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Sustainability News

ASU, Conservation International team up to protect biodiversity

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

March 22, 2017

Group photo of President Crow with CBO staff and Professors of PracticeAs a key program within the Knowledge Partnership between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Conservation International, ASU welcomed seven Professors of Practice last week.

These scientists will devote time to teaching, mentoring and service initiatives at the university, all aligned toward advancing the three goals of the partnership: protecting biodiversity; promoting sustainable development, particularly in food production and fisheries; and training the next generation of conservation biologists.

“Right now we’re in a race, a race that will not be easily won,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “The forces of nature and the negative force of our impact on nature are accelerating. The acceleration of those forces are such that they will contribute to our need to have something we don’t have, which are better theories, better ideas, better tools, better solutions, better implementation, better translation – none of which comes naturally.”

As the New American University, ASU supports local and global partnerships to ignite innovative solutions to pressing biodiversity conservation issues around the world.

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Cultivating a space to learn and grow

ASU Sustainability News

March 10, 2017

A woman directs a student's attention to something in the garden, where there a numerous plants, squares of hay and a wheelbarrow.Available to faculty, staff and students, the community garden at ASU’s Polytechnic campus helps the community understand food systems and water conservation in the desert. That's part of the reason why it is regularly used for capstone projects and outdoor class lessons.

According to Susan Norton, program manager of sustainability practices, “[The garden] opens the minds of students to what it means to eat local, what it tastes like, and why it is important.”

Much of what the garden grows is donated to food banks – about 370 pounds so far. Those who lease space through Norton’s program maintain it, and the waiting list is growing. That's why Norton wants to expand the garden, moving it to a more central and accessible location.

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ASU welcomes Professors of Practice

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

March 8, 2017

Collage of professors of practice headshots with ASU and CI logosNext week, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO), in partnership with Conservation International (CI), will welcome six scientists from CI’s Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans as Professors of Practice (PoPs). The PoPs will be instrumental in advancing the three goals of the Knowledge Partnership established with CI in September 2016:

  1. Protecting essential natural capital for human well-being.
  2. Transitioning producers to sustainable production methods through science, engagement and technology.
  3. Training the next generation of conservation leaders.

During their welcome week, PoPs will participate in a series of planning workshops to strategize research and teaching. They will present lightning talks and discussion, followed by one-on-one meetings with faculty.  They will also facilitate undergraduate and graduate student workshops.

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Phoenix gets a guide to greener procurement from ASU

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

March 3, 2017

Nicole Darnall in front of a projector screen that reads "Top 5 Barriers"Wanting to lessen its impact on the environment, the City of Phoenix decided to explore ways to make more eco-friendly purchasing decisions. Sustainability experts Nicole Darnall and Lily Hsueh were among the half-dozen ASU faculty to help them.

The ASU team assessed opportunities for purchasing improvements by conducting focus group interviews with city procurement specialists. After identifying complex organizational barriers and trade-offs, the team provided eight recommendations that will help Phoenix advance its 2050 environmental sustainability goals.

“By engaging city officials, our team was able to address one of the city's concerns — how it can further integrate environmental considerations into its purchasing processes,” said Darnall, the principal investigator. “At the same time, we developed a better understanding about sustainable procurement, advanced our research ideas, and engaged teams of graduate students in project-based learning. This project created wins for everyone.”

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Sustainability scientist recognized as positive disrupter

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 27, 2017

Manfred wearing a brown jacket and standing in front of a chalkboard full of writingDistinguished Sustainability Scientist Manfred D. Laubichler, a theoretical biologist known as a positive “disrupter” who identifies trends years in advance, is being honored with the Faculty Service Achievement Award at Founders’ Day 2017.

Laubichler is regarded for his work on Complex Adaptive Systems, focusing on complexity as a unifying principle in the social and life sciences. One of his most significant contributions was to the launch of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute's Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, which prepares scientists and policymakers for questions that arise as cities become megacities.

