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Sustainability News

Sun Devils Together: An empathetic approach to ASU student homelessness

March 31, 2020

This article was co-written by William Walker VI, a sophomore in the School of Sustainability and Paul Prosser, Project Partner Liaison at the School of Sustainability. 

All students in Arizona State University’s Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) program are required to design and execute a culminating experience project, with the goal being to partner with a community to confront a current sustainability issue. For their project, students Maryam Abdul Rashid, Skyliana Dosier, and Omar Sanchez are creating awareness about student homelessness, breaking down the corresponding stigmas, and improving access to services for homeless students in partnership with ASU’s Dean of Students office. The project explores the three fronts where homeless students experience the most insecurity: housing, health, and food.

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COVID-19: The ultimate stress test for our global futures

Medium | March 30, 2020

In the latest thought leader piece from the Global Futures Laboratory, "COVID-19: The Ultimate Stress Test for Our Global Futures," 21 co-authors from across disciplines at Arizona State University explore how COVID-19 is shaking our societal foundations and revealing how vulnerable our systems are to shocks — even though we've long had evidence that something like this could happen. The authors discuss what this pandemic means for society, make connections to the way we as a global population are handling climate change, and outline opportunities for optimal future responses.

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ASU professor creates hydropanels to address water scarcity

ASU Now | March 30, 2020

According to the United Nations, the year 2050 could see more than 5 billion people suffer water shortages as a result of climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies. This forecast means that now more than ever, it’s important to create new ways of obtaining sustainable drinking water. One person working to make that a reality is Arizona State University professor Cody  Friesen.

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Meet online sustainability senior Samantha Selway

March 26, 2020

A medical condition forced Samantha "Sammy" Selway to transition to online schooling. It was while she was in the process of doing this that she found Arizona State University's sustainability degree.

"After I had decided to leave [another university] because of the Misophonia, the director of their Disability Resource Center told me about ASU’s online programs and then I found the sustainability major," Selway said. "It was perfect and looking back, having to leave in-person college seems like a blessing in disguise."

Selway is a senior at ASU pursuing an online Bachelor of Science in sustainability with a focus in energy, materials and technology. Continue reading to get acquainted with Selway, her propensity to power through the obstacles of life and her research project.

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High school students from Chandler receive $50,000 grant

March 25, 2020

Arizona State University’s Healthy Urban Environments Initiative awarded an innovative team of science students from the Arizona College Prep-Erie Campus with a $50,000 grant for their work on a heat stroke prevention device. With funding, these 9th and 10th graders will build a prototype of the device to test on student athletes.

According to Rachna Nath, a science teacher for the ACP-Erie campus, she and the students have been working with Chandler Innovations on the project since August 2019. After testing the device, they will report all data collected to the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, of which HUE is a unit.

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ASU professor works to mitigate impact of extreme heat in Tokyo Olympics

March 23, 2020

Editor's note: Although this summer's Tokyo Olympics have been postponed due to COVID-19, there is a possibility they will be rescheduled to next summer. With Tokyo's extreme summer heat and humidity, dangers to health would remain. The following information holds true for August in Tokyo, including August 2021.

This summer’s Tokyo Olympics are expected to be one of the hottest Olympic Games on record. According to Jennifer Vanos, an assistant professor in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, long-term climatology tells us that the question is not if it will be hot and humid in Tokyo, but rather how much hotter than normal it could be. In an effort to obtain more precision on these marginal differences and how the extreme heat will impact athletes, spectators and volunteers, Vanos and an interdisciplinary group of global researchers just published a paper in the journal Temperature.

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Meet sustainability senior Nick Johnson

March 17, 2020

Inspired by sustainability, public transit and urban spaces, School of Sustainability senior Nick Johnson took on a year-long internship with Valley Metro.

“As I continued my studies it became clear that these urban spaces are also capable of manifesting strong and environmentally responsible communities. From then on I knew that I am most passionate about working towards creating more sustainable cities that have robust transit networks, walkable spaces, and human-oriented design."

The passion he felt has manifested in projects, student leadership and fostering a culture of sustainability, right here in the valley. Read more about Nick Johnson in his Q&A.

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Gober retires from ASU, establishes student water prize

ASU Now | March 17, 2020

This month, Pat Gober will be retiring from ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning full-time faculty to focus on research and professional service projects. Gober, a population geographer and demographer, was the founding director of the Decision Center for a Desert City.

Over the course of her 45-year tenure at ASU, Gober held a range of appointments including a term as chair of the Department of Geography, where under her leadership it grew into a nationally-ranked geography doctoral program. She also held appointments as distinguished honors faculty fellow in Barrett, The Honors College; policy research associate, Morrison Institute for Public Policy; senior sustainability scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability; and interim director in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban planning.

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How to act cooperatively in the face of a pandemic

March 16, 2020

ASU psychologist Athena Aktipis and collaborators weigh in 

Cooperation is essential during a pandemic. As societies deal with the rise of disease in different ways, a consistent theme is that knowing how diseases spread and evolve can put you in a much better position to evaluate what is or isn’t a real threat.

We asked Arizona State University’s resident expert on cooperation, Athena Aktipis, and some of her collaborators about how to encourage cooperation during a pandemic. Aktipis is an assistant professor of psychology in the ASU Department of Psychology who studies cooperation and cheating and co-directs the Human Generosity Project.

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Discover resources for remote learning and teaching

March 16, 2020

Hands typing on laptop computer at deskAs ASU continues to monitor COVID-19, the university is temporarily transitioning classes wherever possible to remote teaching and learning, starting March 16, 2020. The university’s primary goal is the continuation of classes and the commitment to high-quality delivery of learning. ASU has collected all the resources available to you on one website so that you are prepared to teach, learn and work through digital remote options.

ASU professors contribute to federal food waste report

ASU Now | March 5, 2020

A new federal report by ASU professors highlights how nearly a third of the food produced in the United States never makes it to the grocery aisle, instead ending up in landfills. The research shows that the entire food chain is fraught with unpredictability, from how much it rains to how many farm workers show up for harvest, to which apple will be plucked from the bin. Literal tons of food are thrown away at nearly every step.

Sustainability Scientists Tim Richards and Ashok Mishra, both professors in the W. P. Carey School of Business, were on the nationwide team of researchers who produced the report.

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Meet sustainability alumna Victoria Erran

March 4, 2020

Inspired by a vegan documentary, Victoria Erran decided to make the life-altering decision to study sustainability.

"I had just watched one of those famous vegan documentaries where it talks about how much land, water and energy it takes to grow animals for agricultural purposes," Erran said. "I was in shock, and I wanted to learn why no one was talking about this!"

The passion she felt at that moment remained with her and propelled her through Arizona State University's School of Sustainability, from which she graduated in the fall of 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in sustainability. Continue reading to learn more about Erran and her experiences at ASU.

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Meet sustainability master’s student Christa Burgess

February 27, 2020

Woman with blonde hair smiling into camera next to tortoiseChrista Burgess began her journey at Arizona State University in another major, but she always felt something was missing.

"After my first semester I got the feeling that the major wasn't quite right for me," Burgess said. "I enjoyed biology, but I realized that I was much more interested in learning how people interact with the environment and how to help balance the needs of both people and the natural world."

After some research, she decided to switch her major to sustainability with a focus in sustainable ecosystems. Last December, Burgess graduated a semester early from Barrett, the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in sustainability and a minor in biological sciences. She remains at ASU as part of the 4+1 accelerated Master of Sustainability Solutions. Continue reading to learn more about Burgess.

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Changemaker Central rescues produce for communities and combats food insecurity

February 26, 2020

Girl smiling wearing Produce Rescue shirtThis article was written by William H. Walker VI, a sophomore in the School of Sustainability.

Food is integral in nourishing the mind, body, and soul as well as sustaining the communities around us. We live in a society where food is wasted in the home as well as in stores. At the same time, many people live in food deserts without access to fresh produce. How can we resolve these complex sustainability issues, alleviate food deserts, and increase access to healthy fruits and veggies? Changemaker Central at ASU has an initiative that combats all of these challenges.

Borderlands (also known as Produce On Wheels Without Waste or P.O.W.W.O.W.) is a food rescue initiative hosted by Changemaker Central on the Tempe and Downtown campuses that diverts edible food that ordinarily is sent to a landfill. P.O.W.W.O.W diverts produce that is surplus, on the verge of decomposing, or quality control rejections by retailers and restaurants, and sells it at a rate of $12 for 70 lbs or $6 for 35 lbs to students.

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Locust plagues are devastating countries across Africa

ASU Now | February 21, 2020

LocustRight now, there are hundreds of billions of locusts wreaking havoc on vegetation across Africa. Experts are sounding the alarm, including United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who said the swarm has the potential to be "the most devastating plague of locusts in any of our living memories if we don't reduce the problem faster than we're doing at the moment."

The outbreak has hit East Africa particularly hard as many countries in the region are heavily dependent on agriculture. Locust swarms devastate food crops and raise food insecurity, an issue many of the countries already struggle with. According to the UN, the swarms are the largest in Somalia and Ethiopia in 25 years and the largest in Kenya in 70 years. In Kenya, Joseph Katone Leparole — who has lived in the hamlet, Wamba, for most of his 68 years — described the plague as being similar to an umbrella covering the sky.

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How a decision made in China affects Arizona's recycling programs

ASU Now | February 19, 2020

In a global economy, it is not unusual for decisions made on one end of the world to affect what goes on in the opposite end of the globe. So, when China decided in 2018 to limit the number of reusable materials it accepted from the United States (due to their recycling facilities becoming overwhelmed), many Arizona cities like Mesa, Tucson and Casa Grande were compelled to reduce or eliminate their recycling programs.

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Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability celebrates 15 years

February 17, 2020

Wrigley HallIn 2004, Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow convened a meeting in Temozón, Mexico, of a small but distinguished group of intellectual leaders who were exploring a new idea: sustainability science. Could sustainability be a core value of a large public research university?

It would have to instruct and inspire new generations. It would have to solve pressing real-world problems. And it would have to walk its talk.

On the 15th anniversary of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU has proven it can do all of that and more. Read more about the accomplishments and evolution of the ASU Wrigley Institute in these ASU Now stories:

ASU faculty generates innovative idea to change behavior

ASU Now | February 11, 2020

Man stands on ASU campus with crossed hands and smileOne of the many challenges we face in the journey to create a more sustainable planet is that although more people are now aware of the problem of climate change, that awareness does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior. At Arizona State University, student organizations discovered this roadblock when they noticed intensively publicizing information did not result in as much success as they hoped in regards to meeting the university’s sustainability goals. So to address this, Kendon Jung, the Coordinator for Educational Outreach and Student Services and the chair of the City of Tempe sustainability comission came up with an innovative idea: creating a new interdisciplinary class.

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ASU engineer works to increase solar panel efficiency

ASU Now | February 8, 2020

Zachary HolmanAs we continue to grapple with the adverse effects of climate change, there is a renewed urgency about the need to transition to renewable sources of energy. However, transitioning comes with its own set of challenges, some of which include the high costs of some alternate sources of energy and questions about their efficiency. One renewable source of energy that ticks both of the previous boxes is solar energy.

Solar energy, while quite expensive, still remains one of the most promising sources of alternate energy. It’s why researchers at the Holman Research Group in Arizona State University have been working on innovative ways to reduce its cost. Led by Zachary Holman, an associate professor of electrical engineering and a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the research team has published new findings in the science journal Joule that show how a minute change to the industry-standard silicon wafers significantly enhances solar cell composition.

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