UCLA is the most highly published institution in the area of urban studies A recent study is indicative of UCLA's leadership in the field of urban planning

By Joe Luk

A recent study indicates that UCLA contributed the greatest number of papers to the field of urban studies over the five year period from 2004 to 2008. Based on each institution’s percentage of 5,518 papers published in Thomson Reuters-indexed urban studies journals, UCLA ranked first with 76 papers, representing 1.38 % of the field.

Following UCLA are Ohio State University with 68 papers, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with 65, and University of Michigan with 63.   The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and UC Berkeley were tied for fifth place with 62 papers each.

This data which is indicative of UCLA’s intellectual leadership in the field, is congruent with data presented in a  2004 study published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research which ranked  the UCLA Department of Urban Planning the top urban planning department in the nation on the basis of two combined indicators: the number of citations of faculty research and the number of publications in peer-reviewed journals listed in the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).    That study entitled “Faculty Quality at U.S. Graduate Planning Schools,” was done by Professors Deden Rukmana, Bhuiyan Alam, and Bruce Stiftel.

Examining the Legacy of Slavery and Racism In an effort to explore social justice issues and their relevance to students' future careers, the School of Public Affairs hosted a film viewing and discussion about the legacy of slavery and racism in the U.S.

By Robin Heffler
As part of a School of Public Affairs effort to explore social justice issues and their relevance to students’ future careers, some 170 students, faculty, and community members recently viewed a film and engaged in a lively discussion about the legacy of slavery and racism in the U.S.

Hosted by Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, participants gathered on Jan. 19 in the screening room of the Acosta Training Complex to see an abridged version of the documentary film, Traces of the Trade.

In the film, which aired on PBS in 2008, producer and director Katrina Browne tells of her shocking discovery that the De Wolfs of Rhode Island, her prominent, Caucasian ancestors, were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. Together with nine other De Wolf descendants, Browne retraces the slave-trade triangle — from Bristol, Rhode Island to slave forts in Ghana to a family plantation in Cuba and back to Bristol. Along the way, they struggle with the politics of race, how to “repair” the centuries-long damage of slavery, and their own Yankee culture and privilege.

After the screening, Browne reflected on one cousin’s insistence that he would have gone to Harvard even if he wasn’t from a privileged family. “When the wind is at your back you don’t notice it,” she said. “You don’t realize the forces supporting you as you move forward, but you do when you’re faced with obstacles to success.”

African-American co-producer Juanita Brown noted that “We must recognize that race is complex, and that black and white is only one element. We invite you to see this conversation as the jumping off point for conversations about other people and races.”

Program participants engaged in one-on-one discussions about the film, as well as a question-and-answer session.

“No one wants to associate with the oppressor because of the guilt and shame involved, but we need to acknowledge history and how it plays out in the present,” said Amy Smith, a first-year social welfare graduate student, who had just spent the day discussing white privilege in her class on “Cross-Cultural Awareness.” “And, since racism is a problem that affects everyone, everyone should be part of the solution.”

Associate Professor Laura Abrams, who along with Joy Crumpton and Gerardo Laviña leads the “Cross-Cultural Awareness” class in the Department of Social Welfare, saw the issues raised by the film as important for social workers. “In a helping profession, it’s easy to see clients as having made bad choices rather than seeing their lives as structured by disadvantages and inequalities related to race, class, and gender,” she said.

Gilliam, who served as an early advisor to the film, said the event was the second of a planned series of programs focused on social justice issues. Last year, the UCLA School of Public Affairs had an exchange with the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, with each school hosting conferences on how to talk about race in the context of graduate education in public affairs.

“We want to do a better job of giving students the analytical tools to examine issues of social justice, which they will need to deal with the people they will be helping when they graduate,” he said.

Gilliam said plans include developing a curriculum, research opportunities, and a summer institute related to social justice. Together with Student Affairs, he also would like to hold social-justice dialogues with undergraduates, who then would dialogue with Los Angeles-area high school students.