Another project that Laubichler was instrumental in is the ASU-Leuphana Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation. The center – created in 2015 in conjunction with Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany – builds on the universities' shared focus on global sustainability and transdisciplinary research. Its creation included the first dual master’s degree in global sustainability sciences, which enables students to attend and receive degrees from both universities.

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Studying sustainability at home and abroad

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 25, 2017

"Studying abroad takes away the blinders of not knowing who is affected by the things we do," says Sarah Morrow, a student in ASU Online’s Master of Sustainability Leadership program, of the journey that led her to sustainability. "Now in my daily life, I make better choices when it comes to sustainability."

After returning from a two-week trip to Hong Kong as a part of ASU’s urban sustainability initiative abroad, part of the Global Sustainability Studies Program, Morrow decided to pursue her sustainability education further by enrolling in the online MSL.

While abroad, Sarah and her classmates witnessed firsthand the serious sustainability issues a large city may face, such as waste disposal. Her group focused on biodiversity, exploring Hong Kong's coral crisis and developing potential policy solutions to address it.

Back in the U.S., Morrow has big dreams for her future as a sustainability trendsetter and hopes to apply her ASU Online education to assist big companies in following sustainability principles.

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Pasqualetti named to international advisory board

ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 23, 2017

Mike Pasqualetti, senior sustainability scientist, has been appointed to a two-year term on the International Advisory Board of the Moravian Geographical Reports Journal, published by the Institute of Geonics, the Czech Academy of Sciences. The international, peer-reviewed journal is open-access and has a growing global reputation and presence, especially in Europe.

According to Pasqualetti, the emphasis of the journal is on the role of 'regions' and 'localities' in a globalized society, given the geographic scale at which they are evaluated. The journal addresses multiple interrelated questions, including:

  • Problems of regional economies and society;
  • Society in an urban or rural context;
  • Regional perspectives on the influence of human activities on landscapes and environments;
  • The relationships between localities and macro-economic structures in rapidly changing socio-political and environmental conditions;
  • Environmental impacts of technical processes on bio-physical landscapes;
  • Physical-geographic processes in landscape evolution, including the evaluation of hazards, such as floods.
  • Theoretical questions in geography are also addressed, especially the relations between physical and human geography in their regional dimensions.

Sustainability students pave a profitable path toward zero waste

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

February 20, 2017

School of Sustainability student Eric presents his project Circle BlueThree School of Sustainability students have come up with a way to guide small organizations painlessly toward zero waste. And they’ll make money doing it.

Eric Johnson, Sean Murray and Daniel Velez – all students in the Master of Sustainability Solutions program – make up the consulting firm Circle Blue. The firm will partner with schools, nonprofits and small businesses to find and eliminate waste, saving money and reducing the amount of garbage that goes to the landfills.

And now they have a financial boost in achieving that aim. The Circle Blue team won a $20,000 grant from the Pakis Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, defeating two other teams in the pitch competition in February 2017. The event, sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, sought the team with the strongest potential to solve a social challenge.

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Why carbon dividends can work for everyone

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 15, 2017

A climate strategy involving carbon dividends can strengthen our economy and reduce regulation while helping working-class Americans and promoting national security, say the authors of a February 2017 report published by the Climate Leadership Council.

Titled "The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends," the report explains how a four-part carbon dividends plan can help to mitigate climate change while preserving conservative principles like free market and limited government.

Among the report's authors – eight men with collectively impressive business and political acumen – is Retired Walmart Chairman Rob Walton, who serves as co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global institute of Sustainability at ASU.

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ASU awarded for commitment to climate leadership

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

February 14, 2017

At the 2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona, ASU Executive Vice President, Treasurer and CFO Morgan Olsen accepted the 2016 Climate Leadership Award on behalf of the university.

