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Policy Solutions from the Newest UCLA Luskin MPPs

To earn a master of public policy degree at UCLA Luskin, students must demonstrate their command of the analytical and communication skills needed to develop real-world policy solutions. This year, 15 teams completed the rite of passage, presenting the results of their yearlong Applied Policy Project investigations into specific problems faced by a broad array of government agencies, nonprofits and other firms working in the public interest. Clients included several city and county offices; large nonprofits including the United Way and World Vision International; a nursing home in Tianjin, China; and local advocacy groups such as Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles. Students are encouraged to grapple with the challenges of policy implementation amid often conflicting social, political, economic and technical interests. During three virtual sessions in May, the teams described the policy issues they tackled, reviewed their research, presented a course of action, then fielded questions from peers and professors. They also produced full reports documenting their findings, made available to clients as well as future MPP students. This year, honors were granted to four APP projects:

Segura on Broad Support for Immigration Reform

The Mexican-American Cultural Education Foundation shared Dean Gary Segura’s insights about political support for immigration reform as part of a series of video highlights from the organization’s conversations with “Mexican-American History Makers.” Segura cited data showing that two-thirds of American voters — including 58% of Republican registered voters — favor comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. “It is not a divisive issue. We can agree on immigration policy,” said Segura, noting that polls show less disagreement on immigration than on 20 other issues at the national level. “But there is a loud chorus of anger that doesn’t agree.” Standing in the way of immigration reform is a hard-line right-wing movement that does not represent majority opinion, he said. This “last screaming vestige of the dying confederacy … is not not going to go easily,” Segura said. The full interview with Segura, conducted in January 2020, is available here.

Institute on Inequality and Democracy Highlighted for Debt Relief Activism

The Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin was featured in a Public Seminar essay that highlighted the institute’s continuing collaborative efforts to support “organizations that conduct critical work on behalf of the dispossessed, including debtors, those displaced by gentrification and the formerly incarcerated.” Student debt and the prospect of tuition-free public universities have lately moved from fringe debate to a mainstream topic of discussion among Democratic presidential candidates. The institute has served as a model for creating reciprocal relationships between academia and debt relief organizations, often giving voice to academics who argue that “educational institutions that run on debt are in conflict with those who critique such models or who are working to concretely transform them.” This is “all the more reason for activists … to work in collaboration with those who may have access to resources but whose institutional affiliations may limit them in other ways,” the essay said.


 

Newton on Conflicts Between Sheriff and Supervisors

Jim Newton, public policy lecturer and editor of Blueprint magazine, wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed on L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has faced heavy criticism from the County Board of Supervisors and other observers who believe he is abusing his power. “The trouble, as boards of yore long ago discovered, is that the supervisors have an intense interest in the conduct of the sheriff, but they can’t do much about it,” Newton wrote. Supervisors are having difficulty controlling Villanueva because they can merely limit his budget, he explained. Newton urged the board to continue to seek creative ways to rein in a sheriff  whose judgment they do not trust. “It would be a tragedy if the sheriff’s department, so long hampered by misconduct and sloppy management, were to backslide on the progress of recent years because yet another sheriff was allowed to slip the reins of authority,” Newton wrote.


 

Segura on LGBTQ Forum and the 2020 Campaign

UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura spoke on SiriusXM radio’s Michaelangelo Signorile Show about the 2020 elections and the upcoming Democratic presidential forum centered around LGBTQ issues, which will be hosted by the Luskin School and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in October. Politicians have a history of shying away from LGBTQ issues so it is beneficial to “have their feet held to the fire” early in the campaign, Segura said. He also discussed immigration, healthcare, the impact of earlier primary dates in California and Texas, and the Trump presidency’s effect on the mindset of the American populace. “The Democratic coalition will be most successful when it finds a way to knit together the minority populations and the coastal educated populations with the blue-collar, working-class people who are getting a crappy deal in American society,” Segura said. “If you could pull both of those together you’d have a huge majority.”


