Sonal Shah, the first director of the White House Office of Social Innovation, delivers keynote remarks at the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy forum.

Research is a hallmark of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. Today, social and economic challenges have become increasingly complex and enduring. Critical issues such as unemployment, public and nonprofit management, homeland security, healthcare reform, immigration, infrastructure and transportation, aging demographics, environmental and financial sustainability, and fluctuating real estate markets – are being tackled head-on by our faculty, students and alumni.

Our areas of research address three interdisciplinary themes:


Undergraduate Student Research

We encourage undergraduates to get involved in cutting-edge research by working with our internationally recognized faculty. A few examples of students who have worked with faculty members are:

Alexene Farol
In 2008, Professor Clara Irazábal authored a report for the United Nations, Revisiting Urban Planning in Latin America and the Caribbean (Regional Report for the Preparation of Inputs to the Global Report on Human Settlements 2009). She was aided by a group of doctoral and master students, and an undergraduate, Alexene Farol. Professor Irazábal asked Alexene to help draft two chapters of this important report, that feeds into the UN’s activities around human settlements. She worked with two master students on the opening chapter that looked at the urban challenges and the state of urban planning, and with three other master students on a second chapter that examined ways we need to understand diversity in an urban context within Latin America and Caribbean. This report was published in 2009.

Mary Berberian
These undergraduates worked with Professors David Sloane of USC Price and Karen Hennigan of Psychology to conduct a field audit of social and physical disorder in three Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods as part of a National Science Foundation funded study of civil gang injunctions, a criminal justice suppression tactic. The two students walked the streets of the communities noting the land uses, signs of gang activity and neighborliness, and types of built environments. That information has been used in a series of articles now under preparation that look at fear of crime and its relationship to youths’ fear of their surroundings. Mary Berberian, an USC Price major, led the effort, organizing the audit trips, creating the spreadsheets they used to input the information, and ensuring the integrity of the research.