ASU writing center wins prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing to present over 25 events showcasing indigenous arts and culture programming as part of NEA Big Read in spring 2021


June 16, 2020

The Virginia G. Piper CenterThe Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University is nonacademic university center dedicated to offering classes, talks, readings, workshops and other literary events and programs for the larger community. for Creative Writing at Arizona State University has been awarded a prestigious Big Read Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to present a month of talks, readings, book clubs and other dynamic events and programs around indigenous culture and the literary arts in spring 2021.

"For over 16 years, the Piper Center has been a catalyst for connecting area arts and culture organizations and serving communities through innovative, inspiring and accessible collaborative programs," said Alberto Ríos, inaugural Arizona Poet Laureate and center director. "With an extensive network of valued partners within Arizona State University and throughout the state, the Piper Center has the structure and community investments needed to deliver a deeply meaningful and transformative experience through the NEA Big Read." person reading book Photo courtesy of Pixabay. Download Full Image

A page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction

The NEA Big ReadThe Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University is one of 78 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read project between September 2019 and June 2020.: Phoenix is centered around "The Round House" by Louise Erdrich (Anishinaabe). Winner of the National Book Award in fiction for 2012, the novel is a classic coming-of age story blended with elements of memoir, detective novels and oral history that, according to the NEA, "tells the suspenseful tale of a 13-year-old boy's investigation and desire for revenge following a brutal attack on his mother that leaves his father, a tribal judge, helpless in his pursuit to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Exploring justice, family and personal history through an indigenous lens, the Piper Center is organizing a dynamic and extensive lineup of interconnected performances, workshops and conversations with university partners and other organizations from the larger community.

New work from acclaimed poet 

For the keynote event, acclaimed poet Layli Long Soldier (Ogala Lakota) will develop and present new work commissioned by the grant in a reading and conversation moderated by poet, MacArthur Fellow and ASU Professor Natalie Diaz.

Long Soldier has a deep history of social activism and has received numerous recognitions and awards for her work, including a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Whiting Award and a National Book Critics Circle award. Her debut collection, "Whereas," uses the language and occasion of President Obama's 2009 congressional apology to Native Americans to challenge, as described by Diaz, "the making and maintenance of an empire ... transforming the page to withstand the tension of an occupied body, country and, specifically, an occupied language."

Logo for NEA Big Read

Over 25 panels, workshops and performances

Beyond the keynote, the NEA Big Read: Phoenix will feature a variety of programs spanning poetry, storytelling, library science, the humanities and more, including:

  • Diné poetry reading: A reading and panel of Diné poets curated by poet and Diné College Professor Jake Skeets (Diné), winner of the 2020 Whiting Award and the 2019 National Poetry Series.
  • Oral history and family archive workshops: A series of oral history and family archive workshops with the Labriola National American Indian Data Center and local poet Amber McCrary (Diné).
  • Storytelling event: A storytelling event curated by Liz Warren of South Mountain Community College.
  • Political action: A panel reconvening members of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Committee (HB 2570) with Arizona House representative Jennifer Jermaine.
  • Land recognition: A panel on the ethics, politics and craft of land recognitions with ASU professors and staff, with David Martinez (Akimel O'odham/Hia Ced O'odham), Felicia Mitchell (Chickasaw) and Alex Soto (Tohono O'odham).
  • Literary salons: A literary salon on decolonization with Associate Professor Amanda Tachine (Diné).
  • Book clubs: Numerous book clubs and reading groups with Burton Barr Central Library.

While many events focus on or are intended for indigenous individuals, all events are open to the public. With a few exceptions, the majority are free.

To share "The Round House" throughout the community, the Piper Center will be distributing over 750 books to the public for free. Community members will also be able to check out unlimited copies of the e-book for three months through the Phoenix Public Library.

Addressing a critical national and local issue

Within "The Round House's" larger themes, the Piper Center will place a particular focus on the issues that form the central conflict of the novel: missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

"Violence against Native women and girls exceeds that of any other group in the United States," said Traci Morris, who directs the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University. "While Native women make up less than 2% of the national population, nearly 40% of all women involved in sex trafficking cases are indigenous."

Several efforts have taken steps to address this problem over the last year. The Arizona Legislature formed a local task force to study MMIWG through HB2570 in May 2019. A similar committee was established by an executive order from Donald Trump that November.

Unfortunately, a lack of reliable data and standardized collection practices among local, state, federal and tribal governments make it virtually impossible to assess the extent of the issue, let alone address it.

"Native women in Arizona disappear three times when they go missing: they disappear in real life, they disappear in the data and they disappear in the media," said state representative Jennifer Jermaine. "With HB2570 we are examining the systematic gaps in data collection and resource allocation from the state level. We are also partnering with tribal leaders and federal agencies to begin to solve communication and coordination problems that have complicated search, rescue and recovery efforts."