 

Manville Provides Context on Congestion Pricing

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville, an established expert on congestion pricing as a traffic-management strategy, commented to several news outlets after New York officials approved a plan to charge motorists more than $10 to drive into Manhattan’s busiest neighborhoods. Manville told Pacific Standard, “To an economist, you could have congestion charging in Manhattan, take all the money, put it in cash form, and then sink it in the harbor, and it would still be an incredibly beneficial program.” The New York Times, American Prospect and Wired also consulted Manville, who is on the faculty of UCLA Luskin’s Institute of Transportation Studies, to provide context. Congestion pricing is under serious consideration in Southern California, and Manville explained the ramifications in an extended conversation with Peter Tilden on KABC radio. He was also cited in a San Diego Union-Tribune piece and, further afield, in a Vietnamese Best Forum article, translated here.


 

Goh on a Futuristic Plan for Sustainable Living

Kian Goh, assistant professor of urban planning, was quoted in an article from CityLab on a speculative proposal for sustainable living in the face of our rapidly changing climate. The futuristic solution involves high-tech cities that float atop the surface of the ocean and are aimed at total self-sufficiency in terms of food and energy production. The floating city is designed to provide permanent communities for those displaced by rising sea levels. Goh encouraged bold, utopian thinking but said this idea was unrealistic, mainly because these cities — while certainly a beautiful vision — could never provide enough homes for the several million people threatened with displacement. According to Goh, ideas like the floating city “are oftentimes posed as solving some big problem, when in many ways [they’re] an attempt to get away from the kinds of social and political realities of other places,” she said.


 

Wachs on World-Class Transit System in San Diego

Martin Wachs, distinguished professor emeritus of urban planning, was quoted in a San Diego Tribune article about two proposed tax hikes that would serve to fund a new and dramatically improved public transit system for the San Diego area. It is speculated that the success of the new transportation bill might not be entirely secure, mostly due to the amount of money that San Diegans would have to pay with the introduction of not one but two tax increases. Wachs said he thinks the bill would have increased success if it was limited to a single tax increase. Furthermore, officials must make clear to voters exactly what implications the bill and any subsequent tax increases would have, he said. “It’s pretty clear that voters need to have a relatively straightforward understanding of what is happening, and they will vote ‘no’ if they don’t understand what the measure is or they think another measure is coming soon,” he said.


 

Segura Receives Distinguished Career Award

UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura received the Distinguished Career Award during the annual convention of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago. The honor was presented April 5, 2019, by the association’s Latino/a Caucus, which also recognized Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in Atherton, California. Named UCLA Luskin’s dean in 2016, Segura helped launch the School’s Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, a research laboratory tackling domestic policy issues affecting Latinos and other communities of color. He is also co-founder and senior partner of the polling and research firm Latino Decisions. Segura’s work focuses on political representation, social cleavages and the politics of America’s growing Latino minority. He has written several publications, directed expansive polling research and served as an expert witness on the nature of political power in all three of landmark LGBT marriage rights cases in 2013 and 2015.


 

Peterson on Single-Payer Healthcare Entering Mainstream

Public Policy Professor Mark Peterson was interviewed by Roll Call about the increased presence of a single-payer healthcare plan in the 2020 presidential election discourse, especially among Democrats. What began as a fringe issue seen as something discussed only by radically far-left politicians, the idea of a single-payer healthcare plan was proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential run and is now supported by many Democratic candidates. Most of the debate surrounding the issue involves funding and how it would affect current healthcare systems. Peterson said much of the challenge of implementing the plan would lie in the general public’s understanding of it: “To the extent that what progressives are doing will stimulate that kind of action at the public level to really create that wave, a groundswell of support the way Social Security had, that can make an enormous political difference,” he said.


 

Events

Social Welfare Ph.D. Open Forum

The Social Welfare Department is hosting biweekly open forums for PhD students, facilitated by Doctoral Program Chair, Ian Holloway. The fifth session for Winter Quarter will be held March 12th from 2 –3:30 PM via Zoom.

These sessions are opportunities for students to ask questions about any topic related to the Social Welfare Doctoral Program. An anonymous Google Form is available for students wishing to express concerns prior to the forum.

You can use this Zoom link to attend. 

Social Welfare Ph.D. Open Forum

The Social Welfare Department is hosting biweekly open forums for PhD students, facilitated by Doctoral Program Chair, Ian Holloway. The fourth session for Winter Quarter will be held February 26th from 2 –3:30 PM via Zoom.

