UCLA Urban Planning Rises to No. 1 Latest ranking of top graduate planning programs by Planetizen puts UCLA Luskin in the top spot

UCLA Luskin Urban Planning has been ranked No. 1 in North America, according to the latest survey of the nation’s top graduate programs in urban planning by Planetizen.

“Urban Planning’s rise to the top spot in the nation is a clear reflection of the excellence of the faculty and staff,” said Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, distinguished professor of urban planning. “I am particularly proud that this is also one of the most diverse Urban Planning departments in both its students and faculty, and that the program is driven by the call for social justice.”

Planetizen, a planning and development network based in Los Angeles, is the only entity that ranks urban planning programs. This is the first time that UCLA Luskin Urban Planning has led the rankings.

“I am very happy to see us at the top of this list,” said Michael Manville, incoming department chair and professor of urban planning. “There’s always an arbitrary element to rankings like this — all of the top planning programs are excellent — but I view our No. 1 ranking as a clear sign of how high the quality in our program is, and that’s a testament to the great people we have here.”

The 2023 ranking for UCLA includes the top position in four categories — West Coast universities, largest programs, top big city programs and all public universities. UCLA Luskin Urban Planning is listed among the Top 10 in these other categories: ranking by educators (3), student body diversity (6), most alumni (2) and most selective (7).

The guidebook also lists 28 specialties in which at least three courses are offered in a subject area. These 18 specialties include UCLA: climate action, community development, economic development, environmental/natural resources/energy, equity/inclusion/social justice, food systems planning, housing, healthy cities/communities, infrastructure planning, land use/physical planning, land use/planning law, international/global development, real estate development, regional planning, rural/small town planning, sustainability planning, technology/GIS and transportation planning.

More information about the rankings and methodology is available online.

Other top planning programs are MIT (2), Rutgers (3), UC Berkeley (4), the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (5), University of Georgia (6), Harvard (7) and USC (8). The Planetizen guidebook, which comes out every five years, ranked UCLA at No. 4 in 2014 and 2019.

Luskin Forum Describes Career Development The magazine catalogues the various ways that students can build professional skills while earning their graduate degrees

The latest issue of Luskin Forum, UCLA Luskin’s twice-yearly publication highlighting School projects and personalities, has been released.

In this issue, readers learn about leadership development and career services programs, as well as a number of other ways students enhance their professional skills while studying at the School. Also included are news and event highglights, infographics and alumni updates.

The magazine is mailed to homes of alumni and friends of the school and is also available via the document service Issuu.


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


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Public Policy Student Earns LeadersUp Fellowship Opportunity to conduct research on business investment

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Ascending Public Policy student Crissy Chung has been awarded the LeadersUp Fellowship for the upcoming summer 2015 term.

LeadersUp is an organization founded by the Starbucks Corporation and other major U.S. businesses in an effort to mobilize businesses into hiring young graduates, or “Opportunity Youth.” Through funding demonstration projects at partner businesses, the organization aims to demonstrate the viability of hiring young workers and tackle the growing issue of youth unemployment.

Graduate fellows help monitor these demonstration projects, collecting data and measuring returns on business investment for Opportunity Youth. Their research acts as an important quantitative component of the program initiative: to provide results-based proof of the value of hiring Opportunity Youth. Chung is one of three graduate fellows selected for this program and will work through the months of June, July, and August 2015.


Holloway Earns Hellman Fellowship for LGBT Research Research grant awarded for studies in LGBT welfare


Ian Holloway

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Social Welfare assistant professor Ian Holloway has been selected as a 2015-16 Hellman Fellow for his research, which will examine contextual factors associated with alcohol and other substance use among gay and bisexual men attending nightlife settings.

Holloway’s research utilizes secondary data from Prevention Research Center member Brenda Miller’s study on correlates of violence in nightlife venues in San Francisco. Holloway’s project will pull data specifically for gay/bisexual and heterosexual men and compare differences in rates of alcohol and other substance use by sexual orientation. A secondary aim is to understand the individual, social, and contextual factors associated with substance use for gay and bisexual men attending nightlife settings.

“Studies examining alcohol and other substance use among gay and bisexual men often rely on self-reported data,” explains Holloway. “Our study uses verified biological markers of these behaviors, which will result in more accurate estimates of event-specific use. In addition, this work will provide insights on what factors can be targeted to reduce substance use and related risk behaviors in the settings in which those behaviors occur.”

Started in 2011, the UCLA Hellman Fellowship is a program established by the Hellman Family Foundation to support  promising junior faculty members in their research efforts and career advancement.

Holloway’s previous work has centered on social networks, technology and HIV risk among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). “Substance use and HIV risk are interconnected in this population,” says Holloway. “This project will further characterize patterns of risk behavior among MSM, with the goal of informing future intervention efforts.” Holloway hopes that the findings from this study will launch programs and inform policies to reduce health disparities among MSM.

UCLA Luskin Salutes the Class of 2015 The annual Commencement Ceremony featured remarks from students, faculty and Uber executive Rachel Whetstone


UCLA Luskin celebrated the graduating class of 2015 Friday, welcoming 68 students in urban planning, 56 students in public policy and 101 students in social welfare to the ranks of its alumni.

“This is how change is made,” Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., said in his opening remarks. “It starts with a small group of people who believe.”

His words resonated with the audience of faculty, family and friends, who have watched UCLA Luskin’s graduate students develop as change agents over the course of their education.

Three students addressed the crowd during the ceremony. Ana Tapia, who graduated with a master of urban and regional planning and who came to UCLA as an undocumented student after her family emigrated to the U.S. in 1994, spoke of how her degree encouraged her to follow her dreams. Urban planners, she said, “are people who turn dreams into reality. We not only dream and plan, but make things happen.” She urged her fellow students to “go dream, go plan and go on to do great things.”

Public Policy graduate CC Song cast her cohort as the “architects of the future,” devising and deploying policies to help build equity and create a better world. She spoke of being ready to take on life after graduate school, asking her fellow students to “find the courage to seek what makes you curious, fulfilled and challenged.”

Jennifer Chou, a graduate of UCLA Luskin’s Master of Social Welfare program, spoke about the “acceptance of not knowing” when confronted with an uncertain future. Her heartfelt speech included a rendition of a verse from the Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World.”

The invited speaker, newly installed Uber public relations executive Rachel Whetstone, brought in the perspective of a group not often mentioned on Commencement day — those who “don’t dream well.” Whetstone put herself in that category, and told the story of a career that proceeded not by some overarching grand scheme but instead progressed as a series of steps from college to internships to opportunities at various organizations.

She said her experience had taught her that hard work helps make up for the absence of a dream. “Pour yourself into your job,” she said, “even if it seems like a chore.” As she acknowledged and embraced the persona of the stereotypical overworked Silicon Valley executive, she relayed a story of a visit with a psychiatrist friend, who said something that stuck with her: “Has it ever occurred to you, Rachel, that hard work is what makes you happy?” Hard work can open up new horizons, she said, and she urged the graduating students to apply themselves to their work, “because if you don’t try, you will never, ever know.”

The ceremony was a mix of pomp and celebration, with a sense of impending change on the horizon. Dean Gilliam summed up the mood best through his quotation of, as he described it, a “classic of American Cinema,” the movie Friday.

“For most people, Friday’s just the day before the weekend,” he said. “But after this Friday, the neighborhood will never be the same.”

New Magazine Adds to LA’s Policy Conversation UCLA Blueprint, a new magazine bringing together policy research and civic leadership, debuted at a Wednesday event


By Cynthia Lee
UCLA Newsroom

UCLA has launched a new magazine that aims to inform ongoing conversations on major public policy issues facing Los Angeles and California, serve as a public resource and highlight relevant campus research.

UCLA Blueprint — written and edited by veteran journalists and astute observers of local and state government — debuted this week with an issue focused on public safety and criminal justice. The magazine is a partnership between the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA External Affairs, whose public outreach programs facilitate the campus’s role in addressing societal challenges.

