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UCLA Professors Akihiro Nishi and Michael Irwin and colleagues co-authored a paper that was published in Nature‘s Scientific Reports titled, “Mindfulness Meditation Activates Altruism,” on April 16, 2020. Dr. Nishi and Dr. Irwin are affiliated with the Bedari Kindness Institute within the UCLA Division of Social Sciences. The paper finds that mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, and improves emotion regulation due to modulation of activity in neural substrates linked to the regulation of emotions and social preferences. The abstract is included below and the full paper can be found HERE.

Abstract

Clinical evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, and improves emotion regulation due to modulation of activity in neural substrates linked to the regulation of emotions and social preferences. However, less was known about whether mindfulness meditation might alter pro-social behavior. Here we examined whether mindfulness meditation activates human altruism, a component of social cooperation. Using a simple donation game, which is a real-world version of the Dictator’s Game, we randomly assigned 326 subjects to a mindfulness meditation online session or control and measured their willingness to donate a portion of their payment for participation as a charitable donation. Subjects who underwent the meditation treatment donated at a 2.61 times higher rate than the control (p = 0.005), after controlling for socio-demographics. We also found a larger treatment effect of meditation among those who did not go to college (p < 0.001) and those who were under 25 years of age (p < 0.001), with both subject groups contributing virtually nothing in the control condition. Our results imply high context modularity of human altruism and the development of intervention approaches including mindfulness meditation to increase social cooperation, especially among subjects with low baseline willingness to contribute.

For the newly launched magazine, NOEMA, Dr. Safiya Noble wrote an essay that calls out the titans of technology, and challenges us all to look at the societal needs of this pivotal moment. As calls for abolition and racial justice echo from coast to coast, Dr. Noble informs us how “Big Tech is implicated in displacing high-quality knowledge institutions–newsrooms, libraries, schools, and universities–by destabilizing funding through tax evasion, actively eroding the public goods we need to flourish.” She also writes:

“We need new paradigms, not more new tech. We need fair and equitable implementations of public policy that bolster our collective good. We need to center the most vulnerable among us–the working poor and the disabled, those who live under racial and religious tyranny, the discriminated against and the oppressed. We need to house people and provide health, employment, creative arts, and educational resources. We need to close the intersectional racial wealth gap.”

Dr. Noble is an Associate Professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, co-director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry, and a faculty advisor to the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute.

To read the complete essay, “The Loss Of Public Goods To Big Tech,” click HERE.

LA Social Science spoke with Dr. Tomer Begaz, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Director of Undergraduate Medical Education at UCLA-Olive View Medical Center, about his recent “Golden Apple” teaching award, how to keep safe from COVID-19 as our state starts to reopen, and when individuals should visit the Emergency Department.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Intro

01:00 – About being a Golden Apple Award winner

02:28 – An album or book that’s gotten you through the pandemic?

05:11 – Why did you choose to work at LA County UCLA Olive View Medical Center?

07:00 – Impact of Corona virus on different communities

10:08 – What should we be thinking about as we open up during the pandemic?

12:53 – When should I go into the emergency room?

17:41 – Alternative ways to see a doctor

18:15 – Closing

 

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UCLA’s Luskin Center for History and Policy has published a report, “All is Not Well in the Golden State: The Scourge of White Nationalism in Southern California,” that examines white nationalism’s history, ideology, and present-day operations, and provides some recommendations for confronting the dangers it poses. An amazing group of undergraduates were overseen by Ph.D. candidate Sarah Johnson, and Professor David N. Myers, director of the Luskin Center for History and Policy.

This report examines the history, ideological pillars, use of the internet, and maps how white nationalism is being implemented. The report concludes with three policy suggestions that include increasing education and training, and providing media literacy training to parents and teachers. It also provides a ratings scale intended as a tool for teachers, parents, and others to identify stages in the absorption of white nationalist ideas:

  1. Accidental Absorption
  2. Edgy Transgression
  3. Political Provocation
  4. Overt Hate
  5. Physical Violence

All of these tools are recommended to help stop the spread of white nationalist activity.

