Search Institute News

Wrigley Sustainability Institute News

Science historian and writer Naomi Oreskes to discuss ‘Who is Responsible for Climate Change?’

April 1, 2013

OreskesNaomi Oreskes will be visiting Arizona State University to give her lecture, “Who is Responsible for Climate Change?” on Earth Day, Monday, April 22 from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. at Old Main’s Carson Ballroom on the Tempe campus.

Oreskes is a prolific writer, appearing in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and academic journals like Nature and Science. She was named the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year by George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication.

As a writer and an academic, Oreskes researches the role of science in society and investigates society’s reaction to climate change evidence. She shares the importance and urgency of climate change to multiple audiences.

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Bacterial boost for clean energy

March 30, 2013

Joseph Miceli, a researcher at ASU’s Biodesign Institute with Sustainability Scientists Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and Cesar Torres, is studying how the anode respiring bacteria can be used to clean up waste and produce hydrogen or electric energy.

“One of the ways we currently treat wastewater from such sources as food processing is to use aerobic organisms,” Miceli says, referring to bacteria requiring oxygen for survival. “So we have to pump oxygen into the system in order to help feed the bacteria, which break down the chemical contaminants. This adds a very large cost.”

However, the anode respiring bacteria Miceli is studying can survive in oxygen-free environments, making it more cost-effective and sustainable. Even more so, the bacteria produces energy while respiring.

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Games examine water use cooperation, decision-making

March 30, 2013

Researchers at Arizona State University, including Sustainability Scientist Marco Janssen, are using games to learn about water resource sharing and cooperation among people.

The project was recently covered in an article by the International Food Policy Research Institute, which is a partner on the project along with India’s Foundation for Ecological Security and Colombia’s Universidad de los Andes.

The research is taking place in rural India and Colombia where groups of villagers are asked to act out water use and crop growing strategies in low-water surroundings. Once their “water supply” is exceeded, the game is over.

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Christopher Boone named interim dean of School of Sustainability

March 29, 2013

The School of Sustainability at Arizona State University has announced its new dean effective July 1, 2013. Christopher Boone, a professor at the School of Sustainability and School of Human Evolution and Social Change, has served as the associate dean for education of the School of Sustainability since July 2010. Boone has been with ASU since 2006 and is a member of the executive committees of the School of Sustainability and the Global Institute of Sustainability.

Boone will succeed Dean Sander van der Leeuw, who will continue to support the School’s research and education endeavors as a member of the Global Institute of Sustainability’s board of directors and co-director of the Complex Adaptive Systems Network.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the School of Sustainability,” Boone said. “I see this as a really important continuation of the work Professor Van der Leeuw did to strengthen the School. ASU serves as an international model for blending sustainability education and research with practice. I am confident we will continue to be a leader in sustainability.”

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Letter from the Dean

March 28, 2013

sanderDear colleagues, staff, and students,

On June 30, 2013, I will be stepping down, at my own request, as dean of Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability (the School).

I will continue as Foundation Professor with tenure in ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) and a half-time appointment in both SHESC and the School. I will have the pleasure to keep my responsibility as co-director of CAS@ASU (the new name of the Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative), as well as for the development of ASU’s Center for Integrated Solutions to Climate Challenges.

This is, for me, a liberating step. After ten years of administrative duties at ASU, I see my remaining years in academia melting like snow under the Arizona sun. I want to return to a more normal academic life of teaching, writing, thinking strategically about the scientific domains I am involved in, and strengthening ties with colleagues all over the world with whom I enjoy working.

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$1.2M grant helps ASU advance sustainability research

March 28, 2013

Arizona State University’s Institute for Humanities Research received funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to join forces with humanities research centers worldwide to foster novel ways of collaboration for a more sustainable future.

There are two large-scale projects under the grant that will run through 2015. The first is Religion, Secularism, and Political Belonging and the second is Humanities for the Environment, in which ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research will play a major role. The Institute will join its global partners in investigating what it means to be human under the climate crisis.

Several Sustainability Scientists are appointed to the projects, including: Joni Adamson, Ron Broglio, Netra Chhetri, Paul Hirt, Joan McGregor, Stephen Pyne, and Rebecca Tsosie.

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President Crow’s British sustainability advisor to discuss ‘the human future’

March 28, 2013

Britain’s Sir Crispin Tickell will be visiting Arizona State University to discuss “The Human Future” on Thursday, April 11, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Tempe Center for the Arts in the Lakeside Room.

Passionate about history, world affairs, and the biological sciences, Tickell has become a renowned climate change expert. In 1984, he served as advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, helping her add climate change to the Group of Seven (G7) agenda. He is currently an advisor-at-large to ASU President Michael Crow.

“I hope the audience will begin to see the threat the human species faces and the way we can meet climate change challenges, or fail to meet those challenges.” Tickell says. “I think once people understand the issues and recognize their personal responsibilities; they can begin to take the appropriate actions.”