At a Wednesday night event marking the magazine’s inaugural issue, Chancellor Gene Block said civic engagement has been one of his top priorities since the beginning of his administration. “UCLA engages with the greater Los Angeles community in myriad ways. And I am delighted to say that the launch of UCLA Blueprint is very much in keeping with our ongoing civic engagement efforts…. It’s dazzling in every way.”

Among the guests celebrating the launch of Blueprint was former California Gov. Gray Davis (left), standing with UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Newton.

About 125 guests attended the event at the Chancellor’s Residence, including community and business leaders, UCLA administrators and faculty, journalists and government officials. Among them were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former California Gov. Gray Davis, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, City Controller Ron Galperin and Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Paul Krekorian and Bernard Parks.

The event featured a wide-ranging conversation between Garcetti and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Jim Newton, covering crime, the mayor’s extensive use of real-time data and metrics to monitor the pulse of the city, Los Angeles’ booming tech sector, the recent minimum-wage increase and other topics in the news.

Newton is a former Los Angeles Times writer and editor of 25 years, the author of biographies on Earl Warren and Dwight Eisenhower, and a co-author of a memoir with Leon Panetta.  He said before the event that the magazine is intended to strengthen UCLA’s ties to civic life and share faculty expertise in a way that serves the greater good.

“Much of the work of city, county and state government in California is now done without the benefit of serious research,” said Newton, a senior fellow at the Luskin School and lecturer in communication studies, where he teaches courses on journalism ethics and writing. “Largely, that’s a product of budgets — governments just don’t have the kind of research capacity they used to have. By bringing UCLA research to the attention of policymakers, better policy can be made.”

In the editor’s note in the first issue, Newton wrote that he spent more than two decades “watching sausage being made in city, county and state government (and occasionally the school board), often baffled by the basis for decisions. Why doesn’t the subway go to the airport? Why does the region capture so little rainwater? Why do some drug offenders spend more time in prison than those convicted of violent crimes? The poison in each case is politics. The antidote is research.”

Newton emphasized before Wednesday’s event that Blueprint is not an academic journal. “We’re striving to make it serious and journalistic, a general-interest magazine that’s accessible to people beyond the core policy community,” he said. “This is a region that is famously disengaged on matters of serious government policy, and this magazine is intended to draw people into those conversations and give them the information they need to help them participate.”

Replete with bold, attention-getting graphics, the first issue of Blueprint takes a sweeping look at criminal justice and public safety from a variety of entry points. Beck, the LAPD’s top cop, talks about how policing has changed. UCLA Luskin researcher Michael Stoll reveals what’s behind the surge in the U.S. prison population. UCLA psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff explains how he measures hidden racial bias in law enforcement. And in a Q&A, California Attorney General Kamala Harris talks about the biggest challenge she has faced in fixing the state criminal justice system.

There’s also a profile of a community activist whose call for reform of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been transformed into a rallying cry among protesters nationwide — “Black lives matter.”

Newton said the debut issue addresses criminal justice and public safety because police use of force is increasingly in the headlines and because the topics are familiar to him — he covered the LAPD as a reporter for five years.

In the discussion Wednesday, Garcetti reflected on the recent unrest in Baltimore and L.A.’s own problems.

“We had Rodney King.… We had the consent decree. We had Ramparts,” he said. “It is through the trauma that we went through that Los Angeles is a more resilient city and [has] a more resilient [police] department.… What a police chief says, what a mayor does, who we collectively are as a city in moments of potential trauma is, first and foremost, what good policing — good public safety — is all about.”

Blueprint’s second issue, due out this fall, will focus on economic and social inequality and include an interview with Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a Columbia University economist and respected author. Newton said he hopes the magazine will grow into a quarterly publication, and he plans to hold public events to extend the discourse around each new issue.

“Not only are we trying to create a conversation online and in print,” Newton said, “but a literal conversation where we will gather together policymakers, journalists, academics and other thoughtful people and hope that they learn from each other.”


