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Sustainability News

Maynard hosts podcast with former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman

April 13, 2021

The ASU Interplanetary Initiative has announced their partnership with Slate on a new podcast — Mission: Interplanetary hosted by former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and sustainability scholar Andrew Maynard.

Each episode features the hosts engaging with experts about the big questions, challenges and mysteries humans face as we venture out to explore the solar system and beyond. You can find it on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

Dehgan speaks at FIU State of the World conference

April 13, 2021

Sustainability professor Alex Dehgan, who is CEO and co-founder of Conservation X Labs, was a panelist at the five-day State of the World 2021 conference hosted by Florida International University and ASU's McCain Institute for International Leadership. The topic of the panel was the Paris Climate Agreement and what happens now that the U.S. has rejoined.

While rejoining the Paris climate agreement was an important and necessary step to reducing climate change’s effects in the United States, it was the first step on a long road toward ensuring a sustainable future.

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April 20: Podcasts for engaging with non-academic audiences

April 12, 2021

Podcasts are an effective, engaging way to engage audiences on timely scientific issues. Join two ASU Sustainability Scientists on April 20 at noon AZ time for a robust discussion on their popular podcasts aimed at increasing public engagement on science topics. Register here.

Among other roles at ASU, Athena Aktipis directs the Interdisciplinary Cooperation Initiative. She studies cooperation across systems from human sharing to cancer. She produces the livestream Channel Zed, chairs the Zombie Apocalypse Medicine Meeting, hosts the science podcast Zombified, and authored the book, The Cheating Cell: How Evolution Helps Us Understand and Treat Cancer.

Andrew Maynard is a scientist, author, and internationally recognized expert and thought leader in emerging technologies and their responsible and ethical development and use. Maynard hosts the new podcast, Mission: Interplanetary for Slate and authored Future Rising: A Journey from the Past to the Edge of Tomorrow, which explores our collective relationship with the future and our responsibility to it.

April 22: Ayanna Thompson, author of new book, Blackface

March 30, 2021

Join us at this special Changing Hands Bookstore event with Ayanna Thompson, Regents Professor of English and director of the Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies at ASU. The event will be moderated by Steven Beschloss, an award-winning writer, editor, journalist, filmmaker, and the Senior Director of Narrative Development within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.

Why are there so many examples of public figures, entertainers, and normal, everyday people in blackface? This important book explains what blackface is, why it occurred, and its 21st-century legacies. Blackface examines that history and provides hope for a future with new performance paradigms.

A limited number of free tickets are available for this Earth Day event. You can support the independently owned Changing Hands Bookstore by purchasing the book when you register. You will receive the Zoom link by email within 24 hours of the event. Registration and more information.

Virtual 2-day workshop on public interest technology draws attendees from five continents

March 29, 2021

ASU’s College of Global Futures has completed a unique two-day virtual workshop for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on March 24-25 on Public Interest Technology (PIT) in international development. The live workshop, which drew attendees from numerous time zones around the world, explored synergies in the application of technology to the advancement of human wellbeing.

Professors Mary Jane Parmentier and Faheem Hussain served as co-hosts for the event, which featured presentations from scholars and researchers from Africa, Europe, Australia and the United States. Breakout presentation topics demonstrated the diversity of ideas in the field —from bridging the digital gender divide, to increasing agricultural yields through the use of sensor technology, to a lack of data regarding human trafficking.

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ASU contributes to Global Alliance for Equity in Leadership report

March 26, 2021

While gender equality is improving in higher education institutions, professions and industry, globally women are still in the minority amongst CEOs, board and executive members of major companies, professors and political leaders.

A new report from the Global Alliance for Equity in Leadership (GAEL), What Will It Take: Equality In Leadership By 2030 outlines 10 action plans that articulate the practical actions Government, Universities and Industry must take to close the leadership gender gap.

GAEL exists to deliver programs, research and advocacy, to transform the pathways to leadership for all genders, to ensure the profile of executive leadership across 10 major sectors is inclusive and sustainable, to see the leadership gender gap close by 2030.

Working group members included sustainability scientists Wanda Dalla Costa, Ira Bennett, Dave White and Rimjhim Aggarwal, among many other contributors from ASU and beyond. The report is a product of the PLuS Alliance, of which ASU is a member.

