Dear Friends,

As the Luskin Center for History and Policy (LCHP) enters its fourth year, we stand at an exciting moment in our history—but at a perilous moment in our country’s history.  The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we go about our business at UCLA and in the world at large.  The movement for racial justice following the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks has highlighted the urgency of rectifying deep structural inequities in American society.  And the current political environment has never before been as toxic or combustible as in recent memory.

We do not have the luxury of observing from the sidelines.  Our mission at UCLA is to serve the public.  And our mission at the Luskin Center is to plumb the depths of the past to orient, guide, and warn us as we chart a forward course. Indeed, we study change in the past to make change in the future.  In doing so, we are modeling a new form of research that skillfully links past and present, history and policy.

Each of us has a role to play in the repair of our society. Over the past year and into the fall, LCHP initiated research projects that leveraged textured study of the past to address key issues of the day.  These projects, which counted faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students as team members, included:

  • A study of the past and present of homelessness in Los Angeles;
  • A study of the history of race and racism at UCLA over the course of a century;
  • A study of the university’s response to financial crisis, especially the 2008-09 Great Recession;
  • A study of California’s response to pandemics in the last hundred years;
  • A study of the history of voter access and suppression in the State of California;
  • A study spearheaded by undergraduates on the ongoing scourge of white nationalism in Southern California
  • A multi-faceted study by undergraduates about the effectiveness of U.S. economic and humanitarian aid in the Middle East.

All of these projects bear two central traits: first, they rely on a careful examination of the past; and second, they took rise out of and respond to major problems in today’s world.

I also invite you to check out and listen to our new podcast “Then & Now,” which brings the past into dialogue with the present through conversations with leading scholars, public officials, and activists. And stay abreast of upcoming events, news, and reports by signing up for our email announcements and following us on social media.

Never have we needed to understand how and why we got where we are as much as today.  That’s our job at the Luskin Center—to use the past as a guide to the future.  Please join us by engaging our important work and by considering a donation to advance it in these challenging times.  And if you are part of an organization or effort requires a serious historical analysis to explain the present, please contact us. And at any time, please let me know your thoughts about our work by emailing


David N. Myers

Kahn Professor of History and Director, LCHP