Students Journey Far Afield for Spring Break Work

Students in Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning are taking their shows on the road this Spring Break.

In pursuit of independently organized projects, groups of students will travel to Detroit, Mexico City and Tokyo. The trips are designed to encourage a broader understanding of issues of urbanization, governance, policy and social service.

In Detroit, a group of 10 students will explore the consequences of the city’s bankruptcy on urban policy. During their time in the city they have meetings scheduled with a host of city officials, including agency heads, nonprofit leaders and Mayor Mike Duggan. In their conversations the students hope to uncover lessons of governing a city in crisis, resources available to city managers and the role citizens can play in rebuilding an iconic city’s image. “Detroit represents the most extreme versions of problems in the urban core,” the students write on their trip blog. “This trip will serve to contextualize urban planning issues in the canonical distressed city.”

The Mexico City trip will cross disciplinary lines to understand transportation access in the context of a global metropolis. With many similarities in structure and environment as Los Angeles, 28 students from all three UCLA Luskin departments will use the Mexican capital as a source for new ideas in social justice, equity and community empowerment. The sessions packed into the five-day schedule, spanning such topics as bikesharing, parking management, women’s needs, sustainable development and public space programming, will be distilled into a post-trip event at UCLA Luskin. The group will also be posting updates to a dedicated website during the trip.

Two groups of students are heading for Tokyo. The first will follow a path established in previous years as they travel to the Tohoku region of Japan’s largest island, where they will engage with civic leaders responding to the 2011 earthquake that inundated the city of Sendai. More than three years after the disaster, the region still offers vital lessons of emergency planning, critical response and community rebuilding. The second group, traveling under the auspices of UCLA’s Urban Humanities Institute, will explore the role of transportation in crafting a community through an innovative interpretation of the neighborhood surrounding Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest transportation center.

Beyond the March pause in classes, UCLA Luskin students spend summer breaks living and working overseas through the International Practice Pathway program.

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