Skip to Content

Sustainability News

ASU in world's Top 3 for sustainability initiatives

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

April 26, 2017

ASU is third in the world and second in the U.S. for sustainability initiatives, according to a 2017 rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, known as STARS, rated ASU highest with the following percentages of available points: 87 percent in academics and research, and 95 percent in campus and public engagement.

AASHE STARS is a comprehensive tool for measuring sustainability at more than 800 colleges and universities around the world. It benchmarks institutions in over 1,000 data points covering academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

To achieve gold, ASU built campus and community collaborations to provide world-class education and research sustainability with the first School of Sustainability more than a decade ago. Now, 12.5 percent of ASU’s courses are recognized as sustainability or sustainability-related and 74 percent of academic departments offer sustainability courses.


Sustainability professor gives GreenBiz the inside view

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

April 11, 2017

Sustainability is a field written in pencil, at best, according to School of Sustainability Professor of Practice George Basile.

In an April 2017 interview with GreenBiz,  Basile explains that sustainability is always evolving, requiring its practitioners to be keen learners.

"When you implement sustainability even today, very quickly people find out what it’s like to be a pioneer," he says. "You’ll find yourself in new territory."

The students who enroll in sustainability courses at ASU are not intimidated by this prospect. In Basile's opinion, School of Sustainability students are among the best.

"They’re willing to learn. They’re motivated. They come with a great breadth of backgrounds and they really are solution-oriented," he explains. "They’re looking at 'how do we build the future we want.'"


Meet Our Alumni: Chris Chappell

School of Sustainability News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

March 31, 2017

Chris Chappell graduated from the School of Sustainability in 2012 with a Bachelor's of Science, focusing on Sustainable Ecosystems. Chappell is currently the Social Media Coordinator for the Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company in Gilbert, Arizona, where he acts as both a communications hub and resident photographer for the brewery.

Chappell educates the public, as well as his fellow brewery staff, about the story of every beer: from its locally-sourced ingredients, to its deliciously brewed end.

Where are you working now?

Arizona Wilderness is a very fast-paced brewery in the sense that we have five daily food specials, weekly beer tappings and weekly bottle/can releases. Most of these beers and food specials utilize local ingredients, either sourced from a local farmer or even ethically foraged by our brewers, or have some sort of interesting story behind them. It is my job to gather all of the information on these and convey it to the public, via social media, and to our amazing staff.

Continue Reading

Going global: ASU grad students tackle challenges around the world

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

March 7, 2017

Saurabh Biswas likes to ensure that no good ideas, or sunlight, go to waste.

That’s why the School of Sustainability PhD student created Sustainable Rio Claro 2020 – a sustainability game-plan for the Brazilian village of Rio Claro.

Through ASU’s Global Development Research program, Biswas lived, worked and studied in the small agricultural community, collaborating with community members and local organizations. He also got hands-on, providing assistance to a local photovoltaic (PV) solar startup making rooftop PV accessible to Brazil’s urban communities.

Biswas is one of more than twenty graduate students to become a GDR scholar since the program’s inception.

Continue Reading

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.


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.


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.


ASU Nobel Laureate honored for outstanding contributions to public health

Uncategorized School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 23, 2017

Leland Hartwell sits in a blue button-up shirt, looking at the camera.Nobel Laureate and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist Leland Hartwell received Research!America’s Geoffrey Beene Builders of Science Award, which recognizes those who have provided leadership and determination in building an outstanding scientific research organization.

Hartwell, an ASU School of Sustainability professor and the director of the Pathfinder Center at ASU's Biodesign Institute, was honored for his commitment as president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center from 1997 to 2010.

“Research!America is honored to recognize Dr. Hartwell for his exemplary leadership as a researcher, educator and lifelong advocate for scientific discovery," said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley. "Dr. Hartwell is deeply committed to educating the next generation of critical thinkers in health, education, technology and sustainability. We salute his achievements."


School of Sustainability creates new sustainable energy degree

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 20, 2017

Large wind turbines in front of sunset in field.ASU School of Sustainability's new sustainable energy PhD program will kick off in August 2017, focusing on overcoming obstacles to implementing national renewable energy systems.

Christine Sturm, a PhD candidate in the school, looks to Germany's renewable energy transition to learn from the substantial challenges it has faced.

