Sustainability alumna analyzes how Twitter responds to catastrophes

October 30, 2014

In an article for Nature Publishing Group's journal Scientific Reports, Christa Brelsford - a School of Sustainability alumna and Sante Fe Institute postdoctoral fellow - and co-author Xin Lu analyze interactions by communities of Twitter users preceding and following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The authors find that among Japanese-speaking Twitter users, the disaster created more new connections and more changes in online communities than it did globally and (not surprisingly) it produced world-wide increases in earthquake-related tweets. In addition, the authors describe a novel framework for investigating the dynamics of communities in social networks that can be used to study any kind of social change.


ASU Wrigley Institute represented at Arizona Forward's Earth Fest for tenth year

October 28, 2014

For the tenth year in a row, the ASU Wrigley Institute will be represented at Arizona Forward’s Earth Fest, taking place at the Desert Botanical Garden on October 28. The fest serves as a venue for local environmental education organizations to share their work with Valley teachers. The ASU Wrigley Institute will have two tables at the fest: one for Ecology Explorers and one for Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools.


Heather Lineberry: Thought Leader Series

October 27, 2014

Heather Lineberry is senior curator and associate director of the ASU Art Museum. Her curatorial work explores how new art practices can impact decision making and change entrenched behaviors and systems. In this essay, she explores how art can facilitate deep collaboration across disciplines and social groups to challenge existing models and propose new ones.

What can art bring to sustainability?

Thought Leader Series

October 24, 2014

heather-lineberry-2014-trout-fishing-exhibit-asu-webA Thought Leader Series Piece

By Heather Lineberry

Note: Now through January 17, the ASU Art Museum hosts Trout Fishing in America and Other stories, an exhibition by artists Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson. The project is supported by a research grant from the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

Over the past four decades, solutions to the persistent and complex challenges of sustainability have typically been developed through scientific analysis. There has been an assumption that knowledge will lead to appropriate action. Recently the accuracy of this one-dimensional assumption has been in question, and many have begun to seek more effective ways of developing robust solutions.

About a year ago, Arnim Wiek from the School of Sustainability asked me to co-author a chapter for an introductory textbook on sustainability. This might seem an odd request for a contemporary art curator and art historian, but much of my research and curatorial work has explored the ways that artists have engaged with our challenges in living sustainably. I've found that art can facilitate deep collaboration across disciplines and social groups to challenge existing models and propose new ones.

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Grant funds pursuit of efficient, cost-effective carbon capture

October 22, 2014

carbon-capture-grantSupported by a multimillion dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, a team of ASU researchers will develop an efficient and cost-effective carbon capture technology. The team, which includes co-principal investigators and sustainability scientists Cody Friesen and Ellen Stechel, will do so using an innovative electrochemical technique to separate carbon dioxide from other emissions originating from power plants. Additionally, it will explore the real possibility of reducing energy and cost requirements by more than half.

The project is part of a special Department of Energy program designed to pursue high-risk, high-reward advances in alternative energy research. It was was selected through a merit-based process from thousands of concept papers and hundreds of full applications. The results of the project could be an economically enabling breakthrough in the drive to reduce carbon emissions.


ASU receives gold-level bicycle friendly university ranking

October 22, 2014

bicycle-friendly-universityAs a first-time applicant to the Bicycle Friendly University program, ASU recently earned a gold-level ranking. The designation, presented by the  League of American Bicyclists, recognizes higher-learning institutions that foster sustainable, productive and efficient cycling environments. Particular attention is paid to the support of cycling initiatives, as well as access to both convenient riding areas and parking on campus.

“We are honored to receive this award from the League of American Bicyclists and to see ASU’s efforts recognized,” said JC Porter, assistant director of commuter services for ASU Parking & Transit Services. “In the past year, we have transformed the bicycling culture at ASU and reinforced our commitment to meeting the transportation needs of all students, staff and faculty who bike to and from campus.”


ASU scientists develop new approach to life cycle assessment

October 20, 2014

life-cycle-assessmentAn interdisciplinary team of ASU experts - including sustainability scientists Matthew Fraser, David Gutson and Thomas Seager - offers a new anticipatory approach to Life Cycle Assessment. The approach, featured in the Sept. 16 issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, explores best- and worst-case scenarios for the impacts of technologies in diverse categories. It was developed using the photovoltaic cell, a rapidly emerging technology used in solar panels, as a test subject.

Life Cycle Assessment is a tool commonly used by environmental engineers to weigh the positive and negative attributes of a technology at all stages of its life. Because the tool historically relies on hard data that can only be obtained after any environmental harm has already occurred, it presents a dilemma. The anticipatory approach to Life Cycle Assessment remedies this by embracing, rather than trying to eliminate, uncertainty or conflicting data. Instead of looking at one parameter at a time, it compares many uncertain parameters to identify an environmentally promising research agenda.


