Occidental's Urban and Environmental Policy (UEP) major is an interdisciplinary program for students who want to change the world.
It combines politics, planning, environmental policy, public health, urban studies, economics, sociology, and other disciplinary approaches. The UEP program recognizes that "urban" and "environmental" are very much interconnected and that issues of economic and environmental justice are integrally linked to where and how we live, work, play, eat, and go to school. Topics covered in the program include housing and community development, public health, land use and transportation, food and resource issues, education, immigration, air and water quality, water and energy supply, poverty and social welfare, criminal justice, race and gender and class relations, globalization, and other topics at the local, state, national and international levels.
The UEP major is a unique combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience in the field of public affairs and civic action. Students learn the skills of social science and public policy analysis with special emphasis on applying those skills in the real world. It is an intensive major designed for students with a strong interest in such public service careers as government, law, human services, urban and/or environmental planning, public health, community organizing, social work, journalism and communications, socially responsible business, or academia.
The goal of Occidental's UEP program is not simply to produce policy experts, but to educate students to think and to act critically in the realm of public affairs. The program includes careful consideration of ethical issues that arise in the formulation and implementation of public policy. It trains the next generation of change agents and future leaders how to think critically and creatively and act effectively to solve problems and improve society.
Students become involved in the real world of urban and environmental policy through internships in government agencies, political campaigns, grassroots community and environmental organizations, public interest groups, social service agencies, labor unions, health organizations, food justice groups, and other settings. Students also learn how to conduct practical applied research by working with and for "clients" ─ such as community groups in the
Students interested in the UEP major should have a strong commitment to public service and social change, be interested in working on group projects with other students, and be available to become involved in community activities.
The UEP program is conducted through a series of intensive seminars in the junior and senior years, with introductory courses available in the frosh and sophomore years. These seminars deal with real-world issues. The course of study includes developing skills in public policy analysis, internships, community participation, a research project with an applied policy focus, and leadership training. In addition to the prerequisites and the core seminars, students are encouraged to take electives in a variety of disciplines to sharpen their expertise in different policy areas and approaches.
Another important part of the program will be attendance at luncheons and at meetings with visiting public policymakers, journalists, and other practitioners in addition to regular course work.
Some students may choose to spend a fall semester in the Campaign Semester program (offered in alternate Presidential and Congressional election years); or their junior year in the Occidental-at-the-United Nations program; in urban or environmental internships; or in one of the fall or spring semester abroad programs sponsored or approved by the college.
During their senior year, students will design and complete a policy-oriented comprehensive project. This project may take several forms. It can include a traditional research paper, a hands-on policy research report, a group comprehensive project, a study conducted for a community-based "client" group, or others. Students will be encouraged to undertake a project that has an applied focus that includes original research.
In addition to the coursework, students also have the opportunity to participate in the research, education, and community-based activities of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI). UEPI is the research and advocacy program arm of UEP and a leader in community engagement at
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