Similarly, the American Indian Policy Institute recently received a grant from the Media Democracy Fund to analyze crime reporting flows, algorithmic bias and other complex systems around collecting information. With improved data sets and reporting practices, governments will be able to create more effective policies and legislation.

At the same time, statistics alone can't provide the political, social and historical context in which these crimes take place, nor can they capture the experiences of individuals, families and communities who are forced to live through it. Most importantly of all, these issues risk reducing their identities to that of mere victims, simplifying a rich and dynamic humanity.

Through this grant, the center aims to extend and deepen the discourse around indigenous perspectives, raise awareness and activism surrounding missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and honor the lives and stories of Native American storytellers, artists and community members.

“With its NEA Big Read programs structured around the work of indigenous women and social justice, the Piper Center has once again demonstrated its commitment to embodying the mission of The College," said Jeffrey Cohen, dean of humanities at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. "The future of the humanities is here.” 

More information about the NEA Big Read: Phoenix

Jake Friedman

Coordinator, Virginia G. Piper for Creative Writing

480-965-6018

 
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'To Be Welcoming' curriculum offers tools to counteract bias

June 16, 2020

Free Starbucks online courses, developed at ASU, strive to foster empathy, understanding

The current protests over police killings and racial injustice has left many people with a hunger to learn more about inequality and to try to do better. America’s best-seller lists and TV shows are addressing the tragic results of racism.

Two years ago, Starbucks asked Arizona State University to develop an online curriculum for all Starbucks employees that is intended to drive reflection and conversation on the topic of bias. 

Now Starbucks is making those courses available to the public at no cost.

The curriculum, a set of 15 modules, is called “To Be Welcoming” and was rolled out in September 2019. 

The interactive courses were created by ASU faculty experts to share research and information that can help people to think about how they view the world and to consider how other people experience it. 

“We’re encouraging people to ask questions and as an educational institution, that’s the heart of what we do,” said Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, director of the Center for Indian Education and President’s Professor in the School of Social Transformation. He led the project for ASU.

“The hope is for people to think about things from a perspective of curiosity and wonder, and try to understand how other people might feel and to be able to engage in conversations that aren’t always easy,” said Brayboy, who is special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow for American Indian affairs.

ASU and Starbucks have a long-standing partnership that began in 2014, with the inception of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a first-of-its-kind program with 100% tuition coverage for all U.S. retail Starbucks partners admitted to ASU to complete their first bachelor’s degree. As of May 2020, more than 4,500 Starbucks partners graduated through the program, with over 16,000 currently working toward their degree with ASU. 

In May 2018, Starbucks closed its doors across United States for an afternoon, so partners could participate in anti-bias training. The afternoon closure was in response to an incident in April that same year, when a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called the police over two black men who were waiting in a store. That episode led to accusations of racism, which prompted the companywide training. But Starbucks decided to do more and reached out to ASU to create “To Be Welcoming.”

To Be Welcoming logo

Everyone who works at Starbucks can take “To Be Welcoming”, although it’s not required. Each module includes several sections with videos, interactive exercises, quizzes, a glossary and resources for further study. Everyone starts with the “foundational” course, which covers key elements of the curriculum that apply to all courses, and then may take the remaining 14 courses in any order.

The curriculum covers a wide range of biases that can be experienced by different groups of people: gender, race, age, disability, religion, nationality, sexuality, class, political culture, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, black/African American, Arab/Middle Eastern and Asian American/Pacific Islander.

“The foundational course defines what dialogue is and some areas that prevent us from having it productively,” Brayboy said.

For example, “political correctness” is discussed as a term that often is used to avoid meaningful conversation about ways that groups of people are excluded or oppressed.

The topic of bias can be uncomfortable, said Ersula Ore, who reviewed and helped create the coursework on racism. Ore is the Lincoln Professor of Ethics in the School of Social Transformation and associate professor of African and African American studies and rhetoric at ASU.

“These are hard conversations to have,” she said. “Part of it is that students don’t know what to say and are scared to say anything because they don’t want to be ‘tripped up’ and ultimately perceived to be guilty of bias.

“My job as a reviewer was to anticipate the audience, and to consider the questions and issues that individuals might stumble over as they completed modules. For instance, What is a microaggression? What is the difference between the terms racism and prejudice?”

In one of the course videos, Ore discusses how past acts of racism are directly related to contemporary racism.

“There’s a level of detail you have to provide in order for the audience to be grounded, and I help them to make that connection,” she said.

The courses were reviewed several times. After the ASU faculty experts created the content, it was reviewed by other experts at ASU, and then sent to peer experts at other institutions. The goal was for the classes to be clear, concise and accessible to a broad range of people — and not written too academically.

It also was reviewed by faculty and administrators who are ideologically conservative, including Matt Salmon, vice president for government affairs at ASU.

“There’s a perception out there by a lot of conservatives that universities are monolithic in their thinking and that it’s just liberal ideology and there isn’t any tolerance for other viewpoints,” said Salmon, who is a former five-term U.S. congressman. 

“This process showed me that that’s just bunk. At this university, there’s a real desire not to just put out a product but to get it right.”

Salmon said the revision process was open and collaborative, much like the way people must confront sensitive issues of bias.

“It will take open-mindedness and willingness to say things that might feel offensive,” he said.

“But if you tiptoe on eggshells, you’ll never get to the bottom of it.”

The coursework encourages personal reflection. For example, the foundational module includes a journaling exercise in which participants are asked to write about a time they felt personally affected by national hatred, or, if they never were affected that way, the reasons why not.

It was a challenge for ASU faculty members to boil down their broad expertise into modules that can be completed in less than an hour, according to Jessica Solyom, associate research professor in the School of Social Transformation at ASU, who studies diversity, belonging and justice. She co-curated the content with Brayboy.

“For example, we have 30 minutes to talk about American Indians and Alaskan Natives, but there are over 570 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. with an abundance of different indigenous languages, histories and challenges,” Solyom said.

“We would not have been doing right by the communities we were writing about if we didn’t acknowledge the diversity within the group and offer further opportunities for learning and engagement on that.”

So while the coursework in each module can be completed in less than an hour, students can access many more resources to thoroughly explore each topic.

One key component of “To Be Welcoming” leads learners to think beyond individual acts of racism, like what happened to the men in Philadelphia. The foundational module discusses a “bias quadrant” — bias by individuals that is conscious or unconscious and bias that is systemic, at the government or institutional level, that is conscious or unconscious.

“Often, when corporations talk about bias, they focus the conversations and the potential solutions at the individual level. But bias is so much more complex than that,” Solyom said.

“How do our individual-level biases contribute to systems that also silence or discriminate against particular communities or groups?”

Another important concept is intersectionality — how people’s lives are shaped by more than one identity. For example, black women have different experiences than white women and black men.

Mako Fitts Ward, a clinical assistant professor and faculty head of ASU’s African and African American Studies program, is an expert in the study of intersectionality.  

“The courses are grounded in an intersectional approach to engaging bias and microaggressions, in all of their forms. If you’re taking the course on gender you can’t only address gender with no discussion of how race, sexuality and other identity groups impact the experiences faced by different people,” said Ward, who worked closely with Marlon M. Bailey, an associate professor of women and gender studies, on the content. 

“The videos are an important aspect of the series. We wanted them to be inclusive and to reflect the voices and perspectives of women across all groups in terms of class, workplace experience, sexual identity, race, ethnicity and culture,” she said. 

The goal is for everyone to see themselves. 

“People will find content that allows them to see their own experiences represented and by people from different backgrounds who reflect those experiences,” Ward said.

Karen Taliaferro, an assistant professor in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, reviewed and contributed to the course on national origin. She hopes that students reflect on what it means for Americans to be “one nation.”

“We are a unique country, historically speaking, because we were never made up of one ethnic group or immigrants from one nation only,” she said.

“So our country is very much what we Americans — coming from our rich array of ethnic and geographical backgrounds — make of it, together.”

Taliaferro wants students to see the inherent dignity and value of people they disagree with. And she’s hopeful. 

“I hope that they see some real good in our country that we can continue to build on,” she said.

“There is no denying that as a society, we face very real, and serious, challenges, but I think that those aspects of our country in which we can and should take real pride are often disguised behind headlines that tend to divide us. 

“I hope that this project will help us all build on those more promising aspects, and do so in ways that reflect empathy and respect for our neighbors.”

Learn more about the "To Be Welcoming" curriculum or take a course

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503

Biodesign C shines in 'Copper' awards

ASU building earns accolades as a modern-day architectural marvel


May 29, 2020

Traveling down Rural Road next to Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, it’s impossible to ignore the shiny copper façade of the Biodesign Institute Building C.

The building earned another accolade as a modern-day architectural marvel with its latest win, a North American Copper in Architecture Award. Turns out, this shiny reddish metal is very green — as a sustainable building material — and has a very long history. Copper glory: Biodesign C in the final stages of construction. Photo by Nick Merrick, Hall+Merrick/ZGF Architects Download Full Image

Some of the most celebrated landmarks in the world’s history featured copper. The massive doors of the temple Amen-Re at Karnak in ancient Egypt were clad in the semiprecious metal. The “Golden Temple” built during the Ming Dynasty in Kunming, China, was solid copper, not gold. From the spires and roofs of celebrated castles and cathedrals of Europe, along with the famous baptistry doors of Italy’s Florence Cathedral, copper endures as a timeless element. One of America’s greatest landmarks, the Statue of Liberty, is coated in copper, the same thickness as putting two pennies together.

Likewise, Biodesign Institute C is an award-winning landmark on ASU’s Tempe campus. It won the 2019 North American Copper in Architecture Award granted by the Copper Development Association and the Canadian Copper and Brass Development Association. The awards program recognizes and promotes building projects in the United States and Canada for their outstanding use of architectural copper and copper alloys. ASU’s building was one of 15 to earn the distinction.

“The distinctive copper exterior is a nod to Arizona’s roots, copper being one of Arizona’s historic 'Five Cs' that drove the state’s early economy, and is a unique expression of the reddish hue that permeates the campus architecture,” said designer Sean McGreal, lead principal with ZGF Architects. “From the earliest stages of conceptualization, the design intention was to enclose the building in copper to create a visually stunning and highly functional outer skin for the building’s double skin system.”

As part of the building’s high-performance double skin façade, an outer copper screen wraps around a primary skin of insulated metal panels. 

“The screen is comprised of thousands of copper panels featuring eight different levels of perforation,” McGreal said. “These perforation patterns have been carefully calibrated and positioned to minimize solar heat gain, optimize daylighting and visual comfort, and provide unobstructed views of the campus.”

Separately, the building’s outer copper screen and primary skin of insulated metal panels don’t reduce energy usage, but together they deliver remarkable cooling benefits.

A two-foot gap between the insulated metal panels and copper screen, coupled with openings in the screen, creates a ventilated cavity where the air temperature between the two skins is balanced with the outdoor air temperature. The copper screen acts as a shading device that reduces the surface temperature of the inner façade by roughly 65 degrees on hot summer days. In turn, the shade reduces the interior surface temperature of the building’s walls, significantly reducing the cooling load on perimeter spaces.

Beyond the energy-saving use of copper in the building’s façade design, the metal alone is environmentally friendly. “Copper is truly one of the most versatile and sustainable building materials available,” said Stephen Knapp, a director with the Copper Development Association.

Copper boasts one of the highest recycling rates of any engineering material. Copper roofing or cladding isn’t discarded and doesn’t wind up in landfills; because of its value, it can be easily salvaged and recycled.

It is also highly durable and requires little or no maintenance. Copper’s longevity is due to a natural patina it develops with age, weathering naturally to a lovely blue-green or nut brown color depending on climate. Unlike rust oxidation, the copper patina is a protective barrier that retards further corrosion, maintaining copper’s long life.

“As the green building trend continues, we expect to see the material increasingly utilized to achieve various certifications and environmental goals,” Knapp said.

Among Biodesign Institute C’s other accolades, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the facility the prestigious LEED platinum certification. Biodesign C is the fifth ASU building to receive a platinum certification, the highest green building ranking under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — program, which recognizes buildings that are designed and constructed for high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability.

"Building C is unique on so many levels,” said Biodesign Executive Director Joshua LaBaer. “Its design and construction, including the sleek copper façade, really reflect the ideals of the institute itself, where so many innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to science are unfolding. This award is further testament to that.”  

In addition, Engineering News Record, a publication focusing on engineering and construction news, designated the building as a national Best of the Best Project in the Higher Education/Research category. Approximately 200 projects across America were considered for the honor.

Biodesign Institute C houses critical lab and research support space designed to accelerate ASU scientific research and enable the creation of cutting-edge, collaborative research clusters. The building will be home to the first-of-its-kind compact X-ray free electron laser.

From the outset, aspirations for the building’s design were set very high. A goal was to create a new research building that provided highly flexible and adaptable space for reliable research. ASU challenged the design team to create a dense web of workspace options that would promote and empower the formation of collaborative research clusters, while increasing opportunities for chance interactions among different research groups.

“Our research at ASU is growing all the time, and I believe a big draw for researchers is Biodesign Institute C,” said Monica Perrin, ASU Capital Programs senior project manager. “I’ve spoken to researchers, and they love the fact that it’s a collaborative space, they enjoy the environment, and the design helps them to be successful in their research.”

Written by Lori Baker

ASU Cultural Affairs, Desert Financial present blood drive on May 31

Drive aims for 350-plus healthy donors


May 28, 2020

Every day in hospitals across the country, millions of patients depend on lifesaving blood donations to survive and thrive. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of blood drives were canceled due to school and business closures, causing a significant drop in blood donations. With elective surgeries resuming in Arizona hospitals, blood needs are on the rise. 

Healthy, eligible donors are invited to the Desert Financial Arena Community Blood Drive from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 31, at Desert Financial Arena on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Blood donors help Arizona kids like 4-year-old Adelyn who received her 66th blood transfusion on May 6. Download Full Image

Participants are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes early. The first 350 donors will receive an ASU/Desert Financial T-shirt in appreciation for giving blood at this crucial time.

Blood drive details, maps and registration

Vitalant, Arizona’s largest nonprofit community blood provider, has partnered to host the blood drive. While there is no inherent risk of contracting coronavirus while donating blood, Vitalant is following current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Extra precautions will be implemented with regard to social distancing, health screening and sanitation to protect staff and donors.

Donors will be invited to wait in their cars or other comfortable and convenient locations, and alerted just prior to their appointments via text. Masks will be required during donations and provided by Desert Financial.