LuAn Declaration released in poor farmer's house during "Green Growth" conference

October 20, 2014

During the "Unpacking Green Growth" conference organized in part by the ASU Wrigley Institute, the LuAn Declaration on Green Development in Poor Regions was released in a farmer's house in LuAn City - a poor region in the middle of China. According to the LuAn Declaration, human society is transitioning from the Industrial Era to the Internet Era. This transition is dramatically impacting the traditional development paradigm, and makes it possible for poor regions to leapfrog to an internet-based green economy of the future.


ASU's sustainability plan serves as model for Harvard

October 20, 2014

asu-wrigley-institute-sustainability-planHarvard University has announced its five-year sustainability plan, which  will apply new “green” standards in an effort to reduce waste and energy use. Heather Henriksen, director of Harvard's Office of Sustainability, shared that Arizona State University’s plan served as a direct model for Harvard.

In a Harvard Crimson article, Henriksen explained that while other universities' sustainability plans focus on climate change and emissions, ASU’s is more holistic. She cited faculty involvement in sustainability research and teaching, along with greater emphasis on everyday campus operations and health, as examples.

ASU's framework for addressing the challenges of sustainability incorporates four pillars; namely, education, research, business practices, and global partnerships and transformation. The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability serves as the hub of ASU's overall sustainability initiatives. ASU's School of Sustainability, one of the first such schools in the country, trains the next generation of sustainability practitioners, entrepreneurs and leaders.


Symposium promotes sustainability through sound

October 15, 2014

listenn-poster-sustainability-soundASU's Listen(n) Symposium – a series of panel discussions, musical performances and art installations – aims to open our eyes to sustainability issues by opening our ears to the sonic environment. The symposium, which takes place Oct. 16-17 at the ASU Art Museum and Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute for Sustainability, hopes to forge cross-disciplinary efforts to address environmental issues in new and innovative ways.

“At its base, the symposium is about the ways we engage the environment through the mode of listening, and whether we can attune our listening practices to a degree that allows us to think about these environmental issues in a way that moves beyond, say, studying statistical analyses,” said Professor Daniel Gilfillan. “(This approach) brings the individual into the realm of the environmental space. It encourages students to think about how composition, how sound, how art as a medium, allows us to engage with these more critical issues in a way that is both creative and forward thinking.”


Former SCENE student to attend Nobel Prize ceremonies

October 14, 2014

galvin-nobel-prize-ceremoniesASU freshman Sarah Galvin's award-winning research has provided her more than $10,000 in total scholarship money and a ticket to the prestigious Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm.

In high school, Galvin did not want to wait until college to put her science interests into action. She began looking into research opportunities open to high school students, and found the ASU Wrigley Institute's Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment. Galvin became intrigued with the work led by Nathan Newman - a sustainability scientist and professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy - including his lab team’s efforts to develop next-generation electronics.

Galvin's work in Newman's lab earned her a first-place prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where she competed against 1,700 of the top high school students from 70 countries around the world.


ASU scientist researches desert urbanization with NASA support

October 14, 2014

soe-myint-desert-NASAWith support from NASA, ASU Senior Sustainability Scientist Soe Myint is leading an interdisciplinary study to further understand the impacts of urban infrastructure and vegetation on local and regional climate. Using diverse analytical techniques like remote sensing and numerical modeling, Myint's team is monitoring climate in five urban areas: Las Vegas; Beer Sheva, Israel; Jodhpur, India; Kharga, Egypt; and Hotan/Hetian, China.

As part of a series that showcases the interdisciplinary studies it sponsors, NASA has invited Myint to present a live webinar describing his team’s investigation. Projects selected for the webinar series deal with interactions among components of the Earth system and promote research in emerging science areas like those identified in the Strategic Plan of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. The knowledge that Myint's team acquires will serve to support adaptive management and foster the development of sustainable desert cities.


Sustainability scientist awarded for humanitarian efforts

October 13, 2014

henderson-humanitarian-awardIn recognition of his humanitarian endeavors, ASU engineering professor and sustainability scientist Mark Henderson was recently presented the Making a World of Difference Award by Tempe Sister Cities. Henderson is the director of GlobalResolve, an organization he co-founded in 2006 with three fellow ASU faculty members.

GlobalResolve was created to engage the university’s engineering faculty and students with communities in developing countries to help them improve their living conditions. Today, more than 200 students and 15 faculty members participate in the social entrepreneurship and sustainability program each year. They are contributing to almost 50 projects in 10 countries that focus on boosting local economies and upgrading water, sanitation, energy, agriculture, health and education infrastructure.


ASU scientist comments in National Geographic on sustainable food

October 10, 2014

national-geographic-sustainable-foodA new survey from the National Geographic Society and consulting firm GlobeScan shows that humans are eating healthier diets, but not necessarily in a sustainable way.

Since 2008, National Geographic has measured consumption habits and attitudes in 18 countries for what it calls the Greendex survey. The latest survey found that consumers in five growing countries, when told how their habits affect the environment, indicated they would be open to changing their behavior. It also found that people in English-speaking countries and in Sweden were less interested in how their food was produced.

