Real-World Experience for Public Policy Students In Applied Policy Project presentations, Luskin students pitch policy solutions for clients and get feedback from faculty and peers

By Stan Paul

As graduation looms, Public Policy students from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs face an annual rite of passage — a culmination of two years of study known as the Applied Policy Project (APP). Getting a master’s degree hangs in the balance.

In teams of two or more, the students present their research to a gallery of policy experts from the Luskin School. Standing before wide-screen projections that illustrate the results of seemingly endless hours of study and investigation, the sharply dressed students review complex policy issues and present possible solutions. As fellow students cluster nearby to show support, Luskin faculty, project advisers and clients listen intently and evaluate each project’s effectiveness. Was there enough attention to detail? Is the concept logical? Is it relevant? Persuasive? And, most importantly, is it supported by evidence?

These challenging presentations are only part of the process. The Master of Public Policy (MPP) candidates also face follow-up questions from faculty and colleagues, who inquire about options researched but not presented, or merits of the solutions they have proposed.

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This year, client projects ranged from local transportation, policing and social justice issues to international employment, education and the well-being of workers in developing countries. State issues such as high-speed rail and health care reform were addressed, as were the short-term rental market and electric vehicle charging options.

The clients included the Southern California Association of Governments, the Coalition for Engaged Education, the California High Speed Rail Authority and Covered CA, among others.

“Public Policy education isn’t about abstractions,” said Mark Peterson, chair of the Department of Public Policy. “It’s about deriving effective solutions to real problems and being able to communicate the value and efficacy of those solutions to decision makers. The Applied Policy Projects put our MPP students in that real-world arena. Their oral presentations and the probes from the faculty put their ideas and analysis to the test in real time, just the preparation our graduates need as they take up positions in government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private firms striving to address the pressing issues of the day.”

The three-day APP program featured 62 students and 18 presentations, each lasting 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. Here are highlights of three of the students’ talks, which took place in May:

Medical Education for Future Leaders

What do medical students need to learn today to become leaders in medicine for the future?

Three MPPs — two of them also current UCLA medical students — devoted their project to finding an answer to this question. Their project is no mere thought experiment. The UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, which has already begun to address this issue, is the client for the project to determine the needs and direction of a modern, forward-looking medical school and the education it provides.

MD-MPP students Monica Boggs and Maggie Chen, and their project partner Jeffrey Lyu, an MBA-MPP student, presented their findings and made recommendations to their client-partner, Clarence J. Braddock III, the vice dean for education and chief medical education officer for the Geffen School of Medicine.

“Physicians need to have the understanding that they are part of something bigger,” Lyu said during the presentation. “What’s encouraging is that the school is already moving in that direction.”

Among the recommendations of the group:

  • Improving curricular tracking
  • Fine-tuning candidate selection, including attention to identified attributes and “character traits.”
  • Identifying faculty champions and growing grassroots communities to promote information-sharing among faculty to build knowledge among faculty and provide role models for students
  • Communicating a commitment to identified attributes such as awards for faculty and students that demonstrate “attributes essential to the physician of the future.”

“This one is going to hit the ground running,” said faculty adviser Wes Yin, associate professor of Public Policy. Yin said the students will present their project again for the medical school.

Filling Policy Gaps

For some students finding solutions to problems can arise from other new or existing policy solutions.

Take the newly opened Expo Line extension linking downtown to Santa Monica by light rail. While the new line provides a long-anticipated transportation solution between these two areas, the volume of ridership remains uncertain. In anticipation of this, the City of Santa Monica, as client, commissioned a group of MPPs to look at how to increase ridership given that West L.A. — and Los Angeles in general — is stubbornly “auto-centric.”

The students, Abdallah Daboussi, James Howe, Natalia Sifuentes and Takehiro Suzuki, looked at the question of how to create incentives for ridership to help Santa Monica toward development of a sustainable goal of “no net new vehicle trips.” The group recognized the barriers created by the cost of an entire round-trip and availability of first/last-mile connections, as well as built-environment limitations such as which stations are already in place, and a lack of interest by the City of Santa Monica in building new parking, Daboussi explained.

“Our job was to fill in those gaps,” Daboussi said, adding that the accompanying criteria included analyzing the impact of cost, the level of political acceptance and compatibility with the surrounding environment and existing infrastructure. To do this, the RIDERS (Ridership Increases by Developing Expo Line Solutions) team conducted on-site assessments and used GIS (Geographic Information System) data to gauge land use around the existing stations.

