18 Nov

Social Change / Rooted Innovation – New Course Spring 2019

Our very own Professor Dmitri Seals will be launching the Rooted Innovation Lab in the spring of 2019. Exploring the theory and practice of Social Change, this course seeks to create meaningful partnerships with social impact organizations that allow them to leverage the best of our student’s social innovation talents as well as provide students with substantive learning and developmental opportunities. Through collaborating with organizations in solving key problems, students will develop key skills and networks to drive their work as leaders and catalysts for social change after graduation.

Click here to learn more!

Here’s the word from the gram:

18 Nov

Dec 10-14: Civic & Social Innovation Summit

The Civic and Social Innovation Group (CaSIG) is a group of faculty, staff, and students on CSU-LA’s campus stewarding the next generation of change makers. The Civic and Social Innovation Summit (CaSIS) is our signature event featuring the work of our students who have been working very hard for the entire semester to develop ideas that will make people and places better.

In 6 course sessions from December 10 to 14, at least 100 students working in teams will showcase their ideas in pitch style sessions covering a range of issues including gentrification, recidivism, education, mental health, transparency in public finance, environmental injustice, sexism, racism and more.

<—– CLICK HERE TO RSVP —–>

Whether you are a student, faculty, family, or community partner, we would be honored by your presence as students share their innovative ideas for positive social change!

06 Oct

Unions, inequality, and wealth: Making visible the value of worker power

With new evidence that the middle class may be vanishing, the role of unions in driving the expansion of the American middle class in the mid-20th century is a hot topic again. Arguments for worker power are rooted in research that shows that unions help families build wealth and secure the wages they need to create opportunities for their children.

Unions have been a partisan issue for decades, but the best statistical models reveal that the relationship is simple: the more people join unions, the more wages rise and the more wage inequality declines. Despite the troubled history of racism in unions, the wage premium for workers is even higher for less-educated workers and workers of color.

How to make the value of unions visible? The Economic Policy Institute put together a strong chart showing how income inequality, but they missed two opportunities: using a secondary axis to normalize scale and tracking wealth inequality. At the top of this post is what the chart looks like tracking income inequality with a secondary axis on the right.

And here’s wealth inequality over the same time period:

The regression studies linked above are a crucial part of the picture, and without them the graphs above wouldn’t have nearly the power that they do. With the backing of statistical models, these charts make visible how important worker power should be to any vision for a more equal world.

31 Aug

Political exclusion patterns: who gets ignored?

How can cities fight political inequality and push toward an equal voice for all their residents? The everyday grind of politics elevates some voices and leaves others behind, but there often aren’t ways to trace who is being ignored. So I developed a set of tools to measure, critique, and ultimately change exclusion patterns in city politics.

Talking with neighbors in West Oakland and the insightful students of the Bay Area Urban Debate League back in the day revealed a potential trap: when asked where they would go with a problem in their city, most people said they would go to a city council meeting – but every expert I talked to said that those meetings were the last place an everyday person should go to have their voice heard.

It wasn’t hard to find people who had attempted to engage their council and left feeling disappointed, shot down, or ignored – and I had a hunch that this experience was widely shared. So I put together a research project to trace patterns in political exclusion in the city councils of Oakland and Berkeley – who gets listened to and who goes ignored – and developed a toolkit for anyone who wants to trace exclusion patterns in their own cities.

The context: National political inequality

From all the think pieces debating the role of the working class in the 2016 presidential elections, it would be easy to get the idea that low-income people are highly engaged and empowered in American politics. On average this is far from true. Class-based political inequality is still real, with census data showing that the voting gap is big as ever:

Starting into the research, my hunch was that everyday political institutions like city councils contribute to this political inequality by giving less attention, affirmation, and applause to non-elites. In diverse liberal cities like these, it’s hard to find open prejudice by race or gender by a public official, so they are perfect places to study implicit bias – and the first step in fighting implicit bias is bringing invisible patterns to light.

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30 Aug

Civic and Social Innovation Group @ Cal State LA

The new semester has begun and over 200 students are digging in to the hard work of community-based social impact with the Civic and Social Innovation Group. We just launched research projects to learn from our neighbors, colleagues, and families who are facing down issues from racial prejudice to gentrification, from economic opportunity to health care access.

The Civic & Social Entrepreneurship Summits have been amazing, but they’re just the beginning. The Rooted Innovation Incubator will help a cohort of students go beyond the #entrepreneurial phase of ideation. The Social Innovation Prize competition financially supports students with groundbreaking #ideas that can #makeadifference. The Social Impact Career Fair gives students the opportunity to connect with up and running organizations that #dogood. Stay tuned on social media, much more to come from CaSIG: