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Sustainability News

Call for Entries: The St. Andrews Prize for the Environment

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 18, 2013

Arizona State University scientists and student researchers are welcome to enter their environmental conservation projects in the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment.

Since 1998, the Prize has awarded works that address human/animal conflicts, water issues, air quality, solar power, food supply, and community regeneration. The top project will win $100,000. The second and third finalists will each win $25,000.

The St. Andrews Prize for the Environment is an international initiative by the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the independent exploration and production company, Conocophillips.

Entries should be submitted online by October 31, 2013.

Spring 2014 course registration opens Oct. 21

School of Sustainability News

October 15, 2013

For many who enroll in ASU's School of Sustainability, making a difference in the world is a top priority. The School allows students to design their own academic path based on the type of the career they want, whether it be in energy, food, waste, policy, economics, or international development.

"My dream is to help save the world and make a difference," says freshman Kate Tiffany, a Phoenix native who is studying sustainability and international development. "I’m really happy to be involved in a community that’s really passionate about the environment, and we all love what we’re doing and feel strongly about sustainability. I’m excited to be here."

Students can preview a list of spring 2014 courses by searching for "SOS" in the online course catalog starting Oct. 17. Course registration officially opens on Oct. 21.


Institute shares sustainability through events

Uncategorized ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 15, 2013

Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and its School of Sustainability host many events throughout the year, both on campus and off. These events not only bring world-renowned thinkers and doers, many in our own backyard, from academia, business, and government to ASU; they also provide an outlet for ASU to present its own sustainability research to the public and engage the community in dialogues to address sustainability challenges.

Events are free and open to the public, up to room capacity, so RSVP early. Visit for a list of upcoming events.

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ASU's Decision Center fosters future science, engineering careers

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 15, 2013

At the National Science Foundation's "Change the World: Science and Engineering Careers Fair" in Virginia, representatives from ASU's Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) inspired young students to consider science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career paths.

"It is vital to expose students in STEM research at an early age to inspire their love of science, improve their confidence in their own ability to pursue education in STEM fields, and show them how research and modeling can help improve their lives and the lives of friends and family," says Dave White, co-director of DCDC.

Program manager Liz Marquez and graduate research assistant Rashmi Krishnamurthy showcased DCDC's WaterSim, a simulation model that predicts future water outcomes based on situational factors. The program is used by water managers and K-12 teachers.


Sustainability a means of achieving change for alumnus

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

October 15, 2013

Mariela CastanedaMariela Castaneda is a water resource specialist at the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), a job she attained following an internship there during her senior year at Arizona State University (ASU). She graduated in 2013 from ASU’s School of Sustainability.

The Glendale, Ariz. native and graduate of Copper Canyon High School considered Northern Arizona University as well as the University of Arizona, but decided on ASU because of the financial support she received here.

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Welcome new Dean Christopher Boone

Board Letter ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 14, 2013

Christopher Boone, a noted scholar on sustainable urbanism, environmental health, and environmental justice, has been serving as interim dean since July 2013. Boone is also a professor in the School of Sustainability and School of Human Evolution and Social Change and co-principal investigator of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project.

"Professor Boone’s extensive work in sustainable urban infrastructure, public health, and environmental justice gives him a unique insight into assembling the environmental, economic, social, and cultural pieces of the global sustainability puzzle," said ASU President Michael M. Crow. "His holistic approach to finding answers to pressing challenges and passion for transforming sustainability education into use-inspired research and practice will train a new generation of students and practitioners to do the same."

Boone has co-authored two books on urban sustainability, "City and Environment" and "Urbanization and Sustainability." He currently serves on the editorial boards of journals such as International Journal of Sustainable Urban Development and Environmental Justice. He is also the associate editor of the journal Current Research on Cities and co-editor of a new book series, called "New Directions in Sustainability and Society."


Sustainability student gains experience for the future

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 14, 2013

Sustainability Student Kevin KeleherKevin Keleher transferred to ASU from Mesa Community College in 2011. He enrolled in Barrett, the Honors College, double-majoring in supply chain management and sustainability. He is set to graduate in Spring 2014.

One thing Keleher has learned from the School of Sustainability is that it’s not enough to have a theoretical understanding of sustainability. To succeed in landing the sustainability-related job of one’s dreams, experience is needed.

Keleher and four other ASU students co-founded a student sustainability consulting service that enables ASU students to gain experience applying their knowledge and enables organizations to begin embracing sustainability. He also interned at PepsiCo, helping the company's Tolleson facility divert over 400,000 pounds of waste per year from the landfill.


Volunteers needed for ASU Homecoming 2013

School of Sustainability News

October 14, 2013

The School of Sustainability needs volunteers on Saturday, October 19 for the Homecoming Block Party and the Homecoming Parade.

Volunteers can man the School of Sustainability tent where there will be sustainable swag, a giant thumbprint tree, "bee sustainable" temporary tattoos, and a giant crossword puzzle. Volunteers can lend a hand at the Global Institute of Sustainability tent featuring locally grown date tasting, compost and garden exhibits, a photo booth, and a bee-themed craft station.

If you are a School of Sustainability student, faculty or staff member, sign up for your volunteer time and location here. Specific times are listed in the volunteer sign-up sheet. Questions? Contact Stephanie Quintero.

Student Spotlight: Ariel LeBarron

School of Sustainability News Alumni and Student Spotlights

October 14, 2013

spotlight-alebarronAriel LeBarron is a School of Sustainability Student Ambassador. She participates in networking opportunities meeting experts and professionals in the sustainability field. She also coordinates events for fellow students with the other Student Ambassadors. LeBarron chose the policy and governance in sustainable systems challenge area. After graduation, she hopes to live in Germany to learn about the country’s culture and sustainability policies.

1. Why did you choose the policy and governance challenge area in the School of Sustainability?

I chose the policy and governance track because it best fits my interests within the realm of sustainability. Focusing on policy and trying to implement change seems like a great to make a difference in this world.

2. What is your favorite part about being a Student Ambassador?

I love being able to recruit and meet incoming students. As a freshman, I found it vital to get another student’s opinion and thoughts on sustainability and with the Student Ambassadors I am able to do that.

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Faculty Spotlight: Paul Hirt

School of Sustainability News

October 14, 2013

spotlight-phirtPaul Hirt is an Associate Professor in the School of Sustainability and the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. He is also a Senior Sustainability Scholar at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. Hirt is a historian and writer whose work has been published by numerous academic presses and journals. His most recent book is titled “The Wired Northwest: The History of Electric Power, 1870s-1970s.” His other writings include a history of national forest management since World War II titled “A Conspiracy of Optimism,” two essay collections on Northwest history titled “Terra Pacifica” and “Northwest Lands, Northwest Peoples,” and two-dozen articles and book chapters on environmental and western history. For several years, Hirt has led students on trips to the Grand Canyon exploring the human history behind this natural wonder and national treasure. He is also involved in projects exploring nature and history in the US-Mexico borderlands and he recently joined an Institute for Humanities Research team exploring the role of the humanities in sustainability research, teaching and outreach.

1. Can you describe the first time when you became interested in history?

I started my academic career as an undergraduate majoring in philosophy fascinated by ideas about the nature and meaning of life. I was raised to embrace a moral commitment to do "good works," but it was not always clear how to determine in a complex world which works contribute to justice and welfare and which do not. For many years I sought a ground for truth and certainty in philosophical and religious systems, eventually earning a master's degree in comparative Asian religions. Finding little shelter in the storm of competing belief systems, however, I gravitated toward a pragmatic understanding that ideas and beliefs are limited human expressions shaped by time, culture, and social context. While the struggle for understanding is universal, the results are infinitely variable. I eventually came to understand that what we think matters less than what we do. That empirical focus is what brought me to history.

