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Sustainability News

Is cutthroat science hindering discovery?

August 9, 2021

Time to Say Goodbye to Our Heroes? This piece by sustainability scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton appeared in the most recent edition of Issues in Science and Technology (sign up in the sidebar to receive the e-newsletter or subscribe to the magazine here).

The author describes how notoriety, rather than society, has become the motivation for research, making competition, rather than collaboration, the norm. Narrowly allocating resources -- professorships, staff and funding -- to those considered “leading scholars” has led to incremental gains in knowledge and a loss of talent. Elkins-Tanton advocates for broader and more equitable participation across demographics and disciplines to "create knowledge where we need it and enable faster adoption of interventions."

Zócalo Public Square hosts a livestream talk at 1:00 p.m. Arizona time this Wednesday, August 11. Register for the event.

ASU's Erinanne Saffell appointed Arizona’s state climatologist

August 9, 2021

Erinanne Saffell, a senior lecturer in Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, remembers experiencing severe floods growing up in Arizona in the 1970s.

“When I was about 3 years old we had a tropical cyclone that flooded out the area, and my family was sandbagging our house in Scottsdale. I remember Hurricane Joanne in 1972, and my mom was driving the station wagon. I couldn't see because the rain was so intense. Most of my early childhood memories are of too much water flooding in Arizona,” Saffell said.

These early experiences sparked Saffell’s lifelong fascination with water and led her to pursue a career researching extreme weather and climate events, including flood and drought, as well as impacts of urban heat islands. Since 2009, she has worked as a senior lecturer in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where she develops courses and upper-division seminars in physical geography, meteorology and climatology, and directs K–12 outreach and training programs on these topics.

Now, Saffell has been appointed Arizona’s state climatologist by Gov. Doug Ducey — a role in which she will educate and advise both local and state communities on issues of climate and weather. Read more on ASU News.

Low levels on the Colorado River: What it means for you

August 9, 2021

The Colorado River is running low. Battered by 20 years of drought, flows have been consistently dropping in the river that 40 million people depend upon. The water level in Lake Mead is the lowest it has been since Hoover Dam was built, at 36% capacity.

On Aug. 15, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will declare a shortage. That will result in a cut in deliveries to Arizona farmers. Most people won’t notice any changes, either in their bills or the new subdivision being built down the block.

But other cuts are looming, and life in the Southwest will become more complicated. Experts say a few wet winters won’t change anything; the river is overallocated between states, and it’s not coming back.

Should we conserve? Or not worry about it? Will we have water cops and drought-shaming, like Nevada and California?

“We have developed very adaptive, complicated systems so that we can have a high degree of water certainty, which we need to have because we're in one of the most arid places in the U.S.,” said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, a policy research think tank.

Read more on ASU News.

Survey: Craft brewers eager for guidance on sustainability

August 9, 2021

The craft brew industry has boomed over the past few years, and new research by an Arizona State University professor shows that while the brewers would like to use sustainable practices, many don’t think that consumers would be willing to pay a lot extra to support those efforts.

“Brewing is quite resource-intensive, and the number of craft brewers has hugely increased. We had 1,500 12 years ago and now it’s over 7,000,” said Carola Grebitus, an associate professor of food industry management in the Morrison School of Agribusiness at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus.

“Brewing is very water-intensive, and we were thinking about what that might mean,” said Grebitus, who also is a senior sustainability scholar in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation at ASU. Her paper, "Sustainable development in the craft brewing industry," was published recently in the journal Business Strategy and the Environment.

Read more in ASU News. The abstract follows.

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KE seeks new limited submissions chair

August 9, 2021

Knowledge Enterprise is seeking nominations for the Chair position for Limited Submissions. In this role, the selected appointee will complete a two-year term attached to the Vice President of Research (VPR) and work closely with the Research Development staff, specifically the Opportunity Manager (OM). An additional year of service is possible and will be negotiated within the last three months of the term.

Nominations for this position will be collected through InfoReady until the posted close date. Nominations will be accepted from individuals, chairs, school directors, and assistant/associate deans of research at ASU. Target skills and abilities are described below, along with the expected workload. Review of the nominations will be done by the VPR and selected staff members.

Learn more and nominate.

Apply today for the KE DC Leadership Workshop Series

August 9, 2021

Are you interested in increasing your experience and understanding of the federal funding landscape to expand the depth of your sponsored project award portfolio? If so, consider applying to join an innovative team of ASU faculty that seeks to create a new way to engage with Federal funders and decision-makers in Washington DC.

The KE Washington DC Leadership Workshop Series will help faculty members understand the broader policy environment that funders work in, how to have more impact with your science or scholarship in the policy domain, and engage with policy levers to create policy changes that lead to research opportunities. The workshops will bring together a group of interdisciplinary faculty with a group of policy and government experts from both ASU and the federal government. The format will vary but will include speakers, discussions with experts, working sessions, coaching participant presentations, and will involve a trip to Washington DC for a week in early April.

