Shaping the World

A Message from USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott

Shaping the World

The 2017-18 academic year is underway, filled with the excitement of new initiatives and opportunity, as well as the talent and potential of our incoming class. Once again, it gives me great pleasure to spotlight some of the extraordinary work being done by USC Price School of Public Policy faculty, students and alumni in addressing challenges locally, nationally and globally.

Advancing our long-held focus on the critical importance of ethics as a cornerstone of public service, we’re pleased to launch the Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making. Established through the generosity of USC Trustee Jerry Neely ’58 and led by Professor Ali E. Abbas, this first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary center combines the strengths of USC Price, the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to develop leaders across sectors who are dedicated to making effective, ethical decisions.

As we celebrate the beginning of a new school year, we also take a moment to honor the scholarly impact of our 2017 PhD graduates who are shaping knowledge across the policy and planning fields. These students address, for example, technological innovations in local governments, renewable energy policies, and demographic trends in housing markets, among many other critical topics.

Nearly 50 Price students ventured abroad this summer as part of our international labs to tackle topics including improving air quality in China, strengthening resilience against environmental and public safety challenges in Brazil, leveraging social media to improve disaster management in Italy, and comparative governance in Germany.

Our global influence continues with the launch of the new Global Master of Public Policy, an innovative degree offered jointly with Hong Kong University that combines residencies and experiential learning with online instruction.

Another partnership, with the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), explored the evolving roles of states in addressing environmental issues, health care and other crucial matters at the Governing Across the Divide fall symposium in Sacramento. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra provided opening remarks at the event — the first NAPA forum held outside of the Washington, D.C., metro area.

As California continues to grapple with an affordable housing crisis, our Urban Growth Seminar hosted State Assemblyman Richard Bloom and Senator Scott Wiener for a discussion with Professor Marlon Boarnet about legislative efforts to ease the shortage.

Expanding the diversity of our field by opening pathways for underrepresented groups remains a key priority, as exemplified by the our USC Public Service Weekend, which introduced college students to public service careers and their role in promoting social justice. The workshop was a partnership with the Public Policy & International Affairs Program and NASPAA, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration.

In response to the tragedy in Charlottesville, USC Price held a Policy Forum – featuring Associate Professor Lisa Schweitzer and Professor Erroll Southers – to examine hate speech as well as the policy implications and responses to racism and extremism after the violence.

Knowledge in Action

Knowledge in Action kicks off with the Price School’s participation in the inaugural USC Bovard Scholars program, which brought 50 select high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds to campus for college and career preparation.

We were also pleased to celebrate the 16th annual USC Diversity in Healthcare Leadership Initiative Summer Enrichment Program, which, under the direction of Professor LaVonna Lewis, introduces students to careers in health administration over the course of a weeklong seminar.

Safe Communities institute Director Erroll Southers took part in the 2017 National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans, where he analyzed the definition of ‘terrorism’ and laid out the challenges of extremism. He also warned of the tragedy in Charlottesville, and soon after published an opinion piece in USA Today.

The state’s housing crisis was the focus of our 28th annual Demographic Workshop, held in partnership with the Southern California Association of Governments. With the theme “Volatile Demographics: How High and How Low,” the forum also addressed California’s slowing population growth.

Global Reach

In more examples of our Global Reach, Professor and Director of the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation Gary Painter journeyed to Bogotá, Colombia, to witness the unique learning model of UNIMINUTO, which has led to more than 100,000 students committing themselves to social impact work.

Our reach also extends to Armenia, where the Price School is pursuing a plan to establish a special doctoral program in public policy and management. The effort behind the USC Price Armenian Scholars program was developed by Professor Frank Zerunyan.

USC Price welcomed students from China, Hong Kong and Brazil for the first-ever International Summer Scholars Program, a two-week intensive offered by the Price School’s Office of Global Engagement, directed by Professor Eric Heikkila.

Professor Heikkila also delivered the keynote address at the International Association of China Planning annual conference in Harbin, China.

Students & Alumni

Turning to Student Achievements, we hope you enjoy reading about the experiences of our Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development students who interned at leading firms throughout Los Angeles.

We also share the serendipitous story of Jamiko Bell DPPD ’17, who, after a chance meeting while searching for a dissertation topic, fulfilled that need by developing a pilot program for Riverside County that would train and employ older adults to deliver social services.

This issue’s Alumni Spotlight shines on Liana Elliott, MPL/MPP ’14, who currently serves as the Chief of Staff to the New Orleans City Council president, while also having co-founded a new community radio station that features programming dedicated to human rights and social justice.

Research News

In our Research News, you can view a compilation of our most recent journal publications, grant awards, accolades and presentations. The research section also includes a study led by Professor Marlon Boarnet, associate director of METRANS, on the impact that being able to bike or rideshare to public transit stops has on job access for low-wage workers.

The USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy has released Detroit’s Grand Bargain: Philanthropy as a Catalyst for a Brighter Future, a case study describing the pivotal role of foundations in resolving the city’s bankruptcy crisis in 2013.

Schaeffer Center researchers co-authored a study showing how uninsured patients can save money on prescriptions by buying at independent pharmacies and using coupons.

As always, these are just a few examples of Price’s dynamic research, forums and outreach. This impactful work – in overcoming divisions, and providing evidence-based analysis to solve problems – would not be possible without your support. Thank you for your continued partnership in helping us shape the world for the better.


Jack H. Knott, Dean
C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Chair and Professor
USC Sol Price School of Public Policy