Learn more about additional precautions taken during the blood drive

  • Temperatures will be taken at registration; those higher than 99.5 Fahrenheit are not eligible to donate.
  • Waiting areas will accommodate social distancing measures of 6 feet apart.
  • Prepackaged, single-use servings of snacks/beverages will be available.
  • Donors are required to wear masks; Desert Financial will supply masks for one-time use.
  • Masks and gloves will be worn by Vitalant staff.
  • Donor-touched areas will be sanitized frequently and after every collection.
  • Donations will be taken using sterile, one-time use collection sets.
  • Donors' arms will be swabbed with an antiseptic for 30 seconds.
  • Children and other visitors are discouraged from accompanying donors.

“Over the past few months, we’ve been reminded just how much we need each other. We’ve been encouraged by the many stories of generosity and acts of kindness across our community, and we encourage those in good health to step up in a big way. It’s safe, it’s easy, and nothing feels better than giving back,” said Jeff Meshey, president and CEO at Desert Financial.

Blood donors help Arizona kids like 4-year-old Adelyn who received her 66th blood transfusion on May 6. She was born with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare disorder that prevents her body from producing red blood cells. Every three to four weeks, she relies on the generosity of blood donors to keep her alive — a need that is expected to continue the rest of her life.

“Adelyn has taught us the importance of donating blood,” said her mother, Kami. “We are forever thankful to each and every blood donor.” 

“ASU wants to open its doors for this important life-saving opportunity,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for Cultural Affairs. “Connecting the community during a blood a drive is a way for people to give in a powerful way and impact us all.” 

Marketing Communications Assistant, ASU Gammage

ASU Leadership Institute accepting applications through June 30


May 22, 2020

The Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the third cohort of ASU Leadership Institute. Applications are being accepted now through June 30 for this professional and personal leadership development program. 

“ASU has experts in a variety of fields who are educating the next generation of leaders,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, ASU Alumni Association president and CEO. “The Leadership Institute provides up and coming leaders the ability to learn critical leadership skills from ASU executives while also gaining an in-depth look of ASU as the New American University.”  ASU Leadership Institute - Class 1 ASU Leadership Institute - Class 1 Download Full Image

ASU Leadership Institute Class 1 member Andrew Vandertoorn, evaluator pilot for the U.S. Air Force Reserve and first officer for Delta Air Lines, talks about how the program gives you a top down look at how the university works and how it impacts students, alumni and communities.

“The Leadership Institute was a pivotal turning point in my career offering me an amazing support network, lifelong friends and an opportunity to inspire ASU students and alumni around the globe,” he said. “Truly remarkable experience!”

The program will help participants understand and develop critical leadership skills. The cohort of Class 3 will participate in a leadership assessment tool that provides in-depth analysis and insights identifying key strengths to develop and enhance their professional skills further.

“ASU is filled with innovating students, staff and alumni,” said Class 2 member Bianca Vargas, accountant at Girls Scouts Arizona Cactus Pine Council. “It is an amazing opportunity to personally meet these individuals through networking, lectures and guided conversations.”

ASU Leadership Institute features nine ASU Innovation Days throughout the course of the program led by experts from fields including business, military, nonprofit management, media, health and science, technology, design and the arts, and applied-use research. The programs work to enlighten, inspire and transform leaders from a variety of professions and communities.

Applications for Class 3 of ASU Leadership Institute must be received by June 30. Successful candidates from the private, public and nonprofit sectors are chosen through a competitive selection process. For more information about ASU Leadership Institute, visit alumni.asu.edu/engage/leadership-institute.

Morgan Harrison

Director of strategic communications , ASU Alumni Association

480-727-7106

2 ASU professors elected to distinguished American Academy of Arts and Sciences


May 21, 2020

Two Arizona State University professors have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an organization that was formed in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and other leaders of the time. 

Cheshire Calhoun, faculty head and professor of philosophy in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, and James Collins, the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment in the School of Life Sciences, were chosen for their foundational work in the fields they represent.  ASU Old Main Download Full Image

They are among the 276 members of the 2020 class recognized for their outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, business, government and public affairs. Others elected to the academy this year include singer, songwriter and activist Joan Baez; former Attorney General Eric Holder; bioethicist R. Alta Charo; and independent filmmaker Richard Linklater. 

“The members of the class of 2020 have excelled in laboratories and lecture halls, they have amazed on concert stages and in surgical suites, and they have led in boardrooms and courtrooms,” AAAS President David Oxtoby said. “These new members are united by a place in history and by an opportunity to shape the future through the academy’s work to advance the public good.”

Calhoun’s work stretches across areas of normative ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of emotion, feminist philosophy and gay and lesbian philosophy. Her most recent book, "Doing Valuable Time: The Present, the Future, and Meaningful Living," deals with the various ways that motivations for living life are affected by our connection to temporality. 