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Water reuse can be a solution to scarcity, experts say

March 27, 2013

irrigationditchWater is rare in a desert, especially in a desert that has the fifth-largest city in the U.S.—Phoenix. Recently, newspapers from Arizona and Los Angeles published competing articles about which city’s water supply is less sustainable. What’s more, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the water seven U.S. states (40 million people) depend on is disappearing.

Many experts say that industrial and agricultural water consumers should turn to reusing. Luckily, Arizona State University is partnering with CH2M HILL and Intel on a program called WaterMatch, designed to make such reuse possible. The university is contributing data on wastewater treatment plants to “match” water reuse consumers with water reuse suppliers.

There are downsides to water reuse, but to focus on solutions, ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU’s Decision Center for a Desert City, CH2M HILL, and Intel will host a gathering of experts to discuss how the Colorado River could be used for water reuse.

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Environmentalist Sunita Narain to lecture at ASU March 27

March 22, 2013

Narain-hi-rez-cropped-for-webArizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability welcomes writer and environmentalist Sunita Narain, who will speak on “Environmentalism of the Poor vs. Environmentalism of the Rich” on Wednesday, March 27. The event, which is part of the Institute’s Wrigley Lecture Series, will take place from 5:00 until 6:30 p.m. at the Tempe campus in Lattie F. Coor Hall, room 170.

Narain was named one of the world’s 100 Public Intellectuals three times by the U.S. journal, Foreign Policy. She is currently the director general of India’s Centre for Science and Environment and publisher of Down to Earth magazine. Narain’s interests include equality, clean water, food safety, wildlife conservation, and climate change alleviation. Climate change, she says, is the world’s biggest issue today.

You can RSVP for Narain’s lecture here:

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Celebrating female pioneers in sustainability

March 22, 2013

Rachel_CarsonTo honor female scientists for Women’s History Month, Arizona State University takes a look inside the lives of three female sustainability pioneers—Rachel Carson, Elinor Ostrom, and Nancy Selover.

Rachel Carson is most well-known for her book, Silent Spring. A fighter for the environment and people, she brought to light many environmental injustices such as pesticide use and ocean pollution. Carson was probably one of the first females to communicate the sustainability concept before “sustainability” was a word.

ASU’s own Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to receive the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 2009. Trained in political science, Ostrom investigated how people organize and use natural resources without a government system. Later in her life, she focused her research on human impacts on climate change.

Nancy Selover, a professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, is Arizona’s first female state climatologist. Her main research focus and passion is water, a resource that is slowly disappearing in an urban desert oasis. As Arizona’s climatologist, Selover’s responsibility is to give public outreach and information on the local climate.

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Showcase to award $5K for top sustainability solutions proposals

March 22, 2013

ASU’s first Sustainability Solutions Showcase is reaching out to the community and students to find the next big idea that will help solve sustainability challenges and benefit the environment and society. Participants can share their idea with ASU’s Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives and win up to $3,500.

The Showcase is a project under the Walton Sustainability Solutions’ Sustainability Solutions Festival. In all, the Showcase plans to award $5,000 to winning ideas.

Through a partnership with Changemaker Central@ASU and 10,000 Solutions, the Sustainability Solutions Showcase is calling for financially viable solutions that would address multiple aspects of sustainability. Awards include $2,500 for first prize, $1,500 for second prize, and $1,000 for the People’s Choice Award.

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ASU goes paperless to manage curriculum; promote sustainability

March 21, 2013

Arizona State University just adopted, CurricUNET Meta, a program from Governet that manages curriculum changes online to eliminate excess paper use.

The new program will also allow ASU to save resources, streamline the curriculum management process, archive old curriculum more efficiently, and reinforce paperless practices throughout its six-campus system.

“Having demonstrated cutting-edge innovations in green technology, renewable energy, environmental conservation and climate science, ASU is among the most highly regarded research universities in the country,” says George Tamas, Governet’s CEO. “It is gratifying that CurricUNET Meta has been selected as the technology that will move the institution toward more sustainable curriculum practices.”

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Phoenix Business Journal: ASU student business in running for Coolest College Startup

March 21, 2013

Five ASU honors students saw the need to get unused food into the hands and mouths of hungry people and they did something about it.

The students from different majors – engineering, business and sustainability – harnessed their knowledge and passion to found FlashFood, a startup that uses a website, mobile application, and text messages to facilitate the delivery of excess food from restaurants, caterers, and conventions to community centers that serve the hungry.

Now FlashFood has been nominated for Inc. magazine’s 2013 America’s Coolest College Startup and is one of 12 finalists for the honor.

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Growing in the Context of Climate Change

Thought Leader Series

March 20, 2013

A Thought Leader Series Piece

Narain-hi-rez-cropped-for-webBy Sunita Narain

Note: Sunita Narain is the director general of The Centre for Science and Environment. She will be speaking at the next Wrigley Lecture Series on March 27 at Arizona State University.

We all know the threat of climate change is urgent. We also know combating this threat will require deep and drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. This is when, already, the poor of the world—who are more vulnerable and less able to cope—are feeling the pain of a changing and more variable climate.

The question is: Why has the world been desperately seeking every excuse not to act, even as science has repeatedly confirmed that climate change is real? Climate change, though related to carbon dioxide and other emissions, is also related to economic growth and wealth in the world. Climate change is man-made. It can also devastate the world as we know it.

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Sustainability student helps Sun Devil Athletics go green

March 19, 2013

University gymnast Kahoku Palafox recently graduated magna cum laude with a degree in sustainability from Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability. She submitted a case study to the Green Sports Alliance that outlined Sun Devil Athletics’ sustainability and conservation practices. Palafox explained the processes behind making ASU’s sports events sustainable, like zero-waste practices and energy conservation.

“Even having [the zero-waste] initiative has really started to open people’s eyes to [going Green],” Palafox said.

ASU’s Women’s Gymnastics recently hosted their first-ever zero-waste meet on Friday, March 15 that had only recycle and compost bins.

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ASU women honor role models in science, technology, engineering and math

March 19, 2013

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Arizona State University asked some prominent female university professors and scientists to share who inspires them. For the National Women’s History Project, this year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination.” In particular, ASU highlighted those female scientists in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Sustainability Scientist Alexandra Brewis Slade says her doctoral professor Jane Underwood, who passed away last year, inspires her to push boundaries and be a ‘force of nature’ like Underwood. Another Sustainability Scientist, Leah Gerber, cites National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco as a role model while Sustainability Scientist Jane Maienschein is fascinated by developmental biologist Beatrice Mintz.

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Dirks appointed director of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability

March 15, 2013

Gary-Dirks-12-cropped2Arizona State University announced Gary Dirks as the new director for its Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) on Thursday, March 14.

Dirks, also director of ASU’s LightWorks, hopes to expand the Institute with global initiatives and partnerships for ASU.

“GIOS is an extraordinary place with people who understand sustainability at a very deep level and who know how to apply sustainability concepts to solve real-world problems,” said Dirks. “The challenge for me will be building on a very strong foundation to extend the reach and impact of the Institute.”

Dirks was previously the president of BP China and BP Pacific-Asia. While in China, BP’s employment went from 30 individuals to over 1,300, and revenues skyrocketed from zero to $4 billion between 1995 and 2008.

“Gary has demonstrated his ability to set a grand vision, align projects and people around that vision to create solutions to grand challenges that impact our society,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president for ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “He does all of this in a rapid time frame that is consistent with the spirit of the New American University.”

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Gary Dirks, director of Arizona State University’s LightWorks and former president of BP China, appointed director of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability

Institute Press Releases

March 14, 2013

Gary-Dirks-12-cropped2TEMPE, Ariz. – March 14, 2013 – Gary Dirks, director of Arizona State University’s LightWorks Initiative and former president of BP China and BP Pacific-Asia, has been appointed director of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), with the goal of expanding the global impact of ASU.

“GIOS’s charter is to advance research, education, business practices and global partnerships that aid in the transformation of today’s world into a more sustainable endeavor,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “With the appointment of Gary Dirks as director of GIOS, we look to increase the global impact of our work and surge ahead as a leader in sustainability.”

Dirks was chosen for this role to help GIOS solve global sustainability challenges. Dirks is a distinguished sustainability scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Chair of Sustainable Practices, and teaching faculty member in the School of Sustainability at ASU.

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Local First Arizona’s Kimber Lanning to speak at ASU

March 14, 2013

Lanning headshot (2)The Upside of a Down Economy: Buying Locally
Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Wrigley Hall, Room 481
Arizona State University, Tempe campus

Kimber Lanning’s lecture, “The Upside of a Down Economy: Buying Locally,” was so popular the last time, Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability decided to welcome her back for the second time in April.

As founder of Local First Arizona, Lanning’s passion for local economics stems from her upbringing and real-world education. Raised by a family of entrepreneurs, Lanning left ASU after her first semester and opened a record shop, Stinkweeds, in Phoenix.

Her entrepreneurship savvy and economic justice awareness led her to create Local First Arizona in 2003. Last year, Lanning established Fuerza Local, an education program for Spanish-preferred local businesses.

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As Brazil ramps up sugarcane production, researchers foresee regional climate effects

March 8, 2013

A team of researchers from Arizona State University, Stanford University, and the Carnegie Institution for Science has found that future sugar cane plantations can help Brazil increase its ethanol production, while also decreasing regional temperature.

“When averaged over the entire year, there appears to be little effect on temperature,” said Matei Georgescu, an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, a senior sustainability scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability, and lead author of the paper. “However, the temperature fluctuation between the peak of the growing season, when cooling occurs relative to the prior landscape, and crop harvest, when warming occurs compared to the previous landscape, of about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is considerable.”

Brazil is the second-largest producer and consumer of bioethanol, and based on new laws and trade agreements, the country’s sugar cane production will increase tenfold during the next ten years.

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