Conference Explores Future of Digital Cities

As part of a newly expanded focus on the structure and administration of digitally enabled urban environments, UCLA Luskin held a two-day conference April 24-25 titled “Who Owns the Digital City?”. Scholars, entrepreneurs and activists came to campus to explore innovations and share knowledge on digitally empowered publics, tackling questions of ownership, service, participation, equity and justice in equal measure.

Read the formal conference summary

The conference kicked off with a keynote address Thursday, April 24, as detailed in this report by UCLA Luskin student writer Max Wynn.

Rethinking Digital Ownership: The contrarianism of Jaron Lanier

Technologist and futurist Jaron Lanier, author of Who Owns the Digital Future, opened the “Who Owns the Digital City?” conference in front of a crowd gathered on UCLA Luskin’s rooftop terrace.

Lanier is a tech pioneer whose wide-ranging accomplishments include coining the term “virtual reality,” starting a number of successful tech companies, and possessing one of world’s most extensive collections of actively played rare instruments.

After an adjective-laden introduction from Dean Frank Gilliam, Lanier approached the microphone.

“Oh god, aren’t I impressive,” he asked with an air of mock conceit.

The gathered crowd laughed, but it was an appropriate introduction for what followed. Lanier’s talk, like his book, presented a scathing critique of the current Internet landscape, and of the big businesses that dominate it. However, it was a critique given in an off-kilter manner that was befitting of the dreadlocked man delivering it.

His argument centered on the concentration of technologically bred wealth in the hands of a digital elite. According to Lanier, these elites have positioned themselves at the hubs of digital networks, and have succeeded in monetizing the shared data of their users. The users, or “peasant class,” are not compensated for their role in this wealth creation process. The result has been a tech sector that is actively contributing to the continued destruction of the middle class.

As Lanier’s assault wore on, many of the titans of literature, business, philosophy and, of course, technology were both praised and criticized, often in the same breath.

Lanier’s eclectic interests were on constant display, and within the first ten minutes he discussed the works of Aristotle, Marx and Shelley. In doing so Lanier strayed from Silicon Valley’s typical catalog of cultural references, though Ayn Rand was mentioned briefly.

While Lanier referenced an extensive cast of literary figures, his talk veered well beyond the bounds of letters. At one point he linked “Maxwell’s demon,” a famous thought experiment in the field of thermodynamics, to macroeconomic theory and the history of American business.

The talk ended in an appropriately unexpected fashion. After readjusting the microphone, Lanier was joined onstage by the musician Paul Simon’s son, Harper. As the sun dropped below the Westwood skyline, the duo performed a series of musical compositions. Lanier played a number of exotically named instruments from his personal collection while Simon strummed on a guitar and swayed from side to side.

Afterwards, Lanier signed books and took questions from a crowd still slightly awed by the evening’s spectacle.


The Promises and Pitfalls of Digital Governance

Listen to Jaron Lanier here


“My First Boston Marathon”: Social Welfare Student Linnea Koopmans Shares Her Experience

by Linnea Koopmans

Last Monday, I ran the Boston Marathon.  I had been looking forward to the race since I achieved a qualifying time at my last marathon in November of 2012. Having been a part of the running world for quite some time, I saw this marathon as both a landmark for my personal running accomplishments to date and also a beginning point for what I hope to be a more competitive stage of my distance running.

However, after the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon, I knew that as a participant in the marathon this year, I would be a part of something much larger than just a great race. As the date of the marathon approached, I was curious to see what the tone of the city would be. On April 15 – the year anniversary of the bombing – I listened to news coverage of the memorial and the stories of recovery from the past year. I was reminded of the process of healing that people affected have undergone since last April, both physically and psychologically. Despite all the wounds, the consistent message from past participants, Boston residents, and city officials focused on the importance of continuing the historical civic tradition of the Boston Marathon.

