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Guiding principles

A national emphasis
The Yankelovich Center supports research on local and regional problems only to the degree that they express issues of national concern.

A focus on strategy rather than tactics
Much problem-solving research operates on the tactical level. For example, K-12 education research often focuses on isolated tactical issues such as class size, teacher training, the role of the school principal, teaching methods, testing, or a common core curriculum. The Yankelovich Center specializes in strategy — for example, how to gauge the relative importance of various tactics in improving overall student performance.

A multidisciplinary approach
No one social science discipline, be it economics, sociology, political science, or psychology, can solve any important national problem by itself. Interdisciplinary cooperation is needed.

Practice contributes to theory
The Yankelovich Center rejects the familiar distinction between basic and applied research in the social sciences because it implies that knowledge flows in only one direction, from theory to practice. Our premise is that it flows in both directions. Practice can inform theory.

Many of the nation's policy think tanks have a strong partisan leaning. But a Center dedicated to evidence-based solutions loses credibility if partisan bias sneaks into its practices and recommendations.

An added resource, not an alternative
The Yankelovich Center's purpose is to add a new resource for gaining social science knowledge. It is not intended to divert the division's emphasis away from theoretical knowledge.

The urgency of time
The scientific search for theoretical knowledge often neglects the urgency of time. The Yankelovich Center is dedicated to finding timely solutions to the problems it addresses.

Better understanding is not always the solution
The conventional wisdom dictates that better understanding is the primary road to problem-solving. Sometimes this is a valid assumption, but sometimes it is not. Research methods for finding effective interventions can differ from those designed to enhance understanding.


John Skrentny

John D. Skrentny studies the causes and impacts of policies relating to opportunity and jobs, as well as the relationships between technological innovation, jobs, education, and regional competitiveness. He is the author of After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace (2014), The Minority Rights Revolution (2002), and The Ironies of Affirmative Action (1996), as well as editor of Color Lines (2001) and two special issues of American Behavioral Scientist (2012; 1998). He is a former Guggenheim Fellow and his work has appeared in both scholarly and popular media. 

Executive Committee

The Yankelovich Center's executive committee includes distinguished professors, campus partners, and community members. It oversees Center activities and evaluates seed funding proposals.

Julian Betts
Professor, Economics

Amanda Datnow
Associate Dean, Division of Social Sciences
Professor, Education Studies

Peter Gourevitch
Founding Dean and Distinguished Professor Emeritus
School of Global Policy & Strategy

Zoltan Hajnal
Professor, School of Global Policy & Strategy

Isaac Martin
Professor, Sociology

Carol Padden
Dean, Division of Social Sciences
Sanford I. Berman Endowed Professor, Department of Communication and Center for Research in Language

John Skrentny
Director, Yankelovich Center
Professor, Sociology

April Sutton
Assistant Professor, Sociology

Mary Walshok
Associate Vice Chancellor, Public Programs; Dean, UC San Diego Extension

Alison Wishard Guerra
Professor, Education Studies

Susan Yonezawa 
Associate Director of CREATE

Regional Advisory Board

  • Partners for Progress (Sid Voorakkara)
  • San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (Mathew Sanford or Eduardo Velasquez)
  • Center on Policy Initiatives (Peter Brownell or Kyra Greene)
  • Employee Rights Center (Alor Calderon)
  • San Diego Unified School District (Genevieve Clark)
  • San Diego Workforce Partnership (Laura Kohn, director of Center for Local Income Mobility)
  • United Way of San Diego County (Ian Gordon)
  • Business for Good San Diego (Karim Bouris) 
  • RISE San Diego (Samuel Tsoi)


Daniel Yankelovich

Daniel Yankelovich, a renowned social researcher and public opinion analyst, was the key figure in the establishment of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research. He founded and led The New York Times/Yankelovich Poll, now called The New York Times/CBS News poll; Public Agenda, a public policy research organization; and DYG Inc., a research firm that tracks social trends. He was named by PR Week as one of the 10 most influential people of the past century in the arena of public affairs, communications, and public relations. Yankelovich is the author of dozens of books, including Wicked Problems, Workable Solutions: Lessons From a Public Life (2015). He has also taught psychology and social opinion at New York University and The New School for Social Research.


The Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research was created in 2012. It was made possible through a generous gift and continued financial support from Daniel Yankelovich. Since 2016 it has received additional financial support from UC San Diego.

David Lake, professor of political science, was the Center's director from 2012 to 2015. Lane Kenworthy was the director from 2015 to 2016. The current director is John Skrentny.

Make a gift

To give to the Yankelovich Center, click on the "Give now" button below or contact Doug Kurtz, Senior Director of Development, tel 858.822.0805, email

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