As Terry Semel said at HCI Center’s inception: “Do it well in your own backyard and the rest of the world will follow.” His words were prophetic as we look back and reflect on the accomplishments of Semel HCI Center in creating innovative solutions for well-being, many of which have been shared and replicated on other University campuses. We have included some of highest impact projects, events, and initiatives below which HCI has spearheaded, just some of the many steps we have taken towards our goal of becoming the healthiest campus in the country.
In Fall 2014, HCI was introduced to the public health community in a poster presentation at the annual APHA meeting. This presentation was well-received and generated great interest in HCI’s innovative strategies. The presentation on HCI was recognized by APHA as one of the best student poster abstracts submitted.
In Fall of 2013, HCI partnered with UCLA Dining Services to create the first health-oriented dining hall on UCLA campus—Bruin Plate. The vision for Bruin Plate was to provide UCLA students with healthy, nutritious, and locally-sourced meal options. This dining hall is both the newest and largest on UCLA’s campus, with the capacity to seat 900 people and serving more than 5,000 meals a day. Bruin Plate is committed to following the highest standards of sustainability in food service operations and has set a new standard for college dining, earning a top rating of four stars from the Green Restaurant Association for its sustainable food practices. It has also sparked innovation in dining all over campus, such as the “Flex Bar” in De Neve Dining Hall which encourages students to choose plant-based proteins over animal-based proteins by putting the former in the spotlight. To learn more about the Flex Bar, click here!
HCI supported the implementation of the CDC Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) at UCLA. This is the first DPP program on a university campus. The programs being offered through Recreation, David Geffen School of Medicine and the UCLA Health System, Ashe Student Health Center, and individual departments such as Housing & Hospitality Services. The programs are conducted by DPP program facilitators trained to coach participants through the one year behavior modification program for people who are interested in improving their health and fitness level and reducing their risk of developing diabetes.
HCI supported the development of both the Food Studies Minor and Food Studies Graduate Certificate Program. The Food Studies Minor was approved by the Academic Council in Fall 2015 and has provided students with opportunity to use the many facets of “food”—from production and distribution to preparation and consumption—as a lens to understand greater social, political, and cultural issues. The Food Studies Certificate program was launched in Fall 2016 with the similar goal of extending the opportunity for graduate students from any discipline to pursue interests in food studies. These programs have created powerful means through which to explore the interdisciplinary dimensions of food across the university, Los Angeles, and beyond.
In April 2015, HCI’s inaugural annual celebration event was held; the HCI Symposium featured talks, panels and demonstrations in the areas of focus for each of the HCI pods. The purpose of the event was to highlight the work of HCI, the student group projects funded by HCI, and to recognize HCI champions who epitomize the HCI values with the jane b semel HCI Appreciation and Recognition Award. Since then the celebration has attracted up to 2,500 student, staff, faculty, and community attendees and has featured performances, panels and speakers including Arianna Huffington, Sam Kass (former White House chef for the Obamas), NBA player Metta World Peace, singer Aloe Blacc and Chancellor Gene Block. Each year we have focused on one of our focus areas including eating, sleeping, and living healthfully.
HCI has provided funding to hundreds of student groups to lead sustainable projects relating to health and well-being on UCLA campus. These projects have supported some of HCI’s greatest initiatives from the jane b semel HCI Community Garden, to free fitness classes, to building more water bottle filling stations and more. These student groups are tasked with executing their projects, collecting data on the outcomes of the project, and sharing their results in a poster presentation at our annual celebration.
The Healthy Campus Network (HCN) is another GFI initiative that was inspired by HCI; its goal is to establish a healthy campus program on each UC campus to make UC the healthiest place to learn, live and work for students, staff, faculty and visitors. Sharing best practices and lessons learned, HCI and its leadership are instrumental in the planning, mentoring and implementation of the HCN. The campuses in HCN share a common HCI-based infrastructure but each campus defines and creates its program based on their unique campus priorities and needs. HCI hosted the HCN kick-off conference in June 2017 to share its best practices with the other UC campuses and the HCN conference in January 2018 which focused on employee wellbeing and featured key programs being implemented on each UC campus.