Throughout my experience of the marathon – from my arrival in the city to my post-run celebrations – it was evident that this year’s event was especially meaningful for everyone connected to annual race  The city seemed eager to both commemorate those affected by the bombing last year and to continue with some of its most endearing traditions that have come to define the race. The Wellesley College girls were still cheering on the runners with their “kiss me” signs, residents along the route were back out in their yards grilling and offering runners cold beer, and crowds of people still gathered at Heartbreak Hill to remind the runners that our legs could survive the final climb. And though the final few miles of the marathon were painful, I remember being in awe of the thousands of people lining the fence, cheering us all on to finish “Boston Strong.”

There is no doubt that April 15 will continue to be an important day of remembrance for both the city of Boston and the global running community. But I believe this year’s Boston Marathon, which included a participant field about 20% larger than past years and hundreds of thousands of spectators, was a reminder of the how beloved this historical race is and its power that enables everyone involved to feel they are a part of something much larger than themselves. As a runner, I will look forward to returning to Boston, and to the unique experience of the city’s marathon.



Melinda Morgan Named Social Welfare Alumna of 2014 The two-time UCLA Luskin Alumna Melinda Morgan will accept her 2014 Social Welfare Alumna of the Year award on April 26th

Two-time UCLA Luskin Alumna Melinda Morgan (MSW ’89,  PhD ’98) has been named the 2014 Dr. Joseph A. Nunn Alumna of the Year by the Department of Social Welfare for her commitment to helping military families.

For over six  years, Morgan has served as site director of the Camp Pendleton FOCUS Program. FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a resilience training program for military families, children, and couples implemented in 2008, in collaboration with the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The program, now part of the UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center, is in operation in over 20 sites around the world and has provided services to over 500,000 service members and their families.

Morgan teaches as a field instructor for the University of Southern California San Diego Academic Center for Military Social Work and supervises interns placed at FOCUS. In addition, she works as a consultant for the National Military Family Association as an embedded team member in Operation Purple Camps for military families throughout the country.

Prior to receiving her MSW and PhD from UCLA, Morgan was a probation officer working primarily with Latino youth gangs and worked as a psychiatric social worker During her program at UCLA, Morgan maintained a private practice in psychotherapy, and was a co-investigator and assistant professor for UCLA’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology researching neurophysiologic correlates of women’s mood disorders. For the majority of her academic career, Morgan also raised four children as a single parent.

While one of Morgan’s favorite things to do is go on kayaking trips in the Sea of Cortez, she gladly will forgo a beach trip for the annual MSW Alumni Reception on Saturday, April 26 where she will accept her 2014 Social Welfare Alumna of the Year award.



Joan Ling Named Urban Planning Alumna of the Year

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Joan Ling MA UP ’82 has been named 2014 Alumna of the Year by the department of Urban Planning. Ling currently works as a real estate advisor and policy analyst in urban planning.

As a child, Ling developed a passion for carpentry and building that later inspired her to pursue a career in urban planning.

Ling recalls: “My father was a doctor by vocation and carpenter/cabinet maker by avocation. When I was 12, I designed and built a house for my dog from scratch . . . I love working with my hands and building things.”

“My intellectual interest in the nexus between social theory and practice led me to the UCLA Urban Planning Department,” Ling continues. “And during the two years I attended school here, my love of cities blossomed, along with a growing awareness of work opportunities that could fulfill my emotional, spiritual and creative needs. “

Following graduation, Ling used her hands-on experience to improve public policy, legislation and government regulations. Among the many issues she has affected, highlights include reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to streamline affordable and urban in-fill housing production, negotiating the California Mello Act implementation in Los Angeles, running a successful voter initiative to authorize affordable housing development under Article 34 of the California Constitution, passing local ordinances giving land use incentives and protections for affordable housing development projects, and advocating for more and better targeted financial resources in California’s tax credit and bond-funded housing programs. She is currently working on promoting a range of housing choices in Los Angeles transit station areas, land use incentives for affordable housing, and a dedicated funding source in California.

Ling has taken about 60 development projects totalling 1,400 units from acquisition through entitlement, financing, construction, marketing and building operations. Her projects include the first multi-family structure in the country awarded the gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as well as two buildings that received the National American Institute of Architect’s Design Honor Awards.

