L.A.-Paris Connection Offers New Double Master’s Degree for Urban Planners UCLA Luskin's partnership with a top European university will allow graduate students to earn two distinct degrees in two years

By Mary Braswell

A new partnership between UCLA and a top European research university offers urban planning students an opportunity to earn two distinct master’s degrees in two years while studying in the global cities of Los Angeles and Paris.

Beginning in the fall of 2021, the highly regarded urban planning programs at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and France’s Sciences Po will join forces to offer a double master’s focusing on global and comparative planning and governance.

Students accepted into the program will be immersed in two thriving urban laboratories where perspectives on managing cities are quite distinct.

“The approach to urban governance in France and across Europe is very different from the American approach,” said Professor Chris Tilly, chair of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning. “This double master’s is a unique opportunity to learn how things are done in different cultures and to bring that knowledge to a range of global urban environments.”

‘There could not be a better two-city laboratory for learning how to become an urbanist today.’ — Professor Michael Storper

Students will spend the first year in Los Angeles, where UCLA Luskin offers rigorous training in urban planning, development and design with a strong emphasis on social, environmental and racial justice.

Year 2 will be spent at the Paris campus of Sciences Po’s Urban School, which takes a deep comparative and critical approach to public administration and the social transformation of cities. English is the language of instruction at the Urban School, which attracts students from across the globe.

Upon completion of the program, students will receive two degrees: a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA Luskin and a Master of Governing the Large Metropolis from the Urban School.

“By creating this dual degree, we get the best of both worlds,” said Professor Michael Storper, who holds appointments at both UCLA Luskin and Sciences Po. “Paris and Los Angeles are both world cities, but they couldn’t be more different in lifestyle and layout.

“Paris is historical, dense, public-transit oriented. And yet, the cities share many of the same challenges for planners, such as economic development, infrastructure, gentrification and housing, diversity and segregation, public space and climate change,” said Storper, a French-American citizen and resident of both cities.

The double master’s program is geared toward students seeking to work internationally or to bring a global perspective to urban planning in their home countries. And the opportunity to study abroad and build a network of friends and colleagues from around the world will be particularly welcome after travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted.

What sets this program apart from other international exchange programs is that it grants two degrees in urban planning, accredited in the United States and Europe, in the time normally needed to earn just one.

Across the University of California system, only one other similar international partnership exists: a double executive MBA program offered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the National University of Singapore.

The alliance between UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and the Urban School dates back to 2016, with the launch of a quarter-long student exchange program. To build on that relationship, a team from UCLA Luskin, including Storper, Associate Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and past Urban Planning Chair Vinit Mukhija, advocated for the double master’s program, which required approval from UCLA and the UC Office of the President.

By design, the program will be small and selective. The roughly 15 students accepted into each year’s cohort will complete coursework and internships integrating theory and scholarship with real professional experiences, preparing them for work in the public, private and nonprofit sectors in any region of the world.

Applications to join the program in fall of 2021 are due on January 31. More information is available on the UCLA Luskin website. 

“This program is a natural fit of two great universities and two great cities that are complementary in their differences,” Storper said. “There could not be a better two-city laboratory for learning how to become an urbanist today.”

Taylor on Outdated Speed Limits

 Brian Taylor, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin, spoke to BYU Radio about how cities, counties and states set speed limits. According to the “85th percentile rule,” about 85% of drivers on a given road will go at or below a reasonable speed, while about 15% will drive faster than is safe. Developed in the 1930s, this rule has evolved from a starting point for determining speed limits in rural areas to the rule of law in complex urban traffic environments. Motorists who would like to go faster are often at odds with residents, cyclists and pedestrians, but setting a lower limit won’t necessarily make people slow down, said Taylor, a professor of urban planning and public policy. He said that crash history and data from mobile devices can be used to set more dynamic speed limits that take into account time of day, weather conditions and other factors that affect safe driving.