Nicole Darnall, a professor in the School of Sustainability, told National Geographic she wasn't that surprised at the slow adoption rate of sustainability, particularly in the United States.

"We subsidize traditional food production in a way we don't subsidize natural and organic foods," says Darnall. "The developing world is more nimble, less entrenched than we are. It's easier for them to consider alternatives."


Groundbreaking conference examines indigenous sustainability

October 9, 2014

indigenous-sustainability-conferenceEarlier this month, indigenous scholars, sustainability scientists and tribal leaders from around the world gathered in Tempe, Arizona for the "Conference on Indigenous Sustainability: Implications for the Future of Indigenous Peoples and Native Nations." The conference, inspired in part by the leadership of the ASU Wrigley Institute, served as a forum to discuss and debate indigenous sustainability and environmental issues.

The conference featured multiple panels, including one titled "Tribal Energy and the Environment" that featured three sustainability scientists: Rebecca TsosieHarvey Bryan and Clark Miller. These panelists highlighted the importance of indigenous people’s right to self-determination, as well as navigated the issue of natural resource sustainability with the help of indigenous knowledge.

“We are all connected, so what we do now to build better energy and other systems will have an effect across the world,” Miller said. “Indigenous and non-indigenous people will have to come together, listen to each other’s perspectives and find common solutions to common problems.”


Sustainability scientist appointed to national advisory council

October 8, 2014

panch-innovation-entrepreneurshipSethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of ASU's Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and a senior sustainability scientist, is one of 27 individuals selected to serve on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE). The council will operate as an independent entity within the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is housed within the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.

NACIE members, who were chosen by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker based on their ability to carry out the objectives of the council, will serve a two-year term. As a council member, Panchanathan will advise the secretary on issues related to accelerating innovation, expanding entrepreneurship and developing a globally competitive workforce.


ASU conference explores green growth approach to sustainability

October 7, 2014

gss-green-growth-conferenceBeginning Oct. 8, scholars and practitioners from ASU and abroad will convene for a transcontinental conference aimed at reinventing the path to sustainable development. “Unpacking Green Growth,” the third conference arranged by Global Systems Science (GSS), will explore a new strategy for attaining global sustainability – one that emphasizes equal opportunity-sharing rather than burden-sharing.

Green growth pursues a comfortable standard of living for all people while improving environmental health through economic activity. Because it encourages transformative action, it shows particular promise in the developing world where systems are more supple. GSS, an organization co-founded by Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Sander van der Leeuw, organized “Unpacking Green Growth” with the intention of testing the robustness of the strategy. To do so, the conference will assemble the brightest minds in the arena of systemic solutions to global problems at events in North America, Europe and Asia.


New fellowship program to address global development

October 6, 2014

usaid-fellowship-global-developmentA new partnership between ASU and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will position ASU graduate students to confront the most pressing issues faced by the developing world. Through USAID’s Global Development Lab, a Research and Innovation (R&I) Fellowships program will be established to serve as a model for knowledge exchange, supporting top-tier students as they work with USAID and host organizations throughout the world.

The ASU R&I Fellowships program will be administered by the ASU Wrigley Institute, which will use its convening capacity and international visibility to assemble a transdisciplinary cohort of exceptional fellows and faculty mentors. In the program’s initial year, applicants must be enrolled in one of five selected pilot schools: the School of Sustainability, W. P. Carey School of Business, College of Public Programs, School of Life Sciences or Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. In subsequent years, all graduate students interested in international development are encouraged to apply.


ASU sustainability alumni report high employment rate

October 2, 2014

sustainability-students-employmentAccording to a recent School of Sustainability report, 73 percent of employed undergraduate alumni surveyed have found careers directly related to sustainability. Additionally, 88 percent of master’s graduates and 100 percent of doctoral graduates are in sustainability careers. These alumni hold positions with a variety of companies, including Aramark, Intel, Waste Management, Tesla Motors, U-Haul International, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey.

Because the sustainability field continues to grow and employers are seeking highly educated experts, the School of Sustainability launched the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership, a program developed and administered through the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives. Created for working individuals who want to lead sustainability practices and programs for their employers, the hybrid program complements theory with real-world practice.


Seed grant advances sustainability through art

October 1, 2014

trout-fishing-art-sustianability"Trout Fishing in America and Other stories" is an art exhibition that follows conservation biologists as they work to save two endangered species in the Grand Canyon: the humpback chub and California condor. The artists behind the exhibition, Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir of Iceland and Mark Wilson of England, dedicated over two years to collecting photos, videos and artifacts that provide a visual – and, in some instances, tangible – experience of the region and the complex conservation processes that govern its inhabitants.

"Trout Fishing in America and Other stories" is funded by the “Rhetoric and Sustainability” seed grant, offered through the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. The exhibition represents an ongoing partnership between the ASU Art Museum and ASU Wrigley Institute, as both units participate in the Arts and Humanities in Sustainability Series. The partnership recognizes art's ability to go beyond science to understand people’s perceptions and where roadblocks to sustainable solutions implementation lie.