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ASU prof creates game to help cities solve complex solutions quickly.
November 10, 2016

'Future Shocks and City Resilience' allows leaders to take creative approach to handling complicated issues

During a flu pandemic, a homeless woman gets information from the city on how to stay healthy and takes it back to her community of homeless people. With new confidence, she becomes a conduit, providing data to city workers about the health of her friends. Eventually, she becomes such a resource that the city hires her to do outreach.

That is a fictional scenario, but it’s also a potential solution for a city that needs resources during and after a crisis.

The setup is part of a game that was played by about 50 people at the City of Tempe Resilience Workshop, sponsored by the city, the National League of Cities and the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, allowing the decision-makers to take a creative approach to solving complex problems.  

The game is called “Future Shocks and City Resilience” and was created by Lauren Withycombe Keeler, a visiting assistant professorShe also is a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and a founding member of the Center for the Study of the Future and the Risk Innovation Lab. in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU. 

The participants, which included top city officials and ASU faculty, learned how to think about sustainability and resilience in the city, Withycombe Keeler said. In this case, sustainability is a concept much larger than 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?” she said.

The participants divided into teams, and each got a set of cards with categories including assets, such as buildings and personnel; issues, such as lack of walkability and homelessness; priorities, such as financial stability and quality of life; and a shock, such as a terrorist attack or a pandemic.

Each team had to create a scenario that would use resources and solve problems in a collaborative way. In the pandemic scenario, a city volunteer program for homeless people was the catalyst that empowered the woman to reach out for information and eventually get a job.

“Games are really helpful at getting people to develop skills quickly,” Withycombe Keeler said. “We learn best when we’re having a good time.

“It’s based on a theory called material deliberation — the idea that by engaging with material in your hands, you build a greater investment in the learning,” said Withycombe Keeler, who created the game specifically for the workshopOther facilitators and speakers included Don Bessler, director of public works for the city of Tempe; Cooper Martin, program director for the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities, and Arnim Wiek, associate professor in the School of Sustainability at ASU..

Braden Kay, the sustainability program manager for the city of Tempe, said that the collaboration in the game was important.

“My hope is that we now have a little bit more shared language and the opportunity to play in this fun way created some deeper relationships,” he said.

Top photo: Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching talk about his department at the City of Tempe Resilience Workshop lead by the School of Sustainability. ASU designed a large board game, called "Future Shocks and City Resilience," intended to help the executives think into the future and contemplate their own department's resilience and sustainability. This is being funded by a grant from the National League of Cities. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503

 
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ASU takes top spot for international students

ASU holds position as No. 1 public research institution for global students.
November 14, 2016

University maintains position as No. 1 public research institution for international scholars, according to newly released survey

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2016, click here.

Arizona State University has maintained its position as the No. 1 public university in the U.S. for hosting international students, and moved up a spot to No. 3 overall for colleges or universities, according to a newly released survey.

The 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released Monday also ranked ASU in the top 25 for domestic students studying abroad.

The report, issued by the independent non-profit Institute of International Education (IIE), indicated the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities surpassed 1 million for the first time during the 2015-2016 academic year. 

ASU's international student enrollment topped 12,750 such students, trailing only New York University and the University of Southern California.

The international Sun Devils represent more than half of the global scholars attending a college or university in the state of Arizona.

Degree-seeking international student enrollment at ASU has more than doubled in the past five years. In that time, students from more than 150 countries have enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in every discipline.

In last year's Open Doors Report, ASU took the top spot among public research instutions and was No. 4 for overall colleges and univerisites. 

Karan Syal, a student from India, is a doctoral student in the biological design program, a branch of Biomedical Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Syal is passionate about solving problems in health care. What attracted him to study abroad was the flexibility in research that American universities allow; he said he chose ASU for the cross-disciplinary environment it provides.

“I strongly believe that the most interesting health-care challenges of our times are at the intersection of science, engineering, business and regulatory fields,” he said. “At the Biodesign Institute at ASU, I solve for the complex real-world problems in health care. I have great mentors in helping me bridge multiple diverse fields while attempting to solve global health-care challenges in my research.”

Students including Syal find success through the guidance of world-renowned faculty and the support services provided by the university that makes it a priority to help students achieve their academic aspirations.

The ASU International Scholars and Student Center provides international student support and facilitates the success of international students and scholars during their stay in the U.S., including advisement on a variety of concerns such as visas and job placement. Additionally, the center facilitates the integration of students from other countries into life at an American university and helps with cultural adjustment.

“The university is a place where value is placed on inclusivity and success of all of our students,” Holly Singh, senior director of the International Scholars and Student Center, said. “Our center provides holistic student support to ensure international students and scholars feel welcome and have the tools necessary to succeed in their endeavors.”

In addition to the International Scholars and Student Success Center, ASU is committed to offering programs that provide academic and student support. ASU’s Global Launch provides English language training and academic preparation services designed to help students succeed in their new academic environment, and the Coalition of International Students unites university cultural groups and promotes increased understanding among cultures within and outside the university.

While international students benefit from attending U.S. universities and colleges, the continued growth of international students coming to the U.S. also benefits American students, according to the IIE. Students from around the world bring international perspectives into U.S. classrooms and provide a global viewpoint to scientific and technical research, helping prepare American students for a globally connected society.

Likewise, American students are finding studying abroad beneficial to their academic and professional careers. ASU students are studying abroad in increasing numbers — more than 2,100 last academic year. ASU offers 250 study-abroad programs in more than 65 different countries.

The growth is attributed to the university’s focus on seeing more students engage globally. This includes first-generation students and graduate students who are studying abroad. Growth is expected as ASU continues to strive for accessible study-abroad opportunities for all ASU students. This is part of an effort to bolster the personal, academic and professional benefits that come with interacting with people from different cultures and experiencing different views from around the globe.

In addition to being in the top public institution for international students, ASU was ranked as the most innovative school in the United States for the second year in a row by U.S. News & World Report and rated in the top one-half of 1 percent of institutions of higher education worldwide by the Center for World University Rankings.

 

Top photo: International students work on their English composition skills in lecturer Amy Shinabarger's Intro to Academic Writing class on the Polytechnic campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now