Manville on Steep Decline in Bus Ridership

The New York Times spoke to Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville for a piece on the trends behind the yearslong slide in bus ridership in many U.S. cities. In addition to demographic shifts and the changing nature of work, Manville pointed to the rise of Craigslist, which has made used cars easier to find and cheaper to buy. In California, he added, a state law granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants may have reduced the pool of transit riders. Manville recommended making the true costs of driving more pronounced by raising prices for gas, parking and driving on congested roads, while building a system that gives advantages to public transit. “At the end of the day, we may never know what is driving this decline,” Manville said. “But I guarantee you that if you took a lane of Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles and gave it only to the bus, ridership would go up.”

Urban Planning Program Wins APA California Chapter Excellence Award

The California Chapter of the American Planning Association honored the UCLA Luskin Urban Planning program with this year’s Landmark Excellence Award, a high accolade in the field of urban planning. Marking its 50th year, UCLA Urban Planning was recognized at the organization’s 2020 annual conference, held online Sept. 14-16. The awards jury acknowledged “the remarkable contributions to planning theory and practice that have emerged from UCLA’s top-tier students and faculty.” Over the past half-century, it said, the program has been “a hub of thought-provoking and ground-breaking scholarship in the field of community development, environmental planning, housing, land development, regional and international development, transportation and urban design.” Also winning an APA California Award was Katelyn Stangl MURP ’19, who received an award of merit under the academic category. As part of her master’s capstone, Stangl prepared a study on parking oversupply. With the help of Los Angeles City Planning, L.A. Department of Transportation and the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, she evaluated entitlements, permits and building plans of over 300 developments in Los Angeles. The findings of her research can contribute to making Los Angeles and other cities more walkable, less polluted and better designed by removing the incentives to produce unneeded parking oversupply. APA California is a network of practicing planners, citizens and elected officials committed to urban, suburban, regional and rural planning in the California.

Wachs on the Past, Present and Future of L.A. Traffic

Urban Planning Professor Martin Wachs joined the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy’s Then & Now podcast to discuss the history of traffic congestion in Los Angeles. Wachs was joined by MURP student Yu Hong Hwang and history Ph.D. candidate Peter Chesney. The three described the findings of their recent report, which challenged the myth of Los Angeles’ car culture. Wachs also noted that increasing transit capacity does not necessarily reduce traffic congestion. “Transit is important, but it is not an antidote to congestion,” he said. Instead, he explained that investing in transit means providing people with alternatives to driving so that they can choose to take a bus or train instead of a car. Looking forward, Wachs suggested implementing congestion pricing in Los Angeles. “We will have to learn to live with traffic congestion as long as there is a strong consensus that we would rather sit in traffic than pay a fee to avoid it,” he concluded. The report’s authors also discussed their findings in a recent webinar.

Tilly Explains Business Model Behind Prop. 22

Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly was featured on KCRW’s Greater L.A. discussing the pros and cons of Proposition 22 on the November ballot. If passed, Proposition 22 would reclassify app-based drivers with companies such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates and Doordash as independent contractors. This would exempt them from Assembly Bill 5, which classifies many gig economy workers as employees entitled to pay and benefits required by law. Tilly said these app-based companies rely on independent contracts to sustain their business model. “Their main cost is paying drivers. So it’s been a competitive strategy to draw in the drivers. … They can always offer them a particular price — take it or leave it,” he said. The app-based companies have spent millions on pro-Proposition 22 campaigning, and some have threatened to shut down service in California if it doesn’t pass. Opponents argue that the hidden costs of app-based driving, such as vehicle upkeep and waiting times between rides, will hurt drivers and decrease their profits.

