The UCLA Department of Communication proudly announces rolling out their new PhD program where the first cohort will begin with the 2020-2021 academic year. The department will be sure to attract the best and the brightest since the undergraduate program is robust and students flock to that major. The expertise the faculty hold within the department and across the campus will offer the graduate students plenty of opportunities to shape their research in innovative ways. The department anticipates that the doctoral students will do well on the job market both in academia and the private sector. They have already seen this with the the assistance of UCLA alum Michael Allen who helped market the program using industry standards that culminated into this VIDEO.

This partnership started through the department’s longstanding relationship and sponsorship of the undergraduate UCLA Bruin Advertising and Marketing Team that competes nationally. Students like Felician Crisostomo, who are on team, also partook in the marketing of this new program. Crisostomo spoke about how this was one of the most exciting and rich experiences he has had at UCLA.

He was contacted by Dr. Kerri Johnson, Interim Vice Chair, this past spring quarter to aid with the project and connected him with Mr. Allen. They took the summer to put together a 5-minute video. Part of the project was for Crisostomo to really get to know the expertise within the department. He was most impressed with visiting professors’ labs and classes and witnessed how different methods are utilized to advance the field. Crisostomo noted that by working side by side with a person who has been an expert in the field with 20 years of experience allowed him to gain many transferable skills.

In particular, Crisostomo appreciated being part of the decision-making process by assisting with the images and messaging for the video. Crisostomo said, “It was exciting, because we got to work with Mike [Allen] an industry expert in marketing and pick his brain about the campaign along with Paul [Connor] for the video. I got first-hand experience with the manuscript, messaging and the actually filing of the video.”

Crisostomo believes that this experience has enabled him to be a more competitive member of the Bruin Marketing and Advertising campus organization and prepared him for work beyond the university.

This process is reflective of the types of expertise the department holds which bridges the expertise of the alumni and community partners to give its students a more comprehensive and suitable experience. Crisostomo has come to understand all the benefits and advantages of the PhD program, so much so, that he himself is seriously considering applying for the program. “Prior to this I never considered anything after undergraduate, but learning more about the program has opened me up to graduate school and [how it’s] applicable in my industry. It has broadened my views on opportunities that are out there.”

Dr. Kerri Johnson shares the excitement for the new program that arises from a department that produces cutting-edge research in three areas: cognitive, political, and computational. She shares that the faculty realized that given the work that the department does alongside their alumni and community partners that a premiere PhD program would inevitably come to fruition. The department is growing with the arrival of three new faculty members that will be available to the first incoming cohort. Dr. Johnson said that this program would provide world-class graduate training based on an interdisciplinary approach that includes multi-method training. Dr. Johnson was very excited to also work with Mr. Allen and Mr. Crisostomo in a collective manner.  She stated, “The team reported to me what we needed for the print material and the video in order to best advertise the new PhD program. Paul is a fantastic videographer that made a difference.”

We anticipate this PhD program will attract a diverse and competitive group of students and will yield cutting edge research that will impact academia and influence different industries. Interested applicants will need to submit their application by December 15.

Professor Rebecca Jean Emigh

Young people often want to change the world. But when facing a gamut of social problems and inequalities around them, it’s easy to wonder how any one person can make a difference and hard to know how to take the first steps. Undergraduate students at UCLA are attuned to the challenges around them, whether in their own school and city or across the world, but how can they help bring about positive change?

Students in UCLA Sociology Professor Rebecca Jean Emigh’s Winter 2019 Fiat Lux Seminar, “Do We Make a Difference? Social Change in Theory and Practice,” not only studied sociological approaches to achieving social change, but spent the quarter putting their knowledge into practice. Each student initiated a project of their choice designed to effect real change in the world around them even after the quarter concluded. Students addressed a variety of social issues, from the local to the global, motivated by insights gleaned from social theory and empirical research.

