IPP Bridges Studies to Global Career International Practice Pathways (IPP) offers internships to students across the globe.

By Adeney Zo

Since 2011, the International Practice Pathways (IPP) program has offered a global component to Luskin students’ education prior to the inception of Global Public Affairs. This summer, IPP once again sent a group of students to internship placements around the world, offering them the unique opportunity to see their education come to life on the international scale.

The global journey begins with Shafaq Choudry MURP ’16, who interned in the mayor’s office in Panama City, Panama. Having grown up in Venezuela and worked extensively with Latino communities as a planner, Choudry was immediately drawn to a placement opportunity in Latin America. “The IPP summer program in Panama presented a tremendous opportunity to work at a recently established Department of Urban Planning under the mayor’s office on transportation and land use projects,” she explained.

Her areas of academic interest include sustainable transportation and equitable development, so the opportunity to work in a rapidly developing city was invaluable.

“Panama City has undergone rapid growth and development over the years, and with new leadership in place, the Department of Planning is investing in strategies and tools for inclusive and equitable growth,” said Choudry.

Despite the practical experience she gained, Choudry was most inspired by the people she encountered during her time abroad.

“I met extraordinary, young and talented individuals that are passionate about transforming their city for the better,” said Choudry. “Their open and eager-for-change attitude allowed me to integrate with the team and generate ideas for the future together.”

Choudry will continue her travels this year with a comprehensive thesis project in Mexico City, an endeavor she hopes will lead to a career in Latin America. “Toward the end of my 10-week fellowship in Panama, I received the affirmation I needed in order to pursue international planning work in Latin America as a consultant,” she said.

Like Choudry, Katie Merrill MSW ’16 had deep personal ties to her placement — Europe — having lived and worked in Germany before coming to Luskin. Motivated by this combination of personal and academic interest, Merrill chose to intern at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I have always been interested in the UN and the grand scale of global humanitarian work,” said Merrill. “I was particularly attracted to the idea of working at UNHCR in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis.”

Merrill was given the freedom to design and run a study on staff alcohol abuse across the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Many UNHCR staff members work in dangerous areas under highly stressful conditions, leading to a widespread alcohol abuse problem, Merrill explained. “I was shocked and fascinated by what I heard on a daily basis, and I felt a profound responsibility to do them justice,” she said.

“This experience showed me just how intimate research can, in fact, be,” she continued. “I spent hours on the phone with staff members speaking about very jarring personal experiences. It was so powerful to feel that my synthesis and communication of their messages may very well lead to real and important policy changes in the organization, and it was an honor to be at the heart of something so big.”

Merrill and her coworkers interviewed more than 100 staff members over the course of her study, and her findings will be incorporated into a final report to UNHCR.

Away from city life, Jason Karpman MURP ’16 applied his studies in urbanization and environmental impact to the rainforests of Chiang Mai, Thailand. When considering where to apply for his IPP placement, Karpman had his sights set on the research organization World Agroforestry Centre. Between their global office locations, Thailand had the most abundant forest area, covering approximately 37% of the country. “I was drawn to the ecology of the place,” explained Karpman.

IPP offers students the chance to engage in real-life applications of their studies, and this aspect of the program resonated deeply with Karpman. While the majority of his time was spent conducting literature review and research at Chiang Mai University, Karpman was most inspired by field visits to the rainforest itself. He recalled the breathtaking moment when he entered a tropical rainforest for the first time:

“It’s one of those awe-inspiring experiences, and I was humbled by how spectacular [the rainforest] is, how productive it is,” said Karpman. “There was green as far as the eye can see. It solidified that these places provide important environmental services for our planet.”

To future students considering IPP, Karpman recommends the program as the ideal window between the first and second year to reassess the direction of one’s studies.

“[I realized] how to maximize my last year in this program to get the skills and content education I need,” he said. “I can’t overemphasize how important the value of the program is — it’s a moment to pause in your education, reassess things and then get back in the program.”



A Conversation with Mary Robinson: Former President of Ireland on Climate Change Luskin Lecture Series features human rights and climate change leader on a sustainable future

By Stan Paul

Mary Robinson started her career with a deep passion for human rights, from economic and social to food, education, women’s rights, security and peace.

It was only later that the former president of Ireland says she saw the link between human rights and climate change, while serving as the United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change. Her work and travels in Africa made her aware that climate changes were tied to uncertainties of drought and flooding and that “something was happening.” She heard again and again, in countries such as Liberia, that “things were getting so much worse.” In areas where the focus was traditionally on poverty or other issues, there were now areas where the climate — and planting and harvest times — could no longer be predicted.

“We needed to be talking about the injustice of climate change,” which affects the poor and most vulnerable, even the U.S., citing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the poor in the U.S., said Robinson, who served as a U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002.