Shoup Gauges Progress on Long-Needed Parking Reforms

Cities of the Future checked in with Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning, to gauge the progress of parking reforms he has long recommended to increase economic efficiency, protect the environment and promote social justice. Shoup favors charging fair-market prices for on-street parking, re-investing revenue in the neighborhoods that generate it, and eliminating the requirement that building developments provide off-street parking. One commonality among cities that have successfully implemented these reforms is that green activists have forged a coalition with merchants and other stakeholders, said Shoup, a noted author and leading researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin. Shoup added that the COVID-19 pandemic has filled streets with bicycles, pedestrians and outdoor restaurants instead of cars, and this has made previously unthinkable parking reforms conceivable and perhaps unavoidable as cities sorely need the money that paid parking can provide.

4 Faculty Additions Join UCLA Luskin Social Welfare and Urban Planning Incoming academic experts focus on environmental, racial and health disparities in real and virtual environments — from social media to soil

By Stan Paul

Faculty hires in UCLA Luskin Social Welfare and Urban Planning for the new academic year bring a wealth of new research and teaching, reinforcing the School’s commitment to the health and well-being of individuals and communities.

Assistant Professor Brian Keum has joined Social Welfare. His general research emphasizes the reduction of health and mental health disparities among marginalized identities and communities. In particular, Keum studies the impact of online racism – and online racial violence – on psychosocial outcomes and health disparities. Drawing on his clinical experience, he looks at mental health issues, offline attitudinal and behavioral changes, and risky health behaviors that include substance abuse. A second area of his research is Asian American mental health, as well as multicultural and social justice issues that relate to how mental health counseling is provided.

“As a scientist-practitioner, I am excited to teach both practice and research courses,” said Keum, who will be offering graduate instruction in advanced social work practice and applied statistics in social work.

Judith Perrigo, an infant and early childhood mental health specialist, is also an assistant professor of social welfare. Amid the unusual circumstances of this academic year, Perrigo looks forward to exploring innovative teaching methods while providing meaningful learning experiences in both foundational and advanced social welfare practice courses. This includes sharing some of her recent research on how parents of low socioeconomic status with children in grades 3 to 6 are coping with the unexpected educational demands during the pandemic.

“Our findings suggest that the closure of schools and stay-at-home orders initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated pre-existing parental involvement challenges,“ Perrigo explained, noting that families of lower socioeconomic status were more negatively impacted because they “had fewer affordances to buffer the new stressors.”

Perrigo draws from her personal background as a Salvadoran immigrant and 15 years of applied clinical work with children and families to inform her scholarship. Specifically, her research focuses on the well-being of young children — birth to 5 years old — with emphasis on holistic and transdisciplinary prevention and early intervention initiatives with underserved, vulnerable and marginalized populations.

José Loya joins Urban Planning as an assistant professor after recently completing his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. At UCLA Luskin he will teach quantitative analysis in urban planning and a seminar on Latino urban issues in the spring.

“My research focuses on ethno-racial disparities in the mortgage market, before, during and after the Great Recession. More generally, I am interested in the barriers minorities face in the homeownership market,” said Loya, who is also a faculty associate at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

“I am excited to join UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and working and engaging our students in the community,” added Loya, who worked for several years in positions related to community development and affordable housing in South Florida. He then earned a master’s in statistics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “I’ve already moved to Los Angeles, so I’ll be here locally even if courses are online,” Loya said.

Kirsten Schwarz, who holds a joint appointment as an associate professor of urban planning and environmental health sciences, started at UCLA by co-teaching policy analysis for environmental health science in the spring 2020 quarter.

“Virtually teaching my first class during a global pandemic and social uprising was not how I expected to kick off my career at UCLA,” Schwarz said. “But I was so impressed, and encouraged by, the flexibility, compassion and integrity that the students brought to the experience. It was certainly memorable.”

Schwarz is an urban ecologist working at the interface of environment, equity and health. Her research focuses on environmental hazards and amenities in cities and how their distribution impacts minoritized communities. She recently led an interdisciplinary team through a community-engaged green infrastructure design that integrated participatory design and place-based solutions to achieve desired ecosystem services.

“I’m interested in connecting those areas right between urban planning and environmental health sciences,” said Schwarz, whose work on lead-contaminated soils has helped document how bio-geophysical and social variables relate to the spatial patterning of lead in soils.

