The Unruh Institute of Politics is committed to bringing the academy and the public square together. As such, the Institute offers a Research Internship course that allows students to conduct extensive research and analysis on policy issues facing local, state, and federal government.
About the Policy Research Internship
Students will have the opportunity to work directly with partnering organizations. Examples of partnering organizations from previous semesters include the NALEO Education Fund, Green Dot Public Schools, Los Angeles City Council Offices, and California Strategies.
Students take part in a team-based research project where they will work to develop solutions in their respective policy areas by conducting interviews with policy experts, review academic and policy reports, and other primary and secondary sources. At the conclusion of the program, each team presents their final product to the partnering organization.
Spring 2024 Research Projects:
“The Impact of Eminent Domain on BIPOC Communities and Their Intergenerational Wealth in Los Angeles” with Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove
Meeting Time: Most Thursdays from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. First Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1
Eminent domain allows the government to expropriate property for public use, with payment of compensation and with or without the consent of the property owner. It is constitutionally allowed with limits. The Fifth Amendment states in part: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Federal, state, and city governments have used eminent domain to acquire land for roads, bridges, parks, public buildings, railroad tracks, transmission lines, and more.
Students will explore the use of eminent domain in the 37th Congressional district to address the core question: “How has eminent domain affected communities in south Los Angeles, especially Black communities within California’s 37th Congressional district? And what, if anything, should be done to address those impacts on land ownership, generational wealth, and community prosperity?”
Students can use infographics, spreadsheets, and other forms of data visualization to demonstrate their findings. They will provide a verbal presentation using a slide deck highlighting their research and recommendations. Each student will also create a final report detailing their individual area of research within the broader topic. The slide deck, the final reports, and a link to the recorded video of the presentation will be provided to the Congresswoman.
“Vacant Properties, Vacancy Tax, and Growing the Housing Supply in Los Angeles” with LA Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky
Meeting Time: Most Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. First Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1
Vacant properties that have been in disrepair are sometimes vandalized or used for illicit purposes. In light of the housing crisis, many people see these vacant buildings as “nuisance properties” that should be fixed up to become potential homes for unhoused Angelenos. What should be done with these properties? Would a vacancy tax compel property owners to refurbish them and add to the housing market? Or would such taxes be unfair burdens on property owners and ultimately lead to less housing availability? Vacancy taxes are seen by many as the next frontier in housing policy.
Students in this research group will review cities that have passed vacancy taxes and similar legislation to answer the core question: “What policies should be implemented to make the best use of vacant buildings in Los Angeles?”
Students can use infographics, spreadsheets, and other forms of data visualization to demonstrate their findings. They will provide a verbal presentation using a slide deck highlighting their research and recommendations. Each student will also create a final report detailing their individual area of research within the broader topic. The slide deck, the final reports, and a link to the recorded video of the presentation will be provided to the Councilwoman.
Spots are limited and competitive. We encourage all interested USC students to apply.
The application for the Spring 2024 POSC 395 Policy Research Internship is now open. The application closes on Thursday, January 18 at 11:59PM PST.
Please send any questions about the Policy Research Internship to email@example.com.