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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

Why Place Matters: Moving From Theory to Practice

March 22, 2012
1-5 PM
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California


The places where we spend our days—our homes, neighborhoods, and cities—shape us as much as we shape them. They are central to who and what we are. And yet the "sense of place" has been withering away in today's mobile, fluid world. Our 2011 conference "A Place in the World," sought to identify the sources of this change. This follow-up conference will go beyond diagnosis to prescription as we explore the challenges facing policy makers as they seek to build an infrastructure for healthy communities. The Davenport Institute and Pepperdine¹s School of Public Policy are focused on turning ideas into practice and on the ongoing task of fostering local communities peopled with engaged citizens.


Session One
Modernity and the Problem of Place for Civic Engagement
Ted McAllister

Session Two
Planning for Spontaneity: Moving from Theory to Practice in Placemaking
Wilfred McClay 

Session Three
From Bell to the Beach: The Vital Relationship Between Place and Civic Participation
Pete Peterson

Session Four
Rod Gould, Wade Graham, Pete Peterson, Joe Mathews, and Wilfred McClay
Moderated by Ashley Trim



Wade Graham is an adjunct faculty member at the School of Public Policy and has written widely on issues and policies related to urban life. He is active in national and regional organizations that deal with environmental issues and water policies as well as developments in urban design and planning.

Rod Gould
is the city manager of Santa Monica, California. Prior to this appointment, Gould also served as city manager of Poway, San Rafael, and Monrovia, California. He served five years as assistant city manager of Walnut Creek, California, as well as president of the City Managers Department of the League of California Cities and on the league’s board of directors. Gould served as the Davenport Institute’s 2011 city manager in residence.

Joe Mathews is a Los Angeles-based journalist and author. He serves as California editor at Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at Arizona State’s Center for Social Cohesion, and lead blogger for NBC’s California site, Prop Zero.

Ted V. McAllister is the Edward L. Gaylord Chair and associate professor of public policy at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. He is an intellectual and cultural historian and author of Revolt Against Modernity: Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and the Search for a Postliberal Order. McAllister is currently working on a book on Walter Lippmann He served as the codirector of the 2011 “Place in the World” conference.
Wilfred M. McClay is the SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is also a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and at the Trinity Forum. McClay was the 2009-2010 William E. Simon Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and codirector of the 2011 “Place in the World” conference.
Pete Peterson (MPP ’07) is executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy where he also lectures on leadership and public engagement. He consults with cities throughout California on participatory governance projects on issues from budgets to land use. He cocreated and currently cofacilitates the training seminar, “Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill,” a program offered around the country to municipal and civic leaders.

Ashley Trim (MPP ’09) is the research coordinator for the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and an assistant editor for Front Porch Republic. She served as a session chair for the 2011 “Place in the World Conference” for a panel entitled “Mobility and Membership.”