Beginning with the Class of 2021, the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies will award urban planning graduate students for work that addresses inequities in the transportation field.

The Excellence in a Transportation Equity and Justice Capstone Prize, given for graduate capstones and dissertations that advance equity issues, is the latest effort by UCLA ITS to build educational and research capacity to understand and address injustices in the transportation system.

“Understanding systems of injustice is critical because of the long-lived nature of our work. Without centering racism, sexism, and ableism, we will continue to produce systemic injustice and harm vulnerable communities for decades,” said Isabel M. Cardenas, MURP student and WTS UCLA co-chair. “There is an urgent need to prioritize equity and justice in transportation planning, research, and education and this capstone prize will move us forward in all three areas.”

A combination of societal and technological trends are changing the transportation field’s focus from outputs to outcomes — evident in the shifting emphasis from mobility to accessibility. Transportation access examines whether and how people connect with the social, educational, economic, and recreational opportunities that improve their lives. Today, many public agencies seek to understand and correct injustices brought on by structural ableism, classism, heterosexism, homophobia, racism, and xenophobia (and more!) in transportation.

That starts with research and analysis — work that graduate students conduct while at UCLA.

UCLA is among the most competitive transportation graduate programs in the nation, attracting top-tier students each year. While at UCLA, students are challenged by their coursework, research, and each other. This demanding environment leads to exceptional student work that often addresses transportation equity and justice.

More on the Capstone Prize