In 2013, HCI supported one of the nation’s first studies on whether placement of healthier products at eye level increased the likelihood of consumption by students without compromising the financial performance of the machine. This intervention proved to be successful and has become the standard for vending machines all over campus. It has also inspired a UC-wide policy for healthy vending that is to be implemented in the thousands of vending machines across the state in upcoming years. To learn more, read this project brief!
The HCI Celebration Dream Revolution celebrated the grand opening of the jane b semel HCI Community Garden at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center in the spring of 2017. Jane Semel envisioned the community garden above the amphitheater in the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center as a space that would help engage members of the UCLA community and promote physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Since opening, the garden is living up to this dream.
In October 2017, HCI co-hosted the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC) annual meeting at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center. The annual meeting allows member universities to share the innovations and practices implemented at their respective institutions and the 2017 meeting highlighted the progress at UCLA in student dining, dining operations, research-supported projects, integration of nutrition and cooking education that are supported by Healthy Campus Initiative and UC Global Food Initiative. HCI shared its best practices around healthy dining, gardens, local sourcing, healthy vending with the MCURC conference attendees who represented universities and colleges as well as other organizations from across the country.
Jointly led by Stanford University and the Culinary Institute of America, MCURC is a working group of “leading scholars, foodservice business leaders, and executive chefs from invited colleges and universities who are accelerating efforts to move Americans toward healthier, more sustainable, plant-forward diets” (moccollaborative.org). The purpose of MCURC is to “collaborate on research and education in support of culinary-centric, evidence-based food systems innovation within and beyond universities.”
The Mind Body Summit convened faculty and administrators in fall 2015 to discuss expansion of academic offerings around mind-body studies. Resulting from this meeting, Applied Positive Neuroscience: Skills for Improving Productivity and Wellbeing (Psych 79), a GE course, was developed and offered to students beginning in fall 2017. Furthermore, the highly successful and extremely popular Life Skills for College Students course (CHS 179) was updated and offered as a Diversity course beginning in the 2017-18 academic year.
HCI supports Mindful Music, which offers free live music performed by talented musicians with the goals of reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and fostering a shared experience among the UCLA staff, faculty, and visitors who happen to be listening. More than 200 concerts have taken place across UCLA facilities, including the Semel Insitute, Powell Library, and Santa Monica and Westwood health centers. To learn more, read this project brief!
HCI inspired PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative and was a key contributor in PHA’s development of the food and physical activity criteria for the Healthier Campus certification of universities and colleges. UCLA HCI was recognized at the 2014 American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting as part of the inaugural cohort of collegiate campuses universities participating in the PHA Healthier Campus Initiative. In 2017, UCLA was among the first universities to complete the PHA certification process.
The Proposition 64 Summit convened senior administrators, deans, faculty, and researchers in spring 2017 to discuss the impact of the legalization of cannabis in California on UCLA. Working groups were created to focus on education, research, policy and operations issues related to and resulting from the passage of Proposition 64. An educational pamphlet was developed for students as one of the meeting outcomes.
The Medicinal Herb Gardens were created to provide patients, visitors, and students with the opportunity to interact with and learn more about the medicinal herbs which have long been a part of medical tradition. These gardens, which are located in the Ronald Reagan Medical Center and the UCLA Center for Health Sciences, emerged from a partnership between HCI and the Leon Lowenstein Foundation and were spearheaded by the efforts of Dr. Wendy Slusser, philanthropist Jane Semel, and Susan Salter Reynolds. The “natural medicine cabinet” located at Ronald Reagan Medical Center has become not only a beautiful and peaceful living fixture of the hospital, but also an educational tool for schoolchildren, health professionals, and patients interested in reconnecting with natural forms of medicine.
