Harvard Law Professor and Obama Mentor Charles Ogletree Opens UCLA Luskin Lecture Series with Call to Social Justice

Harvard Law School Professor Charles J. Ogletree launched the new UCLA Luskin Lecture Series with a stirring address that wove personal, political, and historical themes of the African American civil rights movement before an audience of more than 250 people at the California African American Museum on February 16.

Ogletree’s wide-ranging talk touched on the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that nullified separate but equal, the lives of Martin Luther King and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the law school academic performances of his former students Barack and Michelle Obama, and the arrest of fellow Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates in 2009. The Gates incident is the topic of Ogletree’s most recent book, Presumption of Guilt, which uses the case to analyze race, class, and crime in the U.S.

Ogletree set the tone for his remarks with a recognition in the audience of Luskin School Visiting Professor Michael Dukakis, whose 1988 presidential campaign was torpedoed by the infamous Willie Horton commercial that created a genre of political advertizing exploiting “race as the dividing line,” Ogletree said.

“Martin Luther King had a dream,” Ogletree said. “Now we must have a plan.”  He pointed out that the achievement of the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas was not their enrollment in the school, but their graduation and matriculation to college. (One of the nine, Terrence James Roberts, in 1970 earned his Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from UCLA, a program now housed in the Luskin School, and went on to earn a PhD.)

Citing a wide range of issues and incidents, Ogletree, who also directs Harvard’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, emphasized that “social justice is not a regional problem, it is a national problem.”

“The divide between wealthier African Americans and poorer African Americans is greater than ever before,” he said, calling on the audience to see the link between link the 1964 Civil Rights march on Washington and the Occupy Wall Street movement that sprang up last year.

“If we can do the social justice thing, we can have a great United States,” he added.

Among the lighter moments in the talk, Ogletree confided insights on the Obamas from their law school days offering a dead-on imitation of Barack Obama taking over the facilitation of class discussions. He spoke of his admiration of Michelle Obama for her commitment to volunteer work in a legal aid office when she was a student.

He also offered a fresh telling of the Gates incident, amusing the audience with the insight that in the heat of the moment, Gates, an esteemed university professor in his own kitchen, “forgot he was a Black man” as he challenged the white officer by shouting, “Do you know who I am?”

“Race trumps class” is the lesson of the incident, Olgetree said.

Toward the end of his remarks, Ogletree paid a moving dual homage to his late father and to Thurgood Marshall with a story linking the importance of his father’s last-minute needing a hat to wear at his son’s swearing in at the Supreme Court. Not so coincidentally, Ogletree later realized he always felt a need to wear a hat at protests and rallies. 

He called on the audience to take on social justice concerns “as our moral mission.”

“We must dissent from the poverty of vision and the absence of moral leadership,” he said.

Recalling his observation of Thurgood Marshall’s wistfulness at the end of his career, he stressed the importance of carrying on from previous generations. “The next time you go through the door, leave it open for somebody else to follow,” he said.

The Luskin lecture Series was established as part of the recent $50 million gift from Los Angeles entrepreneur Meyer Luskin and his wife Renee to establish the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, housing the Departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare, and Urban Planning. The mission of the lecture is “to feature renowned thought leaders who are involved with issues changing the way our country addresses its most pressing problems.”

Dean Franklin Gilliam Jr. introduced the lecture noting the Luskins’ challenge to the School to pursue social justice as part of the school’s mission and the appropriateness of Professor Ogletree as the inaugural choice, citing his career as an “insightful, careful, and critical
thinker about life and the law.”

Pollster and policy analyst Shakari Byerly (MPP ’05) said what resonated for her in the talk were the “the enduring themes of the struggle for social justice.”

“Professor Ogletree’s stories reminded me of my own family’s journey,” she said.

The event was co-sponsored by the UCLA School of Law’s David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy.

Luskin Center sets out to make L.A. a greener place to live, work The Luskin Center for Innovation has set a goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles become more environmentally sustainable

By Cynthia Lee

Green power. Solar energy incentives. Renewable energy. Smart water systems. Planning for climate change. Clean tech in L.A. For the next three years, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation has set an ambitious goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles and state and federal agencies reach the Holy Grail of environmental sustainability.