Cheshire Calhoun

Professor Cheshire Calhoun

“As an advocate of women in the profession, a leader in her guild and head of the philosophy faculty in (the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies), Cheshire Calhoun has also worked tirelessly to create the conditions necessary for new generations of scholars to lead meaningful lives of philosophical engagement,” said the school's director, Richard Amesbury. “Her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is a well-deserved recognition of these many contributions to hopeful and perspicacious living.”

Calhoun is currently the faculty head of philosophy and the editor for the Oxford University Press series “Studies in Feminist Philosophy.” She is a chairperson for the American Philosophical Association’s board of officers and served as chair of the philosophy departments at Colby College and University of Kentucky. Her past positions include director of women’s studies at Colby College and the College of Charleston.

“It is both humbling and extremely gratifying to find myself among the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ philosophers, a list that includes so many of the philosophers that I admire and have been influenced by, sometimes profoundly,” said Calhoun. “It is also heartening to know that it’s possible to have one’s contributions recognized even if you are someone who has always worked somewhat off the beaten path and at institutions that are not the conventionally elite ones. ASU invested confidence in me when it hired me, and I am glad that the academy has enabled me to offer this return on that invested confidence.”

Collins, an evolutionary ecologist, was chosen for his studies of the role of host-pathogen interactions in species decline and extinction. Collins uses amphibians, along with viral and fungal pathogens, as models for studying the factors that control population dynamics and has been one of the foremost leaders in addressing the global amphibian extinction crisis. He also studies the scientific, ethical and public policy issues surrounding the development and proposed environmental release of genetically modified organisms.

James Collins

Professor James Collins

“As an internationally respected evolutionary ecologist, Jim Collins is deeply committed to applying his research expertise to critical conservation and policy issues,” School of Life Sciences Director Kenro Kusumi said. “He is a faculty role model as a scholar and public servant, who has been working tirelessly as an advocate for science and to advance STEM education.”

Collins has published more than 170 edited volumes, book chapters and peer-reviewed articles, including the book, “Extinction in Our Times: Global Amphibian Decline.” He has also mentored 23 master's degree students and 19 PhD students while also working for several leading organizations geared toward the advancement of science and the liberal arts, such as the National Science Foundation; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; Association of American Colleges and Universities; and Association for Women in Science. Additionally, he served on the National Science and Technology Council under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“Receiving this honor reminds me that mentors matter,” Collins said. “I am grateful to all of those who helped me develop as a researcher and teacher. Students also matter. Throughout the years, undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students played a central role in my research. ASU’s support has been constant, providing the personal flexibility and exceptional colleagues needed to develop my research, teaching and service programs.”  

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded 240 years ago on the idea that the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. The academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science.

The new class will join an elite company of previously elected academy members, including Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Charles Darwin (1874), Albert Einstein (1924), Margaret Mead (1948), Martin Luther King Jr. (1966) and more recently, Michael Bloomberg (2007) and Judy Woodruff (2012).

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications

480-965-4823

The College recognizes faculty for teaching excellence


May 21, 2020

As Arizona State University’s largest and most diverse college, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers courses that nearly every ASU student takes at some point in their college journey.

These courses delve into a wide variety of topics in the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities and are led by outstanding faculty who strive to go above and beyond for their students.  Armstrong Hall Armstrong Hall on ASU's Tempe campus is home to The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Download Full Image

Annually, one faculty member from each division of The College is selected as a recipient of the Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest recognition of teaching excellence in The College. In addition this year, one faculty member was recognized with the Outstanding Instructor Award and one faculty member was recognized with the Outstanding Lecturer Award.

“These faculty members embody the innovation and dedication occurring in each of our academic units,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of The College. “I, like so many in our community, am grateful for their contributions and look forward to their continued success in their respective fields.”

Meet this year’s awardees:

Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award

Jess Alberts

Alberts joined ASU in 1989 and serves as the President's Professor and director of the online communication master’s degree program for the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Her research focuses on conflict in personal and professional relationships.

Alberts has published articles on marital conflict, the division of domestic labor and couples’ daily interaction. Over the years, her contributions in teaching and mentoring have been recognized with a number of awards.

As an instructor, she says her primary goal is to spark students’ curiosity about the world while encouraging lifelong learning by promoting critical thinking, analytic writing and the application of classroom concepts to real-life scenarios.

“I strive to provide a classroom that models how we can celebrate diverse others while communicating authentically and compassionately,” Alberts said. “I do this by showing respect for the variety of knowledge, abilities and experiences that students bring to the classroom as well as introducing a classroom code of conduct that recognizes the humanity and gifts of all students.”

Ligia Bezerra

Bezerra is an assistant professor at the School of International Letters and Cultures, where she has taught since 2016. Her research interests include everyday life, consumption and democracy in Latin American literature and culture, with a focus on Brazil and Argentina. 

