CALIFORNIA — On Feb. 8, 2016, University of California (UC) officials announced the establishment of the Blum Federation, bringing together each of the Blum Centers and initiatives across the UC system.
The UC Office of the President provided $1.32 million in seed funding for the new organization, which will be used to enhance teaching and research on economic and social justice, global poverty, and democracy.
The first Blum Center for Developing Economies was founded on the UC Berkeley campus with the mission of tackling global issues. The center was named after its financial supporter, UC Regent Richard Blum.
There is currently a Blum Center or initiative present on nine different UC campuses. Each one focuses on a different problem, including global food sustainability.
UCLA’s Blum Center focuses on health and poverty research in Latin America. In 2015, it established a new UCLA global health minor. This year, the center has announced plans to collaborate on research and education with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN). This collaboration will allow UCLA students to conduct field work in chronic diseases and community health this coming summer. It will also unite the research efforts of the two institutions.
The establishment of the Blum Federation promises to bring even more educational and research opportunities for students interested in global development. According to a press release from the University of California, UC President Janet Napolitano stated: “The new Blum Federation will accelerate university-wide research and education on one of the most difficult issues of our time.”
Plans are already underway for the Blum Federation’s first major project. In partnership with the Global Food Initiative and UC Office of the President, Blum Federation members have begun planning a conference on global food security and climate issues for May 2016. The conference will take place at UC Irvine with the hope that it will facilitate conversations about more cross-campus collaborations under the Blum Federation umbrella.
In a press release from the University of California, Professor Richard Matthew, the faculty director of the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation at UC Irvine, commented on the upcoming conference. “We are excited to explore how our interdisciplinary expertise can advance issues of food security and climate action, which are at the core of large-scale efforts to deal with poverty.”
Billy Norfleet, the program supervisor at the UCLA Blum Center, also expressed his support of the Blum Federation. In an article published by The Daily Californian, Norfleet is quoted, “We can affect more lives through collaboration. The ultimate goal is to make a global difference and to acknowledge other programs that are working with us.”
The UC Office of the President promises that the Blum Federation will bring greater cross-campus collaboration and educational opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. These will include:
1) High-quality poverty alleviation courses across the UC system, expanding course selections for a poverty studies minor
2) Expansion of the Big Ideas contest run by the UC system, which involves interdisciplinary teams of students competing to develop innovative solutions to difficult problems, such as hunger and clean energy
3) Establishment of a student fellow program that fosters student collaboration
The creation of the Blum Federation signals the UC system’s stronger commitment to global poverty alleviation. By creating educational opportunities, enhancing research and creating programs related to development, the Blum Federation promises to mobilize talented students in the fight against global poverty.