Possible solutions included creating public-private partnerships with commercial parking, incentives for the elderly and disabled, a public service announcement program that included free radio spots and an installation of “wayfinding” signs to help riders easily navigate to area stations. The students also recommended creating a means to connect with the Expo Line for those who use a bicycle as part of their daily transportation.

Worker Well-Being

Another MPP group looked at the challenge of increasing the well-being of urban workers in India. Availability of jobs in general is important, but other factors are just as necessary.

“It’s not just about job quantity but also about job quality” in the distribution of well-being and motivation, said team member Kurt Klein.

Second-year MPP student Wajenda Chambeshi discussed some of these factors, including jobs in which workers have the opportunity to move up. Strategies to bolster employment and the labor market are needed, as are ways to give a voice and representation to workers.

The client for the project was the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the adviser was Manisha Shah, associate professor of Public Policy and APP coordinator. Shah has studied anti-poverty programs and workfare schemes in India, as well as development around the world.

Yin provided some context about how much time the Luskin students spend working on the presentations. “Students have been working on the projects since the summer before their second year of the program,” said Yin. He added that students may start fully committed to an idea at the outset, but part of the process is narrowing their focus once they realize the scope of these issues.

Yin said he was impressed with this year’s students and that their hard work has materialized into “actionable” items for their clients.

Tae Kang, an MPP candidate who was part of an APP presentation to the Coalition for Engaged Education, said the process is stressful but provides valuable experience for UCLA Luskin Public Policy students.

“While I was a bit nervous to present in front of my brilliant professors and colleagues, I was more excited that this would be the culmination of all of our hard work, all the challenges we have overcome, and the relationships we have formed,” Kang said. “And as I took that first step forward and that next step, I could not have been more excited and honored to be in this program.”

New Study Puts a Critical Lens on Sex Trafficking Report by Luskin Center researcher reveals large gaps in the collection of U.S. trafficking data

By George Foulsham

Sarah Godoy realized that she wanted to devote her life to fighting human trafficking when, during a trip to India, she overheard a pimp speaking to a 10-year-old girl. The pimp was questioning where another girl, a 5-year-old, had gone and when she would return to the brothel.

“Pedophilia was written all over this situation,” said Godoy, who was completing an international social work internship as a Social Welfare graduate student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs at the time of the trip. “I just thought, ‘I cannot see this.’ I had to intervene. That was an eye-opening experience for me.”

Upon returning to the U.S., Godoy interned at the Los Angeles-based, nonprofit organization Saving Innocence where she worked directly with domestic-born survivors of sex trafficking. The internship was during her second year in Luskin’s social work program.

And she has now authored a new study, “Shedding Light on Sex Trafficking: Research, Data and Technologies With the Greatest Impact,” a comprehensive literature review of sex trafficking in the United States, with components of global human trafficking as well.

Godoy conducted the research while working as the lead researcher and content manager for this report and an accompanying database in the Luskin Center for Innovation. The website will provide users with pertinent literature and contact information for vetted service providers in the field. The site is expected to go live in the next month.

Godoy included more than 135 pieces of relevant literature on sex trafficking, dating from 1999 to 2016, and conducted about 70 qualitative interviews. While she found some enlightening and often horrific statistics on the subject, what she didn’t find was equally disturbing.

“Weak methodologies in empirical evidence, and small data sets that urge readers to not republish as a national representative,” she said. “That’s what we found. We don’t really have a comprehensive, representative sample of what sex trafficking in the U.S. really is.”

While Godoy did find data for trafficking in California, Los Angeles County, Washington state and Florida — among other high-intensity areas — she did not find adequate national numbers. “We don’t really see nationally what’s happening because there’s no representative sample, so we must rely on proxy sources,” she said. “That’s a really big problem.

“More recently, in certain states, there has been legislation that says the child welfare system has to collect data on suspected at-risk youth and confirmed sex-trafficked youth who are system-involved within their jurisdictions, which is really wonderful,” Godoy added. “But that’s not across the nation, so again we lose the opportunity to gain a national representation of sex-trafficked youth in the child welfare system. We don’t have any federal legislation that would allow for a national repository to input data on sex-trafficked individuals and that is a detriment to the movement because of the transient nature of this population.”