Five Luskin scholars are working on initiatives that could change how residents, businesses, industries and government meet the challenge of living more sustainably. The Luskin center is carrying out a mission that was broadly outlined by Chancellor Gene Block in his inaugural address on May 13, 2008: to marshal the university’s intellectual resources campuswide and work toward intense civic engagement to solve vexing local and regional problems. “I believe that UCLA can have its greatest impact by focusing its expertise from across the campus to comprehensively address problems that plague Los Angeles,” the chancellor told an audience in Royce Hall.

With an agenda packed with six hefty research initiatives, the center is diving into that task under the leadership of its new director, J.R. DeShazo, an environmental economist and associate professor of public policy who also heads the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. DeShazo took the reins in October when the center moved from the Chancellor’s Office to the School of Public Affairs, a move that took advantage of the school’s outward orientation. “It’s focused on policy solutions, so this is a natural place for us to grow,” DeShazo said. “But even though the center is located here, we’re very cross-disciplinary. We have researchers from chemistry, public health, engineering, the Anderson management school, the Institute of the Environment (IoE) and public policy.”

The five scholars working on the six initiatives are DeShazo; Yoram Cohen, an engineering professor and director of the Water Technology Research Center; Magali Delmas, professor of management and the IoE; Hilary Godwin, professor of environmental health sciences; and Matt Kahn, professor of economics in the departments of Economics and Public Policy and IoE. “We started off by identifying problems that our community is facing and that it can’t solve,” DeShazo said. Then, they asked two questions: “Does UCLA have the research capacity to address this deficit? And can we find a civic partner who can make use of this new knowledge?” Proposals were prioritized by a 16-member advisory board with a broad representation of business and nonprofit executives, elected officials and a media expert. Among the high-profile board members are State Senators Carol Liu and Fran Pavley; Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board; Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel; Assemblymember Mike Feuer; John Mack, chairman of the Police Commission; and William Ouchi, professor of the Anderson School and chairman of the Riordan Programs.

“We take our research ideas and develop real-world solutions that can be passed on to a civic partner with whom we can engage and support,” DeShazo said. “We let them carry through with the politics of policy reform as well as the implementation. We don’t get involved in advocacy.” An array of local green research DeShazo recently completed Luskin’s first initiative with his research on designing a solar energy program for L.A. that would minimize costs to ratepayers. His research – the basis of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s new energy policy – proposes a solar feed-in tariff that would help everyone from homeowners and nonprofits to commercial property owners buy solar panels and be able to sell their solar energy to utility companies for a small profit.

Other Luskin research initiatives involve creating smart water systems for Southern California with water reclamation, treatment and reuse (UCLA researcher Cohen will work in partnership with the Metropolitan Water District); helping local governments plan for climate change (DeShazo with the California Air Resources Board and the Southern California Association of Governments); and reducing toxic exposures to nanomaterials in California (Godwin with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.) In another initiative in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the California Air Resources Board, researchers are compiling a database of jobs created by clean tech activities in L.A. County and will document best practices that other cities have used to attract and support clean tech development. Luskin’s Kahn is working with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to pinpoint what determines how much electricity is used by residential and commercial consumers and how the district can market its major green energy programs to increase participation.

Finally, Delmas is looking into whether the Green Business Certification Program approved recently by the City Council will reduce the overall carbon footprint of small businesses. The program offers incentives and assistance to small business owners in L.A. to become more efficient and less wasteful in their everyday practices. Those businesses that meet certain “green” criteria will be certified as being environmentally friendly. Her partner in this venture is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Fernando Torres-Gil Confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a Member of the National Council on Disability

Associate Dean Fernando Torres-Gil has been named to an Obama administration post as a member and vice chair of the National Council on Disability.  This marks the third term of national service in a
presidential administration for Professor Torres-Gil, who previously served under President Bill Clinton and President Jimmy Carter.
Prior to his roles at UCLA, he served as a professor of gerontology and public administration at the
University of Southern California, where he is still an adjunct professor of gerontology. Before serving in academia, Prof. Torres-Gil was the first assistant secretary for aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as the staff director of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging.  Prof. Torres-Gil also served as President of the American Society on Aging from 1989 to 1992.

Prof. Torres-Gil holds appointments as professor of social welfare and public policy in the UCLA School of Public Affairs and is the director of the Center for Policy Research on Aging.  Professor Torres-Gil is an expert in the fields of health and long-term care, the politics of aging, social policy, ethnicity and disability.