Noting that “we get caught in what we can’t do and not what we can do,” one student worked to design a course for the Undergraduate Student Initiated Education program using psychological principles to motivate students to engage in social activism directed towards the UCLA administration. Through this course, she hopes “to show students that they’re not alone in their problems if they just reach out and start talking until someone listens.” Another student collaborated with members of the Cambodian refugee community in an effort to empower them to connect their personal and community histories to social change. “At first, many were dismissive of their own perspectives,” she explained, “but after a few weeks they began to fully engage in our dialogue about social conditions and theory.”

Other student projects included a campaign to spread awareness of the negative effects of gentrification on the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles; initiatives to promote environmentally sustainable lifestyle changes through simple household and dietary interventions; and a positivity campaign to encourage students to show kindness to one another.

Students found that not only did their projects lead to positive change, their interactions as a class had a positive effect as well. “Listening to the presentations my classmates in this class [gave] greatly inspired me,” explained one student. Said another, “This class has allowed me to not only learn from other students in the class and participate in their social change projects… but continue to find meaningful ways in my everyday life to recognize the way my actions can impact and be valuable for those around me.”

The course will be offered again in Winter 2020, so look out for more Bruins in pursuit of a better future!

Pictured left to right: Dr. Vanessa Thompson, Dr. Gloria Wekker (keynote speaker), & Dr. SA Smythe

On October 10-11, 2019, a two-day symposium co-organized by Dr. SA Smythe (African American Studies Department, UCLA) and Dr. Vanessa Thompson (Goethe Universitate, Germany), was well attended by students, staff, and faculty from UCLA and other universities in the Southern California area, as well as those from the local Los Angeles community. It featured presentations and performances from around two dozen scholars, artists, and activists seeking to productively engage the project of Black Europe from a transnational and intersectional feminist perspective. This included working within and across the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, history, literary criticism/comparative literature, gender studies, and performance.

Presentations addressed many relevant topics key to understanding our contemporary political moment, such as the following: the issue of Black people who are rendered non-citizen within Fortress Europe; urban insurrections in the aftermath of police killings of Black youth in Paris, London, Stockholm, and other European countries; mobilizations against anti-black imagery and public demonstrations, such as those against Zwarte Piete (Black Pete) in the Netherlands or anti-blackface campaigns in German and Swiss theatres; struggles for decolonization in educational institutions and on street names, as well as for the decolonization of colonial museums; the notion of abolition and reparations on national and global scales; and the material memories of enslavement, colonialism, imperialism, and their aftermaths.

These topics and more did not only speak to the current conjunctures of Blackness in Europe, but also signal the importance of these formations and struggles as radical contributions to the global formations of Blackness writ large, and the Black radical tradition and Black feminist freedom visions and horizons in particular. Thus, “On the Matter of Blackness in Europe” provided timely perspectives on formations of Blackness and Black struggles within and across the Black Atlantic and the Black Mediterranean that challenged monolithic or dominant iterations of Black study and Black people, while still being attentive to practices of Black solidarity that transcend national containers and are expressed in and through temporal, spatial, performative, commemorative, cultural, and poetic interventions and imaginaries.

The symposium featured a keynote address from Distinguished Professor Emerita Gloria Wekker of Utrecht University (UCLA PhD alum, 1992). It was intentionally organized during European Black History Month, and during the 50th anniversary of the first Black and Ethnic Studies departments in the US. Drs. Smythe and Thompson wanted to have UCLA provide some of the context and the conditions to continue to take transnational feminist approaches to all Black Studies seriously, in a way that allows us to both recognize how African American Studies and Black European Studies share in similar struggles, legacies, and commitments to the struggle for liberation and the joyous matter of Black life from different material and historical conditions.

Please check out the following videos from this excellent two-day symposium at UCLA:

Borderscapes, Colonial Memories, and Policing the Crisis – 10.11.19

Keynote by Dr. Gloria Wekker (Professor Emerita, Utrecht) – 10.11.19

Blackness Conference Remarks by Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson (UCLA) – 10.11.19

Closing Reflections by the Chair of African American Studies at UCLA, Dr. Marcus Hunter – 10.11.19

Closing Remarks by Dr. SA Smythe (UCLA) and Dr. Vanessa Thompson (Goethe Universitat: Frankfurt)

 

Jasmin A. Young is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA in the Department of African American Studies. As a historian, her research focuses on African American history, 20th Century U.S. History, and gender studies. She specializes in African American women’s history, social movements, and the Black radical tradition.