Shawn Landres Named Civil Society Fellow The cofounder of Jumpstart Labs will work with students and researchers to better understand giving and civic well-being.



Social and civic entrepreneur Shawn Landres is serving as Civil Society Fellow in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for the spring and fall quarters, 2015. He is advising The Center for Civil Society on research, meeting with students and guest lecturing in classes, participating in outreach, and working with the Luskin Center for Innovation to develop a civic innovation summit during the 2015-16 academic year.

Dr. Landres cofounded Jumpstart Labs, a Los Angeles-based think tank and infrastructure support organization known for its applied research on faith-based social innovation, and chairs the board of Hub Los Angeles, a social enterprise development center in Los Angeles’s Arts District. A member of the Los Angeles County Quality and Productivity Commission, he chairs its Strategic Foresight Working Group.  Dr. Landres also co-chairs the Santa Monica Public Library’s Innovation Technology Task Force.

“Shawn Landres is a dynamic player in the Los Angeles nonprofit and philanthropic community and beyond,” said Bill Parent, acting director of the Luskin Center for Civil Society. “He is accomplished in solution-oriented leadership, innovation, and research. It is great to have him with us at UCLA.”

Dr. Landres co-conceived and led Jumpstart’s six-part Connected to Give series, a nationally representative study of religion and American household charitable giving. He will be working with the CCS and the California Community Foundation on a study and forecast of giving and civic well-being across Los Angeles to be conducted during the summer of 2015.

“Across the private, public, and charitable sectors, successful innovation is rooted in listening, whether to the data that informs the challenges at hand or to the people closest to them, who are best positioned to lead sustainable change,” said Dr. Landres. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with the insightful research team at UCLA Luskin to help advance effective evidence-based policymaking.”

Dr. Landres holds degrees in religious studies and social anthropology from Columbia University, the University of Oxford, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned his doctorate. He is a member of the board of directors of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry. Dr. Landres has co-edited four books and published award-winning articles and essays that advance intergroup understanding. He has more than two decades of experience in academic, nonprofit, and philanthropic leadership, social entrepreneurship, network building, and organizational development.  In 2009, The Forward named Dr. Landres one of America’s 50 most influential Jewish leaders. In 2012, the White House featured him as a “spotlight innovator” at its Faith-Based Social Innovation Conference and in 2013, the Liberty Hill Foundation honored him with its NextGen Leadership Award.

New Issue of ACCESS Magazine Now Available The latest issue of ACCESS magazine is now available online at accessmagazine.org


By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer


The latest issue of ACCESS magazine is now available online at accessmagazine.org.


The upcoming issue will feature the following topics:

  • Informal Parking: Turning Problems Into Solutions (Donald Shoup)

  • The Social Context of Travel (Michael J. Smart & Nicholas J. Klein)

  • The First Big-Box Store in Davis (Susan L. Handy, Kristin Lovejoy, Gian-Claudia Sciara, Deborah Salon, and Patricia L. Mokhtarian)

  • Suburban Transit in Mexico City (Erick Guerra)

  • A Bathtub Model of Downtown Traffic Congestion (Richard Arnott)

  • The ACCESS Almanac: Painting in the Present, Imagining the Future (Richard Wilson)

  • Can we have sustainable transportation without making people drive less or give up suburban living? (Mark Delucchi and Kenneth S. Kurani)


“Informal Parking: Turning Problems Into Solutions,” is an article written by former EIC and recently retired Urban Planning professor, Donald Shoup. In honor of his work and dedication to the Luskin over the past 41 years, a special tribute website was created to celebrate his legacy. This site features the story of Shoup’s game-changing research in urban planning, along with anecdotes from his supporters (fondly labelled “Shoupistas”) and information about his books and publications.


ACCESS Magazine is housed in the Institute of Transportation Studies and features research funded by the UC Center on Economic Competitiveness. The magazine has been publishing since 1992, and it took home the 2014 National Planning Award for a Communication Initiative from the American Planning Association.