To read the Executive Summary, click HERE.

To read the full report, click HERE.

To listen to undergraduate co-authors, Grace Johnston-Glick, Gavin Quan, and James Nee, discuss the report on the UCLA LCHP “Then & Now” podcast, click HERE.

UCLA Associate Professor Chris Zepeda-Millán demonstrates most Americans would support immigrant child detainees being released and having access to medical care. Dr. Zepeda-Millán’s data illustrates that the current administration’s immigration policies regarding child detainees are not supported by public opinion. He further notes this can be a bipartisan issue elected officials can rally around in order to provide humanity and aid to child detainees.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Intro

0:46 – How has Covid-19 impacted incarcerated populations and immigrant detention centers?

4:41 – What does your data reveal in terms of public support for treating and releasing child detainees? Implications?

7:23 – If there is an overwhelming amount of support to protect and release child detainees why is the current administration choosing not to?

To learn more about Dr. Chris Zepeda-Millán‘s forthcoming book, Walls, Cages, and Family Separation: Race and Immigration Policy in the Trump Era (under contract with Cambridge University Press) with Sophia Jordán Wallace (University of Washington), check out a recent brief by the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) that draws on portions of the book. Titled “COVID-19 & Migrant Child Detainees: Releasing & Treating Children in Detention” (May 2020), the brief provides evidence of public support for releasing child detainees during the coronavirus pandemic, noting the poll took place before COVID-19 began. It also provides “straightforward, bipartisan, and implementable” policy recommendations. To read the full brief, click HERE.

 

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Summer 2020 starts this month, and LA Social Science will continue to highlight some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA summer courses are open to BOTH UCLA students and NON-UCLA students. All Summer 2020 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

UCLA’s Department of Anthropology has several summer course offerings. Check out the course list below. Enroll HERE TODAY!

Session A:

ANTHRO 142P – Anthropology of Religion

Survey of various methodologies in comparative study of religious ideologies and action systems, including understanding particular religions through descriptive and structural approaches, and identification of social and psychological factors that may account for variation in religious systems cross-culturally.

ANTHRO 143 – Economic Anthropology

Introduction to anthropological perspectives for interpretation of economic life and institutions. Economic facts to be placed in their larger social, political, and cultural contexts; examination of modes of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services in their relation to social networks, power structures, and institutions of family, kinship, and class.

ANTHRO 153 – Language and Identity

Language as social phenomenon. Introduction to several angles from which language use can be critically examined as integral to interactions between individuals and between social groups.

Other Session A offerings:

ANTHRO 3 – Culture and Society

ANTHRO 110 – Principles of Archaeology

ANTHRO 124S – Evolution of Human Sexual Behavior

ANTHRO 133 – Anthropology of Food

ANTHRO 137P – Anthropology of Deviance and Abnormality

Session C:

ANTHRO 126P – Paleopathology

Evidence of disease and trauma, as preserved in skeletal remains of ancient and modern human populations. Discussions of medical procedures (trepanation), health status, ethnic mutilation (cranial deformation, footbinding), cannibalism, and sacrifice and roles such activities have played in human societies.

ANTHRO 132 – Anthropology of Environment

Environmental anthropology explores relationship between complex human systems and environments in which they are entangled. Examination of how people impact and are impacted by their environments, and how relationships between people are negotiated through management of place and space throughout time. Traces multiple theoretical lineages, beginning with early work in cultural ecology and including political ecology, environmental history, contested ontologies, and contemporary environmental justice. Through engagement with grounded, multimodal ethnographies (in text, film, and new media), study of historical movements of people across ecosystems, politics of managing common goods resources such as rivers and atmosphere, bioeconomics of environmental contamination, and development of climate change adaptation strategies in hard-hit areas.

ANTHRO 138P – Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology

Introduction to skills and tools of data ascertainment through fieldwork in cultural anthropology. Emphasis on techniques, methods, and concepts of ethnographical research and how basic observational information is systematized for presentation, analysis, and cross-cultural comparison.