The award, announced in September 2016 and presented at a luncheon hosted by Second Nature, recognized ASU's innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate change mitigation and resilience among four-year institutions.

In 2007, ASU President Michael Crow was a founding signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. ASU continues to pursue sustainability solutions across its campuses, including a January 2017 power purchase agreement that more than doubles the university’s solar generating capacity.

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'Slow life' in the big city

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 14, 2017

Colorful balconies of a high-rise apartment complexBig cities are generally associated with fast-paced life, but an ASU study shows that one psychological effect of population density is the adoption of a “slow life strategy.”

The ASU team – including sustainability scientists Steven Neuberg and Douglas Kenrick – collected data from all 50 states and nations around the world. Then, through a series of experiments, they found that perceptions of crowdedness cause people to delay gratification in favor of slower behaviors. These included long-term romantic relationships, having fewer children and investing more in education.

“With the world’s population growing,” Neuberg says, “it seems more important than ever to understand the psychological effects of overcrowding and how living in crowded environments might influence people’s behaviors. Applying a new perspective to an old question is allowing us to reexamine the effects of living in crowded environments.”

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Graduate students discuss climate justice

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 13, 2017

Sustainability researchers gather on brick walkway for group photoArizona State University School of Sustainability professor Hallie Eakin joined with renowned climate change expert and University of Arizona professor Diana Liverman for an annual meeting of UA and ASU graduate students working on issues of climate, society and environmental justice.

The students shared insights into how to undertake transformative science in ways that directly address the needs of vulnerable communities and future generations. "The gathering gives me hope that we will meet the challenges of climate justice through shared ideas and commitment," commented Liverman.

The workshop included research presentations by students from both universities, followed by discussions about the Paris climate agreement, finding optimism in tough times, strategies for engaging people and organizations to achieve environmental justice, and how to engage further in direct climate justice action. Climate communication expert Susi Moser inspired the students with virtual talk on "Hope, even now."

Chinese scholars learn to think sustainably at ASU

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Professional Training and Custom Sustainability Education

February 10, 2017

Visiting Chinese students gather around an outdoor algae bed A two-week workshop at Arizona State University's School of Sustainability brought students from China a new way of systems thinking to analyze complex sustainability problems.

Marty Anderies, professor and senior sustainability scientist, introduced the students to the key sustainability challenge areas of food, water, energy and urbanization – both locally and globally. His sustainability class was a combination of learning activities: documentaries and dialogue, interactive role-playing games, field trips and lectures.

The 16 students came from Beijing's Beihang University, an elite research university known for launching the first light passenger aircraft in China in 1950s. They chose ASU because the university is well-known in Chinese academia for its leading research and heavy focus in sustainability.

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How collecting human waste supports planetary sustainability

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 8, 2017

A little-known fact about ASU – it is home to the National Sewage Sludge Repository, the largest archive of its kind in the country. Samples in the repository come from 200 wastewater treatment plants and represent 10 percent of the U.S. population.

Senior Sustainability Scientist Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security, explains that this collection serves as a window into public health and habits. For example, if wastewater sludge shows high concentrations of opioids, researchers could alert authorities to a previously undetected drug problem.

This potential to point out public health concerns becomes increasingly relevant. As the world's population continues to move to cities, the ability to diagnose human activities, consumption and health in urban centers will be key to understanding and managing human health and planetary sustainability.

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NEPTUNE enters Phase II of veteran engagement, energy innovation

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

February 7, 2017

Soldiers saluting at sunsetDesigned to break new ground in alternative energy; increase educational opportunities for the military community; and bolster science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach, the Department of the Navy and the Office of Naval Research have launched the Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence initiative, or NEPTUNE.

NEPTUNE has just entered its second iteration, growing to a $3 million, three-year program providing funding to four universities – Arizona State, Purdue, MIT and UC Davis – in addition to the U.S. Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School. Its goals are to help the Navy and Marine Corps discover ways to improve energy conservation, generate renewable energy and implement energy-efficient technologies while giving active-duty military, military students and veterans the chance to immerse themselves in university-level research.

