Reviewing 15 Years

 

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One month ago we celebrated our 15th anniversary. As part of the festivities, we created a photo collection of some of our most memorable moments over the years. The process allowed us to reflect on how many students, faculty, community partners and staff have contributed to our success. The photos capture moments ranging from our students traveling to Bolivia and India with the Privett Global Service-Learning program, interning at senate offices with USF in D.C., to protesting at the Women’s March in multiple cities, to inviting some of the most influential leaders of the day. The slideshow highlights our commitment to preparing students for lives of ethical public service and the common good. Thanks to all of our generous sponsors who make our work possible!

 

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Changing Transportation: My Path from USF to Sacramento

Simonds train photoshoot

Shannon Simonds
Master of Arts in Urban Affairs ’16
Transportation Planner, Caltrans

When I started at Master of Arts in Urban Affairs program at the University of San Francisco I just knew that I was interested in understanding the opportunities to mitigate climate change through urban transportation policies and planning. To be working for the state of California as a transportation planner at Caltrans just two years later as an alumna of the Urban Affairs program is still a little crazy to me; but also very exciting.

As a graduate student, I tailored my classes and research to focus on different aspects of transportation as it relates to the environment and urban spaces—and it worked! I get to work in the field I studied and get to learn something new every day. I currently work on the Rail Planning team developing the 2018 State Rail Plan. I am working to coordinate commuter, regional and intercity trains with freight and local bus routes to create a truly integrated, state-wide system. I like that I get to learn about a new area of transportation for me—rail while bringing in a new perspective that tries to incorporate climate sensitivities and equity into the rail planning processes.

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Life is Not Linear – Learning to Fight for Equity, Diversity, and Democracy in San Francisco

Woo MAUA

David Woo
Master of Arts in Urban Affairs candidate ’17

I decided late last summer to apply to the Master of Arts in Urban Affairs program at the University of San Francisco (USF) in a move to change my career path. As an undergraduate at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), I studied both chemistry and sociology. While I was passionate about both fields, upon graduating I ended up working with the Environmental, Health, and Safety department at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) in the chemical safety department. While the work I was doing was important, I was not doing the type and scope of work that I truly wanted to do – that is work that addresses issues surrounding social justice. After moving back home to San Francisco after graduating UCSC, there were apparent differences brought about by the technology boom. Increased displacement, skyrocketing housing prices, and a general feeling of unease as trendy boutiques went up in the place of longtime neighborhood serving establishments.

After leaving my job at UCSF I took some time off to reconsider what I wanted out of my career. The serious crisis in San Francisco brought about by rising economic inequality was in full force and my desire to get involved in social justice work ultimately led me to the Urban Affairs program at USF. While I was unsure if I was too late to apply, the staff at the USF McCarthy center took the time to respond to all my questions and helped me get an application in very quickly, well past the official deadline to apply to the program. Having previously been interested in sociology, political activism, and social change movements in college, the interdisciplinary focus of the program seemed like a great fit. Continue reading

3 Numbers To Know About Our Masters Programs

The Master of Public Affairs and Practical Politics (MoPA) program was founded in 2010 and graduated its first cohort in 2011. The vision of MoPA was to prepare students to thrive in the public affairs and political worlds that is unique to the Bay Area. A few years later in 2013, the Master of Arts in Urban Affairs (Urban) was established. Urban was designed to train students to graduate ready to be specialists in analyzing the policy challenges of 21st century urbanism—providing the skills and the knowledge to be effective leaders in community-driven urban policy and projects.

Here are MoPA and Urban by-the-numbers:

2years

Both MoPA and Urban allow students to earn a master’s degree in two years. The shift from an 18 month program to a 2-year program provides our students a better opportunity to focus on their capstones and internships more intensively. Read about the experiences from some of our graduating MoPA and Urban candidates

MoPA/Urban faculty

Calvin Welch, Keally McBride, Ronald Sundstrom, Larry Magid, Rachel Brahinsky, Tenoch Flores, Nicole Derse, Larry Kamer, Kristin Stimpson, Brian Weiner, Ed Harrington, Lisa Feldstein, Tanu Sankalia, Egon Terplan, Alex Clemens, David Saah, Kevin Hickey, Rebecca Gordon, and Chris Carlsson.

In the 2015-2016 academic year, 19 full-time and adjunct faculty teach classes for both MoPA and Urban. Our faculty are renowned professors and practitioners in their fields of advocacy and lobbying, non-profits, communications, political analysis, data visualization, gentrification, public finance, and more!

80%

Since MoPA’s beginning in 2010, the job placement rate within 6 months of graduating consistently remains above 80%. As of May 2015, we have 110 MoPA and Urban alums! That’s a lot of people to connect with. Our alumni work in non-profits, government sectors, and in private-public partnerships. To read about one alumna’s work, check out alumna, Alia Al-Sharif’s blog!

 

May 1 deadline

Applications close May 1 for the Master of Public Affairs and Master of Arts in Urban Affairs programs – apply today!

Several students were able to turn their educational career into reality through scholarship funding from generous supporters who believe in our mission. Consider donating today – every little bit helps provide students the opportunity to achieve their higher education dream.

