Urban & Environmental Policy


101 - Environment and Society

This is an introductory course on environment and society, designed for students with an interest in urban and environmental issues who might want to pursue further studies in Urban and Environmental Policy. It is also offered for those who are interested in the topic even though they will be pursuing another major. The course will include lectures and presentations in several different topical areas; films and speakers that provide insight into the environmental problems and alternative solutions, including those based here in Los Angeles; and class discussions and presentation sessions on the readings and topics. The course provides an broad introduction into core topics in urban and environmental policy such as: : water issues (where our water comes from); wastes and hazards issues (sources and impacts of pollution); climate change, transportation and land use issues (where we work and live and commute); nature in the city (the urban environment); and food system issues (where our food comes from and how it is manufactured and sold), the intersection of science and policy, and others.

201 - Environmental Health and Policy

This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the environmental factors impacting human and ecological health, including consequences of natural and human-made hazards.  Environmental health is a rapidly growing and interdisciplinary field that involves both science and public policy.  It is integrated into numerous aspects of our lives, both directly and indirectly. Topics to be covered include food safety, water access and equality, pesticides, air quality, the identification of environmental hazards, the assessment of various risks (including exposure to dangerous chemicals used in toys, food, workplaces, and other activities), and the social and biological causes of disease (epidemiology), Students will gain an understanding of environmental health analytical and scientific methods. We will also explore ways that communities and policy-makers seek to address environmental health challenges.  A common thread running through the course will be an examination of how exposure to environmental and health risks vary among different population groups, in the Los Angeles area, in the United States, and around the world and the ways that scientific issues become embedded in and inseparable from issues of policy, regulation, and justice. We will also explore the role of science in environmental policy-making, the enforcement of regulations, and the efforts of community groups to influence public policy.  (Students are encouraged to enroll in Geology 150, a laboratory science, that in parallel explores the spatial and geographic dimensions of environmental health. Prerequisite: Not open to frosh without instructor permission.


203 - Introduction to Public Health

This course explores the nation's public health challenges, the epidemiological basis of public health, and ways that public health functions as a combination of science and politics. The course examines the special vulnerabilities of low income and medically underserved populations who often work, reside, attend school, and play in neighborhoods with disproportionate exposures and poor quality medical care. The goal is to acquaint students with current public health issues, especially as they concern community, societal, and environmental influences on health and well-being.

204 - Environmentalism: Past, Present, and Future

The course presents a broad view of the roots of environmentalism, including the relationship of environmentalism with respect to issues of class, race, gender and ethnicity. It situates the history, present day circumstances, and future direction of the environmental movement within the broader study of environmental topics and methods. It also provides the background to understand better the significance of this crucial social movement and how it has addressed the complex relationships between urban, industrial, and natural environments.

210 - Transportation & Living Streets

Transportation and Living Streets is a class about streets: how streets influence the built environment and community life and how the use and design of streets embody competing visions of urban futures. Streets are like the DNA of a city or neighborhood. The ways that streets are designed, regulated, maintained and used impact more than traffic patterns. Streets exert influence over the buildings that line them. Streets and sidewalks affect how it "feels" to spend time in a community-whether people want to be out and about in a neighborhood; how they impact health and the local economy; how they determine mobility, walkability and bikeability; and how they shape daily and civic life and the diversity and openness of public places. This course will be taught in the classroom and on the streets of Los Angeles. Students will read and learn about the history of streets, policy debates on how to use and change streets, and social movements advocating for living streets. Students will also perform street observations and engage in community based learning by assisting community efforts to re-envision local streets. Prerequisite: UEP 101 or UEP 106 or Politics 106 (may be taken concurrently)


212 - Policy Debates and Controversies in Education – Panel Session

This course, UEP 212, Policy Debates and Controversies in Education, will be taught by L.A. School Board member Steve Zimmer. The course will consist of a series of high profile panel discussions about some of the major issues in Education today. These include "The Future of the Urban School District," "The Crisis in Public Education Funding," "Charter Schools and Public Education" and "The Future of Education Reform in Los Angeles and Beyond," among several topics to be developed. Board member Zimmer will then engage with students in a seminar discussion in the subsequent course UEP213 about the issues and debates and research opportunities that follow from the panel discussions.
2 units

213 - Policy Debates and Controversies in Education - Seminar Session

This course, UEP 213, Policy Debates and Controversies in Education, will be taught by L.A. School Board member Steve Zimmer. Students taking the course will be required to enroll in UEP 212 and attend a series of high profile panel discussions about some of the major issues in Education today. These include "The Future of the Urban School District," "The Crisis in Public Education Funding," "Charter Schools and Public Education" and "The Future of Education Reform in Los Angeles and Beyond," among several topics to be developed. The seminar will then engage in discussions about the topics explored in the Panel discussions on the major controversies in Education, and identify research topics related to the current policy debates within LAUSD as well as some of the broader debates within Education policy. Co-requisite UEP 212.
2 units.

214 - Education Policies and Politics Practicum

This 4 unit course provides students with an opportunity to engage in major research and internship opportunities around key Education Policy and Politics issues. UEP 212 and 213 are not prerequisites for UEP 214 but those courses are strongly recommended.

246 - Sustainable Oxy: Campus Greening

This course is designed to assess and develop recommendations regarding environmental issues related to the Occidental campus. Students will evaluate the College’s current practices, such as energy and water use, transportation and parking, building construction and maintenance, landscape and grounds maintenance, hazardous and solid waste generation and management, educational and outreach strategies, and how the College’s environmental issues relate to the larger Northeast Los Angeles community. Students will develop proposals and programs  to reduce resource use and the College’s overall ecological footprint, while also seeking to identify how the College can itself play a positive role in increasing the environmental sustainability of its neighboring community. The course is designed to develop environmental leadership skills with the campus as the arena for change.
Graded CR/NC
2 units

247 - Sustainable Oxy: Food Growing and Preparation

This course is designed to develop knowledge and skills about food growing and preparation, with a focus on the continuing development of the Occidental FEAST garden and related initiatives regarding increasing awareness about how to prepare food (cooking skills) and its importance in relation to food sourcing, health, and quality of life. The course is designed to increase student literacy about food issues and help develop the technical skills and leadership capacity regarding campus and community food system change. The course will also have student leaders helping shape the projects related to the development of the growing and preparing food skills. 
Graded CR/NC
2 Units

248 - Global Public Health

The course will examine major global public health problems and the range of responses from international organizations, transnational networks, and domestic and community-based institutions. Despite improvements in the health status of low- and middle-income countries over the last half-century, the challenges to advance global public health remain daunting. What are the sorts of strategies these actors have used in addressing such health issues as HIV/AIDS, malaria, unsafe food and water, tobacco use, and others? What is the role of human rights in addressing the underlying determinants of ill-health? The course will present basic concepts for understanding global public health, including morbidity, mortality, demography, epidemiology, and the political, social and economic determinants of health. We will utilize a case study method to examine successful and less successful efforts to improve global health and to debate enduring political, economic, social and cultural controversies in the arenas of global health. Students can expect to gain knowledge of the major issues and actors in global public health and an introduction to the analytic and quantitative skills needed to monitor and evaluate evidence used in formulating policies and programs. Same as DWA 248

249 - Public Health & Human Rights: Global and Local Practices

This course explores core concepts in global public health, the development of human rights instruments and mechanisms, and the intersecting of these fields in global public health and human rights advocacy. Specifically, we will review public health analysis to human rights problems and vice versa, examining how a rights-based approach to health can inform more critical and more productive approaches to issues such as gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS and other sexual and reproductive health concerns. Finally, this course examines how global public health issues have generated dramatically different responses across and within regions, countries, and communities and launched myriad human rights movements at the international and local levels. Same as DWA 249.

260 (POLS) - Work and Labor in America

Sooner or later, we all have to work ─ that is, get a job. Some people even have "careers." And some people are lucky enough to consider the work they do a "vocation" - something that is both intrinsically rewarding and useful to society. Work occupies much of our waking hours. For most people, the nature of our work determines the quality of our daily lives. This course will focus on the varieties of work (in different industries and occupations); how people experience their work on the job; how society shapes the work we do; how work shapes our family lives, our friendships, our health, and our self-esteem; and how the nature of work is changing in our increasingly global economy dominated by large corporations and sophisticated technology. The course will look at the future of work in the context of our changing economy, values, and technologies. We will pay particular attention to how organized groups - labor unions, consumer groups, business associations, and others have influenced the nature of work. We will also explore how government action (public policy) has shaped how our economy works and the rules governing the work we do. These include such matters as wages, hours, flex time, family leave, job security, workplace health and safety, the quality of goods and services, and workplace participation. We will explore such questions as: What makes work satisfying or unsatisfying? How have such ideas as "professional," "career," "working class," "middle class," and "job security" changed? Why do we have increasing problems of low-wage work and even "sweatshops" in a wealthy society? How do such factors as education, skill, race, and gender influence the kinds of work we do and how we experience our work? What are the chances of getting injured or sick because of working in a specific job? How do people balance work/career and family responsibilities? Do people experience work the same way in other democratic countries? What can be done to make the world of work better?

265 - Community Planning and Politics Practicum

Why do cities “look” the way they do? What explains the characteristics and geographic patterns of the physical, social, and demographic landscape of cities? How can community members influence these characteristics and patterns? Part of the answer lies in understanding the practice of urban planning and its intersection with political processes. This course will introduce students to the history, issues, concepts, tools, and techniques of urban planning. In addition to examining a wide body of literature pertinent to the theory and practice of urban planning, students will also study and discuss current planning issues and politics in Los Angeles with a particular focus on community-based planning initiatives. What are the politics of planning in LA? To extend Harold Laswell’s description of the study of politics: Who Gets What, When, How in the sphere of urban planning in Los Angeles? This introduction will serve as a foundation for major community based research project conducted in partnership with local non-profit community based organizations engaged in the planning process. Students will develop community-based research, writing, and presentation skills. Through this course, students will gain an understanding of the impact that planning decisions have on the lives of city residents and how these community members can actively and effectively engage in the politics of planning. Prerequisite: UEP 101 or Politics 101. Same as POLS 265

266 - Lobbying and Advocacy

This course examines the techniques and strategies used by both professional lobbyists and community based advocates to influence elected and appointed government decision makers. The course will explore the impacts lobbyists and community activists have on decision makers as they consider policy voices. The course will include discussions with elected and appointed government officials well as with professional lobbyists and community advocates. In addition to readings and speakers, the course will include case studies in order illustrate the concepts and provide students with real world examples viewed from multiple perspectives. Students will engage in role-plays in order to prepare and present a strategic plan to win support or oppose a community based project or citywide policy. Same as POLS 266. Prerequisite: POLS 101 or UEP 101

297 - Independent Study in UEP

Independent study project.  Prerequisite:  permission of instructor and department chair.

301 - Urban Policy and Politics

This seminar focuses on the origin and development of cities, suburbs, and urban areas. It explores the causes, symptoms, and solutions to such urban problems as poverty, housing, transportation, crime and violence, pollution, racial segregation, and neighborhood change. It also examines how power is exercised by different groups,, including  business, citizens' groups, community organizations, unions, the media, mayors and other government officials.  The course will also examine the role of city planning and planners, conflict and cooperation between cities and suburbs, problems of urban sprawl, loss of open space, water and energy resources. Students will learn about federal urban policy and the role of cities in national politics. The course will also compare  American cities with cities in Europe, Canada, and the developing world. Public policies to solve urban problems. Prerequisite: UEP 101 or UEP 106 or Politics 101or POLS 106 or permission of instructor. Same as POLS 301

302 - Housing Problems and Policy

This course examines how societies provide people with shelter - through market forces, government policy, and self-help efforts. The course will focus on the United States but will also look at other societies to help understand the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. approach. Students will examine such housing problems as homelessness, slums (substandard housing), the shortage of affordable housing, racial segregation, foreclosures, and other topics. It will examine the pros and cons, and different forms, of rental housing and homeownership. It will look at the connection between housing issues and the environment, public health, education, transportation, suburbanization and sprawl, poverty and inequality, and racism. Students will explore housing as an aspect of our culture, such as homeownership as the "American dream" and housing as a "haven." The course will explore the history of housing problems and housing policy, including zoning, racial discrimination, finance, public housing, different government subsidies for housing, and taxes. We will debate whether decent housing is a "right". We will look at housing problems and policies at the local, state, and national levels. Students will explore the politics of housing in terms of the various interest groups - including developers, banks, tenants, community organizations, landlords, contractors, unions, and others -- involved in shaping housing policy. Students will also learn about housing as part of the "built environment," architecture, land use, urban design, as a component of urban planning, and as a part of "livable" cities. They will also examine housing as a component of real estate development and explore what housing developments ─ whether for-profit or non-profit ─ do. Pre-requisite:UEP 101, Econ 101, Pols 101, Soc 101, UEP 106, or Pol 106

303 - Sustainable Development

This course examines sustainable development from a social, economic and environmental perspective. The course focuses on development strategies and approaches led by community-based, labor and nonprofit organizations in a context of traditional public and private-sector economic development approaches. Through lectures, field trips, discussion, guest speakers, and class exercises, students will examine the history and evolution of community and economic development strategies in urban neighborhoods and communities and link these approaches to the field of sustainable development. The course focuses on the historic and contemporary debates and issues in sustainable development and delves into the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development in Los Angeles by drawing on case examples from other urban regions across the country. Through the course, students will: 1) understand the historical, theoretical and policy context of community development; 2) understand community and economic decline and development processes; 3) examine the key strategies of community development and related field of community economic development; 4) explore the growing intersection of community development and sustainable development, including the greening of jobs, buildings, and urban design. Prerequisite: UEP 101 or UEP 106 or Politics 106 or permission of instructor.

304 - Research Methods for Urban & Environmental Policy

This course trains students in research methods and analysis to understand environmental, economic, social, and political issues relevant to urban planning, environmental studies, and related policy areas. Students will learn quantitative and qualitative methods with a particular emphasis on community based research methods. Through class lectures, discussions, field work, and group presentations, students learn and apply the most commonly used strategies for collecting, analyzing, and presenting data used in urban and environmental policy research and analysis. Students will work with commonly used data sets such as the Census, data sources for health, property ownership, toxic releases, campaign contributions, and other information used in urban planning, environmental, and public policy research. Students will also learn qualitative and basic quantitative research methods including survey construction and analysis, participant observation, case studies methodology,interview techniques, and basic data analysis using excel.The course will also address ethical challenges raised during collaborative research alongside community-based partners and advocacy groups. The course provides the research fundamentals for the comprehensive research projects in the UEP major. Prerequisite: UEP 101 or UEP 106 or Politics 106 or permission of instructor.

306 - Food and the Environment

This course will examine the range of issues associated with the food system, including environmental, economic, health, cultural, and social impacts related to how food is grown, processed and manufactured, distributed, sold, and consumed. This will include how the restructuring of the food system has led to such impacts as obesity (e.g., portion size, proliferation of certain products and fast food restaurants, trends towards eating out rather than eating in); enormous water quality, air quality, occupational health, and loss of biodiversity outcomes; the rise of functional foods, genetically modified products, and globally sourced and produced foods, at the same time that food as a core cultural experience is undermined or flattened; and, the global reordering, concentration, and industrialization of each component of the food system that affects the food experience. The geographic focus of the class will include both domestic and global aspects of the food system as well as issues that will be explored in the Los Angeles context. There will also be a Community based Learning component to the class, based on major research projects associated with the ongoing research, policy, educational, organizing, and program work of the Center for Food & Justice, which is a division of UEPI. Prerequisite: UEP 101  or UEP 106 or Politics 106.

307 - Public Health Practicum

The community health internship course is designed to provide students with real-world experiences to develop new skills and enhance insights into myriad community health issues, concerns, and solutions. Under supervision of the course instructor and in collaboration with a community proctor/partner, students will intern for 8-hours a week at a health focused non-profit organization, community clinic, or government agency. A combination of internship experience, class discussions, written reports, and journal entries will help students reflect on how health and health care are delivered in underserved communities. Before registering students should check to make sure that they are available during the preset internship hours. Internship hours and activities can be viewed at the Community Health Engagement website: http://bit.ly/1sDCTeJ
Prerequisite: UEP 203 (may be taken concurrently) or UEP 305. May be repeated one time.

308 - The Third Los Angeles Project

The Third Los Angeles Project is a weekly course and a series of public conversations at Occidental College. Directed by Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, the Third L.A. Project will examine a city that is moving into a dramatically new phase in its civic development. As it finally builds a comprehensive public transit system and pays serious attention to its long-neglected civic realm, Los Angeles in the midst of profound reinvention. Or perhaps it’s better to call it a serious identity crisis. Either way, the old clichés no longer apply. This is not the deeply private, car-dominated city it was for much of the postwar period. It is turning into a markedly different kind of place: more (if tentatively) public, more willing to test out various kinds of shared or collective urban space, from pocket parks and bike lanes to light-rail cars and denser, even high-rise housing. It is a city that will soon have a majority Latino population. It is a city facing the specter of climate change, trying to reimagine its river and re-calibrate its relationship with the natural world. At the same time, it’s important to remember that many of the things that L.A. is struggling to add and in fact grew infamous around the world for lacking in the post-war period – effective mass transit, places to walk, civic architecture, attractive and innovative multifamily housing – it produced in enviable quantities in the early decades of the 20th century. In the most basic sense, that’s why this initiative is called the Third Los Angeles. We are not just entering a new phase. We are also rediscovering the virtues and challenges of an earlier one -- and acknowledging the full sweep of L.A.’s modern history. The course readings will include texts by Carey McWilliams, Esther McCoy, Reyner Banham, Mike Davis, Anna Deavere Smith, Hector Tobar, Matthew Gandy, Paul Beatty and others. Public events (four in total) will be held during class time, on Wednesday evenings, some on campus and others elsewhere in the city. Events already planned include panels on the lawn in an age of climate change, the relationship between tech companies like Uber and Airbnb and the contemporary city and a discussion at the Hammer Museum between Christopher Hawthorne and Janette Sadik-Khan, former transportation commissioner for New York City. One Third L.A. panel in April, to be held on campus, will be entirely organized by students in the course, who will have the opportunity to choose the theme and select the speakers. There will also be at least one class walking tour: of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, home to Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Broad museum and complex urban-renewal case study. In addition, the KCET broadcast program ArtBound will be producing an hour-long special on the ideas behind the Third Los Angeles Project during the spring of 2016. Students will have the opportunity to meet the producers and writers of the program and get an inside look at its creation. This course is particularly recommended for students interested in literary non-fiction, journalism, architectural history and theory, urban planning, environmental policy or civic affairs. Prerequisite: UEP 101 or permission of instructor
2 units


310 - Community Organizing and Leadership

This seminar focuses the techniques of grassroots empowerment, particularly in urban settings. This includes the following topics: developing leadership skills for citizen participation and problem solving, using the media, building coalitions, choosing issues, doing action-oriented research, understanding the relations of power, mobilizing constituencies, developing a community oriented public policy agenda, the history of community organizing in the U.S., and comparison between community development, social work, and direct action organizing approaches. Must be taken simultaneously with UEP 311.

311 - Community Internship

This course provides opportunities for applying and learning through direct experience about the practice of community organization and leadership. Each student will work with a community-based organization engaged in influencing public policy for approximately 12-15 hours each week. Students will be supervised jointly by the faculty member and a staff person for the community organization. Must be taken simultaneously with UEP 310.

397 - Special Topics in Urban and Environmental Policy

Tutorial and Internship for junior or senior majors in Urban and Environmental Policy and other related disciplines under arrangement with faculty. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
2 or 4 units

410 - Senior Seminar: Controversies in Policy and Politics

Intensive study of the making of national and local public policy in the U.S., including the political environment in which policy debates take place. Extensive use will be made of case studies on a variety of domestic and international issues. Students will participate in the development of a major research project related to their senior comprehensive project on an individual or group basis.

411 - Applied Public Policy Practicum

Seminar to organize and complete a senior project demonstrating competence in applied public policy. The form and format of each student's project will vary. All students will make a presentation of their project and will critique each other's project.