The Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute (PPI) presents its 7th Annual Spring Symposium May 7-12. The theme for this year’s symposium is “Healing: Mending Lives and Seeking Healthfulness through Innovative Policies and Approaches.”

The symposium features the screening of an Academy Award-winning documentary, panel discussions, interactive faculty-student forums, a community talk on health advocacy, and a Santa Monica College (SMC) student film which was recently accepted into The American Pavilion at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.  Audiences will explore the ways in which California’s citizens can influence public policy to protect their values not just in their neighborhoods, but throughout the country and the world. All symposium events are free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-arrival basis, unless reservations are required.

“SMC’s Public Policy Institute educates students to identify problems and seek steps to solve them,” said PPI co-director and SMC Professor of Political Science Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein. “Through programming such as the Spring Symposium, we help students become better advocates for policies that relate to health care, understand the bigger policy picture, and to develop career goals.”

The full symposium lineup is:

“Mindful Monday” Film Screening: “Life in Color”

Monday, May 7 | 5 p.m. | Free

Auditorium/Room 180, Center for Media and Design, 1660 Stewart Street.

A screening of SMC student film “Life in Color,” an official selection in competition at The 21st American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. After the film, SMC Film Production Professor Mickey Birnbaum will lead a discussion along with the student filmmakers about the issues explored in the film and their relation to mindfulness and mental health.


“Flourishing? What’s it Gonna Take?”: A Discussion

Tuesday, May 8 | 11:15 a.m. | Free

Stromberg Lecture Hall (HSS 165), SMC Main Campus, 1900 Pico Blvd.

Four professors will share their views on film, humor, and politics to prompt and facilitate a community discussion about what keeps us from flourishing in today’s world. Panelists are Paul Klumpe, Amber Katherine, Ali Mohsen, and Natalina Monteiro.


Lunch & Learn with Westside Family Health Center (WFHC)

Wednesday, May 9, 12 noon | Free, RSVP required

Virginia Avenue Park (Thelma Terry Room), 2200 Virginia Avenue, Santa Monica


Debra Farmer, President/CEO of WFHC will discuss “Women as Advocates.”

RSVP required: Email or call Julie Kirk at (310) 450-4773 ext. 230.


“Healing the Body, Mending the Mind”: A Panel Discussion

Thursday, May 10 | 11:15 a.m.| Free

Stromberg Lecture Hall (HSS 165), SMC main campus

Panel discussion exploring the interconnection between physical, psychological, and emotional healing from trauma with Operation Mend, an innovative UCLA program providing advanced medical treatment, comprehensive psychological support, and an intensive treatment program for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury for post-9/11-era service members, veterans, and their families, in collaboration with the SMC Veterans Resource Center.


Keynote Discussion: “How Does Health Policy Impact Lives and Opportunity?”

Thursday, May 10 | Reception: 6 p.m. | Program: 7 p.m. | Free, RSVP required

SMC Performing Arts Center, East Wing; 1310 11th Street.

This keynote panel features Dr. Jody Heymann, Dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Mayra Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership discussing pressing issues in access to health care and other services essential to health in underserved communities. Sponsored by the SMC Associates. For RSVPs, email


“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405”: A Screening & Panel Discussion

Saturday, May 12 | Film Screening: 7 p.m. | Panel discussion: 8 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. | Free

Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue

Producer/Director of the 2018 Academy Award-winning short subject documentary “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405”, Frank Stiefel—who is also an SMC alum—will lead a post-screening panel discussion with Mindy Alper, the artist featured in the documentary. The discussion will delve into innovative approaches to dealing with mental health issues.


SMC’s Public Policy Institute provides nonpartisan community programs exploring key economic, social, and political issues. The Institute, which presents information discussions on the policy issues that affect our daily lives, offers an Associate in Arts degree and Certificate of Achievement in Public Policy, with specialties in five public policy areas: arts and cultural affairs, education, environment and sustainability, public health, and urban/socioeconomic issues.

The symposium is co-sponsored by a wide range of education, government and community organizations, and donors, including: Associated Students of Santa Monica College, SMC Associates, SMC Foundation, and SMC Veterans Resource Center. For more information about the symposium or the Public Policy Institute, contact Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein (310) 434-3541 or Shari Davis at (310) 721-6446, or visit the Institute’s website at:

Grace Smith, SMC Public Information Officer