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Then & Now

History Podcasts

Then & Now connects past to present, using historical analysis and context to help guide us through modern issues and policy decisions. Then & Now is brought to you by the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.Then & Now is produced by Maia Ferdman and David Myers, and features original music by Daniel Raijman.

Then & Now connects past to present, using historical analysis and context to help guide us through modern issues and policy decisions. Then & Now is brought to you by the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.Then & Now is produced by Maia Ferdman and David Myers, and features original music by Daniel Raijman.


United States


Then & Now connects past to present, using historical analysis and context to help guide us through modern issues and policy decisions. Then & Now is brought to you by the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy.Then & Now is produced by Maia Ferdman and David Myers, and features original music by Daniel Raijman.




​Is the University an Agent of Change? A Conversation with Historian Eddie Cole

Higher education institutions in the United States can be seen as both bastions of liberalism and conservatism, as the realm of both radicals and establishmentarians. Eddie Cole, associate professor of higher education and organizational change at UCLA and author of The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom addresses this seeming contradiction. He discusses the dual nature of the university, as well as the role played by college presidents in moving their...


What is the role of a public historian?: A Conversation with Anthea Hartig

In 2019, Anthea M. Hartig made headlines when she became the first woman director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Since then, she has been a fierce advocate for public history in the nation’s capital. Join us for this President's Day episode as we learn about how Hartig, a UCLA alumna, fell in love with history, developed a rich and challenging approach to the past, and sees history as a key to navigating the present.


Addressing the Intersection of Homelessness & Mental Health: A Conversation with Dr. Jonathan Sherin

A recent LATimes investigation found that about 67% of the homeless population in Los Angeles County has either a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder. Yet, Dr. Jonathan Sherin wrote in a December op-ed, mental health policies are failing those who most need services. Dr. Sherin, the director of the LA County Department of Mental Health, joins Then & Now this week to discuss this challenge. He sits down with Dr. Kirsten Moore-Sheeley and Jessica Richards, two authors of LCHP’s...


Insurrection, White Nationalism, and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.: A Conversation with Robin D. Kelley

Between a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol and the catastrophic surge of COVID-19 across the country, the beginning of 2021 has been even more turbulent than 2020. This special episode of Then & Now, recorded on Martin Luther King Day and released on Inauguration Day, features Robin D. Kelley, prominent UCLA scholar on U.S. and African American history. He looks at the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as fascism and white nationalism throughout U.S. history, in framing our...


Picking Favorites: U.S. Foreign Aid and Favored Minorities in Iraq

This week’s episode features UCLA PhD candidates Phil Hoffman (History), Lily Hindy (History), and Monica Widmann (Political Science), who have been spearheading a long-term research project with LCHP examining American soft power in the Middle East. They discuss their new report “Skewed Recovery: Minority Assistance Programs to Iraq in Historical Perspective,” which details the ways in which Western powers have historically distributed foreign aid unevenly and according to their political...


The Evolution of Hate Crimes and the Fight Against Them: A Conversation with Robin Toma

As we come to the end of an historic year, Then & Now examines one unfortunate statistic: the rise in hate crimes and hate incidences in Los Angeles County and across the country. Robin Toma, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, joins us to discuss the development of "hate crime" as a legal category, the ways government agencies have historically responded to hatred, and current efforts at curbing hate in Los Angeles. He also discusses the Commission’s...


How Did We Get Here? The Current State of the Republican Party: A Conversation with Mike Murphy

Despite losing the national election, Donald Trump continues to exercise total control over the Republican party. Tens of millions of voters supported him, and most prominent Republican leaders still refuse to acknowledge the results of the election. How did we get here? How did Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and the election of Barack Obama lay the groundwork for Trumpism? As we head into a new presidential administration, what is the future of the Republican party? Mike Murphy, a Republican...


How did Los Angeles become the “Homeless Capital” of the United States?

UCLA researchers and graduate students Marques Vestal, Fernanda Jahn Verri, and Andrew Klein join Then & Now to discuss the Luskin Center for History and Policy's forthcoming report detailing the history of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles County. They discuss how the last century of housing policy, racial dynamics, and policing practices all contributed to the crisis we find ourselves in today. This is the first episode in a series covering the report findings. To be the first to read...


Analyzing the Aftermath: A Post-Election Conversation with Lorrie Frasure, Lynn Vavreck, and Zev Yaroslavsky

As a follow-up to our last pre-election episode, Professor Lynn Vavreck and Zev Yaroslavsky return to "Then & Now," joined by Professor Lorrie Frasure, to analyze the 2020 election results. They discuss a range of key topics: President Trump’s refusal to concede, the persistence of divided electorates in U.S. history, the political behavior of white men, the performance and reliability of polling, and the question of whether American democracy is dying.