Originally from Los Angeles, Jasmin Young began her academic career at California State University, Northridge. After graduation, she moved to NYC to attend Columbia University where she received her Masters in African American Studies and worked with the late Dr. Manning Marable. With a desire to ground herself in gender theories, Dr. Young moved to the UK to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), earning a second Masters of Science from the Gender Institute.

In 2018, Dr. Young graduated with a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her dissertation, “Black Women with Guns: A Historical Analysis of Armed Resistance 1892-1979,” offers a long history of women’s political engagement with Black militant activism from the Reconstruction to the Black Power era.

She is developing her book manuscript, Black Women with Guns: Armed Resistance in the Black Freedom Struggle, which is the first intellectual and social history of Black women’s use of armed resistance as a tool to achieve freedom in post–World War II America. While historical studies have assumed armed resistance was a male prerogative, she makes a significant intervention in the historiography by recovering a history of Black women who engaged in and advocated armed resistance from 1955-1979. Using archival research and gender theories, the book argues that Black women increasingly politicized armed resistance, both in theory and in practice, as the Black Freedom Movement shifted its objectives from integration to self-determination. Ultimately, Black Women with Guns broadens our understanding of the Black freedom struggle by expanding what we regard as political thought and action. It also reveals a more multifaceted struggle whose objectives and strategies were continually contested and evolving.

She presented her research to a packed house at UCLA’s Black Forum this past year where she fielded questions and led a great discussion on the intersection of state violence resistance and Radical Black Feminism. Dr. Young has presented her work at various national conferences including the Organization of American Historians. Her work has garnered general public attention and has been featured in the media. You can listen to her interview for the Black Agenda Report with Glen Ford HERE. She was also the historical consultant and writer for a documentary entitled, “Tracking Ida.”

Dr. Young is regarded as a rising junior scholar with cutting-edge research that connects the historical and contemporary understanding and contributions of Black Feminism. Many have attested to her accomplishments and many are eager to read her book when published. For example, fellow scholars at UCLA have said, “Jasmin’s intellectual maturity and complete dedication to research are among her most salient qualities. I was particularly impressed by how she theorized on Malcolm X’s intellectual development as influenced by the Detroit activist community, as well as when she investigated the contradictions of hyper-visibility and invisibility of Black women transnationally in hip-hop culture.”

She has been a great scholar to have in UCLA’s African American Studies Department as well as across campus. Dr. Young’s research reflects the caliber and innovation UCLA offers students, faculty, and the broader community.

The UCLA Asian American Studies Department, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), are very pleased to announce their conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of Asian American Studies at UCLA — “Power to the People”: 50 Years of Bridging Research with Community. 

We hope you can attend as diverse and inter-generational communities are brought together to appreciate the legacies, genealogies, and futures of Asian American studies and communities. We hope you connect with many people and organizations at the event.  With community engagement at the heart of the field, we strive to strengthen the connection between the university and community-based organizations. We encourage you to discover how to bridge research and theory with our communities, as well as how to find ways to engage with current movements and issues.

Also, be sure to check out “UCLA: Our Stories, Our Impact,” a multimedia traveling exhibit sharing the stories of Bruins who have advanced equity and equality in America, that will be shown in the lobby of the Tateuchi Democracy Forum as well as in UCLA Luskin Commons Room 3383. Learn more about the exhibit at “Our Stories, Our Impact.”

Let us continue to build the power of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and work towards our collective futures – rooted in our histories, furthered by our communal experiences and research, and strengthened by our visions of social justice.

For more information on the conference, including registration, please visit aasc.ucla.edu/aasc50/conf19/.  The event is free and open to the public.  Space is limited, so be sure to register before the conference is full.