He is the author of six books and more than 80 articles and book chapters, including The New Aging: Politics and Change in America (1992), and Lessons From Three Nations, Volumes I and II (2007).  In recognition of his many academic accomplishments, he was elected a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America in 1985 and the National Academy of Public Administration in 1995.  He also served as President of the American Society on Aging from 1989 to 1992 and is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance.  He is currently a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Polio Survivors, the National Academy of Social Insurance and of the board of directors of Elderhostel, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AARP Foundation, the Los Angeles Airport Commission, and The California Endowment.

UP Doctoral Students Receive Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Awards Two urban planning doctoral students were recognized for their outstanding contributions to community based social entrepreneurship

The Center for Community Partnerships has announced the winners of the first Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Award:   Urban Planning doctoral students Ava Bromberg and John Scott-Railton were recognized for their outstanding contributions to community based social entrepreneurship, serving the community in ground-breaking ways.

Ava Bromberg created a Mobile Planning Lab, a converted camper designed to take urban planning issues to low-income residents in South Los Angeles. Working with the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice and the United Neighbors in Defense against Displacement, she created the project “Visions for Vermont,” which helps to engage residents in land use plans by providing a mobile, neutral, and local setting for neighbors and city planners to go over models, maps and data, and to discuss the future development and growth of their communities. Her project has given a voice to residents to show city planners the concerns and comments of the neighborhood in order to create sustainable development.

Halfway across the world, in Dakar, Senegal, John Scott-Railton has been working to solve “collective action” problems in villages as they seek to deal with unseasonable rains and devastating floods that are related to climate change. Using inexpensive handheld technology, John has partnered with Senegalese universities, climate scientists and their students, non-profit organizations, and community members to apply sophisticated mapping techniques, hybridized surveys, and linked satellite mapping to the village level toward developing more effective, long-term parcel-based solutions. As Railton continues his fieldwork, he plans to redouble efforts to steer local officials towards a pilot program in which community members and the government share responsibility for mitigating flooding.

A ceremony was held in Royce Hall to honor the recipients for their social justice entrepreneurial work with opening remarks by Dean Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. of the School of Public Affairs and a keynote address by Professor Jonathan Greenblatt, Anderson School of Management.

For more details see the recent article at the website for the UCLA Newsroom.

UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation Releases Solar Feed-in Tariff Report Informing Renewable Energy Policy in Los Angeles The Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with the Los Angeles Business Council to publish a report on an effective feed-in tariff system for the greater Los Angeles area

By Minne Ho

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and the Los Angeles Business Council has publicly released the report, “Designing an Effective Feed-in Tariff for Greater Los Angeles.” The report was unveiled yesterday at the Los Angeles Business Council’s Sustainability Summit, attended by hundreds of the city’s elected officials and business, nonprofit, and civic leaders.

J.R. DeShazo, the director UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, has long studied how governments can promote and help implement environmentally friendly energy policies. His recent research on solar energy incentive programs, conducted with Luskin Center research project manager Ryan Matulka and other colleagues at UCLA, has already become the basis for a new energy policy introduced by the city of Los Angeles.

On Monday, March 15, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced an ambitious program to move the city’s energy grid toward renewable energy sources over the next decade. Included in the plan is a provision — based in large part on the Luskin Center research — for a “feed-in tariff,” which would encourage residents to install solar energy systems that are connected to the city’s power grid.

The overall plan would require ratepayers to pay 2.7 cents more per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed, with 0.7 cents of that — a so-called carbon surcharge — going to the city’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Trust, a lockbox that will specifically fund two types of programs: energy efficiency and the solar power feed-in tariff.

Under the feed-in tariff system, homeowners, farmers, cooperatives and businesses in Los Angeles that install solar panels on homes or other properties could sell solar energy to public utility suppliers. The price paid for this renewable energy would be set at an above-market level that covers the cost of the electricity produced, plus a reasonable profit. “A feed-in tariff initiated in this city has the potential to change the landscape of Los Angeles,” said DeShazo, who is also an associate professor of public policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. “If incentivized appropriately, the program could prompt individual property owners and businesses to install solar panels on unused spaces including commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and residential buildings. Our projections show that the end result would be more jobs and a significant move to renewable energy with no net cost burden to the city.”

Feed-in tariffs for solar energy have been implemented in Germany and several other European countries, as well as domestically in cities in Florida and Vermont. The programs have moved these regions to the forefront of clean energy. And while these programs have necessitated slight increases in ratepayers’ monthly electricity bills, they have also generated thousands of new jobs. The mayor estimated that under the program announced Monday, 18,000 new jobs would be generated over the next 10 years. “For Los Angeles to be the cleanest, greenest city, we need participation from every Angeleno,” Villaraigosa said. “We know that dirty fossil fuels will only become more scarce and more expensive in the years to come. This helps move us toward renewable energy while at the same time creating new jobs.”