Heffler is a Los Angeles-based free-lance writer and former UCLA editor

Experts outline scope of nationwide project on climate change Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus and professor of public policy at UCLA, chaired the Committee on America's Climate Choices to guide the nation's response to climate change

The country’s leading researchers on climate change came to Westwood recently to give the public a chance to learn and ask questions about the current science on climate change, options facing the United States and the work of the Committee on America’s Climate Choices, the group that sponsored the event Jan. 13 at the W Hotel.

The committee, which is chaired by Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Public Policy Albert Carnesale, is leading a nationwide project launched by the National Academies and requested by Congress to provide policy-relevant advice, based on scientific evidence, to help guide the nation’s response to climate change. America’s Climate Choices involves four panels of experts in addition to the main committee, representing government, the private section and research institutions. They are evaluating strategies available to limit the magnitude of future climate change, to adapt to its impacts and advance climate change science, among other goals. The open session in Westwood was one of a series of town hall discussions held in Irvine; Boulder, CO; Washington, D.C.; and other cities.  A final report will be released sometime this summer.

Read the story at UCLA Today.

Public Policy Students Return from U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Two public policy students were commended by the Los Angeles City Council for developing recommendations on how Los Angeles can face and minimize the impacts of climate change

By Joe Luk

Recently returning from the international conference in Copenhagen on climate change, two public policy students, Alexa Engleman (JD/MPP) and Dustin Maghamfar (JD/MPP) along with four of their Law School classmates were commended by the Los Angeles City Council for their work in developing recommendations for the City of Los Angeles.  These recommendations will be used in the City’s advocacy initiatives for state and national legislation to reduce global warming.

As reported in the Daily Bruin:

Dustin Maghamfar, a fourth-year law and public policy student, was one of the six students who attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and he said the delegation of students was very fortunate to have taken the trip. “It’s an incredible honor and immensely flattering,” Maghamfar said of the recognition given to the group.

Read the complete article here.

Nonprofits React to UCLA Report on Their Struggle in Recession A UCLA Center for Civil Society study finds that costs and demands of non profits are rising while funding is diminishing

By Robin Heffler

On Friday, October 23, the UCLA Center for Civil Society in the UCLA School of Public Affairs released a report detailing the mixed impact of the current economic downturn on the local non-profit sector, delivering its findings in person to 185 representatives of non-profit organizations in the greater Los Angeles area, and receiving their immediate feedback.

Among the major findings were that most Los Angeles-area nonprofit organizations have experience reductions in funding from government and private foundations, while costs and demands for their services have risen. Yet the nonprofits largely have been able to retain their volunteers, staff, and programs.

The report, Resilience and Vulnerability: The State of the Nonprofit Sector in Los Angeles , was presented at the Center’s annual conference for local nonprofits, held at the Skirball Cultural Center. Researched and written by David B. Howard and Hyeon Jong Kil (both doctoral researchers in Social Welfare), it was based on a survey of more than 250 non-profit organizations from June to August 2009. There are about 41,500 registered nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles County.

One conference attendee, Abbe Lande of the Saban Free Clinic, echoed the report’s findings when she told other participants, “At every staff meeting we talk about tightening our belts. We keep doing more with less—trying to squeeze in more patients without hiring more staff –and the pressure to produce is intense. We’re seeing more people come in for the first time with incomes of about 200 percent of the poverty level. A lot of it is for mental health services.”

To better weather the recession, the report recommended that nonprofits focus more on program evaluation to better attract funders and make decisions about scarce resources; engage in widespread advocacy efforts, including discussions about policy decisions with elected officials and lawmakers; and collaborate with other nonprofits to decrease costs, increase efficiency, and share knowledge, merging when necessary.

Ted Knoll, who runs the Whittier Area First Day Coalition, which provides services for those who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless, said he appreciated both the “content and process” of the conference. “We did a merger in 2001, so I know this is doable,” he said. “The conference has made me think about possibly doing it again. At the same time, I’m networking with people I haven’t seen in years.”

Conference participants shared their experiences during small-group discussions on the findings. David Howard said that feedback will be included in an addendum to the report. “It helps us to tell a clearer story of what’s happening to nonprofits, which helps deliver messages that often get lost in the numbers,” he said.