Nevertheless, the international numbers compiled by Godoy are daunting. According to the study, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world. It is estimated that there are 21 million women, men, girls, boys and transgender individuals trafficked worldwide — roughly equivalent to 3 out of every 1,000 people. Women and girls are identified as the most-trafficked populations, comprising 11.4 million of the labor- and sex-trafficked victims.

Adults account for 74 percent (15.4 million) of the victims and children younger than 18 account for 26 percent (5.5 million). According to data collected by the International Labour Organization, exploitation occurs in myriad settings but the most notable and widespread industries are domestic servitude, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment.

“I think something that’s important to highlight is the critical lens that we use when looking at the literature,” Godoy said. “We’re not just republishing U.S. statistics. That’s something that we see over and over again in the anti-sex trafficking, anti-human trafficking movement. For example, 100,000-300,000 children are at risk of being sex-trafficked in the U.S. each year. But, we look at it and say, ‘OK, this is also a weak methodology and we need more comprehensive data.’ Or, ‘the average age of entry is between 12 and 14,’ but again it’s from that same data set. So, we really need to be more critical when we’re republishing statistics. I think it shows that not enough resources are being put into adequately capturing data.”

Equally frustrating is any attempt to profile the traffickers — both those who exploit the individuals and those who purchase sexual activity.

“We have information on what traffickers look like, but in every single capacity, there are a lot of gaps,” Godoy said. “For example, for traffickers, there tends to be a lot of law enforcement bias: Who is being policed, what neighborhoods are being policed? We know that in a massage parlor, sex trafficking happens. We know that on the street, on the internet, in escort services, trafficking happens. But law enforcement tends to focus on the most physical crimes. So, they’re going to the streets and they’re looking online because there’s been a lot of talk about the internet as a platform to buy and sell children and buy and sell sex. So, again, there is a dearth of information in the statistics.”

Godoy’s report includes a series of recommendations to address the gaps, including those that exist regarding technologies that might help with the anti-trafficking efforts around the world.

The recommendations include:

Establishing a national database for FBI and local law enforcement to input, access and share pertinent information on human trafficking cases across jurisdictions.

Enhancing social media platforms to include a space for survivor leaders, more recent survivors and service providers to be used as an empowerment tool and healthy communication outlet.

Expansion of existing mobile-based apps for survivors, social service providers and law enforcement that provide vital information on local services available for survivors.

Including an emergency function in newly developed or pre-existing mobile-based apps commonly used by youth that instantly notifies specified contacts (caregivers, social workers, etc.) and/or local law enforcement with an urgent text message, email, and/or phone call that indicates potential danger and includes geospatial information.

Creating a digital platform for vetted social service providers that bolsters safe and timely information sharing for multidisciplinary stakeholders providing rehabilitative services to survivors.

Offering internship and employment opportunities for human trafficking survivors that teach higher levels of skill (programming, coding, etc.).

Facilitating an app-based challenge for survivors to develop ways to prevent sex-trafficking with at-risk youth, intervene with victims, enhance after-care services and reduce recidivism for survivors through accessible technology.

And conducting further research on the interplay of technology with the following populations: at-risk youth in schools and the child welfare system; mental and physical health of human trafficked victims and survivors; child labor practices; labor trafficking of adults; and sex trafficking of adults.

Godoy will be in Washington, D.C., on April 29 for an event sponsored by Polaris Project, the nation’s largest anti-human trafficking organization. Polaris oversees the national human trafficking resource center hotline, which provided a lot of the data for her study. In Washington, she will be one of three people presenting research on the subject.

As she weighed how to approach the presentation of this study, Godoy was firm about one aspect.

“I said to the design and layout expert who worked with me on this report that I don’t want the same dark imagery on the cover,” Godoy said. “I don’t want chains. I don’t want blood. I don’t want any of this negativity.

“I want it to be light, to show that there is a hope at the end of this and that these survivors are very resilient and deserving of more.”

IPP Bridges Studies to Global Career International Practice Pathways (IPP) offers internships to students across the globe.

By Adeney Zo

Since 2011, the International Practice Pathways (IPP) program has offered a global component to Luskin students’ education prior to the inception of Global Public Affairs. This summer, IPP once again sent a group of students to internship placements around the world, offering them the unique opportunity to see their education come to life on the international scale.

The global journey begins with Shafaq Choudry MURP ’16, who interned in the mayor’s office in Panama City, Panama. Having grown up in Venezuela and worked extensively with Latino communities as a planner, Choudry was immediately drawn to a placement opportunity in Latin America. “The IPP summer program in Panama presented a tremendous opportunity to work at a recently established Department of Urban Planning under the mayor’s office on transportation and land use projects,” she explained.