Dr. H. Samy Alim, David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair in the Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology at UCLA, and the Founding Director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Language (CREAL), along with his co-PI Dr. Django Paris (University of Washington, Seattle), recently received a $1 million grant from the Spencer Foundation. They will conduct a four-year project exploring the implementation of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy. The project is one out of only five to receive funding from the foundation’s most ambitious grant making program, the Lyle Spencer Research Awards for large-scale research projects.

Alim, Paris, and postdoctoral researcher Casey Wong (UCLA) will work with four sites across the United States, Spain, and South Africa to learn with Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander and immigrant communities about how they are enacting CSP in contexts dealing with the legacies and contemporary realities of settler colonialism and gentrification. Through the project, the team will seek to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an approach that seeks to sustain communities of color as part of an educational justice movement that sees cultural practices as strengths to be fostered rather than as deficits to be erased through schooling.

The grant extends the conceptual and empirical work shared in their highly influential volume, Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies: Teaching and Learning for Justice in a Changing World (Teachers College Press, 2017), which brought together an intergenerational group of prominent educators and researchers to explore critical teaching approaches that perpetuate and foster linguistic, literate, and cultural pluralism as part of schooling for positive social transformation.

L.A. Social Science congratulates Professor Alim and his colleagues!

The National Science Foundation has issued a nearly $1 million grant to a group of racial and ethnic politics researchers from across the nation led by UCLA’s Lorrie Frasure-Yokley, Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, and Matt Barreto, Professor of Political Science and Chicana and Chicano Studies.  It will help support the groundbreaking Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, known as the CMPS, which looks to bring together young scholars and expands the number of ethnic and racial groups participating in a national survey. In its fourth installment, the CMPS will examine the 2020 election.

In a UCLA Newsroom story, written by Jessica Wolf, Professor Frasure-Yokley stated, “We accomplished what we set out to do, which was radically expand opportunities, especially for those early in their career or who are working at smaller or minority-serving institutions, to conduct research and even more importantly – publish their research, which is necessary to advance one’s academic career. And now, with stronger infrastructure provided by this major NSF grant, we can focus on expanding those opportunities even more.”

L.A. Social Science would like to congratulate both Professors Frasure-Yokley and Barreto and their research team. Read the entire UCLA Newsroom story HERE.

 

 

By Lara Drasin

What makes someone want to “do good?” Dr. Daniel Fessler of UCLA’s Anthropology department—the inaugural director of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute and 2018 recipient of the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty prize—is trying to figure that out, and sat down with LA Social Science to share some thoughts on the subject from an evolutionary perspective.

Fessler and his colleagues are currently conducting research on altruism, or “pro-social behavior.” He says that altruism, or moments in which a person goes out of their way to help another, can actually be “contagious:” witnessing the kindness of others can trigger an emotional reaction in us and inspire us to commit altruistic acts ourselves. The team of researchers are interested investigating what specifically triggers those reaction—or the “machinery inside the mind,” as he puts it, that causes us to make decisions as to whether to be helpful or not. This includes the role that our expectations play in the process. Fessler says that idealists are most likely to be affected, while cynics—or people who are prone to not expect the best from others—are less likely to have this reaction.

What makes someone idealistic or cynical? In addition to studying altruism, Fessler also looks at media and its effects, including how the messages we consume through media may impact the expectations we have of others. “When you choose to repeatedly consume information about the darker aspects of human behavior,” he said, “you’re shaping your own expectations about how other people will behave. It makes you less likely to respond pro-socially when there’s an opportunity to behave in a cooperative situation with others.”

Fessler says that there’s reason to believe our minds process information presented to us through media as though it’s firsthand experience. For example, people who watch a lot of local news overestimate the likelihood that they’ll become victims of violence.

“I love action movies as much as the next person, but I don’t watch them anymore,” he said. “I intentionally avoid realistic depictions of violence because I think it increases our estimation that other people are hostile and violent toward us, and that’s not an orientation I want to have.”

Fessler admits that it is “early days” when it comes to making definitive claims on the psychological effects of media consumption, but he draws a parallel to tobacco. He notes that though it’s legal to buy tobacco products, one can’t pick up a pack of cigarettes without seeing messages reminding us that it is harmful. “I could see a day when we want the same kind of public information campaigns that we have for tobacco use for media consumption,” he said, suggesting that whether or not to consume certain types of media could then become a matter of personal choice, but informed personal choice. “The best thing we can do as scientists is study these things and inform people,” he said, “so that everyone involved can recognize the consequences of their decisions more fully.”