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Dr. Gerber named Fellow of Ecological Society of America

ASU Wrigley Institute News Biodiversity News

February 6, 2017

Dr. Gerber holding binoculars, doing field research on boat at open seaSenior Sustainability Scientist Leah Gerber, founding director of ASU’s Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, has been named a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America, according to an announcement released by the ESA. Gerber was selected for her pioneering efforts to integrate marine ecology and conservation science into tenable policy and decision-making tools.

Gerber's notable achievements include a publication portfolio of more than 100 papers, receiving the “Inspirational Faculty Award” from ASU, and her role as a lead author for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

ASU campaign to enhance discovery, success, community

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 2, 2017

Fireworks light up the sky over a band onstage at a baseball parkOn Jan. 26, 2017,  Arizona State University officially launched Campaign ASU 2020,  the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in the nearly fifteen-year tenure of President Michael Crow. This transformational $1.5 billion campaign will engage alumni and friends in expanding the access and excellence for which ASU has become known.

The campaign coincides with the 2020 strategic vision of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability to scale sustainability solutions with like-minded partners around the world. The ASU Wrigley Institute addresses humanity's most pressing challenges in social, environmental and economic sustainability.

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The benefits of bringing the outdoors in

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 2, 2017

Sonja talks with lecture attendeesBringing nature back into the classroom and other inside spaces is the objective of ASU adjunct faculty members Joe Zazzera and Sonja Bochart. During a February 2017 lecture on biophilia – or love of nature – they expanded on the numerous benefits of interacting with nature, including enhanced productivity, reduced stress and improved well-being.

Bochart explained that the effects of nature can be measured on a physical level; blood pressure drops and parasympathetic healing activates – benefits that our predominately-indoor lifestyles prevent. By including environmental features like natural materials, water, and “living walls” or hanging plants in our homes, classrooms and workplaces, we can increase our overall well-being.

The lecture was an installment in the ASU Wrigley Institute's Sustainability Series, where speakers discuss a range of environmental, social and economic topics.

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JCLP Special Volume Published on Leadership towards Sustainability

ASU Wrigley Institute News

February 1, 2017

A green building towers over conventional buildingsAn international team of professors, including Senior Sustainability Scientist George Basile, made up the editorial team of a recently published “Special Volume” of the Journal of Cleaner Production – the world´s leading journal in the area of sustainable development, according to Google Scholar.

The timely knowledge captured in this SV helps leaders to learn how to define social and ecological sustainability, to get a deeper understanding of the leadership case for sustainability proactivity, and to operationalize sustainability in a systematic and strategic way across diverse disciplines and sectors.

“We invited the whole scientific community to contribute and received a great response," says Managing Guest Editor Göran Broman. "After selection based on the theme and after thorough peer-review, we ended up with thirty-five published papers.”

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Modeling smart water management in megacities

ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 31, 2017

Water streams from a blue and red outdoor spigot How are decisions really made to manage flooding, water scarcity or water contamination in the world’s megacities?

We might assume that most decisions would be made on a cool, rational weighing of the technical options that are most likely to result in a reduction of risk. We know, however, that few decisions are made on technical criteria alone. In some cities, authorities may not be able to consider some water management options, such as using recycled waste water for drinking, because of the potential for political opposition. In other cities, elected officials are susceptible to pressures to appease particular voting constituencies in their allocation of water resources.

Over time, what options are considered and what decisions are taken give concrete shape to the built environment. These decisions affect how the city grows, what physical infrastructure is put in place, where and for what purposes. The  intangible but potent social and political influences on decision-making can be called “social-political infrastructure”: the norms, values, rules and relationships that influence and reinforce persistent patterns of decision-making in cities – and shape urban development – in ways similar to the “hard” infrastructure of the built environment.

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