Learn more and apply.

KE seeks new vice president of research

August 9, 2021

Under the direction of the Executive Vice President, and in close partnership with the Chief Science and Technology Officer, the Vice President of Research serves as an integral part of advancing the research agenda of the Knowledge Enterprise at ASU and is an essential member of the university leadership. The successful applicant will be a:

  • Strategic and executive level decision maker
  • Cooperative and respectful manager of institutional investments and personnel
  • Curious and collaborative leader who inspires and supports action by others

Apply via Interfolio.

IPCC releases report on physical science basis of climate change

August 9, 2021

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes released its latest climate report today, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis.

The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations.

Watch the video trailer for this report.

“The role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed.” – Working Group I Co-Chair Dr. Valérie Masson-Delmotte

US Department of Education to host listening sessions on climate adaptation

August 2, 2021

On January 27, 2021, the Biden Administration issued Executive Order (E.O.) 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.The order revitalizes past Federal efforts to enhance adaptation and bolster resilience by requiring each Federal agency to devise a Climate Adaptation Plan. The plans are a first step in leveraging Federal agencies to demonstrate climate leadership through both policy and example.

Given the opportunity presented by the creation of these Climate Adaptation Plans, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will host virtual “Listening Sessions” with the public. The aim of these sessions will be to support an exchange of ideas around the opportunities for Federal climate leadership within ED. These sessions will inform the agency’s Climate Adaptation Plan and subsequent implementation and explore the connections between climate, the safe reopening of schools, and ongoing efforts to advance educational equity.

The Listening Sessions will be hosted by ED via Microsoft Teams meeting. Visit the website to learn more. Topics and dates are as follows:

  1. Equity in Sustainable Schools: Targeting Underserved Populations for Federal Support, Aug. 3, 2 p.m. ET
  2. School Infrastructure and Federal Programs, Aug. 5, 2 p.m. ET
  3. Career Opportunities in the Green and Blue Economy, Aug. 18, 2 p.m. ET
  4. Incentivizing Outdoor and Environmental Education, Aug. 23, 2 p.m. ET
  5. Postsecondary Sustainability, Aug. 30, 2 p.m. ET

Global Futures faculty join international team to examine how extreme events can be future indicators

July 30, 2021

Arizona wildfire caused by lightningTwo ASU faculty affiliated with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Michael Barton and Sander van der Leeuw, joined an international panel of 31 natural and social scientists to write a newly published article in Nature Geoscience that investigates abrupt shifts in the Earth's past and how they can be used to predict the future.

The article, Past abrupt changes, tipping points and cascading impacts in the Earth system, was published today an made available with open access by Nature Geoscience.

"We are increasingly concerned about the potential for abrupt changes resulting from human impacts in coming decades," said Barton, director of education and professor at the School of Complex Adaptive Systems. "Equally important, however, are societal dynamics that can make seemingly resilient human systems vulnerable to abrupt economic or political change--or even collapse--from otherwise manageable environmental fluctuations. Study of past socio-environmental tipping points can give us important insights needed to plan for future ones."

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Sept. 29: Free ASU project management summit open to faculty

July 27, 2021

The 2021 ASU Project Management Summit is a FREE half-day virtual event for project managers and those interested in project management to meet and share project management knowledge. Participants will learn how to Level Up! their skills, career, and projects, and will have the opportunity to learn about project management tools and resources.

This event is for practitioners, faculty, staff, and students of all levels, whether they are new to project management or seasoned professionals and features distinguished speakers on topics focusing on four tracks: Military Veterans in Project Management, New to Project Management, Advanced Project Management, and Organizational Tools and Resources. You can also learn about PM course and degree programs at ASU, which are now available to view prior to the event and listed on the event agenda.

Those holding PMI certifications, such as the PMP®, can earn 15+ PDUs for participating, as sessions will be recorded, and also available on demand after the Summit.

Learn more and register.

Silova, Jenik to present climate action project at COP26

July 27, 2021

Scientists have been sounding the alarm on the climate crisis for nearly three decades, and we still face major challenges. A group of Arizona State University educators are reaching out to youth for solutions.

“Scientists have warned us that the planet’s systems are dangerously close to irreversible tipping points. Children and youth are well aware that we live in environmentally precarious times and that they face an uncertain future,” said sustainability scholar Iveta Silova, professor and director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “Yet, schools and universities continue to reproduce the hierarchical ‘man over nature’ relationships in an ongoing pursuit of economic growth.”

She believes this requires a complete paradigm shift and that our very future survival depends on our capacity to make this shift.

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Beschloss accepts new triple-appointment

July 27, 2021

Sustainability scholar Steven Beschloss is taking on a new role within the university as a professor of practice with triple-appointments in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Global Futures.