The new program had its genesis last year, when Villaraigosa announced a long-term, comprehensive solar plan intended to help meet the city’s future clean energy needs. The plan included a proposal for a solar feed-in tariff program administered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In September 2009, the Los Angeles Business Council created a Solar Working Group consisting of leaders in the private, environmental and educational sectors in Los Angeles County to investigate the promise of the feed-in tariff for Los Angeles and commissioned the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation to lead the investigation. In addition to DeShazo and Matulka, the working group also included Sean Hecht and Cara Horowitz from the UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment. The first phase of their research examined current models operating in Germany, Spain, Canada, Vermont and Florida to propose guidelines for a feed-in tariff design. The second phase looks at the potential participation rates in a large-scale solar feed-in tariff program in Los Angeles and its impact on clean energy in the Los Angeles basin.

The Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with forward-looking civic leaders in Los Angeles to address urgent public issues and actively work toward solutions. The center’s current focus in on issues of environmental sustainability.

Amy Zegart Named to FBI Intelligence Analysts Association (IAA) Board Zegart will provide advice and assistance to the FBI IAA to advance the interests of the FBI’s intelligence analysts in an effort to increase our national security

The School of Public Affairs congratulates Professor Amy Zegart on her recent appointment to the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association (IAA) external advisory board. In this role, she will provide advice and assistance to the FBI IAA to advance the interests of the FBI’s intelligence analysts in an effort to increase our national security.

Professor Zegart has been featured in the National Journal as one of the ten most influential experts in intelligence reform. In addition to her role as an associate professor at UCLA’s School of Public Affairs, she is also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a fellow at UCLA’s Burkle Center of International Relations. In 1993, Professor Zegart served on the Clinton administration’s National Security Council staff. Before her academic career, she spent several years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.

The FBI IAA is an independent professional association dedicated to improving the professional development of the FBI’s 2,500 intelligence analysts throughout the FBI’s fifty-six field offices, FBI headquarters, and its offices abroad.

Mayor Villaraigosa Announces L.A. Solar Energy Incentive Plan Based on UCLA Luskin Research

J.R. DeShazo, the director UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, has long studied how governments can promote and help implement environmentally friendly energy policies. Now, his recent research on solar energy incentive programs, conducted with Luskin Center research project manager Ryan Matulka and other colleagues at UCLA, has become the basis for a new energy policy introduced by the city of Los Angeles.

On Monday, March 15, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced an ambitious program to move the city’s energy grid toward renewable energy sources over the next decade. Included in the plan is a provision — based in large part on the Luskin Center research — for a “feed-in tariff,” which would encourage residents to install solar energy systems that are connected to the city’s power grid. The overall plan would require ratepayers to pay 2.7 cents more per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed, with 0.7 cents of that — a so-called carbon surcharge — going to the city’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Trust, a lockbox that will specifically fund two types of programs: energy efficiency and the solar power feed-in tariff. Under the feed-in tariff system, homeowners, farmers, cooperatives and businesses in Los Angeles that install solar panels on homes or other properties could sell solar energy to public utility suppliers.

The price paid for this renewable energy would be set at an above-market level that covers the cost of the electricity produced, plus a reasonable profit. “A feed-in tariff initiated in this city has the potential to change the landscape of Los Angeles,” said DeShazo, who is also an associate professor of public policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. “If incentivized appropriately, the program could prompt individual property owners and businesses to install solar panels on unused spaces including commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and residential buildings. Our projections show that the end result would be more jobs and a significant move to renewable energy with no net cost burden to the city.”

Feed-in tariffs for solar energy have been implemented in Germany and several other European countries, as well as domestically in cities in Florida and Vermont. The programs have moved these regions to the forefront of clean energy. And while these programs have necessitated slight increases in ratepayers’ monthly electricity bills, they have also generated thousands of new jobs.

The mayor estimated that under the program announced Monday, 18,000 new jobs would be generated over the next 10 years. “For Los Angeles to be the cleanest, greenest city, we need participation from every Angeleno,” Villaraigosa said. “We know that dirty fossil fuels will only become more scarce and more expensive in the years to come. This helps move us toward renewable energy while at the same time creating new jobs.”

The new program had its genesis last year, when Villaraigosa announced a long-term, comprehensive solar plan intended to help meet the city’s future clean energy needs. The plan included a proposal for a solar feed-in tariff program administered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In September 2009, the Los Angeles Business Council created a Solar Working Group consisting of leaders in the private, environmental and educational sectors in Los Angeles County to investigate the promise of the feed-in tariff for Los Angeles and commissioned the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation to lead the investigation.

In addition to DeShazo and Matulka, the working group also included Sean Hecht and Cara Horowitz from the UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment. The first phase of their research examined current models operating in Germany, Spain, Canada, Vermont and Florida to propose guidelines for a feed-in tariff design. The second phase looks at the potential participation rates in a large-scale solar feed-in tariff program in Los Angeles and its impact on clean energy in the Los Angeles basin. The Los Angeles Business Council is expected to release the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation’s complete report on solar energy feed-in tariffs next month. The Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with forward-looking civic leaders in Los Angeles to address urgent public issues and actively work toward solutions. The center’s current focus in on issues of environmental sustainability.

Carnesale joins high-level commission exploring storage of nuclear waste Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus and professor of public policy and of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA, has been selected to serve on a high-ranking commission to devise strategies on how to manage nuclear waste

By Joe Luk

Chancellor Emeritus Albert Carnesale has been selected to serve on a high-level national commission that will study and make recommendations for developing a safe, long-term solution to the serious problem of managing the nation’s nuclear waste.

Albert Carnesale commented on his appointment to a commission regarding long-term management strategies for nuclear waste in the United States

President Obama directed the U.S. Department of Energy to form the 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the country’s current and future stockpile of nuclear waste after the administration decided not to proceed with the Yucca Mountain (Nevada) nuclear waste repository.

“The decision to pursue the Yucca Mountain plan was made 20 years ago,” Carnesale said. “From a scientific and technological perspective, much has been learned since then about radioactive waste and how spent nuclear fuel can be treated. And much has also been learned about the Yucca Mountain site itself.” The residents of Nevada also vehemently opposed the plan for a number of reasons.

The question of what to do with the country’s nuclear waste has grown in urgency because of climate change and the nation’s search for a cleaner source of fuel.

Currently, spent nuclear fuel is being stored at more than 100 nuclear power plants throughout the United States. These plants provide about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity.

“I don’t think there are many people who think that is a very good long-term solution to the waste problem,” Carnesale said.

“The commission is not being asked to identify an alternative site to replace Yucca Mountain,” Carnesale said. “There are many other avenues of inquiry to pursue. For example, are there new designs for nuclear rectors that might mitigate the problem? Should the spent fuel be processed differently? How might the spent fuel or processed waste be stored to minimize the risk to current and future generations?”

“The solution won’t be found in science and technology alone,” Carnesale said.

“If you look at the commission, these are not simply experts on nuclear power or nuclear waste,” he said. “They are primarily strategic thinkers, people who understand issues that have substantial technological dimensions, but cross many high-priority areas for the country, everything from climate change to reducing American dependence on foreign sources of fuel. It’s clear that the commission has been asked to take a strategic look at this problem.”

The commission is co-chaired by former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton and Brent Scowcroft. Hamilton is a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, and he previously served as vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States). Scowcroft, a retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force, served as National Security Advisor to both Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

Carnesale, who has a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, holds professorial appointments in UCLA’s School of Public Affairs and Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Earlier in his career, he represented the United States in high-level negotiations on defense and energy issues, including the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, SALT I. He has been increasingly called upon by the government for his expertise on public policy issues that have scientific and technological dimensions.

Since leaving Murphy Hall as chancellor, he has led committees formed by the National Academies, the nation’s science advisors, to analyze, make recommendations and brief policymakers and Congress on vital issues. In 2008, he chaired a committee that looked at whether the nation needs a non-nuclear weapon with the ability to strike a target anywhere in the world within one hour after the president gives the order.

Recently, he has been holding classified briefings with representatives from the departments of Energy, Defense and Homeland Security as well as others on Capitol Hill on the findings of a committee he chairs on nuclear forensics.

Carnesale is also chair of the Committee on America’s Climate Choices, a nationwide project launched by the National Academies at Congress’ request for policy-relevant advice, based on scientific evidence, to help guide the nation’s response to climate change. That project, which involves some of the country’s leading researchers on climate change, is scheduled to release its report in September.

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