When it comes to his students, Fessler likes to focus on subjects that the students can connect to in their own lives. Everyday subjects including questions like why women tend to be evaluated based on looks; why physical altercations tend to spur from trivial disagreements; and the relationship between economic inequality and violence are all discussed. “It’s important that I teach students in the way that they understand the personal impact of the information,” he said. Usually, conversations take place in a learning environment that Fessler fosters to invoke the same small-scale, face-to-face interactions in which people normally learn outside the context of formal education. He hosts the “FessLab,” where students are invited to assist Dr. Fessler with research outside of class. “The students named it FessLab,” he said, laughing. “It seems kind of self-aggrandizing to me.”

Fessler says that what he loves about UCLA is that it is full of scholars and students who are excited, interested, collaborative and genuinely want to make the world a better place. “That’s not commonly found,” he said. “There is so much good work being done here.”

 

To learn more about the establishment of the new UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute, please click HERE.

The Bedari Foundation, established by philanthropists Jennifer and Matthew C. Harris, has given $20 million to the UCLA College to establish the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute.

The institute, which is housed in the division of social sciences, will support world-class research on kindness, create opportunities to translate that research into real-world practices, and serve as a global platform to educate and communicate its findings. Among its principal goals are to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies.

“In the midst of current world politics, violence and strife, the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute seeks to be an antidote,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA division of social sciences. “Rooted in serious academic work, the institute will partner and share its research on kindness broadly in accessible formats. The Bedari Foundation’s extraordinary gift is truly visionary and we are grateful for its support and leadership.”

“The mission of the Kindness Institute perfectly aligns with that of the division of social sciences, where engaging the amazing diversity and social challenges shaping Los Angeles routinely inspires research that has the potential to change the world,” Hunt said.

To read the full UCLA Newsroom press release, click HERE.

Six new UCLA ladder faculty members were presented with the inaugural Chancellor’s Award for Community-Engaged Scholars, supported by both the Chancellor’s Office and the UCLA Center for Community Learning, for the 2019-2020 academic year. Each recipient will receive $10,000 towards supporting their own community-engaged research and design to implement in an undergraduate course. For the purposes of this award, “Community-engaged research, in this context, encompasses research and creative work across all fields that address an agenda of social justice and create reciprocal value with community partners. At its best, community-engaged research both achieves high levels of scholarly recognition within a field and advances efforts to redress social inequalities” (UCLA Internal Funding Opportunities). This is a strong cohort who meets the community-engaged research standards and whose work will be a major contribution to academic scholarship.

This well-deserved honor calls for celebration and congratulations to all the awardees, but especially to the three faculty members from our Division, Drs. Maylei Blackwell, Marissa Lopez, and Meredith Phillips. Below is a list of all the recipients, their department, and a short description of their community-engaged research project.

  • Maylei Blackwell, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies. In her course, Blackwell plans to use community archives and oral histories to map the Latin American indigenous diaspora in Los Angeles.
  • Arleen Brown, professor of medicine. In Brown’s course, students will work with community organizations and academic faculty to reduce chronic disease disparities in Los Angeles County through community-engaged collaborative projects.
  • Jenny Jay, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Jay’s course will center around environmental research that engages community members.
  • Marissa Lopez, associate professor of English and Chicana and Chicano studies. In Lopez’s course, students will partner with the Los Angeles Public Library to build a geolocation smartphone app that displays historical images of Mexican Los Angeles.
  • Rashmita Mistry, professor of education, and Karen Quartz, director, UCLA Center for Community Schooling. Their course will have students delve into educational research methodological approaches using an equity and social justice lens.
  • Meredith Phillips, associate professor, public policy and sociology. Phillips’ course will have students use student and staff survey data to improve K-12 education.

For more information, read the UCLA Newsroom story HERE.