Dear Bruins,

I am delighted to be writing to you as the new Chair of the Undergraduate Program in the Luskin School. I take over at an exciting time in the growth of the program, thanks to our departing Chair, Meredith Phillips, our amazing staff, and most importantly you, our talented and dedicated students.

Luskin has outstanding faculty who aim to teach you skills that will help you make a difference in your community, halfway across the world, or anywhere in between. If you are looking to learn how to identify and analyze policy problems and evaluate their potential solutions, this is the place to be – enroll in our courses and join our major in Public Affairs!

Public Affairs is a relatively new UCLA major that provides a rigorous, multidisciplinary foundation in the social sciences. The required coursework covers theories from economics, political science, psychology, and sociology; statistical and qualitative methods; and skills in data analysis, policy analysis, and communication. Students can focus their upper-division elective coursework on topics of particular interest to them, such as homelessness, immigration, criminal justice, the environment, education, and health. Students and faculty combine many of these skills and interests with a commitment to social and racial justice. We aim to prepare students to contribute effectively to a wide range of professions in the public and private sectors right after college, and to excel in the very best graduate and professional schools.

What is especially exciting and unique about the Public Affairs major is its required experiential learning capstone in the senior year. The Public Affairs capstone combines a multi-quarter internship in a community or government organization with a seminar series in which students develop a project based on what they’ve learned in their classes and their internship. Most of these capstone projects will take place in the greater Los Angeles area, providing an amazing opportunity for undergraduates to contribute to our global city in a sustained and substantial way.

The professors who teach Public Affairs courses come from a wide range of academic disciplines and the three departments—Public Policy, Social Welfare, and Urban Planning—that make up the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. These professors are nationally and internationally renowned scholars in areas such as poverty and inequality, housing and homelessness, immigration, urban design and development, international development, transportation, climate change, environmental justice, child development and welfare, aging, health care and health policy, juvenile and criminal justice, and education policy.

If you are curious about the Public Affairs major or any of the minors in the Luskin School, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Public Affairs undergraduate counselors to learn more. I am also available by appointment, just email me at Happy to discuss our program, your interests, and postgraduate options.

This Fall 2203 I teach Public Affairs M109 / Urban Planning M120: Intro to Cities and Planning. I hope to see many of you there or in subsequent fall terms.

On behalf of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, welcome to our courses, our major and minors, and to our School community. We look forward to meeting you!

My best wishes for a wonderful undergraduate experience at UCLA,

Michael C. Lens, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy
Chair of Undergraduate Programs in Public Affairs

Michael Lens

Chair, Undergraduate Programs in Public Affairs
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy


Ph.D. in Public Administration, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University
M.Phil. in Public Administration, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University
M.P.P., University of Michigan
B.A. in Political Science, Macalester College

Areas of Interest

Michael Lens is Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, and Associate Faculty Director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. Professor Lens’s research and teaching explore the potential of public policy to address housing market inequities that lead to negative outcomes for low-income families and communities of color. This research involves housing interventions such as subsidies, tenant protections, and production. Professor Lens regularly publishes this work in leading academic journals and his research has won awards from the Journal of the American Planning Association and Housing Policy Debate.

Research & Publications


Contact the Department Chair
Contact the Luskin Undergraduate Program