Ling served as the Executive Director of Community Corporation of Santa Monica for 20 years. She has also worked for the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission; Kotin, Regan, and Mouchly; and The Planning Group. She was the Treasurer of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles for over six years until its dissolution in February 2012. She is a director on the Housing California board and the chair of its Land Use and Finance Committee. In addition, she serves on the MoveLA Advisory Board.

Ling holds a certificate from Harvard Kennedy School of Government after completing an 18-month program in Achieving Excellence in Community Development. Fannie Mae Foundation honored her as a National James A. Johnson Fellow. Ling also currently teaches real estate, housing and planning courses in the Urban Planning department.

“Returning to teach in the department after a 30-year professional career is one of the best choices I made in my life,” says Ling. “The students’ energy, enthusiasm and commitment make me feel alive and hopeful for the future.”

In Memoriam: Marjorie Crump MSW ’46

By Bill Kisliuk

Marjorie Eloise Lund Crump, who did significant work in public service and entrepreneurship and who, together with her husband Ralph, was a major supporter of UCLA, died of natural causes on April 1 at her home in Trumbull, Conn. She was 89.

Over the years the Crumps, both UCLA alumni, created and funded the UCLA Crump Institute of Medical Engineering, now called the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging; the William D. Van Vorst Chair in Chemical Engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Marjorie L. Crump Chair in Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin; and the Crump Chair in Medical Engineering at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.

“Marjorie was a great champion of UCLA, of technological advances to improve our world and of public service,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Her passion for education and for the well-being of people from all walks of life made a deep impression on all who knew her.”

Born in Long Beach, Calif., Marjorie Lund was the high school sweetheart of her future husband. They married in Westwood in 1948 after she earned her B.A. degree in 1946. At the time, Ralph Crump was attending UCLA Engineering after his service in World War II. He graduated in 1950.

Marjorie Crump worked as a social welfare case manager for Los Angeles County. The family moved to Connecticut in 1962. In both California and Connecticut, she was deeply involved with charitable causes and community groups. She co-wrote history books with her husband, served as a substitute teacher and exhibited a profound appreciation for the arts and the outdoors.

She also was deeply engaged in her husband’s work.

A biomedical pioneer, Ralph Crump founded Frigitronics Inc., after co-developing a cryosurgical instrument that safely froze and extracted cataracts during eye procedures. He later developed a soft contact lens and devices for other medical procedures. Many of the procedures using these instruments were first performed at the UCLA School of Medicine.

The Crumps went on to establish businesses in reverse osmosis water treatment, bar code printers, rapid prototyping, and force and load sensors. Many of these companies were later acquired by large manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson and General Electric.

Marjorie Crump is survived by her husband of 66 years, her three children and their families. A private memorial service was held on April 4.

Rep. Karen Bass to Deliver Commencement Address

Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who represents the 37th Congressional District, will be the keynote speaker at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ commencement ceremony on Friday, June 13.

Rep. Bass is a long-time public servant and community leader, and a member of the inaugural class of the UCLA Luskin Senior Fellows Program. She serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee where she is working to craft sound criminal justice reforms. She was selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus.

Throughout her career, Bass has maintained a focus on the nation’s foster care system. In her first term, she created the bipartisan Congressional Foster Youth Caucus along with co-chair U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.). Now in her second term, Bass plans to examine national standards of care in the child welfare system.

As a child, Bass became interested in community activism while watching the Civil Rights Movement unfold. It was then that she made a lifetime commitment to effecting social change in her community and abroad. Prior to serving in Congress, Bass worked for nearly a decade as a physical assistant and served as a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. Bass also founded and ran the Community Coalition, a community-based social justice organization in South Los Angeles that empowers residents to become involved in making a difference. It was in this position as executive director of the Community Coalition that she became a UCLA Luskin Senior Fellow.

Bass later made history when the California Assembly elected her to be its 67th Speaker, making her the first African American woman in U.S. history to serve in this state legislative role. While in this role, she helped the State of California to recover from the 2008 economic crisis.

