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Public Service Academy develops purpose-driven civilian, military leaders

November 6, 2017

ASU undergraduate program leverages the experiences of both ROTC and non-military students with service-oriented career goals

Brett Hunt sits in his seventh-story office on Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus, interviewing millennials a good portion of his days.

Often he feels like he’s the one been interviewed. They want to know the values of his organization. What it is doing for the community and how it will benefit society as a whole?

“They’re past it. They’re post-political,” said Hunt, director of the ASU’s Public Service AcademyThe Public Service Academy is a unit inside the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.. “They are purpose-driven like you and I weren’t.”

The students Hunt sees today are mostly service-oriented and unlike those of his generation, he said. They’re not looking for careers that will bring them financial rewards and riches. The rewards will come from helping others, they believe.

“That’s radical, right?” Hunt said. “These students are the signal shifters and actively changing the world. Those are the kinds of students we’re preparing for the future workforce.”

Now in its third year, the Public Service Academy is a first-of-its-kind undergraduate programPublic Service Academy students complete a four-year, six-course program of study and graduate with a certificate in Cross-Sector Leadership, in addition to an undergraduate degree in their chosen field of study. to develop leaders of tomorrow who are prepared to find solutions for society’s biggest challenges and create a culture of service. It does so by leveraging and combining military and civilian experiences. It has two tracks: Reserve Officer Training Corps, the existing university-based program to commission officers into the U.S. Armed Forces, and Next Generation Service Corps, a program for service-oriented students from all majors to become civilian service leaders.

"Having served in combat twice with the millennials, recruited them for four and a half years during my last command and have served with them at ASU for the past five years, I have seen firsthand that they have an exceptional heart and passion for service and the drive to make a difference," said Benjamin C. Freakley, former commanding general for the U.S. Army and special adviser to ASU President Michael M. Crow for leadership initiatives. "Our world needs character-driven leadership more than ever and our Next Generation Service Corps leaders are stepping up. Our adaptive student-leaders are preparing for their critical roles of service in the future."

The 400-member academy was launched in 2015 in part on the idea that society needs collaborative leaders of character committed to serving the public good. They are trained in hopes of being the next generation of leaders in the United States Armed Forces, Peace Corps, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, the private and nonprofit sectors, and all branches of local, state and national government.

Twenty-year-old academy member Jakob Luttrell, who is attending ASU on an ROTC scholarship, said he always knew he was destined for a life in the military. When he graduates in 2019 with a degree in global studiesThe degree is offered through ASU's School of Politics and Global Studies., he’ll enter the Army as a second lieutenant.

“Sure there were a lot of other career opportunities where I could have made more money, but I didn’t feel that was my calling,” Luttrell said. “I felt that it was necessary that I do my part to serve my country.”

Luttrell said he views the military more as peacekeepers than a war machine, and combat is only a small part of what they do.

“The military is about supporting families, fellow soldiers and people in need,” he said. “They are some of the most dedicated and selfless people I know.”

Beth Evans
Tourism junior Elizabeth Evans holds a meeting with her student chapter of Meeting Planners International directed toward tourism and hospitality majors. The group's mentor, ASU alumna Ceré Netters, is guiding the fledgling group and is giving them ideas to attract more members. Evans is a member of the Public Service Academy and has served internships in both the public and private sectors. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Helping people in need has been a constant theme in the life of Elizabeth Evans, a member of the Next Generation Service Corps.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but when I help someone it makes me feel happy inside,” said Evans, a tourism development and managementThe degree is offered through the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. major. “Yes, I could do things for me and me only, but I don’t feel that’s my purpose.”

Evans, who comes from a small town in Northern California, said the Public Service Academy has opened her up to new situations and scenarios, including an internship with the Salvation Army in Washington, D.C.

“Getting exposed to places and perspectives allows you to see how the other side of the planet lives,” Evans said. “Before my internship, I had never thought about going into nonprofit work. But now it could be a real possibility.”

Chris Frias
Economics and public service and public policy dual-major junior Christopher Frias takes a break between classes and meetings on the Tempe campus. He served as the Public Service Academy's first chief of staff. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Lots of possibilities abound for Christopher Frias, a junior double-majoring in economics and in public service and public policy. He said as a minority growing up mostly in south and west Phoenix, he wants to “pave the way for others to follow in his footsteps.”

A Next Generation Service Corps member, Frias said he hopes to be a congressional aide one day. However, if he finds a job in the private sector he said he’ll pull up several people along the way.

“This organization has showed me that you can be successful in an organization and gear it towards having a social impact and making a difference in your community,” Frias said.

Imani Stephens
Journalism junior Imani Stephens volunteers at the downtown Pitchfork Pantry for students in need. When she isn't working on journalism projects or her dual minors in justice studies and Spanish — or her Leadership and Ethics certificate — she spends much of her time volunteering for public-sector groups as a member for the Public Service Academy. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

That’s the same mind-set held by journalism major Imani Stephens, a Next Generation Service Corps member raised in a single-mother household in Compton, California.  

“Even though my career choice will be journalism, I have found a way to give back to society by shining a light on marginalized communities and bringing awareness to all types of people,” said Stephens, who joined the academy three years ago. “I don’t want to leave anyone out of the conversation.”

