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Leadership Directorate

A Message From the Leadership Directorate

Sustainability is often confused with the environmental movement, but at Arizona State University the concept is much broader than that. Sustainability is a fundamental principle that underlies ASU’s learning, research, partnering, and business operations. We have set an ambitious agenda to become a world leader among universities in finding and sharing sustainable solutions for a rapidly urbanizing planet.

Why ASU? The quality of society, the health of the environment, and the strength of the global economy depend on finding solutions to multiple challenges of sustainability. Research universities can create these solutions. Universities possess the assets and have the mission to advance discovery, spawn innovation, transfer knowledge, and transform behaviors. ASU, with its youth, dynamic energy, entrepreneurial spirit, scale and commitment to sustainability is uniquely positioned to respond swiftly and lead the way. That is why it has become home to the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory – the evolution of ASU’s deep commitment to use-inspired research, our ongoing work in sustainability and service to the global community in which we live.

ASU established the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation as a means of accelerating the university’s research around sustainability and the societal impacts of innovation and complexity. ASU President Michael Crow – who was deeply committed to sustainability and the importance of our global future long before the concept became ubiquitous – worked with a group of world-renowned advisors to design a structure for the Institute that makes it the hub and agent for ASU’s comprehensive global resiliency efforts. With a generous grant from Julie Ann Wrigley, the Institute opened in 2004. During its first years, many ASU faculty played critically important roles in the design and establishment of the Institute, particularly Charles Redman, Jim Buizer and Jon Fink.

In 2007, supported by another generous grant from Julie Ann Wrigley, ASU launched the first-ever, comprehensive degree granting School of Sustainability. The School, now a foundational component of the College of Global Futures along side the unprescedented School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the newly established School of Complex Adaptive Systems, offers unique, transdisciplinary bachelors, master’s, and doctoral degrees in sustainability and educates leadership for the future.

ASU’s global futures mission, however, includes much more. Therefore, in 2020, this Global Institute has merged with the Institute for the Future of Innovation in Society and its nine core research programs, including the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, in order to expand its research resources and better support all colleges and units across ASU. This newest configuration of the Global Institute can not only infuse sustainability research, education and practices across the university’s curriculum, research and campus operations but also extend our knowledge and practices to local, national and global partnerships connecting scientists and engineers with policymakers and business leaders.

From introducing incoming freshmen to the principles of sustainability to installing the largest solar generating capacity of any university in the nation, advancing the frontiers of renewable energy research, and working with cities to implement resilient practices and make better decisions, the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation articulates and exemplifies ASU’s university-wide commitment to sustainability. Join us in leading the transformation to a more sustainable world.

Peter Schlosser
Vice President and Vice Provost, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory

Christopher Boone
Dean and Professor, College of Global Futures

Dave White
Deputy Director, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation