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Sustainability News

Sustainability doctoral student wins AAAS student e-poster competition

February 28, 2021

Sustainability PhD student Wenjuan Liu has won first place in the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2021 student e-poster competition. Arizona State University was the host of this year's conference, the world's largest scientific meeting.

Liu's advisors in the School of Sustainability are Hallie Eakin and Datu Agusdinata. Liu's poster, Li Mining-Community-Aquifer Interactions in Salar De Atacama: An Agent-Based Model, was presented live on February 10.

Liu describes the significance of her research: "This research developed an agent-based model to examine how mining’s brine pumping behaviors affect groundwater movements and how changes in water resources affect social-stress dynamics under different mining projections. Our simulations highlight the importance of understanding and managing the downside risks of lithium extraction, point out potential pathways to help build community resilience, and identify governance challenges in regulating lithium mining stemming from resource uncertainties. This study also contributes to informing lithium-mining stakeholders about the challenges and opportunities to provide better management of the world’s largest lithium production sites for a sustainable future."

The abstract follows.

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Peter Schlosser discusses climate and opportunity on Horizon

February 12, 2021

ASU's Vice President and Vice Provost of Global Futures, Peter Schlosser, was featured this week on the KAET news and current affairs program Horizon, where he discussed the current threat of climate change and the Biden administration's prioritization of climate action.

"We actually see the expression of this (existential) threat, which is a global threat, but we see it locally. Here in Phoenix, we see wildfires, we have drought...we have record heat, record death related to heat. So, more frequently we see fallout of this global crisis play out in our backyard."

Across the interview with Ted Simmons, Schlosser addresses the ideas of decarbonization, the opportunity of job growth and trillion-dollar industries and the real impact of the Paris Accords and the meaning behind the Unied States re-entering the accords via a recent executive order.

"I hope that by seeing more and experiencing more - more people are getting closer to the crisis - I hope this will wake them up and make them willing to take on different choices, different from what got us into this crisis."

View the fulll interview at KAET PBS.

ESSA: a new graduate training initiative solving global challenges from the bottom-up

February 12, 2021

“How do we expand our reach not just to other disciplines but also to non-scientists to make it easier to work with stakeholders and those who make policy decisions?”

That was the question put forth by Sarah Bearman, second-year PhD student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration questions during the first reading group meeting of Earth System Science for the Anthropocene, or ESSA. ESSA is a growing network of graduate students, faculty members and practitioners addressing global challenges through a new lens. The developing ESSA initiative at ASU, directed by Nancy Grimm (School of Life Sciences) and Abigail York (School of Human Evolution and Social Change), aims to re-think how we approach graduate training in the Anthropocene.

“Students need a new path to help them prepare for careers and multi-disciplinary research outside of academia,” says Grimm, Regents Professor at ASU. Grimm and York state that the formation of the ESSA network was driven by the need to invoke a new science and graduate training. Starting in Spring 2021, graduate students from different research programs and interests virtually join together to discuss articles about the future of science focusing on five key ideas: collaboration, team science, communication, solutions-driven research and framing transdisciplinary scholarship to explicitly center justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

The ESSA reading group also brings together students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to open up new doors for collaboration and discussion. An engineering PhD student, Iranvaloo, describes the way scientists can engage in different types of knowledge and methodologies, “...there are a lot of tools and approaches in the engineering and the computer vision realm that can aid in how we approach our experimental problems.”

“We need to make spaces that define what mentoring relationships mean to students and their success,” Grimm says, reflecting on her position as a long-time faculty member and graduate student mentor. “It’s telling to find that there are no pre-existing faculty mentoring trainings at ASU or even other universities...if we want to train students then we must also ask faculty to be held to the same standard”. Grimm and York are working to build a community of students and faculty who embody these same principles in ESSA.

If you’re a graduate student, faculty member or practitioner, you can join the ESSA scholars community by contacting essa@asu.edu or follow @ESSA_ASU on Twitter for reading group and networking announcements.

2020 brings record heat and dryness to Arizona

February 12, 2021

“The heat in 2020 was not helpful in the least, and the global pandemic was not helpful as well,” said associate professor David Hondula, a partner with the Healthy Urban Environments program at the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation.

In an article featured in the Arizona Republic, Hondula points to energy assistance and home weatherization assistance for low-income people as solutions to help avoid severe risk and even deaths due to the extreme heat and conditions of the current climate.

Read more about the consequences of the State’s driest summer on record and the pandemic on vulnerable people in our communities.

The Earth League launches 10 New Insights of Climate Science with UNFCCC

January 29, 2021

Unaccounted emissions from permafrost, threats to the land sink, impacts on mental health and freshwater, COVID-19 outcomes and rights-based litigation to address climate change are some of the most recent findings in climate change science summarized in the 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2020.

This interdisciplinary report was launched by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory's partners at The Earth League in partnership with report co-sponsors United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at a virtual event on Jan. 27 featuring Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. This report accompanies a paper simultaneously released in the journal Global Sustainability. The project was made possible through a partnership with Future Earth and the World Climate Research Programme. ASU contributors to this report included Peter Schlosser, co-chair of The Earth League, Clea Edwards and Clark Miller. The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory is the North American secretariat for The Earth League, working in coordination with the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (PIK).

Access the full report.

Sustainability storytelling students premiere short-form documentaries

December 4, 2020

Join sustainability scientist Peter Byck, producer and director of carbon nation and carbon cowboys, for a premiere of his students' work this semester. The event format will be to showcase one film, then do a Q&A with the filmmakers, then repeat for the second film. Join via Zoom on Friday, December 11, at 10:00 a.m. Arizona time.

The Visitors demonstrates how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of wildlife and parks to human health and well-being, while addressing waste management and other pressing sustainability challenges.

Inseparable provides a perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic as a wake-up call to our inextricable connection to the Earth and an opportunity for us to reconnect to nature to find peace amidst increasing uncertainty.

Fri through Sun: Devils Invent: ASU / Devex Global Hackathon

November 8, 2020

Arizona State University and Devex are hosting a global hackathon. Open to universities from anywhere in the world and based on the model from the PLuS Alliance and Devils Invent, the hackathon calls on students to create solutions to five real-world development challenges aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). One winning team in each challenge category will showcase its solution at Devex World and receive opportunities to further develop their idea.

The event takes place Friday November 13, 2020 at 5PM MST through Sunday November 15, 2020 at 3:30PM MST.

Students at ASU will be competing for a slot to go up against students from around the world and will be creating solutions in 3 of the 5 areas which are related to: business transforming development, data revolution, and innovation at scale. One winning team in each challenge category will showcase its solution at Devex World and receive opportunities to further develop their idea!

Learn more and register.

Writers from around the world envision the future, earn spot in new magazine

September 23, 2020

Graphic that says "Envisioning the Future: A story contest 2020"In April, Arizona State University’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative invited people worldwide to write a short story on what they think the future holds, based on our current world. No science fiction, no fantasy, but an imagined future reality.

The results are in, and they’re illuminating. Enjoy the top five in a new magazine displayed on Issuu: Envisioning the Future, Volume 1.

The initiative received 43 submissions from around the world — with 20 from the ASU community — for its story contest in partnership with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. Adaptation to a changed reality was one of the recurring themes among most of the stories, which ranged from 400 to 700 words, said Steven Beschloss, director of the Narrative Storytelling Initiative.

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ASU named a ‘best college’ by The Princeton Review, ranked high for sustainability

ASU Now | September 16, 2020

rows of tall palm trees line Palm Walk on ASU Tempe campusThe Princeton Review has named Arizona State University one of the Best 386 Colleges in its 2021 rankings, which were compiled by surveying 143,000 students across the country.

On sustainability, The Princeton Review ranked ASU nearly perfect. On a scale of 60-99, ASU’s green rating is 98, and has been for four years straight. ASU’s most recent commitment to sustainability involved the launch of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, which is dedicated to keeping our planet habitable and future generations thriving. For this ranking, university and colleges are graded on whether students’ campus quality of life are both healthy and sustainable, how well the institution prepares students for clean-energy jobs and how environmentally responsible school policies are.

Sign up now for free: Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education

September 14, 2020

The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory has signed on as a host institution for this year’s Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education. As a host institution, we have unlimited registration passes for the ASU community. Sign up using the instructions below to gain free access to this great event.

  1. Click here to register. If you are a Presenter or Student Presenter, use the Presenter link provided in your acceptance email and add the Discount Code to receive a free registration.
  2. Fill out all the relevant fields. Be sure to use your institutional email address only (@asu.edu or @thunderbird.edu).
  3. On the Submit Payment page, enter the following Discount Code: ASUEDU091020. This will drop your total to $0.00.
  4. Complete your registration.

GCSHE is a virtual conference taking place on October 20-22 that offers 3 full days of live content and networking, plus thirty days of on-demand access (through November 22). Explore the session types and tracks, and view the schedule.

Meet sustainability alum Jasmine Bolich

September 9, 2020

Woman smiling in dress sitting on marble buildingSchool of Sustainabilty 2020 alum Jasmine Bolich is passionate about film production, and wants to make a positive impact in the industry through being an advocate for sustainability practices. In her Q&A below, Bolich explains how she came to study sustainability (hint: sustainability degrees are flexible and can be applied to any field!), her capstone project, and how her degree is opening up opportunities for her.

Question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

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Meet sustainability student Sukhmani Singh

September 6, 2020

Portrait of Sukhmani Singh wearing a black turtleneck and maroon blazerSchool of Sustainability student Sukhmani Singh aims to establish a career as an environmental lawyer. With several internships and extracurricular activities at Arizona State University already under her belt, she's on the right path. Learn more about Singh's experiences in the School of Sustainability and how internships have enriched her education in her Q&A below!

Question: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

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Conference: Ethical engineering for sustainability, wicked problems and beyond

August 31, 2020

futuristic map of earth with technological lines coming up from continentsThe following opportunity may be of interest to School of Sustainability faculty and students:

Ethical engineering for sustainability, wicked problems and beyond

An online interdisciplinary undergraduate conference for tomorrow’s leaders

December 11—12, 2020

Current and impending social and environmental issues require bold and critical thinking to deliver mitigatory effects. Developing such measures could also serve humankind by charting ethical ways forward regarding how we live with and through technology. Advances in engineering can bolster such pursuits significantly. Attaining common ground for conversation can help advance these aims. This online conference will provide a way for soon-to-be leaders to gain feedback, network, and inspire each other to create a world worth wanting. Here is the challenge for instructors and their students:

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Meet Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership alum Jessica Lerner

August 11, 2020

Woman with brown hair wearing blue dress smiles on the beachJessica Lerner, a recent graduate of the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership (EMSL), sees sustainability as starting on an individual level and expanding outward.

“Global issues...can feel overwhelming, but things will only change when we begin to open our eyes and decide to do something about it,” she says.

In the following Q&A, learn more about Lerner’s experience in the EMSL and how the program impacted her career.

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Preparing valley schools for heat readiness

August 6, 2020

Adora Shortridge is a Masters of Arts in the School of Sustainability conducting a research project on urban heat islands and how to prepare schools for it. The Urban Heat Island Effect has affected public health, safety, climate change, weather, and many other environmental issues. Adora seeks to solve these issues by understanding its effects on schools.

“As cities continuously morph and grow, it becomes more critical to design our communities to be resilient, diverse and inclusive, more livable, and natural. Educating all levels of the public and stakeholders is crucial to the effectiveness of strategies mentioned above, as well as to the future of our soon-to-be sweltering cities.”

Read more from Shortridge in her Q&A.

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Call for proposals: Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education

July 27, 2020

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's (AASHE's) virtual Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education is the largest stage to exchange effective models, policies, research, collaborations and transformative actions that advance sustainability in higher education and surrounding communities.

Humanity faces a series of intensifying and interrelated social and ecological crises. Solving these crises requires a holistic transformation: a shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. With a theme of "Mobilizing for a Just Transition," this year's Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education will be held October 20-22 and will focus on centering justice within this transformation and ensuring that it leaves no one behind.

Higher education has changed dramatically since AASHE closed its original call for proposals in early March. AASHE has opened a supplementary Emerging Issues Call for Proposals; proposals are due August 14.

Become a presenter and have your voice heard on vital topics such as the global pandemic, widespread protests against racism and the upcoming 2020 U.S. Election. Submit your proposal by August 14 to participate in AASHE's first virtual conference!

Meet sustainability student and researcher Caitlyn Finnegan

July 27, 2020

Caitlyn Finnegan is a junior in the School of Sustainability who has spent her summer conducting research on fisheries with Assistant Professor Kailin Kroetz. Fisheries have always been a model for sustainable management, challenges, and discipline. They represent a relationship between humans and marine ecosystems.

“My interest in aquatic ecosystems and how anthropogenic activities interfere with their success drew me to assist Dr. Kailin Kroetz with her fisheries research. Fishery research is impactful because it represents a natural resource that continues to be negatively disrupted by human behavior globally.”

Read more from Finnegan in her Q&A. 

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Call for projects: Project Cities seeks solutions-focused class projects

July 15, 2020

Cities and towns face unprecedented challenges, even moreso now during to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique issues local government agencies deal with demand a research-backed, multidisciplinary response. Leverage your classroom activity to add a meaningful applied learning experience for students that also makes a difference for local communities.

ASU's Project Cities manages contracts and relationships with city partners, facilitates site visits with stakeholders, offers a small budget and technology resources, and publishes project summary reports. Learn more and see the current project topic list.

Planned and continuing municipal sustainability projects incorporate some component of sustainability; economic, social, environmental, or a combination of the three. Many span multiple semesters and groups of students, allowing projects to take on big-picture, multi-disciplinary challenges. In addition, community partners seek assistance on applied projects centered around COVID-19, that examine local responses to the pandemic.

Project Cities' community partners will consider all ideas. Pitch projects via email to projectcities@asu.edu.

Klinsky edits special issue integrating climate justice, built environment

July 15, 2020

Together with a UK architect, sustainability scientist Sonja Klinsky, an associate professor in the School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures, has edited a special issue of Buildings & Cities. Published July 14, the issue explores the concept and relevance of climate justice in relation to the built environment.

How do responsibilities and decisions intersect with human wellbeing in a changing climate? Specific processes, decisions and actions are identified to reduce these injustices and to reduce current gaps both in knowledge and practices. Several perspectives are examined for integrating concerns about climate justice into research and decision-making about the built environment.

Read the editorial penned by Klinsky and Mavrogianni, and explore the special issue of Buildings & Cities.