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Sustainability News

Seminar provides sunny outlook on solar in Kosovo

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 19, 2016

An old-looking power plantWhen asked to design a program on renewable energy and sustainability to be presented in Kosovo – a country that relies on two coal-fueled power plants – the School of Sustainability's Ryan Johnson gladly accepted.

Johnson, who directs the school's professional training and custom sustainability education efforts, then approached geographer Martin Pasqualetti and electrical engineer Ron Roedel because of their expertise in renewable energy, as well as with a similar program in the Middle East.

After studying Kosovo's great solar potential, the two professors presented their insights at a two-week seminar beginning in May 2016. Each day was split between presentations by Pasqualetti – a sustainability scientist who focused on the social aspects of transitioning to a new energy source – and Roedel, who focused on the technical aspects of renewable energy. Together, they demonstrated the value of renewable energy and interdisciplinary collaboration.


Thinking inclusively about improvements to slums

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 15, 2016

A wooden walkway winds through a slum built over waterDeveloped economies have historically attributed their growth and productivity to urbanization. But in the developing world, urbanization is often associated with negative outcomes like poverty and environmental degradation, says Senior Sustainability Scientist José Lobo.

In a May 2016 contribution to UGEC Viewpoints – a blog of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change program, hosted by the ASU Wrigley Institute – Lobo considers how urban planning can be implemented to improve the slums of the developing world. He writes that traditional forms of urban planning can have tragic consequences, like evictions and relocations, and points to data collection and community engagement as means to sustainability.

Lobo, who co-leads the Slums, Neighborhoods and Human Development Cities project, also expressed his hope for slums in this January 2016 article, which appeared in ASU Now.


Hope for the sustainability of American suburbs

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 14, 2016

A massive wall of dust rolls over Phoenix at duskThe average American suburb faces many sustainability challenges, including low-density and auto-centric development. But according to Senior Sustainability Scholar Grady Gammage, Jr., suburban cities are also a source of promise.

In his latest book, "The Future of the Suburban City," Gammage takes a fresh look at what it means to be sustainable. He shows that suburbs have a few advantages in an era of climate change, and provides examples of cities that are already making strides toward increased resilience. With these examples, he demonstrates the power of collective action to address the challenges of geography through public policy.

The book serves as a realistic yet hopeful story of Phoenix, and shows what is possible for any suburban city.

Locust outbreak brings ASU expert to Argentina

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 14, 2016

A hand holding three locusts of different sizesWhen a massive locust outbreak struck Argentina in 2016, Senior Sustainability Scientist Arianne Cease flew to the scene to offer her expertise.

Cease, a professor in the School of Sustainability, has studied locusts around the world. She and her lab manager arrived to swarms more than four miles long and two miles high – the worst Argentina had seen in 60 years.

After assessing the situation and sharing her research, Cease hosted a two-day workshop. Here, she described to university researchers and government officials how to address locust outbreaks using a systems approach.

With the aim of creating a rapid-response team to address situations like the one in Argentina, Cease is building a Global Locust Consortium. She hopes to host the initial meeting by early 2017.


A framework for fighting wicked water problems

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 13, 2016

Pipes hang into a dried and cracked riverbedIn a Christian Science Monitor contribution titled "Water management is a wicked problem, but not an unsolvable one," School of Sustainability alumnus Christa Brelsford untangles the web of water supply and demand.

Brelsford, a postdoctoral fellow of the Arizona State University-Santa Fe Institute Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, discusses the reality of water in the West, writing "There is no new water to allocate, and so the water management task now is to make the best possible use of the water resources that are available."

She goes on to say that water management – which lies at the intersection of economic, legal, political, hydrological, climatological, ecological, agricultural and engineered systems – can result in solutions when a complex systems perspective is applied.


A modern twist on the age-old concept of commons

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

July 13, 2016

Meadow with yellow flowers below blue sky with cloudsImagine a village that boasts an open meadow with tall grasses accessible to all.

A local farming family has grazed sheep there for years without issue. But when the rest of the town’s sheep farmers discover its lush pastures, it becomes over-grazed and unable to feed anyone’s sheep.

The commons – common-pool resources like the meadow – are no stranger to conflict and debate. But as two sustainability scientists at Arizona State University explain in the latest edition of their book, Sustaining the Commons, they are also not without solutions.

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Taking useful technology to market

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News

July 12, 2016

The modern glass aesthetic of ASU's Biodesign building reflecting the sunset The environment of creativity fostered by ASU was recognized in July 2016, when the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association released their annual rankings. According to the groups, ASU ranks 38th among worldwide institutions in utility patents earned, with 55 patents secured in 2015.

“It’s a very nurturing culture that makes it easy for folks to file patents,” says Senior Sustainability Scientist Rolf Halden, who has been awarded six patents in the last six years.

