Summary of Accomplishments for the 2018/2019 Academic Year

Founded in 2012 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy is committed to advancing post-partisanship politics, where leaders put people over political parties and work together to find the best ideas and solutions to benefit the people they serve. The Institute seeks to influence public policy and public debate in finding evidence-based solutions to the serious challenges we face.

In addition to being a strong voice in public policy and public debates, the USC Schwarzenegger Institute supports new academic research related to its three main areas of focus: energy and the environment, political reform, and after-school education.


Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook

The Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook is an online resource that local, regional and national governments can use to find smart and easily replicable legislation that both protect the environment and help strengthen the economy.  The Digital Handbook helped legislators and policy leaders learn about and pass progressive environmental policies. In the past year, legislators from states including Hawaii, Washington, Colorado and Oregon consulted the handbook and the Institute’s Environmental Policy Director Fran Pavley to help pass progressive environmental laws in their states. In addition, the Institute’s Academic Director conducted a survey of legislators to assess the effectiveness of the Environmental Legislative Handbook.

Fair Maps Incubator

2018 was an important year for redistricting reform with voters in Colorado, Michigan, Utah and Missouri approving ballot initiatives that create citizen’s redistricting commissions. However, two thirds of the United States still allow politicians to draw legislative and congressional boundaries. In January of 2019, Governor Schwarzenegger launched the Fair Maps Incubator to help fight gerrymandering and to accelerate redistricting reform across the United States to make state legislatures match the people who they are really representing instead of maps being drawn by those with the most clout in the legislature.

Terminate Childhood Asthma

California is home to eight of the ten most polluted cities in the country, and almost 10% of children in California suffer from asthma. California President pro Tempore Emeritus Kevin De León joined the Schwarzenegger Institute as a Distinguished Senior Fellow to lead a statewide fight against childhood asthma caused by tailpipe pollution. Senator De León is working with environmental activists, academics and government leaders to accelerate the adoption of cleaner transportation options that will ultimately reduce pollution and childhood asthma rates. Antonio Bento, Professor of Public Policy and Economics and Schwarzenegger Institute Faculty Fellow, is also involved in this project.

Research with a Policy Impact

In the past year, the Institute has supported a research paper in Science examining the cost-benefit methodology used by federal officials to justify the roll back of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards; a research white paper on the economic impact of Property Assessed Clean Energy financing; a rapid research assessment of the redistricting reform ballot initiatives in four U.S. states; research on how political reforms such as primary rules and redistricting affected ideological moderation in the U.S. House of Representatives; and peer-reviewed research in the California Journal of Politics and Policy written by Schwarzenegger Fellow Sara Sadhwani on the role of the top-two primary on Latino voting in co-partisan elections.

Undergraduate Class on Policy and Politics of the Global Warming Solutions Action

The Schwarzenegger Institute is committed to training future generations of leaders about environmental policy, and in the spring semester launched its first ever special topics course devoted to environmental policy, governance, and the politics of the policy process through the lens of California's groundbreaking AB32: the Global Warming Solutions Act. Throughout the semester, Governor Schwarzenegger, Senator Fran Pavley, Senator Kevin De Leon, Professor Christian Grose and special guest lecturers taught students how environmental policy is generated and developed.  The course shepherded students through the legislative and political process; and how policy innovations in California drive other state, national, and international regulations.  

Fair Maps and Political Reform Lab

Professor Christian Grose, USC Professor of Political Science and Public Policy; and the Schwarzenegger Institute’s Academic Director, launched the Fair Maps and Political Reform Lab, to help faculty and Ph.D. students generate research topics, conduct research, and publish cutting-edge peer-reviewed work on political and election reform issues. In addition to the peer-reviewed research generated from the lab, students are trained on how to communicate their findings and develop new policy solutions to inspire policymakers to take action in fixing our political system.

Austrian World Summit

Governor Schwarzenegger teamed up with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to launch the Austrian World Summit, an annual initiative that helps regions, states and cities implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals and brings leaders together to increase partnerships and exchange experiences and ideas. The Institute is a co-sponsor of this event and an ongoing contributor to it.  

After-School Education

Research has shown that after school programs keep kids safe and give working parents peace of mind. The Schwarzenegger Institute works closely with After-School All-Stars and the Afterschool Alliance to highlight the positive impacts of after school education and to educate legislative leaders on the importance of funding these programs at both the State and Federal level.  

Student Engagement

A foundation of the Schwarzenegger Institute is student engagement and instilling the importance of post-partisan leadership in the next generation. Once again this year, the Institute awarded the Schwarzenegger Institute Prize to exceptional students who took part in the the 21st Annual USC Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly & Creative Work and 16th Annual Undergraduate Writers’ Conference.

Bonnie Reiss Memorial Lecture and Scholarship

The Price School of Public Policy and the Schwarzenegger Institute launched the Bonnie Reiss Memorial Lecture and Scholarship to honor the Institute’s Founding Director. Together, the lecture and scholarship support students who have the vision and passion to change the world and who embody Bonnie’s fierce commitment to social justice, her extraordinary leadership ability and her deep spirit of generosity and warmth. Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount Pictures and CEO of the Sherry Lansing Foundation, gave the inaugural Reiss Memorial Lecture at USC in October 2018. Other speakers included David Axelrod, Carla Marinucci, and Steve Schmidt.

Connecting Hollywood and Washington

The Schwarzenegger Institute exists at the intersection of policy, academia, and entertainment; and regularly connects Hollywood to Washington and Sacramento by bringing representatives from each community together for roundtable meetings on important policy issues. These events have become popular with screenwriters, directors and producers interested in adding depth and realism to the projects they are working on; and to policy makers and academics interested in improving their communications and storytelling efforts. This year, the Institute has hosted a number of leaders including Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver and Former Home Secretary of the United Kingdom Charles Clarke.

Talanoa Dialogue

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with support of Fijian Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama, convened a Talanoa Dialogue in October 2018 at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator to explore opportunities and best practices for climate-smart investments at the city and sub-national level that could eliminate the root causes of climate change. The event was the final in a series of Talanoa Dialogues held around the world at the request of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and key takeaways from each event were presented to political leaders at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018.

Political Climate Podcast

Conversations around climate change do not need to be slugfests and shouting matches. To prove this point, the Schwarzenegger Institute teamed up with Political Climate, a bipartisan podcast exploring energy and environmental issues in America, to explore the subject from a post-partisan perspective and to bring solutions-oriented people together to terminate pollution.  

Supporting the Real Action Heroes

California is home to more active duty and reserve military personnel and their families than any other state in America. In March 2019, the Schwarzenegger Institute partnered with the United States Navy’s Film and Television Office to bring together leaders in military and Hollywood to discuss the entertainment industry’s influence on armed forces recruitment, retention and soft-power diplomacy formation. The Institute also regularly include ROTC students at USC in this and other events.