Special Pre-Election Episode: 2012, 2016, 2020. A Long View on Next Tuesday's Presidential Election Featuring Lynn Vavreck and Zev Yaroslavsky

Two of the country's -- and UCLA’s -- keenest observers of electoral politics, Lynn Vavreck and Zev Yaroslavsky, join Then & Now to discuss their take on the 2020 election in light of the previous two elections. Lynn Vavreck is the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy at UCLA, a contributing columnist to The Upshot at The New York Times, and the author or co-author of five books on electoral politics. Zev Yaroslavsky is the Executive Director of the LA...


African American Women’s Definitions of Success: A Conversation on Homemade Citizenship with Koritha Mitchell

From Frances Harper to Michelle Obama, Black women have faced countless forms of violent aggression at the intersection of racism and sexism. Professor Koritha Mitchell, Literary Historian and Professor of English at Ohio State University, discusses the way these women define and redefine success in the face of this violence, challenging us to see their lives not just through the lens of protest, but through the lens of perseverance and achievement as well. Her book, From Slave Cabins to the...


Distinct Histories, Shared Struggles: A Conversation with Prof. Kyle Mays on Indigenous Peoples Day

This special episode on October 12th marks Indigenous Peoples Day. Professor Kyle T. Mays, historian and scholar of Afro-Indigenous studies, urban history, and Indigenous popular culture at UCLA, joins Then & Now to discuss the history and significance of the day, as well as his scholarship tracking the parallel and often intersecting histories of Indigenous and African American communities in the United States. He discusses moments of historical conflict and collaboration between the two...


The Past, Present, and Future of Traffic Congestion in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is infamous for its ubiquitous, sprawling, and congested roads and freeways. Whether driving south on the 405 freeway in the morning, east on Olympic Boulevard in the afternoon, or north on Vermont Avenue in the evening, bumper to bumper traffic defines our streets. But has traffic in Los Angeles always looked this way? What policy efforts have city leaders pursued over the years to alleviate traffic? And what can we learn from history to make it better? Noted traffic expert...


Political Polarization, Civility, and Deliberative Democracy: A Conversation with Carolyn Lukensmeyer

Whether watching the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, reading two different news sites, or merely glancing at any given Twitter feed, one might think that Americans across the country live in alternate universes. As the 2020 election approaches, political polarization has reached a boiling point. Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, a nationally renowned expert in deliberative democracy and Executive Director Emerita of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, joins Then & Now producer...


Are Jews White? A Conversation on Race, Erasure, and Sephardic History with Devin Naar

As the United States continues to experience a national reckoning with its long history of racial inequality, so too a debate has taken hold in the Jewish community about where and whether Jews of Color fit into the communal mainstream. This episode features Devin Naar, Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies at the University of Washington, who sheds light on this question through the lens of Sephardic Jewish history. He challenges the imposed racial categorization of Jews in the...



As we near the start of the 2020-21 academic year at UCLA, Then & Now will be moving to a biweekly schedule. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and to sign up for our emails, to hear about all the great work coming out of the Luskin Center for History and Policy.


Women's Political Empowerment in the U.S. Since the 19th Amendment: A Conversation with Ellen Dubois

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which granted and protects women’s right to vote. As we mark this centennial during an election year, UCLA Historian Ellen Dubois, one of the preeminent scholars of the movement for women’s suffrage and author of “Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote" (2020), joins us to reflect on the Amendment's legacy. She discusses the tactics suffragists used to advocate for the vote, the political...


Cruel, Unusual, and Overcrowded: A Conversation on California Prisons with Sharon Dolovich

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents the government from inflicting "cruel and unusual punishment” on those accused or convicted of a crime. Yet California’s prisons have been overcrowded, rife with violence, and lacking basic healthcare provisions for decades. In the era of COVID-19, this context translates to an infection and death rate well above that of the general population. Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the early release of thousands of prisoners...


Is the U.S. Entering an Authoritarian Era? A Conversation with Samuel Moyn and Vera Eidelman

In the wake of the unprecedented election of President Donald Trump, and now punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic and summer of protests, many scholars and public figures have argued that the U.S. is descending into autocracy. Following the recent violent intervention of federal law enforcement officers in Portland, concerns about the state of America’s democracy have grown. Samuel Moyn, historian and Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale University, and Vera Eidelman, staff...


Mass Incarceration, Mass Deportation, and the Persistence of White Supremacy: A Conversation with Kelly Lytle Hernández

What are the roots of mass deportation and incarceration, and what do the two have to do with each other? How can studying these histories allow us to confront and dismantle the racist structures at the center of today’s national conversation? Professor Kelly Lytle Hernández — UCLA historian, activist, author, and recent recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Prize — shares her insights on these vital questions on this week’s episode of Then & Now. She discusses the foundational role of...