Fall 2018


A Response to Homelessness: Creating Community and Campus Support

Moderator: Rick Cole, Santa Monica City Manager

In conjunction with the SMC Public Policy Institute, the SMC Associates are sponsoring an expert panel discussion with top community members working to find solutions to this issue.

  • Alisa Orduña, City of Santa Monica Senior Advisor on Homelessness
  • John Maceri, Executive Director, The People Concern
  • Student Leaders from Students 4 Students Shelter
  • Dr. Nancy Grass, Dean, Student Life, Santa Monica College
  • Dr. Debra Locke, Administrator with EOPS & Foster Youth programs at Santa Monica College

Featuring a Resource Fair with campus and community groups that provide food, shelter, and services to the homeless and food insecure.

October 17, 2018

5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

The Broad Stage
1310 11th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Save the Date

Fall Arts and Cultural Affairs Forum’s Annual Celebration of Public Policy, Music and Dance November 13-30, 2018: “There Goes the Neighborhood” Gentrification in the Context of LatinX, Queer Spaces and Social Justice and the Westside Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.”

PPI is preparing another compelling roster of educational and thoughtful programming to engage Santa Monica College students and the greater Santa Monica community around important public policy issues.

Beginning the week of November 13, 2018, PPI, in conjunction with the Women’s Studies Department, will host a week of screenings of the television series, “Vida,” which devels into the tricky issues of gentrification and displacement in an East Los Angele community. Discussions will explore a range of perspectives on the intersectionality of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion and more, and how public policies stem or exacerbate the issues that arise. The week will also an unnamed Theater experience and a panel on how art changes the landscape of communities. The Forum will culminate, once again, with PPI sponsored performances of “The Nutcracker” in conjunction with the The Westside Ballet Company and the Santa Monica College Music Department. Visit the PPI website at smc.edu/PPI regularly for details on the Fall Arts and Cultural Affairs forum and other PPI related news.


Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute Celebrates the 7th Annual Spring Symposium with "Healing."


The 2018 Spring Symposium of the Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute examined the ways that the implementation of specific health care related policies and initiatives can either restrict or empower citizens who are living through the challenges of everyday life. "Healing: Mending Lives and Seeking Healthfulness Through Innovative Policies and Approaches" presented students and community members with documentary and film screenings, panel discussions, and student dialogues to delve into the health care policy track of the Public Policy Institute.


Mindful Monday Screening of Life in Color

Santa Monica College Professor Mickey Birnbaum (left) discusses Life in Color with director Bishal Dutta (far right), and collaborators (left to right) Olivia Shapiro, Matt McClendon and Matthew Lynn.

The week began with the screening of SMC student film, Life in Color, an official selection in competition at The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Life in Color explored one man's experiences with dementia, regret, and growing older and the strain placed upon family to provide support. After viewing the film in the new SMC Center for Media and Design Theater, the student creators engaged in a discussion moderated by SMC Film Production Program Professor Mickey Birnbaum to discuss the film's issues, mindfulness and mental health.


Tuesday Activity Hour Discussion: Flourishing? What's It Gonna Take?

Continuing the tradition of engaging students to dialogue about how public policy decisions can shift culture and opinions, professors Paul Klumpe, Amber Katherine, and Ali Mohsen compared the ways that popular movies, humor, and social policies can help or hinder us from flourishing in today's world.


Thursday Events: The Interrelationship Between Physical and Psychological Healing, and Exploring the Role of Public Health in Guiding Public Policy

Operation Mend staff (left to right) Melanie Gideon, Claire Suomi, and Erik Matsumura speaking to students.

Tuesday's activity hour discussion about the path to positive mental health was a good segue into Thursday's events, which delved into the critical role that public-private partnerships play in leading to healthy and positive policies and outcomes. "Healing the Body, Mending the Mind" introduced the SMC community to Operation Mend, an innovative UCLA program that provides advanced medical treatment, comprehensive psychological support, and an intensive treatment program for post-9/11-era service members, veterans, and their families who are recovering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. Operation Mend advocates that treating the interconnected physical, psychological, and emotional injuries leads to the most successful healing from trauma.


Thursday Events: The Interrelationship Between Physical and Psychological Healing, and Exploring the Role of Public Health in Guiding Public Policy

SMC Co-Chairs Shari Davis and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein introduce panelists Dr. Jody Heymann and Mayra Alvarez.

Later Thursday evening, PPI expanded on the notion that looking at issues through an intersectional lens leads to the most effective societal outcomes. The keynote panel, "How Does Health Policy Impact Lives and Opportunity?" featuring Dr. Jody Heymann, Dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and Mayra Alvarez, President of The Children's Partnership, in conversation with PPI Co-Director Shari Davis, examined how access to health care, particularly through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as other essential services, like education, can lead to better health and economic outcomes in underserved communities. The panelists also discussed the importance of implementing mechanisms to survey and evaluate policies to ensure that policies are working. Students were able to ask questions of the panelists that both helped understand their work, as well as to explore the potential ways that PPI students can use public policy in a variety of employment fields.


Keynote Event: Screening of Academy Award Winning Documentary, "Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On the 405"

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405The 7th Annual Spring Symposium culminated with a remarkable treat for the Santa Monica College community. The Public Policy Institute welcomed producer/director Frank Stiefel to screen his Academy Award winning documentary, "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405" at the Aero Theater. "Heaven" follows visual artist Mindy Alper, as she shares how she channels her managing her mental health challenges into creating her artwork, which include vivid drawings and larger papier-mâché sculptures. After the film, Mr. Stiefel and Ms. Alper discussed the innovative ways that art helped Ms. Alper survive and thrive living with her mental health issues.

The Spring Symposium provides students (and the community) with the critical information necessary to understand existing societal issues, and, in many cases, to develop the empathy necessary to appropriately and effectively devise strategies to resolve those issues. By presenting how our society addresses health, particularly mental health, care challenges, PPI students were able to examine how they can use the skills they are learning either in their prospective careers or in the course of earning an advanced degree in Public Policy.


Public Policy Institute Graduates Record Number of Students with Degrees in Public Policy

During the June 2018 Graduation of Santa Monica College, the Public Policy Institute celebrated a record 95 students matriculating with degrees in Public Policy. In order to earn the Public Policy Degree, all PPI graduates were required to complete an Experiential Learning Unit (known as PoliSci 95), which placed them within a variety of governmental and nongovernmental agencies that have a role in developing and/or implementing public policies intended to affect and change society. Each student was required to develop a reading list customized to the focus of the particular agency and complete a minimum of 30 hours of volunteer work with that agency. The externship culminated with an exit presentation with the faculty advisor. Through each PoliSci 95 placement, students received an immersive experience exposing the student to organized, meaningful public policy research and implementation in substantive policy arenas.

This year's remarkable class served in an array of placements, including:

  • BeautifyEarth;
  • Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce;
  • Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District;
  • Santa Monica College Board of Trustees.

Although the vast majority of PoliSci95 Experiential Learning students hold placements within the surrounding Santa Monica community, at least 2 PPI graduates gained experience and perspective in other areas: one student served with a homeless services shelter in Las Vegas and another student served on the campaign of a candidate running for mayor in the city of San Francisco. The variety of Experiential Learning placements is a testament to the reputation of the PPI as well as the myriad ways that public policies impact our everyday lives.

Several PPI graduates are moving on to continue their study of public policy at the university level and/or pursue careers where their public policy background will be utilized. For more information on our graduates and where they are headed, keep an eye on the PPI website where we will periodically profile this year and previous PPI graduates. Congratulations to the PPI class of 2018!

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