Urban Planning Student Accepted into First-Ever Levine Distinguished Fellowship

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Urban Planning student Jadie Wasilco’s passion for affordable housing issues has earned her a Howard and Irene Levine Distinguished Fellowship, a new program offered through the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate.

Prior to studying at UCLA Luskin, Wasilco began her work in affordable housing at a nonprofit legal firm in San Francisco called “Home Base,” which offered technical legal assistance to local counties working to combat homelessness. Her interest in urban planning and community development  as well as the performing arts led her to move to New York, where she got a position at the renowned Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as Coordinator of Government & Community Relations. “They were undergoing a large-scale redevelopment at the time, so there was tremendous involvement with community groups, art organizations and government agencies. I acted as the liaison between Lincoln Center and these particular stakeholders,” Wasilco relates. “That position kept me interested in redevelopment and working with the government, even though it wasn’t directly related to housing issues.”

After working in New York for a few years, Wasilco made the decision to enter graduate school to further her studies in the field of community development and housing. In her first year of graduate school, Wasilco also interned for the LA County Housing Department, which she describes as an experience that “really helped refuel my interest in affordable housing during my first year.”

Wasilco, now a second-year student, was recently selected as one of three students to become part of the first-ever Levine Distinguished Fellowship. The program is structured to support students interested in real estate and housing issues through an annual stipend, mentorship component with a UCLA Ziman Center board member, access to real estate events and professional networking opportunities.

Howard Levine, member of the founding board for the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate, and his wife, Irene, also sponsor an MBA real estate and social entrepreneurship course (meant to be taken in conjunction with the fellowship), along with a speaker series as part of their Howard and Irene Levine Program in Housing and Social Responsibility. Wasilco explains, “The Levines wanted this fellowship  to be part of a broader initiative focused on the intersection of social responsibility and real estate.”

The fellowship is still in its beginning stages, but Wasilco looks forward to witnessing the fruits of the program in the form of a final project each fellow will present at the end of the year. “The program requires a deliverable at the end of the year of the fellowship, so it will be interesting to see what projects will come out of it,” she explains. “Since this is a collaborative between students from the law, public affairs and business schools, the program will mean different things for people from different backgrounds. The goal is to see how you take advantage of this fellowship and run with it.”

Though her graduation is also fast approaching, Wasilco plans to explore a variety of career options as she completes her year in the fellowship. “I’m definitely interested in going into housing – anything from nonprofit housing development to real estate consulting,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in urban planning, as it connects a variety of issues cities face and puts them together on common ground. These are the kind of issues that I’m interested in pursuing in the future.”

Learn more about Jadie Wasilco.

Study Shows Access to Cars Important for the Poor

A new study co-authored by professor and chair of Urban Planning Evelyn Blumenberg is getting some play in the media for its unique, and possibly controversial, findings concerning automobile access for low-income households.

The Washington Post’s Emily Badger writes: “In many circles – among advocates for cleaner air, safer streets, less congestion and public transit – it’s a major policy goal to get people out of cars. Reduce car use, and you reduce pollution. Reduce car use, and we’ll need fewer costly roads and parking garages. Reduce car use and shift more people onto bikes and trains, and maybe we’ll all spend less of our lives idling in traffic.”

“This line of thinking, however, seldom considers a group of people for whom more car use might actually be a very good thing: the poor.”

The study, titled “Driving to Opportunity: Understanding the Links among Transportation Access, Residential Outcomes, and Economic Opportunity for Housing Voucher Recipients” examined low-income families in 10 cities who participated in two federal housing voucher programs. According to the study, housing voucher recipients with cars lived and remained in higher-opportunity neighborhoods. Data from participants in the Moving to Opportunity housing voucher program showed that those with cars were twice as likely to find a job and four times as likely to stay employed. The study notes that this is not necessarily because cars are better than mass transit, but because public transit systems are usually slower or insufficient in metropolitan areas.

