true, ACT!
I have to admit, it is difficult to be a professor of public affairs and not watch the news. But, too often of late, I find I can’t. I know enough about most matters of public policy that a quick skim of the headlines, a scan of the first paragraph of this or that story, and I can fill in the rest. To read it all, to watch cable news, to do the deeper dive that I used to do is not good for me. I feel physically un-well.
It is always easier not to come to grips with humanity’s problems. They are plentiful and seemingly beyond our capacity to solve. Perhaps that’s so. And the 30,000-foot view, of all of them at once, can be overwhelming.
These days, the Luskin School is my solace, my happy place. And, ironically, this is not because it insulates me from all that bad news. Quite the contrary. The School and its faculty are engaged in many — perhaps most — of the struggles that populate the evening news.
What is comforting to me is the recognition that thoughtful people, engaged in systematic analysis of social challenges, can find answers. That reasoned examination can produce social interventions and design policies that are able to make things better.
Increasingly, at least here in California, legislators at the state and local level reach out regularly to ask us for help, to seek suggestions, to run ideas by us. Individual Luskin faculty members, students and research teams in all of the Institutes and Centers in the School are constantly engaged in the world, mobilizing their research and inquiry into direct social action. Carbon pollution, mass incarceration and its effects, HIV, catastrophic increases in housing costs, urban sprawl, challenges of the aging, technology driven erosion of privacy, weak social, civic and political institutions in the nations of the developing world (and, increasingly, in our own nation) are all challenges engaged by the Luskin faculty. The results are inspiring, and several of our efforts are chronicled in the pages of this issue.
In this first year, I have gotten to meet many of you, heard of your work, observed its impacts. It is beyond joyful to know that good people, armed with the tools we develop here, can create such positive change in so many different and important ways. The alumni of the Luskin School include a vast array of high-impact social actors, people whose day-to-day lives are about improving the human condition.
Your action and your spirit sustain me. Please, please … keep it up!
Gary M. Segura
Professor and Dean
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs