Urban & Environmental Policy

Meet Seva Rodnyansky of the urban & environmental policy department, who researches economic development, housing, governance, land-use policy, transportation and urban economics.

What attracted you to Occidental?

The tight-knit community among faculty and staff and the culture of caring for students was attractive to me and unique among the places where I interviewed. Faculty are genuine and care deeply about their pedagogy as well as their research contribution. Plus, the UEP department offers a blend of urban planning, environmental policy and community organizing that punches above its weight relative to peer programs.

What are your early impressions of classroom life?

So far, students are engaged and engaging, the discussions robust, and new topics are continually brought up and explored in class and beyond. I feel lucky to have hard-working students who care about the world and making it better generally, and especially for underserved populations.

What do you see as the value of a liberal arts education?

A liberal arts education instills how to think critically and communicate that critical reasoning to a variety of audiences. Through broad exposure, small class sizes, an emphasis on reading and discussion, and interdisciplinary requirements, Occidental is developing students ready to take on 21st-century challenges.

You have a number of manuscripts at various stages of the review process. Can you talk about a favorite research topic, and what you have learned from it?

My dissertation and some subsequent work is about moving: how often, where and what type of people make residential moves. This seemingly trivial, yet understudied, portion of human lives has large ramifications for policy and planning. Moving is a dynamic process: who moves in and out dictates the level of service governments and private agencies need to provide, from free school lunch and public transit to affordable housing and translation services. Static processes are easier to conceptualize and count—but, without including moving, it is easy to provide inadequate type or level of policy response.