2. How do you combine sustainability with history?

While working on my doctorate at the University of Arizona in the 1980s, I became deeply involved in citizen efforts to influence public lands management through public participation mandated by the federal government. I was amazed that so many of the western landscapes that I loved were "public lands" owned by the American people: national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges, etc. I extended my work on public lands recently with a public education program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, titled "Nature, Culture, and History at Grand Canyon." A team of researchers and writers from ASU and the Grand Canyon Association spent three years developing narratives about Grand Canyon history for a website and digital audio-tour. We also developed curriculum materials for teachers.

3. How can history help inform our decisions regarding climate change and sustainability?

The historical record reveals the glorious complexity of humanity and human institutions, a complexity that embraces both the admirable and the appalling. Many things in our world need fixing: injustice, poverty, violence, pollution, environmental deterioration, etc. History offers lessons in how we as individuals and as collectives understand our world and seek to shape it to serve our needs and desires. We can see how our actions result sometimes in progress and other times in decline, how in one instance we may improve our lives and our lands while in another instance we exploit and degrade both. History, thus, serves as a guide on the path forward.

4. What is the global sustainability challenge that concerns you the most and why?

Water and energy in arid regions. Living now in one of the largest desert cities in North America, I have recently turned my attention to water supply challenges and alternative, renewable sources of energy, joining collaborative research projects with faculty and graduate students in ASU's School of Sustainability and ASU’s Decision Center for a Desert City. One result of that work is an essay titled, "The Mirage in the Valley of the Sun," published in the journal, “Environmental History.” I have given many public presentations to community groups, often on mixed panels, about the risks and realities of central Arizona's water supply. Interestingly, providing water to Metropolitan Phoenix requires a tremendous amount of electrical energy to pump groundwater from deep in the aquifer and to bring Colorado River water uphill to the valley from hundreds of miles away on the California border. Likewise, electricity consumes a tremendous amount of water for steam turbines and for cooling at power plants. Consequently, Arizona and the whole arid Southwest face an integrated water/energy supply challenge. In fact, this is a global problem. The successes and failures of our efforts here in central Arizona will be instructive to other cities and nations facing similar challenges in a warming world where many arid regions are expected to suffer more frequent and intensive droughts.

5. What is your teaching goal?

My mission, my pleasure in life, is to explore the lessons of the past to inform and engage public debates about how to create a more sustainable and just future, "a more perfect union," in the words of our founders; or, as one of my literary heroes Wallace Stegner put it, to build "a civilization to match our scenery.”

6. How will your teaching affect the future paths of ASU’s sustainability students?

Sustainability problems are complicated and require many disciplinary perspectives—humanities, sciences, and social sciences—to understand and address those problems. My courses focus in particular on the human dimensions of sustainability challenges in a wide variety of places and times. I strive to provide students with substantive grounding in historical case studies of environmental challenges and conceptual frameworks.  Through readings, lectures, in-class discussions, writing assignments, group research projects, films, and guest presentations, students examine the complex social foundations of environmental problems and problem-solving, learn methods of historical and critical inquiry, and develop intellectual tools for understanding and solving contemporary sustainability challenges.

7. Finally, what does the word “sustainability” mean to you?

I like to approach this concept from its negative expression: examining that which is “unsustainable.” We can’t predict the future, but we can easily see where we as a society have made mistakes or taken a wrong turn in the way we organize our production, consumption, and social order. For example, agricultural and forestry practices that deplete soil or otherwise harm the productive capacity of the land are unsustainable. Economic practices that lead to boom-and-bust economies or that create more social poverty than social wealth are unsustainable. Sustainability to me is a moral commitment to a secure, stable, healthy, and just society that lives within the capacities of its biotic environment and that conscientiously and generously shares space and resources with the other creatures that co-habit this miraculous living planet.

Tour DIRTT, Phoenix-based sustainable interiors firm

School of Sustainability News

October 11, 2013

exteriorSchool of Sustainability students and alumni are invited to tour the Phoenix facility of DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time), an architectural and interior design firm that creates customizable, adaptable, and sustainable installations.

Taking place on Wednesday, October 30 at 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., the tour will take you through the DIRTT facility and its Green Learning Center in Phoenix. Participants will learn about DIRTT’s 3D modeling software that allows the firm to design installations before manufacturing, save paper, and eliminate wasteful mock-ups. DIRTT representatives will showcase the firm’s environmentally friendly manufacturing and design processes such as low-VOC powder coats and recycled glass and aluminum.

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Lincoln Ethics Symposium weighs sustainability, human rights questions

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 11, 2013

Arizona State University will host the 4th Annual Lincoln Ethics Symposium where students and community members will discuss and ponder current human rights and sustainability issues. The free Symposium is scheduled for November 12, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. on the Tempe campus.

Several Sustainability Scientists will provide keynote lectures on the Symposium's theme, "Are We Smart Enough to Save Ourselves? Are We Kind Enough to Save Each Other?" LaDawn Haglund, also an associate professor of justice and social inquiry, will examine our current consumption patterns and how they relate to our treatment of the planet and people.

Amy Landis, an associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, will challenge the notion of greenwashing and sustainable product responsibility.

Also in attendance will be Braden Allenby, director of the Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management. He will reflect on conflict's role in civilization and question whether all conflicts are destructive or perhaps constructive.

The symposium also will be broadcast online; details are pending.


Time to apply for the ASU President’s Award for Sustainability

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 10, 2013

sustainable-cities-networkTeams of ASU faculty and staff are encouraged to complete an application for the ASU President’s Award for Sustainability when they have successfully developed, implemented, and promoted sustainability principles, solutions, programs or services in the areas of teaching, learning, research, community outreach, or campus operations.

The application form is online. The submission deadline is Jan. 9, 2014. Teams that receive this award will be recognized by President Michael Crow at a reception and award ceremony in April 2014.

For more information, contact Linda Uhley in the Office of Human Resources at or visit

Farmers market opens Oct. 8 at ASU Tempe campus

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 8, 2013

Just in time for the fall weather, the Farmers Market @ ASU Tempe is open for business starting today. This year, a new Sustainability Speakers Corner event series attracts local sustainability and gardening experts to share their knowledge and provide conversational lectures on anything from worm composting to chicken raising.

"The new event series is another great way to promote health and wellness on campus, as well as to build relationships and community ties," says Betty Lombardo, University Sustainability Practices program manager. "By interacting with attendees, the food and gardening experts will help people connect with their food so that they can develop sustainable living practices."

Students, faculty and staff are welcome to get involved with the Farmers Market @ ASU Tempe by contacting Betty Lombardo.


School of Sustainability students sort through waste for solutions

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 6, 2013

Students from ASU's School of Sustainability, coordinators from ASU's Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, and managers from SRP and City of Phoenix conducted a waste audit of two SRP buildings at a City of Phoenix waste transfer station. Participants wanted to see the difference between the buildings' waste streams, one from an administrative building and the other from a fieldwork building. The students and project leaders sifted through 2,000 pounds of trash to decipher waste and recyclable items.

"We're learning that waste is actually a very valuable resource that we can utilize which is why I am involved in this; I want to see what we're throwing away and how we can divert a lot from landfills," says Tony Perez, an undergraduate in the School of Sustainability.

Many students observed the hidden intricacies behind our trash while sorting through food waste, soft plastics, colored glass, and paper products.


Join us at ASU Homecoming 2013

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

October 5, 2013

PrintArizona State University’s 2013 Homecoming theme is "All that Glitters is Gold," and the Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability want to celebrate everything gold and green!

Keep your eyes out for some "sustainable bees" at the Homecoming Parade starting at 11:00 a.m. Then join the Institute and School at the Homecoming Block Party that begins at 12:00 p.m.

At the Block Party, visit the School of Sustainability tent in Zone H, tent 155 (map) to receive sustainable swag, make your mark on the giant thumbprint tree, get your very own “bee sustainable” temporary tattoo, and test your knowledge on the giant crossword puzzle. Also learn how you can travel to Botswana with Senior Sustainability Scientist and ecologist Dan Childers to study African wildlife, a spring 2014 trip organized by the Arizona State University Alumni Association.

Come by the Institute’s tent in Zone H, tent 154 (map) to taste and purchase some locally grown dates, create your own newspaper seed planter with the ASU Arboretum team, learn how to compost, relax in the Zen garden, take a sustainability themed photo with your friends, play fun ecology games, and enjoy a bee-themed craft station.

Then stick around for some Sun Devil Football at 3:00 p.m.!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

11:00 a.m. Homecoming Parade

12:00 p.m. Homecoming Block Party

3:00 p.m. Football Kickoff

University Dr. and College Ave.

Arizona State University, Tempe campus

School of Sustainability student examines climate change impacts on Nepali farmers

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

September 23, 2013

This past summer, School of Sustainability junior Tayler Jenkins traveled to the south Asian sovereign state of Nepal to assist Sustainability Scientist Netra Chhetri on his research investigating climate change impacts on farmer livelihoods. Jenkins collected fodder, turned buffalo excrement into fuel, and learned conservation farming methods.

"Living on the farm was cool because the Nepalis have such a slow pace, but they still get things done," Jenkins says. "They are always in the present and their time is based on the sun."

Jenkins also received a Neely Foundation Food and Agriculture Sustainability Research Grant for her self-proposed thesis topic on the community-based Rupa Lake Rehabilitation and Fishery Cooperative.

See Jenkins' photos from the trip »


The Chronicle of Higher Education: Filmmaker helps students tell stories about climate change

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

September 19, 2013

peter byckNew professor and filmmaker Peter Byck shares his story of how he became interested in sustainability and climate change to The Chronicle of Higher Education's Sydni Dunn. Byck is a professor of practice in ASU's School of Sustainability and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

His first course, Sustainability Storytelling, started this fall and has students creating short documentaries about solar issues in Arizona.

"The sustainability students know the subject but don't know how to tell the stories, and the journalism students know how to share the message but don't have a firm grasp on the details," says Byck. "That's why we brought them together."


Yahoo! Finance: ASU President Michael M. Crow's view on university sustainability

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

September 18, 2013

mcrowAramark, a leader in food services and Arizona State University's food provider, released its 2013-2014 edition of Presidential Perspectives, a collection of 10 essays written by university presidents. This year's theme is Elevating Sustainability Through Academic Leadership, and in one chapter, ASU President Michael M. Crow shares how he's managed to transform one of the largest universities in the nation into a sustainable success story.

"America's colleges and universities are responsible for the majority of the scientific discovery and technological invention that has advanced sustainability science," says President Crow, also author of the edition's Foreword. "For academic institutions, fostering teaching and research that advances sustainability thus requires new institutional arrangements. But, more broadly, universities should be at the vanguard of producing societal transformation and solutions to the challenges that confront humanity."


School of Sustainability’s risk takers recognized for entrepreneurial spirit

ASU Sustainability News School of Sustainability News

September 16, 2013

Arizona State University's School of Sustainability was honored with the Bootstrapper Award at the Startup Bowl 2013 reception held August 29.

This year's Startup Bowl had 665 student participants. ASU’s School of Sustainability—with more than 300 majors and 500 minors—received the Bootstrapper Award for the highest amount of participants out of the School’s total enrollment.

"We are very entrepreneurial," says Christopher Boone, interim dean for the School of Sustainability. "We may be the smallest college, but we’re never short on big ideas."

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