Sustainable LA Grand Challenge awarded internal funding to assess its signature undergraduate research scholars program

February 4, 2020

The UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge (SLA GC) received an Instructional Improvement Grant from the Committee on Instructional Improvement Programs through UCLA’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching, to formally assess the impact of the signature SLA GC Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP). The assessment will focus on the degree to which graduates of the course have pursued sustainability-related careers or education, as well as the students’ self-reported preparedness for interdisciplinary teamwork.

The grant allocates funds to cover staff assistance from UCLA’s Center for Education Assessment to lead the assessment over six months. The assessment will provide data to inform ongoing pedagogical improvements, as well as information on whether to expand this pilot program and potential institutionalization as a permanent course at UCLA.

“The team is excited for this opportunity to evaluate data to understand the impact this program has had on preparing the next generation of sustainability leaders,” Cassie Rauser, director of the SLA GC, said. “Our world needs leaders with experience working on diverse teams now more than ever to address the climate crisis.”

About the SLA GC Undergraduate Research Scholars Program

The SLA GC URSP course was created in 2014 in partnership with UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Center and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. The course was developed to attract a diverse student body to urban sustainability and ensure that these students are equipped with the skills necessary to conduct research within their chosen majors, as well as to thrive in interdisciplinary teams to address one of society’s greatest challenges.

Each year, the highly-selective course accepts 30-40 students from across all majors. Throughout the year-long program participants attend a weekly class that provides an overview on urban sustainability in Los Angeles, professional development and career exploration opportunities, and research skills. As part of the coursework, students work together in interdisciplinary teams on projects aimed at providing specific solutions to identified campus or regional sustainability challenges. Additionally, students work independently outside of the classroom with their faculty mentor in their unique research setting.

To date, this program has trained more than 180 undergraduate students representing 44 majors. Participants have been mentored by 57 faculty representing 25 departments.

Learn more about the program and how to apply by visiting the SLA GC URSP site.