The TKC is a by invitation only collaborative, of which UCLA is a founding member along with 30 other organizations, some of which include Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Google. The goal of TKC is to use “teaching kitchen facilities as catalysts of enhanced personal and public health across medical, corporate, school and community settings… to establish best practices and to evaluate these through the creation of a research network…” Participation in TKC and focus groups conducted on campus that indicated strong demand and need among UCLA students to develop practical skills including food selection, preparation and cooking led to the launch of the UCLA Teaching Kitchen program in 2016. Extremely popular cooking classes on the hill taught students how to make healthy low-cost meals. A pilot program for health professional students was launched in spring 2017 for students from the four health professional schools on campus: Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health. The UCLA Teaching Kitchen Program continues to evolve with innovative ways to teach practical cooking and food skills to more students.
HCI has been a strong advocate for traffic safety on UCLA campus, partnering with UCLA Transportation to push for the creation of more bike lanes on campus and the reduction of the campus speed limit to 20 mph on UCLA roadways. These efforts have contributed to making UCLA a safer campus for pedestrians and cyclists, with the hopes of encouraging a more active lifestyle of walking and biking at UCLA.
In 2013, HCI supported UCLA in becoming the first UC campus to go tobacco free. This program fostered the Tobacco-Free Task Force, which focuses on educating and raising awareness about resources current smokers can access when trying to quit or limit their tobacco use. These efforts have not only supported individual efforts to comply with the tobacco-free policy, but also community efforts to ensure the air and environment are clean as well.
In the Fall of 2017, HCI partnered with UCLA Transportation Services to launch the Bruin Bike Share Program. With 130 bikes located in 18 locations across campus and Westwood, this program has helped to make UCLA even more bike-friendly. The Bike Share program encourages the use of alternative transportation, helps UCLA reduce its carbon footprint, and helps facilitate a healthier, more active lifestyle for UCLA students, staff, and faculty.
Beginning in 2016, HCI and the University of California Global Food Initiative Food Security Working Group have developed and launched many high-impact projects across campus. The farmer’s market gleaning program collects food from local markets and distributes them to Café 580 at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, the UCLA Food Closet in the Community Programs Office, and UCLA University Village. These locations provide free, healthy, and nutritious food to the food insecure student. Additionally, produce grown in the jane b semel HCI Community Garden is also shared with these locations, providing a source of locally grown produce students themselves had worked to grow. HCI has also supported efforts to enroll students in the CalFresh program which provides students with financial support to purchase groceries. More than 500 students have already registered and have been connected to resources vital to securing healthy, nourishing food.
In response to student interest in academic offerings related to food and nutrition, HCI hosted the Food Summit in June 2014. This meeting brought together over 45 faculty, deans, senior administrators, staff, and students to discuss the needs for expanded academic and non-academic offerings related to food and nutrition. The outcome of the Food Summit was the UCLA Food Initiative, generously funded by Jane and Terry Semel, to implement the priorities established at the summit that includes a Food Studies Graduate Certificate Program across all graduate and professional programs that was established in 2016; a Food Studies minor opened to students in winter 2016; the expansion of food related curricula to support these programs; a teaching kitchen program to teach practical culinary skills and how to cook simple healthy meals on a budget.
The Healthy Campus Initiative was introduced by Chancellor Gene Block to UC President Janet Napolitano and the other UC chancellors at a meeting in January 2014; it was at this meeting that the concept of HCI inspired President Napolitano to establish the UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) to harness the expertise of the UC to address issues of food and hunger for California, the country and the world. Experts from various fields representing different UC campuses formed GFI working groups focusing on food-related subjects. UCLA-led GFI projects include a healthy dining website and toolkit for k-12 school districts; a template for implementing healthy vending on campuses that is income neutral; a food law clinic; and a food literacy framework for the UC system.
In the below project briefs, Semel HCI Center has summarized some of our most innovative and successful projects, research, and partnerships that we are excited to share with other university campuses and beyond!
- The Protein Flip: Integrating Operations and Research with UCLA’s new Flex Bar at De Neve Dining Hall
- A Healthier Vending Program: Implementation and Evaluation
- Mindful Music: Making musical performances happen in places of healing, working, and learning
- ResearchWell: The evaluation of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative’s programs and events
- Student’s Sedentary Habits: A Research Study
- The StairWell Project: Taking steps to improve public health
- UCLA Transportation: A partnership with the BEWell pod of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative
- UCLA Recreation: A partnership with the MoveWell pod of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative