Inaugural Student Journal

SPPD Launches Student-Run Academic Journal

By Ben Dimapindan

SPPD Student Journal Editors Student journal editors – Back row: Martin Kulli, Andrew Slaton, Pernell Jones, Abby Goldstein, Amber Savage, Robert Fukumoto and Matt Pahl. Front row: Smita Satiani, Eleanor Chen, Aurea Adao and Brettany Shannon
Photo by Tom Queally

Eleven graduate students representing the various master’s programs within the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development launched the school’s first student-adjudicated academic journal in May.

The USC Policy, Planning, and Development Review, an online publication, aims to promote discourse among students of SPPD’s professional degree programs by encouraging them to produce work that addresses important social topics. It is committed to publishing multidisciplinary articles that contribute to scholarship and the betterment of society.

According to editor in chief Abby Goldstein, the journal serves as “a stepping stone” between the academic and professional careers of graduate students by enabling them to feature their work before the broader student body, faculty, alumni and potential employers. She, along with her fellow editors, felt “it was important for field practitioners to understand the high degree of sophistication within each of the master’s programs here at SPPD.”

She added, “Our goal was to create an inspiring showcase with a uniquely Trojan twist.”

The inaugural issue included five articles covering public policy, public administration, health policy and management, urban planning and real estate development. All five were papers submitted for SPPD courses.

  • “Green Pathways Home” by Kabira Stokes Hochberg, Master of Public Policy ’10, outlines how investment in the emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency industries could spur California’s economic development while helping reduce recidivism rates through green job opportunities.
  • “ ‘Paper or Plastic?’ San Francisco’s Plastic Bag Ordinance and the Problem of Substitutes” by Kiyomi Burchill, Master of Public Administration ’11, analyzes the effectiveness of – and offers recommendations for – the 2007 policy intended to help eliminate waste by prohibiting grocery and drug stores from providing non-compostable plastic bags at checkout.
  • “Gregory Ain’s Mar Vista Housing Tract” by John McKinley Mimms, Master of Planning ’11, examines how the Los Angeles-based architect offered an alternative from the post-World War II housing tract through home designs that encouraged social interaction and fostered community while keeping building costs low to ensure affordable prices.
  • “Decision Analysis: Commercializing Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Monoclonal Antibody or Implantable Medical Device” by Brian Neman, Master of Health Administration ’10, compares and contrasts two potential treatment alternatives for age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease.
  • “Valuation of the Historic Preservation Tax Incentive Program in California” by Michael Tornabene, Master of Real Estate Development ’10, reviews the program, using data that focuses on location-based trends of tax credit projects.

Early in the spring semester, the editorial board distributed a call for submissions to all master’s students throughout the school. The editors, most of whom were leaders of SPPD student associations, selected papers from their respective programs, Goldstein explained.

“Master’s students absolutely regard research as a high priority,” she said. “Each program emphasizes the importance of highly specialized and refined research skills. The most important part of the research process is being able to communicate clearly the findings and conclusions — and that’s exactly what we sought when evaluating the journal submissions.”

SPPD associate dean Rich Callahan, faculty adviser for the journal, said he was impressed with the quality of the projects and the depth of the students’ understanding.

“The journal gives their work a wider audience which can come to the appreciation of not only what the school is doing, but can actually look to these articles as models of successful student engagement, and also for ideas and insights,” said Callahan, the director of state capital and leadership programs at SPPD.

“It’s an extension of their coursework,” he added, “and it’s a strong reflection of their core values of contribution and creativity — making a societal difference and sharing new ways of understanding problems.”

Goldstein said she also hopes that “the highly relevant nature of the products displayed in the [journal] may influence policy and leadership decisions within our chosen fields.”

SPPD dean Jack H. Knott noted how the journal “exemplifies the many dimensions of the school.”

“It’s collaborative, analytical and innovative,” he said. “Their efforts embody SPPD’s entrepreneurial spirit and advance our work of having a vital, real impact.”

To read the journal, visit /students/review_journal/