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Barbra Streisand to fund new UCLA institute for social issues

Barbra Streisand donated to UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences to establish an institute with four research centers that aim to address societal issues. (David Rimer/Assistant Photo editor)

By Liv Stokes

Nov. 8, 2021 12:06 a.m.

Barbra Streisand is funding the creation of a new UCLA institute focused on researching and fighting against societal issues in the world and community.

On Oct. 18, UCLA announced that Streisand, an award-winning actress, singer and philanthropist, made a significant donation to UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences to establish the institute.

The amount of the donation is undisclosed at the request of Streisand and will be made through a series of installments over time. Darnell Hunt, the dean of social sciences and a professor of African American studies and sociology, said Streisand’s donation aligns with the university’s policies and will be transformative in establishing the new institute.

“It is my great pleasure to be able to fund an institute at UCLA, one of the world’s premier universities,” Streisand said in a statement to UCLA Newsroom. “This will be a place where future scholars can discuss, engage and argue about the most important issues of the day; where innovators will speak truth to power, help save our planet, and make glass ceilings for women an anachronism.”

The institute will include four research centers: the Center for Truth in the Public Sphere, the Center for the Impact of Climate Change, the Center for the Dynamics of Intimacy and Power Between Women and Men, and the Center for the Impact of Art on the Culture.

Hunt said the institution would not create any new research. Instead, it will expand on the research already present at UCLA by getting more researchers involved and supporting graduate students’ research.

Jesse Norris, a climate change research scientist at UCLA, said the additional funding and resources toward climate change from the institute could be instrumental in the study of the topic.

“If we can use all the more resources to generate more reliable projections, we can improve our understanding of how water resources will change in terms of both flooding and drought,” Norris said. “We can develop a greater understanding of water resources from those perspectives, which is a priceless revelation.”

Climate change is not the only topic that Streisand intends to bring attention to. The Center for the Dynamics of Intimacy and Power Between Women and Men will focus on gender studies and the dynamics between men and women.

Juliette Diamond, a fourth-year communication and gender studies transfer student, talked about the importance a focus on gender studies has not just at UCLA but also in the greater community.

“You’re opening your awareness to the greater community that’s not … what you grew up around,” Diamond said. “By simply learning and having a better understanding of different communities, you’re a better civil servant.”

Diamond also said that an influx of funding and interest in the field would help increase awareness and research opportunities for gender studies at UCLA and help the program and knowledge to expand into the greater community.

Regarding the timeline, Hunt said that much of the research sponsored by the institute is currently underway at the university. Within the current academic year, a guest speaker will most likely be invited onto campus on behalf of Streisand to speak on her initial interest, Truth in the Public Sphere. The university will also be requesting research proposals for projects within the institute.

The institution will be formally established when the full donation is received. Until then, the associated research is currently being housed in the UCLA Center for the Study of Women.

Streisand has a long history of philanthropic activity, with her foundation, the Barbra Streisand Foundation, donating more than $25 million since its inception in 1986.

Hunt said Streisand was drawn to UCLA because of the popularity and reach of the university, which led to her decision to donate.

“Barbra Streisand was impressed by UCLA being the nation’s No. 1 public institution. She really understands our public mission,” Hunt said. “The idea (is) that we’re here to improve the life of Californians and people beyond, and so this gift really allows us to do so.”

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Liv Stokes
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