Her areas of academic interest include sustainable transportation and equitable development, so the opportunity to work in a rapidly developing city was invaluable.

“Panama City has undergone rapid growth and development over the years, and with new leadership in place, the Department of Planning is investing in strategies and tools for inclusive and equitable growth,” said Choudry.

Despite the practical experience she gained, Choudry was most inspired by the people she encountered during her time abroad.

“I met extraordinary, young and talented individuals that are passionate about transforming their city for the better,” said Choudry. “Their open and eager-for-change attitude allowed me to integrate with the team and generate ideas for the future together.”

Choudry will continue her travels this year with a comprehensive thesis project in Mexico City, an endeavor she hopes will lead to a career in Latin America. “Toward the end of my 10-week fellowship in Panama, I received the affirmation I needed in order to pursue international planning work in Latin America as a consultant,” she said.

Like Choudry, Katie Merrill MSW ’16 had deep personal ties to her placement — Europe — having lived and worked in Germany before coming to Luskin. Motivated by this combination of personal and academic interest, Merrill chose to intern at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I have always been interested in the UN and the grand scale of global humanitarian work,” said Merrill. “I was particularly attracted to the idea of working at UNHCR in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis.”

Merrill was given the freedom to design and run a study on staff alcohol abuse across the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Many UNHCR staff members work in dangerous areas under highly stressful conditions, leading to a widespread alcohol abuse problem, Merrill explained. “I was shocked and fascinated by what I heard on a daily basis, and I felt a profound responsibility to do them justice,” she said.

“This experience showed me just how intimate research can, in fact, be,” she continued. “I spent hours on the phone with staff members speaking about very jarring personal experiences. It was so powerful to feel that my synthesis and communication of their messages may very well lead to real and important policy changes in the organization, and it was an honor to be at the heart of something so big.”

Merrill and her coworkers interviewed more than 100 staff members over the course of her study, and her findings will be incorporated into a final report to UNHCR.

Away from city life, Jason Karpman MURP ’16 applied his studies in urbanization and environmental impact to the rainforests of Chiang Mai, Thailand. When considering where to apply for his IPP placement, Karpman had his sights set on the research organization World Agroforestry Centre. Between their global office locations, Thailand had the most abundant forest area, covering approximately 37% of the country. “I was drawn to the ecology of the place,” explained Karpman.

IPP offers students the chance to engage in real-life applications of their studies, and this aspect of the program resonated deeply with Karpman. While the majority of his time was spent conducting literature review and research at Chiang Mai University, Karpman was most inspired by field visits to the rainforest itself. He recalled the breathtaking moment when he entered a tropical rainforest for the first time:

“It’s one of those awe-inspiring experiences, and I was humbled by how spectacular [the rainforest] is, how productive it is,” said Karpman. “There was green as far as the eye can see. It solidified that these places provide important environmental services for our planet.”

To future students considering IPP, Karpman recommends the program as the ideal window between the first and second year to reassess the direction of one’s studies.

“[I realized] how to maximize my last year in this program to get the skills and content education I need,” he said. “I can’t overemphasize how important the value of the program is — it’s a moment to pause in your education, reassess things and then get back in the program.”



Accepting a Grand Challenge UCLA Luskin Researchers Awarded First LA Grand Challenge Grants to Support Efficient Transportation and Local Sustainable Water Research

By Stan Paul

Innovative and sustainable use of water and energy in Los Angeles is at the heart of UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, and three UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs researchers are at the forefront of this campuswide initiative.

Brian Taylor, Juan Matute and J.R. DeShazo are among 11 winners of the $1.2 million in competitive research grants awarded through the Challenge’s Five-Year Work Plan, which envisions a 100-percent renewable energy and local water scenario for the greater Los Angeles area by 2050. In addition, Jaimee Lederman, an Urban Planning doctoral candidate at Luskin, was recently named an LA Grand Challenge Powell Policy Fellow for a research/scholarly project that will directly contribute to advancing the goals of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

Taylor and Matute said that their project will specifically study the viability of shared zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) and transportation network companies (TNCs) “to and from major transit stops to promote both ZEV and transit for commute-related traffic.” They believe the “meteoric rise” in use of TNCs, like Uber and Lyft, may address so-called “first-mile, last-mile” problems of daily transportation and encourage “mix-mode” travel that includes the use of expanding rail and bus rapid transit networks in Los Angeles.

“The TNC business model enables high daily vehicle utilization rates and high occupancy rates (percentage of seats filled) compared with personal vehicle ownership and operation,” said Taylor and Matute in their winning proposal. In addition, they indicated that the high rate of utilization rates will help zero-emission vehicle owners to “amortize the higher initial cost over a greater number of annual operating hours,” thus providing quicker returns on their investment.

Taylor, a professor of Urban Planning, is director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at Luskin. Matute serves as associate director of the Lewis Center and ITS. DeShazo’s winning proposal will assess whether creating a unified water market, or “OneWater,” as he calls it, out of the current fragmented system of more than 200 community water systems in Los Angeles, is a real possibility. DeShazo is director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and is a professor of Public Policy, Urban Planning, and Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.

“A regional water market could enable those systems with underutilized water resources to develop and supply water to systems facing higher costs, poor quality and unreliable supplies,” said DeShazo. “This opportunity to trade water expands the lower-costs supply options available to higher-costs systems, thus reducing regional inequality,” he said.

DeShazo pointed out that each system in the county’s fragmented market varies in numerous ways such as access to groundwater and aquifer storage, storm water capture, direct and indirect water re-use as well each of the current system’s potential for conservation. The proposal also calls for the creation of an advisory panel for a joint powers authority that would manage the OneWater market.

“The only way that all water systems in L.A. County can achieve 100 percent local water is if a system that enables the trading of water among systems is created,” noted DeShazo. “Trading would create a revenue stream that attracts new investment in blue infrastructure.”

Lederman’s proposed project is titled, “From Great Idea to Sustainable Outcomes: traversing political roadblocks of local participation in regional environmental initiatives.” Serving as her faculty mentor is Martin Wachs, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning. The fellowship award was made possible through a generous gift from Norman J. Powell.

The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is currently engaged with more than 150 UCLA faculty and researchers from more than 70 campus departments who are seeking ways to improve the quality of life as population growth and climate change affect the Los Angeles area.

Read the complete story on the UCLA Newsroom website.

New Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Award Advances UCLA Luskin’s Mission of Social Justice The new Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Social Justice Award was created to advance research that focuses on issues of racial justice and inequality

By Adeney Zo

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., served as dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for seven years, and his legacy here continues to inspire and provide support for Luskin students.

Through the efforts of members of the UCLA Luskin advisory board along with many other donors, the new Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Social Justice Award was created to advance research that focuses on issues of racial justice and inequality. Reflecting the School’s mission to bring about social change through academic excellence, this award highlights student scholarship that addresses crucial societal issues.

Board Chair Susan F. Rice explains, “Frank Gilliam’s commitment to social justice permeated his leadership approach. His collaborative style in cross-discipline initiatives left a significant legacy on the students, the faculty, the campus and our Board of Advisors. In particular, the Board relished Frank’s pride in the Luskin School students as research practitioners engaging public personnel in social justice issues. It seemed fitting to establish an award recognizing student initiative.”

This year’s award recipients will be studying a wide range of topics related to social justice, diversity and equity.

Susanna Curry, a doctoral candidate in Social Welfare, was selected for a project which will study housing insecurity among millennials. Curry’s ultimate goal as a researcher is to help end homelessness in the U.S., but her research will first examine the causes of housing insecurity among millennials in early stages of adult life.

“I want to encourage social welfare scholarship to include a greater understanding of housing insecurity, that is, the situations in which people find themselves immediately before becoming homeless such as living temporarily in another person’s home, moving frequently, and facing eviction or a high rent burden,” said Curry.

Curry aims to study how childhood adversity and access to social supports, particularly stemming from the foster care system, may influence housing instability among young adults.

“It is important that we better understand living situations and housing-related stressors beyond age 21, and associated risks and resources, so that service providers and policymakers can develop greater supports for these [foster] youth as appropriate into young adulthood,” said Curry.

Curry will also examine on a national scale how social and cultural patterns may factor into this issue.

While Curry’s work will examine a nationwide issue, three recipients of the award will focus their research on issues within UCLA. Elizabeth Calixtro, a master of Public Policy student; Kevin Medina, a master of Social Welfare and master of Public Policy student; and Nisha Parekh, a master of Public Policy and Law student, were selected for their proposal to evaluate diversity and equity programming at UCLA in conjunction with the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“We plan to use the data we collect to create feasible recommendations for the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) regarding ways to harmonize the various EDI-related efforts across campus,” said Medina. “EDI was created less than a year ago, and we aim to provide recommendations that will further this harmonization project.”