In a blog post reprinted in Atlantic Cities, the study’s co-author Rolf Pendall of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center explains that more research is needed to determine if the relationship between cars and improved neighborhood and employment outcomes is causal or associative. However, he notes that the current findings are “enough to raise important questions.”

Badger says: “All of these findings are as much a reflection on the value of cars as the relatively poor state of public transit. The underlying issue also isn’t so much that cars create opportunity. Rather, it’s that we’ve created many places where you can’t access opportunity without a car. Which also means that we’ve created places that punish people who don’t have one (or can’t afford to get one). That’s a much larger critique.”


Doctoral Students Pioneer New Research in Social Welfare

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin student writer 

UCLA Luskin is home to a renowned Social Welfare doctoral program, one that focuses on independent research and interdisciplinary studies in order to produce top scholars and researchers. “Our doctoral program offers students the opportunity to pursue an independent line of study,” says professor Laura Abrams, chair of the doctoral program. “Although we are a small program, we focus on each individual student so that they are able to pursue these diverse interests and become leaders and scholars.” Among many notable achievements by both students and faculty, the following Social Welfare students were recently recognized for their research and work.

Two students had the opportunity to present academic papers at the Society for Social Work and Research conference in San Antonio. Gina Rosen presented a paper on “Determinants of Employment: Impact of Medicaid and CHIP among Unmarried Female Heads of Household with Young Children.” For her research, Rosen analyzed how social welfare programs impact the employment choices of low-income single mothers with young children (particularly under the age of six). Rosen explains that her childhood in Milwaukee, a city with high rates of inequality and segregation, inspired her to study policy issues in college and graduate school. “I wanted to look at these equality and fairness issues and how to correct them through public policy,” says Rosen. Her work was also recently accepted for publication in the journal Social Work in Public Health.

For the same conference, Christina Tam presented two papers on juvenile delinquency. For her first paper, “Gender Differences in Desistance from Crime: How Do Formerly Incarcerated Emerging Adults Use Social Supports?” Tam worked closely with Professor Abrams on the subject of transition to adulthood among formerly incarcerated young people, ages 18-25. This study analyzes youth transitioning out of juvenile justice and foster care systems. “I am interested in better understanding their experiences, as well as the practices and policies that may help these young people to cross this significant bridge,” explains Abrams.

Tam’s second project, and the subject of her dissertation, is a quantitative study on the overrepresentation of Southeast Asians in the American justice system. Her paper focuses on the acculturation of immigrant Cambodian families that have survived trauma and violence and how these changes affect rates of incarceration for their youth. Tam explains, “[I chose this group because] as a small population with a high amount of incarcerated youth, they are an understudied group in America.” Tam’s interest in the justice system stems from her undergraduate days as a Psychology and Criminology student at UC Irvine, and she describes her current research as “a good melding of all my interests, especially with studying second-generation Asian Americans.”

Matthew Mizel is also working closely with Professor Abrams on issues relating to incarcerated youth. Mizel first developed an interest in helping these youth through a volunteer teaching program in juvenile hall. “In 2003, I began teaching creative writing as a volunteer to incarcerated youth, and through the years my passion for that grew,” Mizel relates. “I eventually wanted to spend more of my time making an impact, and I decided the best way to do that was getting my Master’s and Ph.D.” For his research, Mizel conducted a systematic review on the use of mentoring programs as intervention for formerly incarcerated youth. He worked with Abrams to submit his research to the Journal of Evidence-Based Work, which was accepted last summer. “I learned a great deal from working with Professor Abrams. She helped me grow as a researcher and social welfare scholar,” says Mizel. “I ultimately want to become a professor in the future, and UCLA Luskin is helping me get the training and knowledge I need.”

While Tam and Mizel work with Abrams on youth incarceration, a few students also collaborate with Ian Holloway, Assistant Professor in Social Welfare, to research the social determinants of HIV/AIDS. “HIV is a major public health issue,” comments Holloway. “We’ve made tremendous progress in terms of preventing the virus in certain populations like mothers and infants. Now it’s important to address health disparities in sexual minority communities and racial ethnic groups disproportionately affected by HIV.” Holloway’s current research focuses on analyzing the social networks of HIV positive men in Los Angeles in relation to their well being and health, as well as developing a mobile smartphone application to encourage HIV testing and treatment among young African American gay and bisexual men (a heavily impacted demographic).

