August 14, 2013
Each year, the Sierra Club’s magazine, Sierra, analyzes and rates national universities based on particular sustainability categories like food, transportation, and curriculum. This year, Arizona State University ranks 55 out of 162 universities. ASU shines in the curriculum, purchasing, and transportation categories, beating University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.
To be part of the annual rankings, university administrators are responsible for submitting answers to the Sierra Club’s questionnaire, sharing accomplishments and methods on sustainability practices.
To date, ASU generates a total of 20.8 MW of solar energy on all campuses and is developing a zero waste program with Waste Management. University employees and students are always finding ways to purchase sustainable materials and reuse supplies.
August 14, 2013
ASU chemical engineering graduate student Jared Schoepf, co-founder of SafeSIPP, a student-led startup in ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, has been named a top five finalist in the “College Entrepreneur of the Year” competition run by Entrepreneur Magazine.
SafeSIPP was founded by Schoepf and his fellow ASU chemical engineering classmates Lindsay Fleming and Taylor Barker, to solve three critical problems facing rural communities in the developing world: transportation, purification and storage of drinking water.
“The statistics are staggering,” says Schoepf. “More than 3,000 children die each day in developing countries because they don’t have access to clean, safe-to-consume water. When the SafeSIPP team set out to create our water system, we knew we had to address this issue as well as the transportation issue. So we invented a purification unit that attaches within the system so that, as the barrel is being transported, the water is simultaneously being purified as it moves.”
August 13, 2013
In the August issue of Green Living Magazine, newly appointed professor of practice and documentarist Peter Byck shares his expectations for his new fall course, Sustainability Storytelling. In a teaching position jointly shared between ASU’s School of Sustainability and ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Byck will show students how to film their own short documentary on solar power in Arizona.
“The first place that we’re going to delve into is all the solar work that’s going on in Gila Bend,” he says. “The class starts in August and we’ll start shooting in September.”
Byck is also working on his most recent documentary, a follow-up to his 2010 film, Carbon Nation called Carbon Nation 2.0, under a partnership with ASU.
August 12, 2013
In an article by GreenBiz.com producer Joel Makower, Arizona State University’s recently developed Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program is said “to fill a critical gap in sustainability education in business.” Meant for those already in the business world, but looking to advance their education and background, the new program takes only a year to complete and is based around four curriculum themes: leadership, strategy, communication, and global context.
“One of the things we’ve found is that there’s a real yearning for organizations to understand what sustainability is and [how] it can add value to organizations,” says Christopher Boone, professor and interim dean of ASU’s School of Sustainability. “Ultimately, [sustainability is] about finding solutions. When we’re thinking about solutions, we need to think about not just how things work in theory, but how we can apply that theory to find solutions to complex problems.”
The first cohort begins in January. On Aug. 20, Joel Makower will host a one-hour webcast, The Secrets of Sustainable Leadership in Business, sponsored by the ASU Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program. Register here.
August 7, 2013
Daniel 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.
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.
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.”
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.
July 19, 2013
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.
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
July 15, 2013
School 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
June 20, 2013
Bruce 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.
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.
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.”
May 29, 2013
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.
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.
May 15, 2013
Arizona 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).