Other Session C offerings:

ANTHRO 1 – Human Evolution

ANTHRO 4 – Culture and Communication

ANTHRO 135 – Visual Anthropology

ANTHRO 146 – Urban Anthropology

On May 19, 2020, UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, and Ong and Associates (an economic and policy analysis consulting firm) issued the brief, “Struggling to Stay Home: How COVID-19 Shelter in Place Policies Affect Los Angeles County’s Black and Latino Neighborhoods.” It aims to support policies and programs that address inequities facing those in neighborhoods where compliance with shelter-in-place is difficult and to provide guidance for public officials as California rebuilds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The study finds that more than 2 in 5 Blacks and Latinos in Los Angeles County face high burdens from the county’s shelter-in-place rules. These communities are seen to be densely populated with restricted access to open spaces and limited access to food.

The research brief provides five core recommendations for Los Angeles city officials and other jurisdictions with burdened populations:

  1. Expand COVID-19 testing with a focus on neighborhoods who face the highest risk sheltering in place.
  2. Provide transportation assistance and add personal care resources like hand sanitizer at bus stops.
  3. Expand paid leave options for low-wage workers or employees in the service sector to discourage people from going to work when they feel sick.
  4. Increase food assistance.
  5. Expand high-speed internet access and social safety net to include more relief, including Medi-Cal, childcare and early childhood education programs, by expanding eligibility and elongating the benefit period.

This brief is the third in a series of research papers examining the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on neighborhoods in L.A. County. Previous research papers found that Asian-American and Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County were most vulnerable due to the pandemic’s impact on the retail and service sectors, and Latino neighborhoods were less likely to receive the individual rebate under the CARES Act.

Download the full report HERE.

LPPI Media Contact:

Eliza Moreno

E: lppipress@luskin.ucla.edu

P: 310-487-9815

The grassroots organization People for People (Gente por Gente) LA grew organically with the help of UCLA students to respond to the needs of the community, particularly during COVID-19. Find out how researchers, Dr. Leigh-Anna Hidalgo and Rosanna Simons, at UCLA along with community members are making a difference and how you can get involved.

Interview Chapters:

0:53 – Initial Involvement with People for People (Gente por Gente)

3:59 – Genesis and Purpose of People for People LA

6:44 – Stories of Students and Community Volunteers Helping the Elderly

10:59 – How to Get Involved

 

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UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) in partnership with the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge recently released a very powerful report, “Left Behind During a Global Pandemic: An Analysis of Los Angeles County Neighborhoods at Risk of Not Receiving COVID-19 Individual Rebates Under the CARES Act.” It urges state and local leaders to step up for Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County. The report illuminates the vulnerability to economic uncertainty of these neighborhoods, and yet they are least likely to receive federal aid.

Some of the findings of this report are listed below:

  • Large segments of Los Angeles County’s population are excluded from the CARES Act’s individual rebate because of the requirements set by the act.
  • Neighborhoods with the highest risk of not receiving a rebate are overwhelmingly comprised of people of color.
  • Immigrants are also relatively more concentrated in higher-risk neighborhoods than native-born populations.
  • Many of the riskier neighborhoods are majority renters, whereas the least risk neighborhoods are predominately homeowners.

The report finds that fifty-six percent of Latino neighborhoods in L.A. County are at the highest risk of not receiving needed relief. Overall, the report recommends state and local governments should direct economic relief and social safety net benefits toward these vulnerable communities.

Read the full report HERE.

 

UCLA alum Karina Ramos (’99) an attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center represents many immigrant children seeking asylum. She discusses the need for more attorneys to advocate for children’s rights. With COVID-19, the U.S. immigration courts have mostly halted the timeline for their proceedings, significantly delaying progress, often with devastating consequences for the children. 

Interview Chapters:

0:50 – What type of work does Immigrant Defenders Law Center do?

1:28 – What’s your role?

2:36 – Legal Representation & Advocacy for Immigrant Children

5:39 – Specific Cases (“Alex”)

11:07 – Impact of COVID-19 on Court Cases and Children’s Future

15:50 – Support for Child Asylum Seekers

 

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