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Sustainability News

Do trees provide the best shade for urban environments?

June 9, 2021

Shade monitoring at ASU ariane middelShade is a term that residents of arid, hot environments learn to appreciate, especially during scalding summer months. But what makes for the best shade?

“Cities have started to plant trees as a means to shade the environment. But oftentimes you can’t really plant trees because of infrastructure challenges. There may be sewer lines underground, internet cables, or business signs that will be blocked,” said Ariane Middel, assistant professor in ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering and a HUE grantee. New research explores viable alternatives to trees for providing shade to keep people comfortable outdoors.

Using a special mobile lab named MaRTy, Middel and her team are assessing what makes for the best provider of shade. The findings may surprise you.

Learn more at ASU News.

ASU engineering experts reframe infrastructure security

June 8, 2021

Sustainability scientists Mikhail Chester and Brad Allenby and their faculty peers in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering believe broader perspectives need to be part of the current debate about improving America’s infrastructure systems.

Infrastructure has always been a target in warfare, according to Chester, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

"Think about military aircraft dropping bombs on bridges or railroad lines. But battles today are not just army versus army. They are society versus society, and this change means we need to change how we think about infrastructure.”

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Ariaratnam receives Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award

June 8, 2021

Sustainability scientist Samuel Ariaratnam was recently named this year’s winner of the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award.

Ariaratnam will deliver the Bechtel Lecture at the 2021 ASCE Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute Pipelines Conference on Aug. 5, to be held virtually.

Ariaratnam is among the leading experts in the development of trenchless construction methods and technologies used in underground construction. He is particularly prominent in the area of horizontal directional drilling, which enables subterranean building and installation to be done with minimal disturbance to the surface.

Read more in ASU News.

June 15-16: Earth Archive LiDAR conference

June 8, 2021

The Earth Archive is an international, interdisciplinary initiative to create an open-access, high-resolution, digital archive of the earth's surface compiled from LiDAR scans. This can be used for a wide range of social and natural science, as well as environmental policy work.

Earth Archive is holding an international conference online 15-16 June. Sustainability scientist Michael Barton is among the presenters. The event will be held online. See the agenda and register.

Donkeys dig deep in the desert, benefiting overall ecosystem

June 8, 2021

An Arizona State University doctoral candidate has discovered that horses, donkeys and other equine species, which are seen as "invasive," actually help shape desert ecosystems, fulfilling the same function long-extinct species once did. The feral equines sniff out water and dig wells that are used by other wildlife.

Erick Lundgren, a doctoral candidate in the School of Life Sciences, led the study, Equids engineer desert water availability, recently published in the journal Science. Sustainability scientists Julie Stromberg, Jianguo Wu, as well as Karla Moeller of the Provost's office are the other authors from ASU.

Read the full story in ASU News.

ASU project receives first place in 2021 Microgrid Greater Good Awards

Microgrid Knowledge | June 8, 2021

Led by sustainability scientist Nathan Johnson and the Laboratory for Energy and Power Solutions, ASU's ATLAS Containerized Microgrid has won first place in the 2021 Microgrid Greater Good Awards. The system powers a 40-foot container that was converted by an ASU team into a medical clinic in Northern Uganda that provides primary care to over 200 Sudanese refugees per day. Before the microgrid was installed, medical practitioners struggled with unreliable power and difficult access to clean water.

The clinic uses 22 linear feet of the 40-foot container, with the remaining 18 feet used for the microgrid and water purification systems. The 10-kW solar microgrid also provides power for medical staff housing and is capable of offering additional power for expanded water supply and area lighting.

The containerized microgrid is replicable and can be used for other areas that require "last mile" distribution to remote off-grid locations, according to Johnson, who led development of the system as part of a $2 million, four-part research project funded by the US Office of Naval Research’s Defense University Research-to-Adoption Program.

Microgrid Knowledge launched the award program three years ago as a way to highlight the humanitarian and societal benefits of microgrids. The winners are chosen by a panel of independent judges.

June 12-15: Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress 2021

June 8, 2021

Sustainability scientist Julianna Gwiszcz is co-facilitating two sessions at this year's SRI Congress, hosted June 12-15, 2021, online and in Brisbane, Australia. The Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress 2021 (SRI2021) is the world’s first transdisciplinary gathering in sustainability – it will be a space of fierce advocacy for sustainability scholarship, innovation, collaboration and action.

This annual event unites global sustainability leaders, experts, industry and innovators to inspire action and promote a sustainability transformation. For the first time, the Congress will launch as a live virtual event with a diverse and innovative online program. In addition to the 100+ sessions available throughout the day and night, thanks to the global reach of SRI and partners, the SRI2021 Online Package includes workshops, training and more.