Following Robinson’s January 12 Luskin Lecture in UCLA’s Charles E. Young Grand Salon, former Los Angeles Times writer and editor Jim Newton moderated a discussion and Q&A session, asking Robinson about the impact of the recent Paris Climate Agreement.

Robinson, organizer of foundations including Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative and The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, said she was energized by the talks in Paris, which provided a new way of describing the problem, and that she was encouraged that nearly 200 countries that all agreed on individual contributions to be made toward carbon emission reduction.

“It was actually a fair agreement, not strong but fair — that was extraordinary,” said Robinson.  She said that the Paris Agreement provided a new target for the world. “It put a stake in the ground.”

Even so, Robinson, citing a recent U.N. study, pointed out that if all of the countries realized their commitments to carbon reduction and climate change from the Paris Agreement, the world is still on course for a disastrous temperature increase beyond the oft-citied two-degree climate cliff.

Robinson said that more has to be done for a sustainable future, but the Paris agreement is nevertheless important because many countries would have given up, and that many small countries, island nations, will be “under water with 1.5 degrees.”

Robinson, who attended the climate talks in Paris, praised California, saying that the state was notable for its leadership in climate change and illustrating what can be done.

Prior to her presentation, co-sponsored by the Hilton Foundation and the Global Public Affairs (GPA) program at Luskin, a small group of UCLA Luskin graduate students had the chance to talk one-on-one with Robinson.

Jason Karpman, a second-year Urban Planning graduate student, said he was interested in this opportunity to talk with Robinson because of his interest in climate change, specifically carbon sequestration. “It’s the elephant in the room,” said Karpman, adding that, right now, “there are not a lot of options on the table.”

Robinson stressed to her pre-talk audience of Luskin students from Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning that the quality of leadership matters. “We need the policy decisions that are the right decisions,” and making policy more “people centered.” She added that the goal of sustainability should be to not leave anyone behind, which is what happened in the industrial revolution. She said that while the world must reduce carbon, at the same time, more than a billion people are energy poor, with no access to electricity and still burning dangerous kerosene in their homes.

“We have the gadgets,” said Robinson referring to LED lights, solar power, etc., and the ability to make payments on mobile phones via cell phone applications. “Most developing countries are interested in clean energy,” she said.

The discussion also included a range of important topics such as reforestation that is economically effective, the use of lighter materials such as carbon fiber in vehicles, technology and migration patterns. Migration patterns caused by politics and climate change are shaping up to be “one of the biggest issues worldwide,” said Robinson. “People have to move.” She said the real issue is how to manage migration in big numbers, pointing out how Syria and other countries have suffered both conflict and ongoing drought as well as the problems faced by countries due to an influx of migrants.

“They will come whether we like it or not,” she said. “We have to have leadership now.”

Robinson also has a very personal interest in the future of the planet — her grandchildren, who will be growing up in an age of severe climate change. She pointed out the intergenerational equity of the problem.

“This is about your children and grandchildren,” she said. “It’s their future.”

To view a video of the Mary Robinson Luskin Lecture, go here

To read coverage in UCLA Newsroom, go here

The Luskin Lecture Series

The UCLA Luskin Lecture Series enhances public discourse on topics relevant to the betterment of society. The series features renowned public intellectuals, bringing scholars as well as national and local leaders to address society’s most pressing problems. Lectures encourage interactive, lively discourse across traditional divides between the worlds of research, policy and practice. The series demonstrates UCLA Luskin’s commitment to encouraging innovative breakthroughs and creative solutions to formidable policy challenges.

Students Report on Assignments Around the Globe Students living and working abroad will be blogging about their professional and personal experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog

A sexual health study in the Dominican Republic. Federal water policy in Mexico City. A bus rapid transit line through Nairobi, Kenya.

These are just three of the projects that UCLA Luskin students will be tackling this summer as they live and work in countries around the world. Most of the students travel under the auspices of the International Practice Pathway program, the experiential component of the School’s Global Public Affairs initiative that’s intended to expose students to a broad range of policy and practice in communities around the world.

No matter what facilitates their travel, every student working abroad this summer is driven by their innate curiosity about the world and motivated to better understand their circumstances and themselves. This year’s students are:

  • Sandra Bernabe (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Humberto Castro (Urban Planning), Mexico City, Mexico
  • Carmen Chen (Urban Planning), Istanbul, Turkey
  • Shafaq Choudry (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Cally Hardy (Urban Planning), India
  • Jason Karpman (Urban Planning), Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Mohan Khidia (Urban Planning), India
  • Joseph Lawlor (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • Maritza Lee (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • David Leipziger (Urban Planning), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Katie Merill (Social Welfare), Geneva, Switzerland
  • Marissa Sanchez (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Ryan Sclar (Urban Planning), Chengdu, China
  • Elsie Silva (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The students will be blogging about their experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog.