Wrigley Sustainability Institute News

School of Sustainability alum now environmental program manager for City of Avondale

August 7, 2013

Culotta,DanielDaniel Culotta, who graduated from ASU’s School of Sustainability last spring, is now the Environmental Program Manager for the City of Avondale. He is responsible for assisting companies, facilities, and organizations in achieving environmental regulation compliance, but also for creating the city’s first-ever municipal sustainability plan.

“We’re creating the sustainability plan using an up-to-date, participatory, and evidence-based approach,” Culotta says. “This plan will serve as the foundation for action going forward.”

Culotta attributes his career success to the organizational and solution-focused experiences he had while at the School of Sustainability. He hopes that his new position will show people that sustainability is a fact of life.

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All ASU campuses are now tobacco-free

August 1, 2013

As part of Arizona State University’s health and wellness initiative, all university campuses are now officially tobacco-free. ASU joins about 800 national universities with the policy. Effective today, the new policy prohibits all manners of smoking, including smokeless tobacco products indoors and outdoors. The policy was initiated by students and is supported by the University Staff Council and the faculty Academic Senate.

In addition to making ASU a healthier, happier, more productive place to work and learn, the tobacco-free policy will reduce litter and maintenance expenses.

“Tobacco use is a documented public health hazard and the university is dedicated to providing a healthy, comfortable, and educationally productive learning environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors,” says Kevin Salcido, associate vice president of Human Resources and a member of the tobacco-free working group.

Enforce a tobacco-free university »

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Nature: ASU President Michael Crow on digital learning

July 30, 2013

In an article published in the journal “Nature,” Arizona State University President Michael Crow explores the pros and cons of online learning, drawing from multiple case studies from Harvard, San José State University in California, and ASU. While many skeptics say online learning greatly degrades the quality of education, ASU President Crow says, “…twenty-first-century interactive technologies offer the potential for adaptive, personalized learning on an infinite scale.”

What some first called a “fad,” technological advances have altered the learning environment, changing the way students freely access information and conduct their research. ASU has embraced online education, whether it be through completely online courses or a mix of in-person and online.

“Our objective is to create an environment in which a person can learn anything, and thus we must avail ourselves of every tool, mechanism and means,” Crow says. “We must lead and shape this revolution, not recoil from it, if we are to avoid stifling innovation.”

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Book addresses issues of the urban century

July 26, 2013

School of Sustainability Interim Dean Christopher Boone, together with Michail Fragkias, visiting professor at Boise State University and former executive director of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change program based in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, edited a volume, Urbanization and sustainability: Linking urban ecology, environmental justice and global environmental change. The book was published in 2013.

Boone and Fragkias contributed a chapter to the volume examining the connection between environmental justice and sustainability. They suggest that vulnerability science could be a bridge between studies of local environmental justice and long-term, global sustainability studies.

Another chapter authored by a team of Arizona State University scholars – Bob Bolin, Juan Declet Barreto, Michelle Hegmon, Lisa Meierotto, and Abigail York – builds on previous CAP LTER research and examines shifting vulnerabilities, hazards, and risks in the Phoenix area.

Through case studies, analysis, and theory, the book brings together a range of scholars from urban ecology, environmental justice, and global environmental change research. In doing so, the editors have linked ideas, frameworks, and theories from the three fields to provide new, integrated insights on the pathways toward urban sustainability.

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New Directions in Sustainability and Society: First seminar focuses on traditional ecological knowledge

July 19, 2013

green-rocky-desert_16031086cSchool of Sustainability Interim Dean Christopher Boone, together with Norman Yoffee of the Amerind Foundation, are co-editors of a book series to be published by Cambridge University Press.

The books will be based upon a series of events, where experts from various domains in the field of sustainability will explore selected facets of sustainability—ecology, politics, philosophy, art, justice, vulnerability, and long-term perspectives.

The first of these events was held in April, and papers submitted by the invited experts are now being compiled a book, which Boone hopes will set the tone for the rest of the book series.

The April seminar focused on traditional ecological knowledge and asked, “What can indigenous cultures teach us that adds to our body of sustainability knowledge, and how can we translate that knowledge, appropriately, to action?”

An ASU News article, Old becomes new: Traditional knowledge shapes sustainability thinking, helps put this complex topic into a context a lay audience might understand.

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Students: New School of Sustainability courses

July 18, 2013

In 2012, the United Nations Environment Programme published a report stating that within the next two decades, the world could see up to 60 million new jobs within the sustainability sector. To help students prepare for this change, the School of Sustainability is introducing new courses this fall that cover the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability.

New courses include:

SOS 394: Energy Policy
SOS 394: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
SOS 494: Sustainability and Social and Family Welfare
SOS 498: Sustainability Short-Form Documentary

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Wiek: Sustainability science of the future will move beyond descriptions to solutions

July 15, 2013

ArnimWiek_1035School of Sustainability associate professor Arnim Wiek and his international colleagues were recognized by the journal “Sustainability Science” for their paper, From complex systems analysis to transformational change: a comparative appraisal of sustainability science projects, which the journal called its Paper of the Year for 2012.

“Science in general,” says Wiek, “is largely dominated by describing and explaining the world, and only little inspired by transforming the world. The question is then: How do sustainability scientists move from ‘only’ describing and analyzing sustainability problems to actually contributing to sustainable solutions?”

“The article shows that it is not easy to do solution-focused research, and it explores some of the reasons for this,” says Wiek. “We cannot just continue doing research we used to do – describing and explaining the world – and hope that the results will lead to real impact and progress towards sustainability.”

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Sustainability students experience cultural, corporate contexts from leaders in Dubai

July 8, 2013

As one of four study abroad experiences offered by the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives’ Global Sustainability Studies Program this summer, School of Sustainability students joined several professors in Dubai to meet His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Minister of Economy.

There, the students discussed tourism, governance, economics, and other local issues with His Excellency and several regional industry and business leaders.

“The students learned how to behave in a different culture and in the presence of high-ranking officials,” says David Manuel-Navarrete, a senior sustainability scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability and a professor in the School of Sustainability. “The Emiratis we encountered provided a lot of insight and personal experience for the students.”

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Juggling solutions, experts is all in a day’s work for sustainability grad

July 8, 2013

Rajesh Buch, a practice lead with Sustainability Solutions Extension Service under the  Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, graduated from the School of Sustainability last year. He is now applying his background in mechanical engineering, energy systems, and business in the Extension Service, a unique consulting group that pairs student analysts with faculty members who guide sustainability projects.

As a practice lead, Buch organizes the student groups and collaborates with the faculty to implement projects such as greenhouse gas inventories, waste recycling programs, and biofuel evaluations.

“Sustainability is a way to correct our way of developing,” he says. “We can start by taking baby steps. I contribute by assisting those private and public organizations that are willing to recognize the importance of sustainability.”

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Real-life research applications enhance ASU sustainability education

June 24, 2013

Katja Brundiers, ASU’s School of Sustainability community-university liaison, led educational sessions at Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions Living Learning Lab workshop. Teams of university administration, facilities, and education members developed their own ideas of a Living Learning Lab on their campus—a place where research turns into campus and community projects that improve sustainability.

“We took a very outcome-oriented approach and facilitated conversations among the three key groups that were represented in the room—faculty, operations and students,” Brundiers said. “Some universities were small, some were big, and all were at different levels of developing their Living Learning Labs.”

The workshop was presented by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and drew attendees from national universities including Penn State and University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Water Environment Federation recognizes sustainability scientist as 2013 Fellow

June 20, 2013

Bruce_Rittmann_smallBruce Rittman, a distinguished sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability and the director of ASU’s Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, is a 2013 Water Environment Federation Fellow. He joins 15 other recipients who have made impactful contributions to the water industry and water quality research.

“WEF is very pleased to recognize these truly outstanding water quality professionals,” said WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. “The 2013 Fellows are among the worlds finest in service to water quality, the environment and public health.”

Dr. Rittman is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is well known as developing biofilms used to clean contaminated drinking water. He is a leader in the Membrane Biofilm Reactor project that uses bacteria to get rid of water pollution. As director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, Rittman leads teams investigating renewable bioenergy, biofuels, and human health.

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Scholarships aid sustainability students exploring policy and diversity

June 14, 2013

Clean Air Cab, a local sustainable taxi cab company, has awarded two School of Sustainability students with scholarships to fund their education in the upcoming year. Incoming freshman Maria Eller plans to study diversity and sustainability while senior Sean Martin plans to explore sustainable consulting.

“We designed our scholarships to reward individuals who share our same values in conserving our ecology and creating sustainability within their thinking as it pertains to their actions, community projects, and future business structures,” says Steve Lopez, founder and owner of Clean Air Cab.

Both Eller and Martin say the scholarship will take some pressure off and allow them to focus more on their studies.

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Sustainability alum takes the ‘hazard’ out of ‘hazardous waste’

June 4, 2013

Bradley Baker graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012. Now, he works as a hazardous waste compliance officer at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Waste Programs Division. He learned at a young age that our resources are finite, and taking care of them takes personal and group responsibility.

In his position, Baker inspects local businesses and facilities to make sure they are following hazardous waste regulations.  Baker says his real-world experience from internships helped him gain his position.

“Find an internship, whether it is paid or unpaid,” he tells fellow students. “I have well over a year’s worth of experience doing unpaid internships, and I would not have been able to apply for the jobs I did without them.”

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One Degree: Icing the Heat Island Effect

Thought Leader Series

May 29, 2013

A Thought Leader Series Piece

mick-headshotBy Mick Dalrymple

Note: Mick Dalrymple is a LEED-accredited professional and co-founder of the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. He is the ASU project manager of Energize Phoenix, an initiative that aims to save energy, create jobs, and improve local neighborhoods along a 10-mile stretch of Phoenix’s light rail. Recently, Dalrymple has been promoting the Global Institute of Sustainability’s 2013 Energy Efficiency Idea Guide for Arizona

Imagine what would happen if an array of stakeholders made a concerted effort to cool the overnight low temperature of downtown Phoenix by one degree. For starters, more people would spend their evenings outdoors, increased economic activity would boost local businesses and tourism dollars, and roughly 21 million kilowatt hours (nearly $2.1 million) of energy would be saved per year.

But most importantly, Phoenix would become a real example to the world that we all can work together to positively change our climate.

Such is the power of One Degree, a simple concept that describes a tremendously complex and ambitious (but doable) challenge to create concerted change that improves community sustainability.

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Students, faculty ‘show’ sustainability at open house event

May 23, 2013

Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability hosted its year-end open house and project showcase on April 24 where students and faculty got to show off their innovative course assignments and partnerships. For example, students in Professor David Manuel-Navarrete’s Sustainability Leadership and Social Change course introduced their video highlighting ASU’s transformation towards university-wide sustainability.

“Since the School was first established, we have put value on diverse learning and teaching strategies that simulate professional team settings, address real-world sustainability issues and involve community members as project partners,” says Katja Brundiers, the School’s university-community liaison and the event’s organizer.

The event created new collaborations as part of the School’s Project-and Problem-Based Learning. Students and faculty interacted together one-on-one as well as with members of the public. The event was part poster session, part mixer, part lecture, and part discussion.

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School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter wins first place in Sparky’s Membership Mania competition

May 15, 2013

sparky-membership-mania-2013Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter won first place in the Sparky’s Membership Mania Competition for the second consecutive year. This competition provides a $500 cash award to the ASU Alumni Chapter with the largest increase in membership each year. Thank you to the many School of Sustainability graduates who have joined the School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter. We appreciate your talents, expertise, and connection to your alma mater! Pictured left to right: Alissa Pierson (ASU Alumni Association), Brigitte Bavousett (School of Sustainability Alumni Chapter President), Dr. Christine Wilkinson (ASU Alumni Association).



Student connects art, sustainability through experiential learning

May 14, 2013

Omaya Ahmad, a fellow with Arizona State University’s Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools program and a School of Sustainability doctoral student, integrates sustainability in Greenway Middle School’s curriculum and established courses.

Particularly, Ahmad teaches environmental sustainability to seventh-graders and societal sustainability to eight-graders. Through Greenway’s partnership with the Phoenix Art Museum and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Ahmad was able to use local artwork to give her students real-life lessons outside the classroom.

“I wanted to do my fellowship in the Paradise Valley Unified School District because I graduated from a school in that district,” says Ahmad. “They matched me to Greenway, because of the opportunities with the honors core there. It was such a great match. It was gratifying to watch the students learn, and I learned a lot, too.”

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‘Carbon Nation’ director Peter Byck teaches sustainable storytelling

May 9, 2013

Peter filmingFor his new professor of practice position at ASU’s School of Sustainability and ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Peter Byck will be teaching a new “Sustainability Storytelling” course this fall.

Students from the two schools will learn how to produce and direct their own five-minute documentaries about issues surrounding clean energy and climate change. Byck is a seasoned documentarist; his first film, “Garbage,” won the South by Southwest Film Festival and his second documentary, “Carbon Nation,” is gaining worldwide attention.

“Working with a large university like ASU will allow us to amplify stories out into the world because we need to educate the American people on clean energy,” says Byck.

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Sustainability alumna turns food waste into a career

May 8, 2013

Grad PicNatalie Fleming graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012 and a month later, she obtained a position at a Utah startup called EcoScraps. The company collects food waste from grocery stores, food banks, and farms and turns it into eco-friendly and sustainable gardening products. Working remotely in San Francisco, Fleming is the district sales manager responsible for training EcoScrap employees and representatives.

She gives some advice to graduating sustainability students on how to enter the job market:

“Tell everyone you meet how excited you are to graduate and how much you love sustainability,” Fleming says. “Let them know you’re on a job hunt. Share your interest with people and you never know where that connection is going to come from. It will help you get your foot in the door.”

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The Green Register: College Move-Out Eco-Friendly Tips

May 7, 2013

SHAB_students_46Move-out topics like packing, cleaning, and textbooks are covered in The Green Register’s “The Green Minute.”

For instance, you can collect recycled boxes from local companies instead of buying brand-new boxes. Be sure to sell back your old textbooks, too, or donate them to local schools. And have leftover furniture? Sell it online or host a garage sale.

For more tips, learn about Arizona State University’s Ditch the Dumpster program.

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