Deadline extended: Global Futures Research Accelerator

March 25, 2021

The global challenges facing society require novel approaches to use-inspired science with local-to-global impact. The Global Futures Research Accelerator empowers the Scientists and Scholars network to develop an ASU research enterprise strategy to increase competitiveness, funding success, partnerships and societal impact.

The Research Enterprise Strategy is a nuanced and novel approach to a complex and dynamic system. This program was created within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and Knowledge Enterprise Research Operations to help participants develop a proactive, capacity-building enterprise research strategy that aligns research priorities with resources informed by intellectual and organizational context. Participants will create a blueprint for a diverse research portfolio that includes plans for funding, partnership, and an ambitious yet realistic approach to scaling-up. Read the flyer to learn more.

Applications are open now and must be submitted by May 17. Early to mid-career faculty with a research focus are encouraged to apply. Classes are planned to run bi-weekly on Fridays, September 3, 2021 through April 29, 2022.

April 7: Solve Climate by 2030 event

March 24, 2021

Solve Climate by 2030 is a nationwide effort to spark Earth Month conversations on the challenge of rapid decarbonization across the country. Join us for a discussion on the ambitious, yet feasible actions that will spur a just, green recovery in Arizona.

ASU is one of 100 universities participating in Bard College's Solve Climate by 2030, taking place on April 7th. We will have a webinar that we will record and that Bard will share nationally and globally. It is a locally controlled, globally coordinated event. The focus of the webinar is on JUSTICE and on Big Ideas, Big Actions (for your region, for your state). Each of the three speakers will address 1 big action and 1 big idea that will lead us to "Solve Climate by 2030."

Registration and more information about ASU's event.

Cities of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures

March 23, 2021

A new book of science fiction, art, and essays from the Center for Science and the Imagination and Center for Energy & Society at Arizona State University explores how solar energy will transform the future of cities and the people who inhabit them. Created in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Cities of Light features stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, S. B. Divya, Deji Olukotun, and Andrew Dana Hudson. Get the book for free.

A webinar inspired by the book will be held Friday, April 2. More information and registration.

Read an essay by sustainability scientist Clark Miller and others; the piece is a slightly modified version of the book's final chapter. The Power of Customized and Inclusive Energy Futures.

April 8-9: ASU Diversity and Inclusion Conference

March 19, 2021

The ASU Staff Council sponsors the 1st Annual Conference on Diversity and Inclusion at the university. Their goal is to provide a venue for not only the exchange of innovative ideas but also to facilitate competent and impactful action plans to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in our respective areas of influence. This conference will be held virtually via ZOOM Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, April 8-9, 2021.

Learn more and register.

May 13: Positionality, reflexivity and bias in research

March 19, 2021

Recent writing across the social sciences have emphasized the importance of the position and perspective of the researcher in understanding observer bias and reflexivity in correcting for that bias. Taking a hands-on approach, this workshop will use specific examples of how one might incorporate considerations of reflexivity and positionality into designing, conducting, and writing up research. What are the advantages of doing so? The disadvantages? How do concerns about positionality relate or not relate to more traditional concepts of bias?

Participants will learn techniques for robustly engaging in reflexivity, for understanding positionality and for weaving reflexivity and positionality into different types of methodologies and fieldwork. The workshop uses both lectures and activities where participants engage with case studies and work to develop their own reflexive and positional skills. This workshop is appropriate as an introduction for scholars interested in developing ethically grounded reflexive approaches to research methods. Participants will complete the workshop with the basic skills to deploy reflexivity and positionality in scholarly research.

The event is offered by the Institute for Social Science Research and led by Dr. Pardis Mahdavi, dean of Social Sciences and director of the School for Social Transformation at ASU. May 13, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Learn more and register.

New study predicts urban development and greenhouse gases will fuel urban floods

March 19, 2021

Sustainability scientist Matei Georgescu, associate professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, is lead author of a new study, Precipitation response to climate change and urban development over the continental United States, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

When rain began falling in northern Georgia on Sept. 15, 2009, little did Atlantans know that they would bear witness to epic flooding throughout the city. Georgia’s busiest expressway was underwater, as were roads and bridges; untreated sewage mingled with rising flood waters; cars and people were swept away. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico fueled the flood of 2009.

A decade later, Arizona State University researchers are asking whether a combination of urban development — and climate change fueled by greenhouse gases — could bring about comparable scenarios in U.S. cities. Based on a just-published study, the answer is yes. Read the full story in ASU News. The abstract follows.

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Registration open for Nobel Prize summit 'Our Planet, Our Future'

March 18, 2021

What can we achieve together in this decade to put the world on a path to a more sustainable, more prosperous future for all? Join the Nobel Prize Summit, Our Planet, Our Future, April 26-28, 2021 to become part of the solution.

View the program, which includes remarks from Johan Rockström, Beatie Wolfe, Xiye Bastida, Steven Chu, John Kerry, Anthony Fauci, Ursula Von der Leyen, the Dalai Lama, and many other distinguished presenters.

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April 6: Global asymmetries, digital extractivism and the fight for economic justice

March 18, 2021

The workshop brings together three leading scholars to discuss current changes in the global economy. The speakers will address the impact of mobile money, resource extraction, and other transformative factors on economic practices in urban and rural areas of the global south.


  • Sean Maliehe, an African economic historian and ethnographer of commerce, money, and mobile phones
  • Sibel Kusimba, an anthropologist focused on inter-ethnic cooperation, leadership, and environmental change
  • AbdoulMaliq Simone, an urbanist with an abiding interest in the spational and social compositions of urban regions
Register online for th April 6, 2021 event. The discussion will take place from 1-3 p.m. Arizona time (PDT).

Sustainability scholar Nina Berman is director of the School of International Letters and Cultures, which is sponsoring this event along with the Center for Philosophical Technologies, School of Politics and Global Studies, School of Art, Dean of Social Sciences, College of Global Futures, and the Department of Economics.

Gerber quoted in Bioscience: Scientists key to decision-making in critical times

March 16, 2021

"With the world still gripped by the coronavirus, with devastating weather and climate disasters, and with attacks on science being spread through disinformation campaigns, there has never been a greater need for scientific engagement with public policy. Leaders in the scientific community are calling for better ways to incorporate science into decision-making during periods of crisis and beyond."

Thus begins a new piece in Bioscience, Ensuring that Science Has a Seat at the Table: Scientists key to decision-making in critical times, published March 8, 2021.

Sustainability scientist Leah Gerber's work on structured decision-making was referenced as a means to improve decision-making. “Evidence and science should be used for decision-making across the board, especially in natural disasters,” Gerber said. The process of structured decision-making makes every step in that decision process transparent, she notes. Gerber is director of ASU's Center for Biodiversity Outcomes.

Read the full article.

2021 WE Empower UN SDG Challenge application is live now

March 12, 2021

The WE Empower Challenge honors innovative women leaders from around the world who are pushing the SDGs forward through sustainable business practices and inspiring others to follow suit. The opportunity recognizes their innovative work and provides Awardees with capacity-building training sessions and opportunities to connect with an unparalleled global network to advance their enterprises.

In 2021, the WE Empower Challenge Awardees will participate in events surrounding the 76th UN General Assembly as well as will connect with renowned business experts from around the world.

Applications are due April 15, 2021.

Rittmann, Krajmalnik-Brown land coveted Hering Medal

March 11, 2021

Researchers at the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology and their colleagues have been awarded the 2021 Rudolph Hering Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Their lauded study describes new approaches to rid ecosystems of a dangerous chlorinated chemical known as trichloroethene.

The prestigious award recognizes the best paper of the preceding year from the Journal of Environmental Engineering. Sustainability scientists Bruce Rittmann and Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown are among the authors of the paper, entitled Modeling Trichloroethene Reduction, Methanogenesis, and Homoacetogenesis in a H2-Based Biofilm.

Read more on the Biodesign website. The paper's abstract follows.

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Mar. 24: ASU Fulbright Day 2021

March 11, 2021

Want to take your research or teaching abroad? Thinking about applying for Fulbright? Join the Office of the University Provost on March 24 for ASU’s Fulbright Day. There will be a number of information sessions covering the Fulbright specialist, scholar and student programs. The event is open to all ASU faculty, staff and students.

More information and registration.