Most recently she received a transdisciplinary research acceleration grant from UCLA’s Office of Research and Creative Activities in conjunction with Jennifer Jay, a professor in UCLA’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Their proposal, “Multimedia Assessment of Children’s Lead Exposure in Los Angeles,” will involve work with graduate students in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Schwarz also has expertise in science communication and in engaging communities in the co-production of science. She has been recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which named her a 2018-2019 Fellow in the Leshner Leadership Institute in the Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology. Prior to

joining UCLA, she was an associate professor of environmental science at Northern Kentucky University, where she directed the Ecological Stewardship Institute.

Several other faculty searches have been completed, with four additional faculty members set to join Social Welfare and Urban Planning in the coming year. Those new additions include Adam Millard-Ball, who will arrive in January as an associate professor of urban planning, coming from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Millard-Ball holds a doctorate from Stanford University’s School of Earth Sciences and was selected in the urban data science search. He studies environmental economics and transportation, “adding to our strengths in those fields,” said Dean Gary Segura in a memo announcing his appointment.

Mark Vestal, also starting in January, was selected as an assistant professor by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning in a search on critical Black urbanism, Segura announced. A historian by training, Vestal’s work looks at the history of discriminatory planning and housing policy in Los Angeles and beyond.

Fall 2021 newcomers will include Margaret “Maggie” Thomas in Social Welfare and Veronica Terriquez in Urban Planning.

Thomas is a scholar of family and child well-being and is completing her Ph.D. in social work at Boston University this year. She previously earned an MSW degree from the University of Illinois. Her work focuses on young children in families facing serious economic hardship, as well as children and youth from minority communities and with LGBTQ identities.

Terriquez has been jointly appointed to Urban Planning and UCLA’s Department of Chicano Studies where she will take on the leadership of the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA. Terriquez, who earned a Ph.D. in sociology at UCLA, returns to the Westwood campus from UC Santa Cruz. Her work is principally focused on youth and young adult social development, leadership and intergroup relations, and how they are affected by various public policies.

Monkkonen on the Legacy of a Racist System

Paavo Monkkonen, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, was featured in a Time article on ways to end racial segregation in neighborhoods. Even though the formal practice of redlining has ended, the national homeownership rate for Black Americans is the same as it was in 1968. National zoning reform is needed to bring affordable housing into mostly white neighborhoods, the article argued. Noting opposition at the local level, it called on the federal government to drive the change by tying federal grants for cities and suburbs to zoning for multi-family housing. “There are very few single-family neighborhoods that have suddenly allowed apartment buildings. We don’t really have a model for that kind of zoning change,” Monkkonen said. “People sometimes get upset when we talk about that because they don’t want to feel like they are part of a racist system, but they definitely are part of the legacy of a racist system,” he said.

Ling on COVID and the Future Housing Market

Urban planning lecturer and policy analyst Joan Ling spoke to StorageCafé about the COVID-19 pandemic’s potential impact on the future of housing in the United States. While Americans have spent more time working, studying and sheltering in their homes this year, Ling did not predict a heightened demand for bigger residences. “We have a very short memory,” she said. “Keep in mind that many countries and cities with much higher density than the U.S. are doing very well in managing COVID. It’s not about apartment size and building density.” Ling added that younger people are “much more conscious about climate change and the impact of the built environment, and their housing choice, on the future of the planet.” Buildings that are environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change will probably perform well in the marketplace, she said.


Black, Indigenous, and POC Urban Planning Student and Alumni Panels

Come meet some of our BIPOC students and alumni as they talk about their experiences during and after the UCLA Luskin MURP Program!

We will be dividing up the event into two sessions:

Alumni Panel – 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Student Panel – 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Participants are welcome to attend either or both sessions. We look forward to seeing you there!

Register here. Zoom links will be sent out prior to the event.

Lead in partnership with the Planners of Color for Social Equity (PCSE) and Black Planners Network (BPN)