In closing remarks, Helmut Anheier, founding director of the Center, said, “We will have a slow recovery for nonprofits. We didn’t learn the lessons from the previous recessions – that you need to prepare for them when times are good. This crisis will push business and nonprofits closer because there is little that the government can offer. Nonprofits will need to make sure that their concerns are part of the political agenda.”

 

 

 

Intervening in Violence: “People Join Gangs Because of a Lethal Absence of Hope” Associate professor Jorja Leap discusses factors that lead to young people joining gangs on radio show

Jorja Leap, adjunct associate professor of social welfare, appeared as a guest on the Howard Gluss radio show to discuss the factors that lead to young people joining gangs.

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Jorja Leap is an expert in crisis intervention and trauma response. Her research examines gangs, prison culture and high-risk and system-involved youth

“So many of the young men and young women I have worked with over the years come from families where there has been abuse,” says Leap. “They come from families where other family members have been gang members themselves. They come from families where there has been substance abuse and multiple problems and they also come from communities that are impoverished, but also more importantly communities that are affected by violence.”

The following is an excerpt from the interview:

GLUSS: We need the facts and then we need an emotional connection to the facts. So give us some of the facts.

LEAP: Well, the facts are, and I’m going to quote Father Greg Boyle here, gangs do not arise and people do not join gangs because of violence, people join gangs because of a lethal absence of hope.

GLUSS: Which is depression.

LEAP: It’s depression, you’re absolutely right. It’s a sense of powerlessness. It’s feeling there are no opportunities, no options, no one who cares. And that’s what it comes from. It comes from depression, and it also comes from, this will come as no surprise to you and I’m sure to other listeners, it also comes from families and communities.

So many of the young men and young women I have worked with over the years come from families where there has been abuse. They come from families where other family members have been gang members themselves. They come from families where there has been substance abuse and multiple problems and they also come from communities that are impoverished, but also more importantly communities that are affected by violence.

And you’ve mentioned that I’ve worked all over the world and one of the commonalities is that when young people and children are raised in violent communities they often have post traumatic stress disorder even as they are growing up and they will join gangs and engage in violent behavior strangely enough in order to feel empowered.

GLUSS: There’s a sense of respect and self esteem with that.

LEAP: Exactly…now you know, for example, I witnessed one very powerful transformation. There are young men and young women who are now being trained, former gang members that are being trained in solar panel installation, a job that with which they can earn a tremendous amount of money. The transformation in them and the sense of control they begin to feel is just astonishing in terms of themselves and their identity.

Listen to the entire interview here.

Dr. Jorja Leap is a professor at UCLA, a recognized expert in crisis intervention and trauma response and has been involved with training and research for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as part of post-war development and conflict resolution in Bosnia and Kosovo and has conducted work with the families of victims of the 9/11 WTC disaster. She is the author of the book, “No One Knows Their Names.”

Questions for Sidewalk Scholar Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris Urban Planning professor details the importance of the urban sidewalk in new book.

Anastasia Louaitou-Sideris

Anastasia Louaitou-Sideris

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, a professor of urban planning and a scholar of urban design and urban history at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, has researched the uses of all kinds of public spaces, from parks to plazas. Now she and her former Ph.D. student, Renia Ehrenfeucht, have tackled a most pedestrian subject, the lowly urban sidewalk. In their new book, “Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotation over Public Space” (MIT Press, 2009), Loukaitou-Sideris and Ehrenfeucht, now an assistant professor at the University of New Orleans, track the furious battles that have been fought on sidewalks over free speech, public access and conflicting uses. They have looked into policies governing sidewalks in five cities — Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Miami and Seattle — and found reasons why some cities have a vibrant sidewalk culture and in other cities, sidewalks are devoid of life.

The following is excerpted from an interview with UCLA Newsroom.

What first intrigued you about sidewalks?

Coming from Athens, Greece, where there is a very intensive use of sidewalks, I experienced a cultural shock when I first came to this country in 1983 as a graduate student and saw that sidewalks were empty in most places. This was so much in contrast to my own life experiences. I always had this question: Why are American sidewalks empty? What happened to the pedestrians? The book really responds to these questions.