All three members of the team have backgrounds in social justice work, allowing for them to advance the mission of the award while also utilizing their combined experience to create change within UCLA.

“We felt that selecting a topic addressing equity issues would allow us to bring together multiple lenses and skill sets to create an impactful policy project,” said Medina. “This award provides us with the necessary and scarce resources to actualize our ambitious vision for our policy project.”

The team will be evaluating the EDI’s programs through focus groups, interviews and a campuswide survey. They will also be contacting universities similar to UCLA in order to understand how other schools implement diversity and equity programming. With the implementation of a new undergraduate diversity requirement for UCLA College freshmen, this study may play an important part in the development of these courses.

Other award recipients are Marylou Adriatico, a master of Social Welfare student, and Joanna L. Barreras, Charles H. Lea III and Christina Tam, all doctoral candidates in Social Welfare.

To learn more about the Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Social Justice Award, or to make a contribution, visit this page.

A summary of the project descriptions for the Social Justice Award winners can be found here.

Creating Good “Food Citizens” for Future Food Equity and Security Food Studies Graduate Certificate Program Taking Applications Starting Feb. 1, Selected Students to Begin Fall 2016

By Breanna Ramos

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs will open the application period for the Food Studies Graduate Certificate Program starting Feb. 1. The program is open to all UCLA graduate students and selected applicants will begin taking classes in Fall 2016.

Food equity, security, and environmental sustainability are growing global concerns, and there is an increased interest in developing programs to alleviate such issues, specifically within the University of California system.  The certificate program falls under UC President Janet Napolitano’s Global Food Initiative, which was launched in 2014 to address “…one of the critical issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025.”

“It shouldn’t be an issue for people to get healthy foods or for us to worry about whether or not we’re going to have healthy foods in the future,” said Alexis Oberlander, Project Manager for the program at the Luskin School. Oberlander is just one of the many staff members who strongly supports food studies’ importance and participated in developing program details.

“That’s part of what’s most exciting, having people from the North and South campuses: from English, Dentistry, and all over,” said Public Health professor May Wang. “We can’t really talk about food without addressing all these other social, economic, and even political aspects.”

The program requires that participants take courses in multiple fields. Among the four graduate-level courses students must take, one must be a core interdisciplinary class that was specifically designed for the program. The other three courses can be chosen based on personal preference and selected from the following categories: Food Policy and Food Systems, Nutritional Science, and Social and Cultural Aspects of Food.

“The hope and intention of the program is that it’ll bring students together across all disciplines to think about the complex issue that is food in our country today,” said Sarah Roth, graduate student researcher for the program. “Bringing together law, business, public policy, urban planning, and public health students into the same room so that they can both understand one another’s perspective and use that understanding to leverage change.”

Applications will become available in February, with about 10 participant slots available. The program is expected to attract students from various disciplines.

“A passion for food is the critical component for applying,” said Oberlander. “Applicants should express any ideas that they have about how they’re going to use food studies in their education and future careers because that’s our goal: supplementing their education, so that they can go into the working world with their certificate and apply it to whatever they’re doing.”

Events have been planned to attract not only potential students, but to educate others about why studying food is crucial. A calendar of campus events relevant to food studies also is available online at:

“What we really want to do is create good food citizens,” said UCLA law professor Michael Roberts, lead instructor for the core course. “What ‘good food citizens’ means is that we’ve got people in the community who understand and appreciate food and who can improve the conditions, the consumption, and or production of food in the local community and beyond.”

For more information on the program and other food studies related resources, visit the certificate website at:

Kelcie Ralph Wins UCCONNECT Outstanding Student of the Year

By Adeney Zo

ralph-kelcieKelcie Ralph UP Ph.D ’15 was selected as the UCCONNECT Outstanding Student of the Year, an award which will grant her a $1,000 honorarium and cover her cost of attendance for the 2016 95th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting.

UCCONNECT is an organization established to support faculty research in its consortium of five UC campuses along with Cal Poly, Pomona to align with the new University Transportation Center’s theme: “Promoting economic competitiveness by enhancing multi-modal transport for California and the region.” Each year, a review panel of transport experts selects one Outstanding Student of the Year based on the strength of the student’s candidacy and academic work.

