Narrative strategist joins ASU as professor of practice

July 10, 2019

Ajit Maan, a new professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies and an affiliated faculty member with the Center on the Future of War, was in Tempe this July to film a lecture for her first semester teaching online at Arizona State University.

Maan is an internationally recognized security and defense analyst and narrative strategist. In 1999, she published her breakthrough theory of "internarrative identity." Then in 2014, Maan published "Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies," which focuses on deconstructing dominant and coercive narratives and demonstrates how certain narrative structures lend themselves to manipulation and how the weaknesses of those structures can be exploited. Most recently, in 2017, she coined the term “narrative warfare” to refine what has been referred to as information wars and psychological warfare. Ajit Maan Professor of Practice at ASU Ajit Maan. Download Full Image

In her first semester, Maan will be teaching a course in ASU's MA in global security program. During her visit she took some time to share more about her research and what she hopes to accomplish while at ASU.

Question: In the early '90s, you developed the groundbreaking theory of internarrative identity, a road map for resilient identity created out of personal and cultural conflict. What initially piqued your interest in this field of study?

Answer: Two things combined to heighten my interest in the areas of narrative and conflict. First, I became familiar with narrative identity theory as a graduate student and its implications for self-creation but, secondly, there were some fundamental western assumptions built into the theory that are problematic for people like me. I've demonstrated that what are often considered problematic to a western sense of self — like conflict, experiential rupture, discontinuous or nonlinear sequencing of life events — are actually places of tremendous opportunity for self-creation.

Q: You’ve written a number of books including, "Counter-Terrorism: Narrative Strategies" and "Narrative Warfare." Are you currently working on another project?

A: On the academic side: I am working on a second edition of "Narrative Warfare" and writing the outline for a book on narrative identity analysis. I also continue to write articles for Homeland Security Today and other defense journals. On the business front: My business, Narrative Strategies, continues to work with the military and with private industry to help them understand prevailing narratives in certain areas and how to influence those narratives.

Q: Why did you decide to come to ASU as a professor of practice for the MA in global security online degree?

A: ASU provided an opportunity for me to design and teach a class in a comprehensive way. The university has a tremendous reputation for its cutting-edge work and I am delighted to be involved with the kind of innovation that is happening here.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish as you work at the university?

A: I hope to draw attention to the foundational narrative and identity elements that are part of any conflict, from small to large scale, and how those foundational elements influence behavior in unconscious ways.

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


USDA awards grant to research from ASU that uses machine learning to reduce food waste

July 10, 2019

Nearly a third of the world’s food supply gets thrown out — from produce surplus in farmers’ fields to expired products discarded by retailers to leftovers. That’s the issue Timothy Richards, the Morrison Chair of Agribusiness in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, will be trying to solve with a new grant from the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (NIFA).

“Food waste occurs at virtually all stages of the supply chain from the farmer to the retailer to the consumer — resulting in the disposal of potentially usable food in nearly every sector of the food system in the distribution channel between farmers and consumers,” Richards said. man's portrait Timothy Richards. Download Full Image

The goal of the research is to combine grocers’ inventory with machine learning algorithms to develop a better system for matching supply to consumer demand fluctuations. This would ensure customers get what they want without the need for excess food.

In 2017, Richards and a colleague looked at online marketplaces and mobile apps, as well as scan-based trading through a $1 million grant from the USDA. And in a 2018 study, Richards and a colleague found that online marketplaces offer a promising solution for preventing food waste.

“If we combine better inventory management systems with new marketplaces for excess products, we may be able to save a significant share in food retailers’ waste each year,” Richards said.

His paper, “Big Data and Food Loss Mitigation in the Supply Chain,” won an Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC) grant totaling $499,999 through the Economic Implications and Applications of Big Data in Food and Agriculture program, which is a joint effort between the Economic Research Service and NIFA.

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business