California Lutheran University students are helping government agencies tackle rising sea levels, public safety reform and economic recovery through a new requirement in the Master of Public Policy and Administration program.

One year ago, the MPPA program began asking students to help government and nonprofit organizations address challenges they are facing as their final, or capstone, projects before graduating. The requirement is modeled after the university’s longtime practice of having MBA students provide such consulting services to businesses as their capstone projects.

MPPA students have since addressed a range of issues for agencies throughout Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

On Sept. 9, students presented their analysis of survey results gauging support for possible actions to address climate change and and their recommendations for additional community outreach to the Ventura County Planning Department.

During the summer, students created a framework for the city of Los Angeles to engage the public in its plan to pilot mobile crisis teams that would provide nonviolent interventions for public safety calls based on Oregon’s CAHOOTS program. Students analyzed research and interviewed experts in mental health, public safety and at-risk communities throughout the city. They developed a plan for informing and consulting the public through partnerships and created PowerPoint presentations, social media infographics and surveys for the city. They presented the plan to city staff in August.

In spring, at the request of the Whittier police chief, students researched and conducted interviews on the practice of officers taking restorative naps. They presented recommendations for reaping benefits of the practice by implementing a formal policy, encouraging officers to take advantage of it and tracking usage.

At the request of Pasadena’s city manager last fall, an MPAA student identified steps officials could take to help restaurants struggling to recover from the pandemic. The city implemented some of the recommendations.

“These capstone projects bridge the gap between theory and practice, giving students the opportunity to think through the complex challenges of working in government agencies and to develop solutions that organizations can then implement,” said program director Sabith Khan.

Government agency and nonprofit representatives with project requests can contact Khan at