She explains, "Energy systems are complex amalgams of technologies, institutions, markets, regulations and social arrangements. Nations have little experience intervening in such socio-technical systems.”

According to Professor and Senior Sustainability Scientist Martin Pasqualetti, these are precisely the challenges students in the revolutionary new program will address.

“We’re going to be a leading educational institution on this,” he says.


New year, smaller impact: How to consume sustainably in 2017

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

January 12, 2017

Someone throws a plastic water bottle into a blue recycling container.ASU School of Sustainability instructor Brigitte Bavousett spoke with ASU Now to break down the basics of sustainable consumption and lend insight into lesser-known tactics for reducing our carbon footprints.

Bavousett recommends avoiding products with palm oil, as well as seeking out clothing made with sustainable materials or purchasing clothing at thrift stores. She also insists on avoiding plastic when making purchases. This includes rejecting plastic packaging and bringing reusable bags or requesting paper at check-out.

Bavousett expresses that although sustainable alternatives receive criticism for being more expensive, their benefits far outweigh their financial costs.

Continue Reading


Nobel Laureate joins School of Sustainability faculty

Board Letter School of Sustainability News

January 12, 2017

Adding an additional layer of transdisciplinary knowledge to the program, Nobel Laureate Lee Hartwell – known for his work on the cutting edge of health science innovation – joins the School of Sustainability faculty.

Hartwell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001 for his discoveries of a specific class of genes that control the cell cycle. His interests have since turned to how researchers can use the enormous knowledge that has accumulated during the last 50 years in genetics and biochemistry to improve molecular diagnostics to benefit human health.

Studying sustainability through a top online bachelor's program

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

January 10, 2017

Hands type at a laptop, with a notebook and highlighter in the foregroundAfter working on issues of environmental responsibility as Girl Scout leader, Jessica Ohrt was inspired to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sustainability through ASU Online.

“I looked for a local college that had a sustainability program that would be comparable, and there wasn’t one. It was such a distinctive program and set of classes that I decided to stick with it,” said Ohrt, who lives in Marietta, Georgia.

The School of Sustainability's programs are among more than 60 undergraduate online degrees offered by ASU. In fact, the university's online bachelor’s degree program has been ranked fourth in the nation out of more than 1,300 reviewed by U.S. News & World Report, who scored based on student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, and peer reputation.

Ohrt likes that the courses keep students on track and are self-directed, so she could work in between caring for her granddaughter. She expects to graduate in December 2017 and is considering working for a government agency or a nonprofit focusing on environmental justice.


ASU’s School of Sustainability spells success for graduates

School of Sustainability News

December 12, 2016

Three female students talk and laugh outside of ASU's Wrigley Hall.A school that originally started as an experiment has become a leading example for other sustainability programs nationwide

by Nicole Randock

Students enter college today with the expectation that a job will be awaiting them upon graduation. The hefty price tag for their education is expected to reap valuable, lifelong rewards. As reported by, the cost of a degree at a “moderate” in-state public college averages $97,000.

A diploma is an investment and after only 10 years in existence, Arizona State’s School of Sustainability is offering a good return on that investment. The school surveyed its undergraduate alumni last year and found that 48 percent had jobs related to sustainability, which is double the national average in other fields, according to the Arizona Science and Innovation Desk.

The School of Sustainability offers students a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary education while providing them with ample resources, mentors and internship opportunities.

Continue Reading

A family man's journey to sustainability

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Alumni and Student Spotlights

December 12, 2016

jason-tibbetts-standing-in-front-of-green-leafy-treeIn a December 2016 interview with ASU NowSchool of Sustainability student Jason Tibbetts shares that he originally planned to attend an out-of-state school. He ultimately opted for Mesa Community College due to its reputation and proximity, and learned about the School of Sustainability there.

"I have always had a passion for the environment and self-sufficiency, but I never had a name for it until I heard about the sustainability program at ASU," Tibbetts says.

Tibbetts enrolled in the school's Bachelor of Science program shortly thereafter. In addition to classes in the Sustainable Energy, Materials and Technology track, he is a husband and a father of three, as well as the owner of an edible landscaping business.


Breaking barriers to green procurement overseas

School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 7, 2016

Nicole Darnall wearing a black top and smiling.Nicole Darnall, a sustainability scholar and professor in the School of Sustainability, has been awarded the Social Science Research Council's 2017-2019 Abe Fellowship for her research on sustainable public procurement.

The fellowship is designed to encourage international multidisciplinary research on policy-related topics of pressing global concern and to support researchers who are willing to become key members of a bilateral and global research network built around such topics. It strives to promote a new level of intellectual cooperation between the Japanese and U.S. academic and professional communities committed to and trained for advancing global understanding and problem solving.

As part of her fellowship, Darnall will extend her sustainable procurement research (with scholars in ASU's Center for Organization Research and Design) to assess the barriers and facilitators of Japanese local governments' green procurement decisions.

US election results cause concern for international climate treaty

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

November 16, 2016

ASU's Sonja Klinsky, wearing dark top and turquoise scarf, smiles for camera. While scientists generally agree that human activity is accelerating Earth’s warming trend, president-elect Donald Trump has called it a hoax. His election was a hot topic at the COP 22 climate meetings in Marrakech, Morocco, where international climate scientists met to discuss implementation of the Paris climate agreement.

School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Sonja Klinsky, who presented research on strategies for global cooperation on climate and human well-being at the meeting in Marrakech, took a few moments to gauge the mood there for ASU Now.

Klinsky described the election results as "devastating to all," and cited several specific concerns. These include an increased vulnerability of Americans to climate change impacts, lost economic opportunities, a tarnished international reputation and eroded trust.


Sustainability student named among Outside's "30 Under 30"

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News Alumni and Student Spotlights

November 16, 2016

Sarra standing in front of an urban garden wearing a shirt that says "hope"At age 21, Sarra Tekola stood on a stage in Blaine, Washington and shouted to a crowd that she was “born to fight climate change.” Now enrolled in the PhD program at ASU's School of Sustainability, Tekola has been named to Outside magazine's "30 Under 30."

The list features young adults successfully tackling some of the biggest challenges on the planet and leading the way for others. Tekola, the daughter of an Ethiopian refugee who fled his home country after a deadly drought, has been championing climate action for years. Outside nicknames her "The Troublemaker" for her sometimes unconventional way of prompting positive change.

Tekola is now studying how to build eco-communities for underprivileged people.


New degree anticipates global energy transitions

Board Letter School of Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

November 15, 2016

A solar array at night on ASU's Tempe campusRecognizing that today’s global energy transitions demand leaders who can navigate interwoven technical, societal and environmental challenges, ASU's School of Sustainability introduced a Doctor of Philosophy in Sustainable Energy in November 2016.

The new PhD transcends the boundaries of traditional methodologies and disciplinary viewpoints to achieve a sustainable energy future. Students in the program conduct collaborative cross-disciplinary research, integrating energy science with societal and policy insights.

Drawing upon emerging knowledge and deep historical insights – as well as integrating information from the physical, biological and social sciences – students will explore and contribute to sustainable solutions that address urgent energy challenges now and in the future.


What's in a game? A creative approach to complicated issues.

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

November 10, 2016

Two women with glasses consider what to do with colorful playing cards.A game called “Future Shocks and City Resilience” – created by Senior Sustainability Scientist Lauren Withycombe Keeler – is helping decision-makers take a creative approach to solving complex problems.

The game was played by about 50 people at a November 2016 City of Tempe Resilience Workshop, sponsored by the city, the National League of Cities and ASU's School of Sustainability. Participants – including top city officials and ASU faculty – learned to think about sustainability in much broader terms than, say, recycling.

“It’s sustainability in terms of, how does a city create an environment that is livable for all different types of residents, and is equitable? And does it achieve that in a way that preserves and enhances the natural environment and allows the benefits to be available for future generations?” Withycombe Keeler explained.


Upping the game for reduced greenhouse gas emissions

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

November 1, 2016

Man with glasses sits in front of a computer, smilingIn an interview with ASU Now, School of Sustainability Assistant Professor Datu Buyung Agusdinata describes how ASU is supporting the development of a video game – one that helps everyday people understand how their consumption of food, energy and water can affect everything from the environment to income inequality.

The game represents an effort by multiple institutions and is funded through a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Agusdinata leads the ASU team, which will contribute a better understanding of human decision-making in households, as well as of humans' response to psychological cues and social norms.

The game will reveal the preferences and intentions of users, suggesting what they might do under certain conditions in a realistic environment. Ultimately, it will inform concrete and cost-effective methods – including technology and policy – for promoting sustainable consumption.