She authored the forthcoming book, “A Consuming World: Imagining Everyday Life in Twenty-First Century Brazil,” which explores representations of consumption in the work of 21st-century Brazilian writers, examining how they envision more or less hopeful futures in light of how several aspects of consumption impact our present everyday life. 

Throughout her career she has taught a variety of courses on linguistics, English, Portuguese and Spanish. She says she is inspired by all the teachers she’s had in her life including her mother, her colleagues and her students.

“I grew up seeing the difference that education made in my mother’s life and the difference that she, as an educator, makes in her students’ lives,” Bezerra said. “Teaching is something I am very passionate about, so this award means a lot to me.”

Bezerra says that because the material she teaches focuses on contemporary life, it allows her to be in close contact with issues that directly impact the lives of her students, which provides her invaluable opportunities to bring her expertise into the classroom. Her goal as an educator is to guide her students with questions that motivate them to empathize with others, become more informed consumers and more engaged citizens and think creatively in order to tackle the global challenges that lie ahead of them.

Shelley Haydel

Haydel has taught in the School of Life Sciences since 2005, and also works as an associate professor at the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy, as well as the Biodesign Institute Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors. In addition, she serves as the director of the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research program.

Haydel is an infectious disease microbiologist with active research interests and projects focusing on bacterial pathogenesis, host-pathogen interactions, infectious diseases, medical/clinical microbiology, rapid diagnostics and antimicrobial discovery. She has won several awards for her approach to teaching.

In her classes and research lab, Haydel says she pushes students to aim high and to be champions regardless of their circumstances while promising them that she will teach, mentor and lead with action, advocacy, honesty and compassion. Haydel’s teaching style stimulates collaborative, interactive and holistic learning experiences that value diversity.

“It truly is an honor to receive this award. I could not wait to tell my undergraduate students because I felt like they were nominated with me,” Haydel said. “I would not be the instructor that I am without these wonderful students. My efforts are worth it for these outstanding students. I want to see them learn and succeed in life. I tell them that I will always be a mentor when they need it.”

Outstanding Instructor Award 

Susan Holechek

Holechek is an instructor at the School of Life Sciences with an affiliated appointment at the Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Modeling and Sciences Center. She first joined the university as faculty in 2015.

At ASU, Holechek has formed an interdisciplinary group of biology and math students that is currently studying the role of the immune system in the modulation and transmission of infectious diseases using both experimental and mathematical modeling approaches. In her courses, she works to implement an adaptive learning platform that promotes student engagement while reducing cost of materials. She has received numerous grants to expand her students’ research opportunities and has been recognized with several awards for her teaching and mentoring.

Prior to her work at ASU, she worked at the Molecular Biology Division of the Peruvian National Institute of Health as part of the response team for the first dengue outbreak with hemorrhagic cases in 2000. 

Holechek is excited to share a recognition for teaching with one of her mentors, Shelley Haydel, who is receiving the Zebulon Pearce Distinguished Teaching Award.

“I have been inspired throughout these years by amazing professors at ASU who are both passionate and knowledgeable,” Holechek said. “It is an honor being awarded the 2019-2020 Outstanding Instructor Award for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and I hope to continue making my students proud, after all, this award is because of them.”

Outstanding Lecturer Award 

Iuliia Inozemtseva 

Inozemtseva has served as a lecturer at the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences since 2017. Her research interests focus on differential equations and mathematical modeling. 

In the past she has worked on math applications in genetic mutations and predator-prey models as well as math modeling of epidemic spreads in hospitals. Over the years she has been recognized for excellence in teaching.

Inozemtseva is a member of the Association for Women in Mathematics, where she uses her international experience to promote women in STEM careers. In the classroom she takes a unique approach to mathematics by showing students real-world applications in a variety of fields including biology, coding, artificial intelligence, physics, engineering and medicine. Through this approach she has found that many students have a newfound love for the subject once they are able to see it from a new perspective.

“I am extremely grateful for this award and for the recognition,” Inozemtseva said. “I hope that awards like these will motivate more instructors to invest their time and passion into new generations of students. After all, we cannot ignore that we work during interesting times with new technologies and resources available to both students and instructors. By taking time to learn how to use these resources we help students succeed in college and change lives for the better."

Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

 
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An uncommon commencement

May 3, 2020

ASU's spring 2020 ceremony — reimagined with a virtual format — to feature first cohort of graduates through partnership with Uber

Arizona State University's May 11 commencement will celebrate many firsts and milestones: the university's first virtual ceremony because of the novel coronavirus, the first graduating cohort of ASU's partnership with ride-share company Uber, and the first time thousands of Sun Devils will have a chance to turn their tassels from the air-conditioned comfort of their own homes.

Of the nearly 16,400 graduates — projected to be the largest class yet — approximately 4,200 are ASU Online students, and almost 700 earned their degree through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan partnership. And of those graduating this May, nearly 6,600 will do so with honors, the most ever for an individual class. 

The graduation rolls also count Uber scholars for the first time, with five members of the first cohort earning their degree.