Ralph was recognized at the Council of University Transportation Centers Annual in Washington, D.C.

MPP Student Selected as Semi-Finalist for Presidential Fellowship


Public Policy student Ryan Rosso has been selected as a Semi-Finalist for the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program.

The Presidential Management Fellowship is a leadership and career development program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Fellows are given a two-year appointment at a Federal agency, in addition to participating in career development and networking activities organized by the program. Throughout their appointment, fellows work through a series of developmental assignments and receive feedback for their work.

Rosso, one of 5 UCLA Semi-Finalists and the only Luskin representative, was selected from a pool of approximately 6,000 applicants. A first year in the MPP program, Rosso is concentrating in public finance, education and tax and hopes to work as a budget analyst in the future.


Students Report on Assignments Around the Globe Students living and working abroad will be blogging about their professional and personal experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog

A sexual health study in the Dominican Republic. Federal water policy in Mexico City. A bus rapid transit line through Nairobi, Kenya.

These are just three of the projects that UCLA Luskin students will be tackling this summer as they live and work in countries around the world. Most of the students travel under the auspices of the International Practice Pathway program, the experiential component of the School’s Global Public Affairs initiative that’s intended to expose students to a broad range of policy and practice in communities around the world.

No matter what facilitates their travel, every student working abroad this summer is driven by their innate curiosity about the world and motivated to better understand their circumstances and themselves. This year’s students are:

  • Sandra Bernabe (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Humberto Castro (Urban Planning), Mexico City, Mexico
  • Carmen Chen (Urban Planning), Istanbul, Turkey
  • Shafaq Choudry (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Cally Hardy (Urban Planning), India
  • Jason Karpman (Urban Planning), Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Mohan Khidia (Urban Planning), India
  • Joseph Lawlor (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • Maritza Lee (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • David Leipziger (Urban Planning), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Katie Merill (Social Welfare), Geneva, Switzerland
  • Marissa Sanchez (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Ryan Sclar (Urban Planning), Chengdu, China
  • Elsie Silva (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The students will be blogging about their experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog.

Vancouver Trip Demonstrates Lessons in Sustainability Insights for urban and regional planning from Vancouver


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

After a week-long trip to Vancouver for their spring break, 14 urban and regional planning students returned from the journey with a report of seven implementable lessons about sustainability that they learned from “the greenest city in North America.”

They presented their findings on May 19 to a group of more than 50 sustainable living students and professionals in an event hosted by the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate. The trip was inspired by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recent Sustainable City pLAn, which aims to develop short and long-term strategies to address climate change and increase urban sustainability. The plan was modeled after Vancouver’s 2011 Greenest City Action Plan.

Entirely student led and organized, the trip included stops to meet with government agencies, researchers, non-profits and other stakeholders working in different areas of sustainability  to learn about their most successful practices that would be relevant for Los Angeles. Though the team analyzed several more Vancouver successes, they decided to hone in on seven that they believe Mayor Garcetti has already identified and are achievable today. The report outlines how the students encountered each lesson and how Los Angeles can successfully implement the ideas.

Some of the objectives they identified included generating and distributing energy at the neighborhood scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using data to drive policies that increase access to green space, and creating a space in City Hall to collaborate on design-build projects using the expertise of higher education institutions and graduates.

Aaron Ordower, a second-year Urban Planning student involved in the project, said he enjoyed touring the LEED-ND Platinum Olympic Village, where the students were able to talk to urban planning students from the University of British Columbia and exchange ideas about how to improve sustainability in their urban communities. The visit taught them several conclusions about energy generation on the neighborhood scale.

“Los Angeles should consider brownfield sites and other large redevelopment projects as opportunities for district energy generation. A local utility was made feasible because it was built in a new neighborhood, the Olympic Village,” the students said in their report.

Ordower said he enjoyed experiencing the sustainable elements of Vancouver such as its seamlessly integrated bike planning and access to open space.

“The remarkable thing about Vancouver is how similar it was to L.A. 30 years ago, with respect to the number of people using public transit, biking, access to quality public space, and innovation in renewable energy,” Ordower said. “ We hope the report offers a glimpse into some of those successes that are well within L.A.’s reach.”

The trip was sponsored by the UCLA Luskin Hildebrand Award for Canadian Studies, the Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Grant, the UCLA Center for Canadian Studies and the Liberty Hill Foundation.