Beschloss is eager to transition into his position as a professor of practice, where he will have the opportunity to teach about narrative storytelling while continuing his work of leading the Narrative Storytelling Initiative across the university.

“I think ASU is still at an early stage in positively disrupting higher education and fulfilling its potential to influence society and build a more just world. I’m excited to be a part of it,” Beschloss said. “This triple appointment represents my strong belief in transdisciplinary thinking and collaboration that pulls together faculty and students who are motivated to ask significant questions — including about the state of our planet, our democracy and the roles we can play in driving societal and global change.”

Read the full article in ASU News.

Sigma Xi seeks civic science fellow

July 27, 2021

Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society, seeks a Civic Science Fellow for Science Policy and Engagement.

The Fellow will work with the Sigma Xi leadership team to develop a platform that provides empirical evidence, guidance, and resources to help scientists gain a better understanding of the policy process and successfully engage in policymaking.

The successful candidate must have earned a master’s or higher degree in a STEM or policy field. Please share with your contacts as appropriate. Apply by July 30.

PLuS Alliance releases 2021 snapshot report

July 27, 2021

Many contributors across the PLuS Alliance partner universities - executives, advisers, researchers, academics, educators, students and professional staff - bring expertise, passion and a collaborative spirit to help make PLuS Alliance a success. Released in June 2021, the 2021 Snapshot Report contains examples of their accomplishments.

Transforming Women’s Leadership Pathways selected as case study for SDSN conference

July 27, 2021

Transforming Women’s Leadership Pathways, an initiative of the PLuS Alliance, has been selected as a case study for the SDSN’s Accelerating Education for the SDGs in Universities to be showcased in the upcoming SDSN International Conference on Sustainable Development, set for Sept. 20-21. The case study is a joint submission between ASU, UNSW and King’s College.

The pioneering Transforming Women’s Leadership Pathways digital event in October 2020 brought together opinion shaping stakeholders to examine the evidence on the critical factors that limit women’s pathways to senior leadership in their fields, and to develop 10 action plans that articulate the practical actions Government, Universities and Industry must take to close the leadership gender gap. Sustainability scientists Erin Carr-Jordan and Miki Kittelson lead the higher education working group, while sustainability scientist Diana Bowman co-led the Politics and Policy group.

View and download the action plans: What will it take: gender equality in leadership by 2030.

Call for proposals: Scholarly borderlands

July 27, 2021

The spaces between fields—or the “borderlands” between disciplines—represent unique opportunities for social inquiry. Scholarly Borderlands, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), invites proposals for interdisciplinary working groups that ask novel questions, develop new frameworks, rethink methodological approaches, and find innovative answers. Scholarly Borderlands incubates high-risk, high-rewards research efforts.

This New Interdisciplinary Projects in the Social Sciences RFP is open exclusively to faculty of the College and University Fund for the Social Sciences (CUF) member institutions. Proposed projects must be led by a principal investigator (PI) from a CUF institution in collaboration with one or two additional co-PIs. Working group leadership should represent at least two different disciplines, and preference will be given to teams with leadership from different institutions. The deadline for applications is Monday, September 13, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. eastern time.

Read more and learn how to apply on the SSRC website.

Heat and humidity will be a major factor for Olympic athletes

July 26, 2021

The Tokyo Olympics, starting July 23, will be remembered for three things: a complete lack of spectators, being postponed a year because of a pandemic and searing heat.

Sustainability scientist Jennifer Vanos, an Arizona State University biometeorologist in the School of Sustainability, has been studying the latter for more than two years, publishing a suite of papers on subjects including planning for spectator thermal comfort, a climatological analysis and the need to integrate heat management among athletes, climatologists, events operators, public health officials and emergency medical technicians.

Part of Vanos' research focused on big-picture climatological understanding of Tokyo. The other part honed in on urban differences. "Average temperatures will differ depending on where in the city you are, and the humidity can differ to get them to be higher on the coast than if you're inland a little bit or in the city where there's a little bit less sources of moisture from the ocean,” Vanos said.

Read more about Vanos' work in ASU News.

New paper on resilience of urban economic structures

July 26, 2021

Cities that undergo constant but measured change are better positioned to weather the impacts of economic shocks. That’s according to a new paper, Resilience of Urban Economic Structures Following the Great Recession, out earlier this year in the journal Sustainability. Sustainability scientist Shade Shutters is lead author.

In a recent post, John Plodinec summarizes the article; it’s an interesting perspective. Plodinec is the former associate director for resilience technologies at the Community and Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI), established in 2007 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Drawing on a parable, Plodinec compares Shutters to a wise forester, looking not at what makes trees fall, but what makes them stand.

You can read Plodinec’s piece here. The paper’s full abstract follows.

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