Halden, who directs ASU's Center for Environmental Security, works to improve human health by studying exposure to toxic chemicals and inventing ways to clean up contamination in soil and groundwater.


Meet Our Alumni: Manjyot Bhan

School of Sustainability News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 30, 2016

Manj wearing white collared topManjyot Bhan – a native of Mumbai, India – graduated from the School of Sustainability with a Master of Science in 2010. She also earned a PhD in Public Administration, with a focus on Environmental Policy, from American University in 2015.

Bhan is currently a Policy and Business Fellow at a think-tank called the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) – formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change – in Arlington, Virginia.

Why did you choose ASU's School of Sustainability?

During an environmental economics undergraduate class at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, I realized all our assumptions in textbook economics and of the marketplace were made based on private costs – without accounting for other costs such as environmental, social and health damages to society. My desire to pursue the field of sustainability came out of a classroom experience.

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Godfathers of environmental law to teach ASU course

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 29, 2016

Industry-SmokestackThroughout the 1970s, the “Golden Age” of environmental law, Congress developed some of the most influential and enduring legislation still effectual in environmental policy today.

In a two-week course this fall, ASU students will have the opportunity to earn credit while getting first-hand insight from two of the “Golden Age” influencers themselves, Leon G. Billings and Thomas C. Jorling – the two senior staff members who led the Senate environment subcommittee during the 1970s.

Students will review key environmental legislation, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and Superfund. But more than just the laws themselves, students will learn about the behind-the-scenes political inner workings that made consensus possible, and will assess both the formal and multidimensional components of that process.

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Students study culture and sustainability in Morocco

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 27, 2016

Two scientists enjoying coffee outside a Moroccan cafeFor the fourth year in a row, the School of Sustainability sponsored a study abroad excursion to Morocco, where Arizona State University students studied the complexities of sustainable development.

Senior Sustainability Scientist Mary Jane Parmentier – who served as a member of the Peace Corps in Morocco in the 1980s and has maintained contacts there – led the program.  Students learned about the differing priorities among the unique cultures in this North African nation, then digested that knowledge during nightly meetings.

The study abroad program has evolved from year to year, becoming more culturally immersive and focused on evaluating sustainability solutions that are being implemented in host countries. For more updates from this excursion and others, visit the Global Sustainability Studies Program's blog.


Continuing a legacy of environmental ethics

Board Letter ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 26, 2016

People sit on a stone wall in an outdoor setting, listening to a speakerAccording to Senior Sustainability Scientist Joan McGregor, Aldo Leopold – known as the father of wildlife management – is the person with whom any discussion about sustainability should start.

"He really was, at least in the West, one of the springboards for environmental ethics," she says.

To explore how modern concepts of sustainability relate to Leopold's work, ASU hosted its third Extending the Land Ethic Summer Institute in June of 2016. The four-week event combined classroom discussions with field trips to places like Arcosanti, Grand Canyon National Park and Homolovi State Park.

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Sustainability alumni connect in the District

School of Sustainability News Alumni News

June 25, 2016

Eight School of Sustainability pose with Dean Boone outside of a D.C. restaurantOn June 10, School of Sustainability alumni in the Washington, D.C. area connected and caught up over dinner at Ardeo+Bardeo.

The fantastic evening, hosted by the School of Sustainability Alumni Association, was attended by Dean Chris Boone and eight sustainability grads, including Manjyot Bhan, MS '10; Chris Harto, MS '09; Debbie Namugayi, MA '14; Becky Schwartz, BA '10; Mike Herod, EMSL '15; Brian McCollow, BA '13; Alex Rogers, MSUS '15; and Robert Horner, MS '10.

To receive invites to future events, click here to make sure your information is up-to-date and keep an eye on your email.

Meet Our Alumni: Lexie Krechel

School of Sustainability News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 25, 2016

Lexie standing on a desert hiking trailLexie Krechel graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Society and Sustainability track.

Krechel also earned a Minor in Social Work along with a Certificate in Public Administration and Management. She currently works as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Tempe Community Action Agency.

Tell us about your current job and how it is related to sustainability.

I found my current position at Tempe Community Action Agency by looking on nonprofit job boards. I knew that I wanted to stay in the nonprofit world, but just needed to find the right organization. I decided to pursue a position at TCAA because I wanted to be able to see the impact that my work was having on the community.

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Inaccurate emissions numbers weaken Clean Power Plan

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 24, 2016

Illuminated power plant at night, its reflection in nearby waterAccording to an Arizona State University study led by Senior Sustainability Scientist Kevin Gurney, federal data on power-plant carbon dioxide emissions is significantly flawed.

Power plants are responsible for roughly 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions nationwide. Inaccurate data concerning these emissions undermines the federal Clean Power Plan, which is designed to strengthen the clean-energy trend by setting a national limit on the carbon pollution produced by power plants.

“This policy relies on the achievement of state-level CO2 emission-rate targets,” write the study's authors. “When examined at the state level, we find that one-third of the states have differences that exceed 10 percent of their assigned reduction amount. Such levels of uncertainty raise concerns about the ability of individual states to accurately quantify emission rates in order to meet the regulatory targets.”


ASU's Poly campus now offers degrees in sustainability

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 24, 2016

Student explaining project on water use To meet an increasing demand for sustainability education, ASU's School of Sustainability has made its offerings even more accessible. Now, students at ASU's Polytechnic campus can enroll in the school's popular undergraduate degree programs, like its Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in sustainability. Its 18-credit minor in sustainability is also available to Poly students, and makes a strong complement to virtually any major. Students attending a Maricopa County Community College may be eligible for MAPP.

Students at the School of Sustainability are reinventing the future of a world at risk. The school's programs introduce students to the concept of sustainability and how its application can transform the world for the better. This program is transdisciplinary, drawing from many academic fields. Students explore the interaction between societal, economic, and environmental factors and develop solutions to challenges at the local, regional and global levels.

Meet Our Alumni: Marina Acosta

School of Sustainability News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 24, 2016

former-asu-sustainability-studentMarina Acosta graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Policy and Governance track. She also minored in Psychology.

Currently, Acosta is in the Master of Science Obesity Prevention and Management program at ASU.

Why did you choose Arizona State University?

ASU is my home and I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. I did not apply for any other schools. This was close enough to my family and allowed me to experience great diversity while receiving a top-notch education. Also, I’ve always wanted to make a difference and when I learned about the School of Sustainability, I knew that there would always be something for me to do. I thought it was an innovative and fast-growing field, and I was right.

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A neighborly partnership for energy reform

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News LightWorks News

June 23, 2016

Beltrán stands at a podium with a black curtain behind himLeonardo Beltrán Rodríguez, undersecretary for planning and energy transition under Mexico’s Secretary of Energy, is managing the most significant reform of Mexico’s energy sector in more than 70 years – and ASU is helping him do it. In June 2016, Beltrán met with ASU leaders to formalize a relationship of future collaboration in energy research and education.

“ASU is one of the premier universities in the U.S. in terms of energy research, with nationally recognized centers...,” said Stephen Goodnick, deputy director of ASU LightWorks. “ASU also has strong partnerships within Mexico, with more than $35 million worth of projects related to Mexico either in partnership with Mexican entities or with a focus on Mexican topics, cultures or materials.”


Meet Our Alumni: Brendan Denker

School of Sustainability News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 14, 2016

Bendan Denker smiling with palm trees and mountains in the backgroundBrendan Denker is a Fall 2012 graduate of the School of Sustainability's Master of Science program. He also received a Bachelor of Arts in General Engineering, and a minor in French Cultural Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

Denker works as an engineer at Salt River Project, where he's been employed for the last three years. He focuses on long-term planning within the Western U.S. electric grid, represents SRP’s interests with other entities, and is involved with tracking the water-energy nexus at SRP’s power plants.

Why did you choose to study at ASU’s School of Sustainability?

I had always been interested in sustainability. I grew up immersed in recycling, composting and having empathy for others – which I always assumed was a normal, second-nature thing. However, when I got to college, it was a bit of a culture shock, because doing those things was not the norm.

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Meet Our Alumni: Jin Jo

School of Sustainability News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

June 13, 2016

Jin Jo wearing a graduation cap and regalia Jin Jo – a native of Seoul, South Korea – graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2010. He received the first PhD in sustainability and was a member of ASU's jazz band.

Jo is currently an associate professor of technology at Illinois State University and the associate director at the Center for Renewable Energy. In February 2016, he and two other faculty members at Illinois State University were recipients of the Outstanding Cross-Disciplinary Team Research Award.

Why did you choose the School of Sustainability at ASU?

I did my master’s degree at Columbia University, then applied for PhD programs at a few different places, including Columbia and Princeton. Although I was admitted to another university, I found the School of Sustainability was a perfect fit for what I had in mind – to explore a variety of strategies to achieve urban system sustainability.

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HOAs influence water use, ASU study finds

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

June 5, 2016

Low-water landscaping in desert neighborhoodHomeowners associations are good for water conservation, according to a study led by Senior Sustainability Scientist Elizabeth Wentz.

Upon analyzing water-use records for properties throughout several neighborhoods in Goodyear, Arizona, Wentz and her research team found that houses in HOAs used significantly less water than those that were not. They also found that houses in HOAs had less vegetation overall, even when minimum vegetation requirements were listed among the HOAs' rules.

The team concluded that a sense of community, coupled with fines for non-conformers, make homes in HOAs more likely to observe an area’s social and environmental norms – even if those norms are never codified in law. If HOAs shaped their standards to reflect environmentally-friendly landscaping, they could save thousands of gallons of water per household every year.