Shannon Dunlap is one of four students currently working with Professor Holloway on his social network research. “We’re using an informative survey to assess social networks of different people affected by HIV,” explains Dunlap. “We want to know how many people are in their social network, who they talk to, and how their social network supports them.” Outside of her studies, Dunlap also works with AMP!, a UCLA Art & Global Health Center program that aims to educate students about HIV through song, dance, and personal stories. “I’m looking at how [AMP!] impacts students and their social networks, along with how well the message has been received,” says Dunlap.

For fellow student Lesley Harris, HIV research led her on a journey to Vietnam to conduct a three-year field study. A country with traditionally underreported rates of HIV and a large population of young adults who are injection drug users, Vietnam is a key location to study the medical and social effects of HIV/AIDS. Harris’ studies focus on the relationship between children who have lost their parents due to AIDS and their grandparents, who consequently become the caretakers. By examining the effects of HIV on family dynamics, Harris also hopes to understand the greater social context surrounding the HIV epidemic in Vietnam. “Health is something that is socially constructed,” explains Harris. “The grandparents in Vietnam understood AIDS as a social evil, not a health issue.”

While conducting her field study, Harris also began to notice the importance of her relationship with her interpreter, a Vietnamese local. “Without an interpreter, it’s hard to bridge the cultural disconnect,” says Harris. “My interpreter actually had his own interpretation of the data, by looking at it through a Vietnamese lens.” As researcher-interpreter relation is not a frequently studied topic, Harris began work on a separate paper analyzing her close relationship with her interpreter and how it affected her understanding of the research. The resulting product, “Working in Partnership with Interpreters: Studies on Individuals Affected by HIV/AIDS in Vietnam,” was recently published in the Qualitative Health Research journal. Lesley is currently preparing for her final defense of her dissertation (chaired by emeritus professor Ted Benjamin) and is beginning a job as an assistant professor at the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work in the fall.

While each Social Welfare student’s interests and research varies widely, their combined achievements serve to bring new insight and perspective to the field. “The Social Welfare program has a unique mix of scholars interested in society’s most pressing issues,” says Holloway. “Many of these issues intersect, and what’s been most exciting for me is that there is a lot of encouragement of interdisciplinary collaboration both within the school and within the larger university.” As the doctoral program continues to foster the development of innovative and interdisciplinary scholars, there may be more achievements in store for the students of Social Welfare.

Peterson to Serve as Public Policy Chair

Professor Mark Peterson (left) has been named chair of the Public Policy Department effective July 1, Dean Gilliam announced today.

Peterson, who previously served as chair from 2002 to 2006, succeeds professor Michael Stoll, who has served as chair since 2009.

“Michael has been deeply devoted to the department during his terms of service,” Gilliam said. “He fought hard for his faculty, staff and students, which I’ve always respected.”

Stoll’s tenure has been marked by the following achievements:

  • Significant improvements in the number and strength of applicants to the Master of Public Policy degree
  • Successful recruitment of three new faculty members and three new staff members
  • Establishment of a joint degree in Public Policy and medicine
  • Expansion of interdisciplinary courses in law, management and the UCDC program in Washington, D.C.
  • Strengthened connections to MPP alumni

Peterson brings a deep background of scholarly and administrative experience, with his previous departmental chairmanship supplemented by service at the head of UCLA Luskin’s Faculty Executive Committee and various campus- and UC-wide task forces.

Gilliam praised Peterson as a “trusted advisor.”

“I’ve relied on him over the years for his sound counsel and I look forward to working with him over the coming years,” Gilliam said.

Having celebrated its 15th anniversary last year, Public Policy is the youngest of UCLA Luskin’s three academic departments, and enrolls more than 120 students in its MPP degree program.