She said the most important thing she has learned while in the academy was simple, but important.

“Just to be myself and focus on my personal mission, which is how to be of service to others,” she said.


The Public Service Academy originated from a $1.2M gift from ASU President Michael Crow and his wife, Sybil Francis.  


Top photo: Public Service Academy member Jakob Luttrell is using his Army ROTC experience to serve in the public sector. Last summer he served in Lithuania alongside NATO allies, and taught English to first responders. He's a third-generation military serviceman. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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'Women Also Know Stuff' website raises profile of experts in political science

Professor's 'Women Also Know Stuff' initiative raises profile of experts.
November 6, 2017

Professor tells ASU crowd that frustration over underrepresentation led to initiative

It started with a headline: “We asked six political scientists if Bernie Sanders would have a shot at the general election.”

Samara Klar, a political scientist who studies electoral behavior, was eager to click on the Vox story, which ran two years ago, and see which experts in her field were quoted.

Turns out, it was six men.

“I rolled my eyes and grumbled and moved on with my day, and later that same day I received an email about an upcoming political science conference within my subfield,” said Klar, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Arizona who discussed her “Women Also Know Stuff” initiative at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus on Monday.

Of the 10 experts on the panel, nine were men.

Frustrated, Klar decided to do something to raise the profile of the many qualified women in political science. She typed an email and sent it to 10 women in her field and asked them to send it to 10 more. It said:

“In an attempt to turn my eyeball rolling into something constructive, I’ve decided to start a website that lists women in political science who are great candidates for panels and for conferences and for interviews.”

Within 48 hours, hundreds of female scholars had registered with the site, called “Women Also Know Stuff.” The initiative had clearly unleashed a pent-up demand not only by women in her field but also from those who wanted to hear their perspectives, such as journalists and conference organizers.

The site, which now lists more than 1,200 female scholars in 59 areas of political science, includes 16 experts from ASU and 10 from the University of Arizona, which houses the platform. There’s also a Twitter feed, @womenalsoknow, which lists jobs and promotes achievements.

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Mary Feeney, an associate professor in ASU's School of Public Affairs, introduced Samara Klar at the event. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Klar was taken aback by all the attention in those first few days.

“I did not want to be seen as a muckraking activist who does not focus on my research,” she said.

“But those fears were completely unsubstantiated. This experience taught me that academia is open to activism.”

Klar said that women are underrepresented because of “implicit bias,” an unconscious choice of who is viewed as experts, and an overreliance on already-established personal networks.

“Most people are not explicitly sexist,” she said. “You might be the most open-minded person on the planet and you still have implicit bias.”

She discovered this when, after launching the site, she quickly pulled together eight women to be on the editorial board and someone pointed out that they all were white.

“This was a perfect example of me being a culprit of the thing that I was complaining about,” she said. The board has since expanded the board to be more representative.

“I myself have organized panels. You’re organizing a panel on the Cold War and you can’t think of women who study that. It’s not that you don’t want them — you just don’t know any,” she said.

Klar noted that the issue is not just anecdotal. She listed several statistics:

  • In 2013, only 26 percent of guests on Sunday morning new shows were women.
  • Only 11 percent of assigned reading in all syllabi have a woman as the lead author.
  • Although 42 percent of graduate students in political science are women, only 26 percent of associate professors are female. For full professors, it’s only 14 percent.
ASU alumna Kaylyn Adams, chair of the Millennial Outreach Committee for the nonprofit group Stronger Together AZ, attended the talk Monday. “I’m 26 and when I go to political events, people older than me will say, ‘Oh, you’re adorable.’ Just because I’m 26 doesn’t mean I’m not qualified,” she said. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now


“Witnessing someone like you engaging in an action is an important motivator,” she said.

“When young women see experts unlike themselves, they become less likely to pursue those intellectual endeavors.”

Klar said the women involved in running the site, which they do on a volunteer basis with no funding, are now working on a “how-to” for people interested in replicating the model. She said that other sites have been launched to promote academics who are people of color and women in the discipline of history.

One of the ASU professors listed on “Women Also Know Stuff” is Mary Feeney, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs who also is the Lincoln Professor of Ethics in Public Affairs and the associate director of the Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies.

“Many of us have been told and we really want to believe that the academy is a meritocracy, where good ideas, novel research and hard work are rewarded,” Feeney said in her introduction of Klar. “So why do male academics on average make more than female academics? Why do journalists review men’s work more favorably than women? Why are female job candidates asked more questions and interrupted more frequently during their job talks?

“We know there are structural and cultural barriers to the advancement of women in the academy,” she said, noting that the “Women Also Know Stuff” movement offers practical ideas.

An ASU alumna, Kaylyn Adams, attended the event, which was sponsored by the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU. She is chairman of the Millennial Outreach Committee for the nonprofit group Stronger Together AZ.

“I think in a broader sense, this is very important,” said Adams, who earned a bachelor’s in criminal justice from ASU. “I’m interested in how I can build momentum to raise awareness.

“I’m 26 and when I go to political events, people older than me will say, ‘Oh, you’re adorable.’ Just because I’m 26 doesn’t mean I’m not qualified.”


Top photo: Samara Klar, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Arizona and creator of the "Women Also Know Stuff" website, spoke at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus on Monday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now