Random acts of kindness

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Rebecca McDowell
Master of Public Affairs and Practical Politics candidate ’16

There’s a quote I frequently think of that’s often used when tragic events happen in the world – the Boko Haram kidnapping, the Paris attack, Newtown shooting, Boston bombing, Colorado shootings, Kenya attack and countless others. This quote is well known if you grew up like I did watching Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
― Fred Rogers

The reason I mention this is because December brings around holiday feelings and the season of giving. Helping others and sharing kindness to the world should be a year round tradition, but often times it can be lost with the business of living or is only noticed during tragic events. The holiday season brings with it a reminder for us to pause and notice those around us and the joy of giving instead of receiving. Growing up in school my principal always reminded us that giving does not necessarily mean only expensive gifts, but through acts of kindness – letting someone know how important they are to you, lending a listening ear, etc. These lessons were instilled in me from a young age and I continue to try to live them out in my everyday life. As a candidate in the Master of Public Affairs program in the Leo T. McCarthy Center at the University of San Francisco studying politics, ethical leadership and what it means to serve others – I continue to see how important these lessons of kindness are in the way of how people work together and help others.

These thoughts and reflection prompted me to create a random acts of kindness calendar for the month of December as a reminder that kindness goes a long way and truly does help make the world a better place. There are some open spots left – what random act of kindness would you suggest? Write your ideas in the comments below!

DECEMBER Random acts of kindness 2015(1)

 

Elections and Democracy – San Francisco Style

Corey Cook headshot

Corey Cook 
Corey Cook, Professor of Politics is currently on leave but is still a critical observer of local, state and national politics. Professsor Cook regularly contributes to the McCarthy Center blog while he establishes the School of Public Service at Boise State University.

As my friend Jon Bernstein pointed out in a Bloomberg View piece last year, the timing of our elections can have a profound consequence for policy and governance. For instance, the specific timing of the economic crash in 2008 had important implications for President Obama’s agenda. Had the recession started sooner, unemployment would have likely bottomed out before the president assumed office (rather than in October of his first year). In that scenario, the Tea Party summer might have never occurred and John Boehner is still Speaker, if not Nancy Pelosi. Alternatively, had the recession started just a few months later (unemployment began rising in May of 2008 before spiking between the election and inauguration) most certainly the 2008 election would have been closer and the Democrats would likely have gained far fewer seats in the Congress. In other words, a later recession, and there is probably no Affordable Care Act or second Obama administration, an earlier recession, and there is likely no Tea Party revolt. In either case, Obama still wins the 2008 election, but the meaning of that election – the size of the mandate, the context in which the new executive takes office and governs – is quite different.

So what does this have to do with San Francisco?

Next week, somewhere between one third and two-fifths of San Francisco registered voters will participate in a municipal election. It’s a sleepy election. Of the five citywide races, three involve incumbents running unopposed, the mayor will win re-election easily against underfunded challengers, and one race, the election for county sheriff, is considered competitive, though it likely won’t be close. Instead, most of the attention on election night will be focused on a single supervisorial district (which will reportedly exceed $1 million in campaign spending) and a handful of hotly contested ballot measures. You might suspect that San Franciscans overwhelmingly approve of the job that Ed Lee is doing as mayor and endorse his policies, and surely his supporters will make that claim next week, but that would ignore the context of the election.

Make no mistake, Ed Lee will win handily and his supporters will declare it a clear affirmation of his policies. But the reality is that San Francisco voters remain conflicted. While the mayor is credited for presiding over a sustained economic boom (unemployment fell from over 9% to a shade over 3% during his five years in office), San Franciscans remain deeply troubled by the skyrocketing cost of living, the displacement of lower and middle income residents, and a general loss of community. They are dissatisfied with the state of transit and infrastructure and the failure of the city to adequately address homelessness.

Just over ten months ago, when leading contenders to challenge the mayor contemplated taking the plunge, the mayor’s solid poll numbers and extensive (some might say excessive) campaign war chest dissuaded entry into the race. He was coming off a successful fall election and about six months of good press. But since that time, it’s been anything but smooth sailing. One of the unforeseen consequences of the shift from a majority runoff to a ranked choice election is that a late insurgency (like that waged by Tom Ammiano against Mayor Willie Brown in 1999) are all but precluded. It’s not enough for someone to hold the mayor under 50% and take a shot in a runoff. Instead, an insurgent candidate would have to win outright in November, a tall task. But were the election six months from now, I wonder if the mayor would face a far stiffer challenge. And, as is always the case, his detractors are likely to claim some victories of their own in down-ballot contests and on some of the ballot measures.

“Elections Matter”

To quote president Obama, “elections matter”. But our interpretations of election results are typically vast overreaches that depend too much on the randomness of the timing of an election. And if history is any guide, the battle over which faction “won” is likely to be as hotly contested after the results are announced as before. As Bernstein writes, “if we see (election outcomes) as registering the preferences of voters on the issues and regard them as definitive, then we weaken democracy.” While those candidates who emerge victorious on election day have earned the legal mandate to govern, let’s not presume that voters have endorsed the victors’ positions on every issue and embrace the simplistic notion promulgated every four years that we have effectively “handed over the keys of the car.” Democracy demands much more than that.