Although AUP’s students have been “exploring” the DTLA community for the past 6 years, we are now formalizing our relationship. While many boarding schools take the lead in environmental stewardship, AUP leads in urban stewardship. Our goal is to help students understand that our cities need urgent environmental attention and they can help. Many of our environment problems are also our urban problems, but the list does not stop there. As part of the Explore Academy the DTLA Project helps develop a dialog with multiple entities. Faculty mentors students; Students and faculty accumulate resources from local organizations; the Explore Academy is open to the public; and, our students can market and advance their accomplishments to universities and to their local communities.

DTLA Project 1
DTLA Project 2


With new economies and international recognition, LA continues to be a place of dreamers. The history of Los Angeles has deep roots in the idea of revitalization. Mike Davis explores this idea in his work The City of Quartz, written in 1998. These days with new players, DTLA has again approached a turning point in its history to redevelop itself. Politics aside, Mayor Eric Garcetti, recently expounded on the importance of this revitalization as LA approaches the 2028 Olympics. Additionally, with an increase in internationalization and expansion of financial markets, LA has become a hub for economic and cultural prosperity. It has also become a hotbed for Youtubbers looking to make a quick impact.


Downtown Los Angeles is home to approximately 60,000 people who cannot afford to live in housing. Several organizations around Los Angeles manage the services for these people, such as, the LA Food Bank, California Medical Center, LAPD, and City Hall. Additionally, current strategies are being consider to work with these organizations on advancing housing, employment, medical and other service solutions. The State of California has granted LA County $140 million dollars to seek solutions.

At AUP we see people daily who may fall into this category. In the DTLA Project, a small group of students lead by a faculty mentor will explore the associated problems, discover the resources available, discuss how the problems are being addressed, and how these issues impact them. Students have discovered their sense of privilege and expressed their empathy about this population through the creative arts and performance.

DTLA Project 3
DTLA Project 4


Drive from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles or from Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley, and you will quickly realize that transportation was one of the last issues on the mind of LA’s urban planners. The California car culture is alive and thrives in the city, just ask Elon Musk an LA resident. Nonetheless, the city has developed a network of rail lines to address its transportations issues, but more solutions are in the works. Check out the latest in scooter technology or the increase in the number of food delivery apps and you’ll find that innovation in transportation is inspired by need. Students in this Project have the opportunity to explore the future of transportation.

Immigration & Culture

Los Angeles and California have always been a destination for the world. LA’s history from La Puebla to Venice Beach has attracted those seeking a different life with renewed energy and spirit. LA is a sanctuary city for immigrant populations and these days that means something. However, we cannot ignore the global reasons for migration and the cultural costs. Several issues arise with immigration from multiple lenses and given our international community where some of our students come from war-torn countries, we value the immigration experience. This was a core value of America and is also for AUP. Students in this Project will look inward and outward as to how immigration makes an impact.

DTLA Project 5