These sessions are opportunities for students to ask questions about any topic related to the Social Welfare Doctoral Program. An anonymous Google Form is available for students wishing to express concerns prior to the forum.

You can use this Zoom link to attend. 

Social Welfare Ph.D. Open Forum

The Social Welfare Department is hosting biweekly open forums for PhD students, facilitated by Doctoral Program Chair, Ian Holloway. The third session for Winter Quarter will be held February 12th from 2 –3:30 PM via Zoom.

These sessions are opportunities for students to ask questions about any topic related to the Social Welfare Doctoral Program. An anonymous Google Form is available for students wishing to express concerns prior to the forum.

You can use this Zoom link to attend. 

Social Welfare Ph.D. Open Forum

The Social Welfare Department is hosting biweekly open forums for PhD students, facilitated by Doctoral Program Chair, Ian Holloway. The second session for Winter Quarter will be held January 29th from 2 –3:30 PM via Zoom.

These sessions are opportunities for students to ask questions about any topic related to the Social Welfare Doctoral Program. An anonymous Google Form is available for students wishing to express concerns prior to the forum.

You can use this Zoom link to attend. 

Social Welfare Ph.D. Open Forum

The Social Welfare Department is hosting biweekly open forums for PhD students, facilitated by Doctoral Program Chair, Ian Holloway. The first session for Winter Quarter will be held January 15th from 2 –3:30 PM via Zoom.

These sessions are opportunities for students to ask questions about any topic related to the Social Welfare Doctoral Program. An anonymous Google Form is available for students wishing to express concerns prior to the forum.

You can use this Zoom link to attend. 

Urban Planning Open House

Come get to know us as you navigate the application process at a virtual open house. Learn about the application process, sit in on classes, and meet faculty and current students. Informational sessions for both the MURP and PhD Program will occur as well.

The final schedule is still being worked out and will be emailed out closer to the event. Below is a tentative outline:

MURP PROGRAM
10:00am | Department Welcome
11:00am | AOC Session 1
11:55am | AOC Session 2
2:00pm | Student Panel
3:00pm | Q&A with Director of Admissions
4:00pm | ITS Transportation Prospective Student Panel

Course recordings will be made available at the start of the program to be watched whenever you would like.

PHD PROGRAM
10:00am | Department Welcome
11:00am | AOC Session 1
11:55am | AOC Session 2
1:00pm | Drop-in chat with Director of Admissions
2:00pm | PhD Student Panel
4:00pm | ITS Transportation Prospective Student Panel

Course recordings will be made available at the start of the program to be watched whenever you would like.

REGISTRATION REQUIRED
Please click here to get your free ticket

Urban Planning Statement of Purpose Workshop

The Statement of Purpose is the most important, and often the most daunting, part of any graduate application. Come join the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA Luskin as we go over useful tips and tricks for crafting the perfect statement. We will also workshop sample statements and see what made the best succeed and the worst flop.

 

Register here!

Urban Planning Statement of Purpose Workshop

The Statement of Purpose is the most important, and often the most daunting, part of any graduate application. Come join the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA Luskin as we go over useful tips and tricks for crafting the perfect statement. We will also workshop sample statements and see what made the best succeed and the worst flop.

 

Register here!

UCLA Luskin Social Welfare PhD Virtual Information Session

Come join Professor Ian Holloway, Doctoral Program Chair, for an information session regarding the Social Welfare PhD program at UCLA. He will provide an overview of the doctoral program, as well as the combined MSW/PhD program, and introduce Social Welfare faculty, current doctoral students and staff.

Careers in Public Policy Panel

In collaboration with the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Southern California Chapter and UCLA’s Master of Public Policy program, this panel will showcase PPIA and UCLA MPP alumni who are now working as policy professionals in government agencies, non-profits/NGOs, research centers and/or think tanks. Participants will be able to hear about diverse experiences in policy career trajectories and receive valuable advice on how to prepare themselves for the career they want. The panel will include a Q&A section for participants to further engage with the panelists. RSVP to receive a link in the days prior to the event.