In your book, you talk about sidewalk culture. What do you mean by that?

It’s the ability of people to territorialize this public space for positive uses because they feel that it is their own. As a citizen of a city, you feel you can jog, walk your dog or use this public space for public discourse, to display wares or communicate with your neighbors. But there are many instances where our laws have discouraged this sidewalk culture from developing. Cities now require permits for many uses of this public space. And these have intensified over the last decade.

Take street vending. It’s banned in Los Angeles, even though you can still find some street vendors in many communities, especially in East L.A. But we have banned not only street vending from sidewalks, but public demonstrations and celebrations. In the book, we document how over the years this emptying of sidewalks took place through regulations and ordinances.

Luskin School of Public Affairs Launches 2009-2010 Senior Fellows Cohort KCET’s Val Zavala opened the welcome event for the new cohort of Fellows, who have been matched with 58 students.

Together with several returning Senior Fellows, including the keynote speaker, KCET’s vice president of news and public affairs, Val Zavala, the 2009 Senior Fellows Breakfast sparked conversations about career interests, networking, and policy issues, to be further followed up with activities throughout the academic year.

Fifty-eight students are participating in the Senior Fellows program this year. Over the thirteen years since the program was created in 1997, more than 600 students have been matched with individual mentors for professional development.

“You’re really going to enjoy this,” said Zavala, addressing the new Senior Fellows, “the time you spend is true quality time, both for the young people and in relationship with the School.”

This year’s cohort includes new participants who are professionals from the media, public service, business, environmental, and government sectors: Hasan Ikhrata, executive director, Southern California Association of Governments; BongHwan “BH” Kim, general manager, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, City of Los Angeles; Frank I. Luntz, president of The Word Doctors; Jim Newton, opinion editor-at-large, The Los Angeles Times; Mary D. Nichols, chairman, California Air Resources Board; Katherine Aguilar Perez, executive director, Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles; and William E. Simon, Jr., co-chairman, William E. Simon & Sons, LLC.

“Get them to your workplace, show them around and introduce them to your colleagues,” Zavala urged students, “make it a real high priority.”

The School of Public Affairs opened the 2009-2010 Senior Fellows program at a welcome breakfast this morning at the UCLA Faculty Center. The Fellows, selected for their distinguished leadership across sectors, are invited to contribute their time and expertise through a career-site visit program, professional mentorship of two to three current School of Public Affairs students, and a policy briefing on leadership, management, or a topic relevant to their field of expertise. Students who participate in the program are selected in a competitive process and matched to a Fellow at the recommendation of graduate advisors and faculty in their respective departments.

Click here to view the event photos.

Escaping the prison trap: UCLA professors, criminal justice experts tackle prison crisis at DC forum UCLA participates in first Rosenfield Forum in Washington D.C., bringing together top researchers from across the country.

UCLA brought together top researchers in the criminal justice field, congressional staff, a high-ranking official in the Obama administration and a California congressman for its first Rosenfield Forum in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8.
More than 70 people participated in the half-day event, titled “Escaping the Prison Trap: How to Have Less Crime and Less Incarceration,” which included three panels and presentations by premiere scholars from UCLA and other institutions.
“We’re fortunate that within the walls of our school we had a diversity of approaches to the issues” that helped UCLA in hosting this forum, Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., dean of the UCLA School of Public Affairs, said in his opening remarks. “At the risk of sounding immodest, this diversity of approaches and viewpoints is a hallmark of our school and one of its great strengths.”
U.S. Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the third-highest ranking official in the Justice Department, led off the forum with a discussion of the Obama administration’s approach to crime prevention and reduction. His comments underscored Gilliam’s point about the wealth of expertise at UCLA.
“Everyone always talks about being ‘tough’ on crime, but our focus is being ‘smart’ on crime,” said Perrelli, who also worked under former Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton administration. “Research in this area is not research for its own sake; it is the kind of thing we really do hope to examine, implement and, frankly, learn more from. There really are people, particularly in this Justice Department, who are listening to the outcomes of your conversations and the research that you develop. We’re excited to hear more.”
“Escaping the Prison Trap” sought to address some of the major issues confronting the U.S. justice system today, including the country’s unprecedented incarceration rate; the role of communities in reducing crime, especially among juveniles; and the development of innovative programs for deterring crime and reducing prison crowding.
Two additional Rosenfield Forums will bring together UCLA scholars with national and local leaders this academic year; the next addresses transportation issues, and the final forum will explore issues related to youth in the foster care system.
“We’re excited, we’re thrilled to be here in Washington,” Gilliam said at the outset of the forum, which helped broaden UCLA’s influence as an institution committed to helping solve some of the nation’s most pressing problems. “We want to promote UCLA faculty and inform — and hopefully influence — the national debate.”
Throughout the four-hour discussion, scholars laid out the problems with our current prison system and ways to fix it.
“You have to figure out what works,” Perrelli said. “Nothing, really, should be off the table, and if you’re going to figure out what works, you need evidence and research to do that.”
He asked for the academics’ help on that front.
“Help us think outside the box about the next generation of promising approaches,” he said. “I think we’re asking the right questions about how to really make communities safer, how to reduce crime.”
Using evidence-based approaches and research and determining how to use governments’ limited resources more effectively is the path U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department will follow, he added.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Calif.) repeated Perrelli’s request for assistance as he wrapped up the forum.
“We desperately need the expertise and insight of the people in this room,” he told the eight panelists and the experts assembled in the audience. “It’s always a fight in Congress” to try to change policy when crime is the issue.
Anyone who attempts to implement programs similar to the ones discussed during the three panels gets tagged as being “soft on crime,” Schiff said, making such programs a tough sell to legislators.
“But look at the crisis in California, where one-fourth of the prison population may have to be released by court order,” he said. “I don’t want to wait until we’re in a situation like that. We need to be more proactive, more thoughtful.”
Perrelli also addressed the issue’s political sensitivity and the implications of reform efforts.
“The easier course politically might simply be to take the ‘tough on crime’ approach, to announce the tough on crime mantra and put more people in jail,” Perrelli said.
But that won’t solve the problem, reduce crime or save money, he added.
“It shouldn’t surprise us that the system that we have now isn’t working particularly well,” Perrelli said. “You think about the amount of money that you’re spending on prisons, particularly in this era of budget cuts, and you ask yourself, ‘If I could make the community as safe or safer than it is today but reduce the level of incarceration and have those funds to do a host of other things, what could we do with that?'”
Panelists discussed a wide range of topics, from the effect of maximum-minimum sentencing guidelines to the perils of treating juvenile offenders as adults and the correlation between prison sentences and unemployment.
“The phrase ‘crime doesn’t pay’ is oft-repeated by those who are ‘tough on crime,’ yet statistics bear out that crime already doesn’t pay, literally,” said panelist Mark Kleiman, a UCLA professor of public policy. “A burglar makes about $8 for every day he’s in prison.”
All the panelists criticized fixes that represent mere “tinkering” and recommended wholesale changes to the system.
“I don’t believe we can fix this with business as usual, but we can fix this — it is real,” said David Kennedy, director of the Center on Crime Prevention and Control at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
David F. Weiman, an economics professor at Columbia University and Barnard College, offered just one reason why fundamentally changing the system would be so challenging.
“The status quo is deeply entrenched,” he said. “It’s an uphill battle because there’s a system already in place.” Weiman likened the potential need to close prisons to the extremely politically sensitive process of military base closures.
“Imagine closing prisons,” Weiman said. “Each prison has constituency,” just like the bases.
As the forum wrapped up, Gilliam said that Associate Attorney General Perrelli had laid out the theme in his opening remarks.
“Maybe the theme of the whole forum is being ‘smart’ on crime,” Gilliam said. “It’s not a matter of whether we are ‘tough’ on crime, but are we ‘smart’ on crime?”
Gilliam also encouraged academics, when returning to their research, to focus even more on solutions.
“One of the things that plagues this field is a ‘crisis’ focus,” he said. “There aren’t enough solutions.”