Julianna Gwiszcz, will be co-facilitating two sessions on transforming narratives at this inaugural SRI Congress. Working with Narratives for Transformation is scheduled for Sunday, June 13, at 3:00 p.m. Arizona time. Exploring Dominant and Regenerative Narratives and the Worldviews they Reflect is set for Tuesday, June 15, 12:00 a.m. Arizona time.

Visit the congress website for more details and full agenda, and to register to participate.

New paper: Collaborative governance for the food-energy-water nexus

June 8, 2021

Sustainability scientist and GIOSI deputy director Dave White and recent School of Sustainability PhD graduate J. Leah Jones published a paper, A social network analysis of collaborative governance for the food-energy-water nexus in Phoenix, AZ, USA, in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

The authors conducted a social network analysis of food-energy-water nexus governance in the Phoenix metropolitan area, as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Professor Ross Maciejewski from the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering. The social network analysis revealed challenges to collaborative governance of FEW nexus stakeholders, such as limited trust between actors. However, the research found that by leveraging bridging there are opportunities to increase collaborative governance between sectors. This study was a component of Jones’ dissertation.

The abstract follows.

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Registration now open: Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Ed 2021

June 8, 2021

Registration for this year's virtual Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education (GCSHE) has officially opened.

Attendees can register today to reserve their spot for a virtual event that saw over 6,800 registrants last year bringing together more than 400 institutions from 36 countries.

Register today to explore this year's theme, "The Future Is...", and reflect with everyone on the uncertainty about the future that many feel while recommitting yourself to the urgent work of building a future that is sustainable, equitable and resilient. Ultimately, the future is ours to make.

June 24: Match yourself and your students to real projects in Peoria

June 8, 2021

Scientists and scholars are invited to join Project Cities and the City of Peoria to co-develop class projects for the 2021-2022 academic year. Peoria staff from 9 departments will join for a virtual workshop to develop proposed project scopes and discuss new ideas, with the aim of matching you and your students to a real project with real impacts. The program is designed to support most class formats and work across disciplines.

Project Cities is currently recruiting faculty to support the upcoming program cycle. Get in on the opportunity to meet our community partners early and secure an applied project for your students. This will be a virtual event with the freedom to move between round-table breakouts with city department staff, to discuss collaboration opportunities and learn more about their proposed projects.

Register for the virtual event, scheduled for June 24, 2021, from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

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How to activate an AASHE account

June 1, 2021

Arizona State University faculty and staff are already members of AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. AASHE is home to the STARS rating sytem, offers professional development including webinars on sustainability curriculum, and provides a number of faculty resources, including a faculty community, awards and the annual AASHE Conference & Expo. AASHE's Campus Sustainability Hub is home to thousands of resources related to curriculum, research, operations and more. In addition, webinar archives are available for free to all AASHE members.

Here's how to activate a new account.

  1. Visit
  2. Click New Account in upper right.
  3. Enter your name, email address, and campus zip code. Continue.
  4. Select an existing account, if you've previously logged in, or click New Account.
  5. I am affiliated with: Type or scroll to "Arizona State University" (ID: 4531).
  6. Role: Employee.
  7. Add your profile and contact information.
  8. Choose your contact preferences. Most faculty would be most interested in "AASHE Conference & Expo" – click the right arrow to move all else to the "opt out" column.
  9. Add your department, discipline and position.
  10. Continue to complete your registration.

New paper: Sustainable consumption communication

May 25, 2021

School of Sustainability assistant professor Tyler DesRoches, sustainability fellow Daniel Fischer and their co-authors have published a new paper, Sustainable consumption communication: A review of an emerging field of research, in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

According to Fischer, the paper provides a review of sustainable consumption communication (SCC) as a field of research. Analyzing 67 papers, the authors describe 4 types of SCC research that conceptualize and relate the terms very differently.

The abstract follows.

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June 9-11: IASC conference on knowledge commons

May 25, 2021

The IASC 2021 Conference: Knowledge Commons aims to bring together scholars and practitioners to address problems defined by knowledge systems. Topics include: innovation spaces; digital resources like Wikipedia and Stack exchange; open-source software development; the future of science and education; the archival of existing knowledge; cultural commons; and citizen science. More information and registration.

2022 AAAS annual meeting call for proposals for sessions and workshops | May 25, 2021

Submit a scientific session or workshop proposal for the 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting theme, Empower With Evidence, aims to inspire sessions that illustrate the transformative power of evidence-based discoveries and that address the challenges of rebuilding the public trust in science and focuses on science literacy, evidence-based decision making, and the use of validated knowledge to drive public policy for the benefit of all.

The deadline to submit a proposal for Scientific Sessions and Workshops is June 17, 2021. If you would just like to attend a session or workshop, meeting registration will open in September. To submit a proposal or learn more, visit the AAAS website.

May 25: Open discussion with the Competitive Intelligence Working Group

May 24, 2021

Competitive Intelligence is the ethical collection and analysis of information to provide actionable intelligence for informed decision-making. The Competitive Intelligence Working Group (CIWG) is open to anyone who is currently performing strategic and competitive intelligence activities, or interested in learning more about this growing area in research development. Our members are primarily professional staff in higher education who are advancing the research activities of their institutions.

The CIWG meets and discusses best practices, shares useful resources, and creates a network of academic professionals across the nation who seek to define how CI is used and is perceived in the academic environment. This group connects with colleagues from other universities to expand our understanding of how research development professionals are working with CI and to share common issues and interests.

Bring your questions to the year-end session, May 25, 10:00 a.m. AZ time. Learn more and register. ASUrite login required.

"Everything Change" anthology discussed in KJZZ podcast

May 24, 2021

What do Indigenous futurisms and climate fiction have in common? To find out, listen to Indigenous Futurisms And Climate Fiction, a recent episode of "Word" — a KJZZ original podcast about the literary arts in Arizona and the region.

The May 11 episode included Joey Eschrich, editor and program manager for the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University and assistant director of Future Tense, a partnership of ASU, New America, and Slate that explores emerging technology, public policy, and society.

In collaboration with ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, Eschrich runs the Everything Change global climate fiction contest. A new anthology of climate fiction, Everything Change can be downloaded for free.

Student-led course: Intersectional environmentalism and sustainability

LinkedIn | May 24, 2021

This year, undergraduate student William Walker had the privilege of executing one of his goals, which was to bring representation to overlooked identities in sustainability through a student-led course.

With support from the School of Sustainability, Walker developed a student-led, faculty-advised course named "Intersectional Environmentalism and Sustainability." The course, which included undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, examined how identities such as race, class, and gender create different realities for different people and how those people navigate the world around them.

According to Walker, students in the class taught the class on topics such as Black representation in sustainability, ecofeminism, and Indigenous leadership in sustainability. Walker said, "This initiative was awe-inspiring because it broadened student's horizons on what inclusion really means."

A web page describing the course and all the students' topics was created by fellow students Tahiry Langrand and Jordan Sene.

YouthMappers has created an academy to build capacity for open humanitarian mapping

May 18, 2021

University students will strengthen their mapping proficiency with a new online platform. The YouthMappers Academy is a new online learning platform for network members. The Academy will strengthen YouthMappers students’ knowledge and proficiency to work with the ecosystem of OpenStreetMap software and tools and the social and organizational skills related to creating open spatial data for humanitarian and development needs.

Sustainability scholar Patricia Solis is co-founder and director of YouthMappers, a rapidly-growing consortium of student-led chapters on more than 264 university campuses in 58 countries who create and use open spatial data for humanitarian and development needs in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development, the main co-founding sponsor.

YouthMappers Academy course materials encourage YouthMappers to engage more confidently in open mapping communities and seek to stimulate critical thinking around research and mapping activities, leading to higher quality outputs. The added opportunity to earn micro-credentials will enhance YouthMappers’ job marketability by providing formal recognition of proficiency and achievement in targeted geospatial techniques and concepts.

Read more about the YouthMappers Academy in the May 17, 2021, press release.

New pillars of education to serve community in multiple ways

May 15, 2021

Broadening access to higher education. Advancing research that helps people. Taking responsibility for the communities it serves. These are promises laid out in ASU’s charter, and now — to better fulfill those promises — they are the three “pillars” around which the university will organize its efforts going forward. Get a crash course in the Academic, Knowledge and Learning enterprises that will guide the university’s efforts going forward from ASU News.

The Sustainability Consortium releases 2021 impact report

May 14, 2021

Many consumers rarely think about where the food and products they buy come from, nor do they understand how harmful the production of these items can be on people and our environment.

In fact, these consumer goods are responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, two-thirds of tropical deforestation, 80% of global water use and three-quarters of forced and child labor. That’s a message that Arizona State University’s Sustainability Consortium (TSC) tries to convey to the public in their annual impact report.

This report, released on May 13, shows the work they do is helping consumer goods companies have a positive impact on the planet.

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