MORE: Meet outstanding grads from across ASU

The virtual ceremony will highlight accomplishments of both undergraduate and graduate students.

"Obviously this is a departure from our usual format, but ASU's desire to celebrate our students remains the same," said ASU President Michael M. Crow, who will provide keynote remarks. "Our students have worked hard and demonstrated amazing resilience to reach this milestone. We are excited to recognize their achievements and acknowledge those who helped them thrive."

This graduating class has much to reflect on. They:

  • Helped ASU make a historic pivot from in-person classes to interactive remote learning. Some 12,000 of the more than 16,000 graduates were in on-campus classes before the shift.
  • Joined the fight against the coronavirus, whether by volunteering in their home cities, in research working on virus-fighting tools, or by continuing to study, learn and keep the university moving forward.
  • Were part of a staggering shift that included 84,457 on-campus students participating in 4,918 courses in Canvas. 
  • Showed their resilience. Zoom sessions alone totaled 437,790 this semester, not to mention 1,929 Slack workspaces and more than 5.45 million Slack messages. Classes, lecture series, workouts, mindfulness sessions and even athlete training sessions had to move to a digital environment.

The May 11 ceremony will also include congratulatory messages from former ASU commencement speakers, notable alumni and the undergraduate student government president. A “year in review” video will highlight big wins from the football field to the research lab and spotlight student achievement, university awards, campus life, service projects and more.

In addition to the virtual ceremony, graduates will have the opportunity to attend future ceremonies in person if they choose in December 2020 or May 2021. Colleges and schools will also host virtual convocations for their graduates and highlight their outstanding graduates May 11 and 12. At those smaller ceremonies, there will be a special moment for each graduate with their name, photo, degree and a comment from them about their future.

The links to all ceremonies will be available at graduation.asu.edu/ceremonies/latest by May 9; ceremonies can be viewed at anytime after they premier on May 11 or 12. 

First Uber cohort takes a smooth ride towards graduation

Man in cap and gown with son

Randy Clarke and his 1-year-old son, Jodye, in front of Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium. Clarke is one of a handful of people from the first cohort of the Uber and ASU education partnership who will graduate on May 11. Clarke, an Uber driver since 2015, will receive degrees in political science and communication.

The ASU and Uber Education Partnership formed in November 2018 provides a pathway to a fully funded college degree to eligible Uber drivers through ASU Online, or nondegree courses, such as entrepreneurship and English language learning, through ASU’s Continuing and Professional Education Program.

The program was offered to drivers who completed at least 3,000 rides and achieved gold, diamond or platinum status on Uber Pro. The partnership also allows drivers to pass tuition coverage to spouses, domestic partners, children, siblings, parents, legal guardians and dependents.

Five members of its first cohort will earn their degrees this May.

Twenty-five-year-old Randy Clarke has been driving for Uber since 2015 and to date has accumulated 15,000 rides. He was already attending ASU and made the switch from attending classes on the Tempe campus to learning online to take advantage of the tuition program. He said the learning format suited him well, with the exception that his social life has suffered for the last two years.

“I studied from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and then drove at night, which is where the real money is anyway,” said Clarke, who double majored in political science and communication in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Staying at home also enabled me to watch my 1-year-old son. This all happened at the right time.”

Clarke said after graduation, he intends to start a multimedia production company, producing videos, podcasts and articles focusing on how government works and bias in the media.

Forty-five-year-old Kelly Hnasko took advantage of the program through her husband, who is an Uber driver. Hnasko is a paralegal at a boutique firm in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and will receive her bachelor’s degree in English through The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She said the program was helpful in two ways.

“We have two children. One is in college, and the other just finished,” Hnasko said. “That was extremely helpful in terms of finances. The other reason I did it was to prepare for my next step in life. I believe it will broaden my career path.”

The program was also a financial lifeline for Gabrielle Messina, a Monterey County, California, resident who will receive her Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts this month.

“My Uber experience was a serious blessing because I was so overwhelmed with student debt,” said Messina, who is getting her degree courtesy of her dad, an Uber driver. “It made me so incredibly happy that my dad could share his education benefits with me.”

Messina said she intends on pursuing her master’s degree in psychology with plans to become a counselor. She said she is thankful to ASU and Uber for providing her with a pathway to graduation.

“I am still blown away that this happened,” she said. “I will forever be grateful.”

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-5176

 
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ASU ranked top in US, 5th in world pursuit of UN sustainability goals

April 22, 2020

Of 17 goals, the university earned its highest scores in environmental stewardship and education

In 2015, world leaders agreed to establish 17 objectives aimed at achieving a better world by 2030: among them, an end to poverty and hunger, clean water and energy, gender equality and decent work. Together, they are called the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It was announced Wednesday that Arizona State University ranks top in the U.S. and fifth in the world out of 766 institutions in achieving those goals, beating out the University of British Columbia in Canada and the United Kingdom's University of Manchester and King's College London. The global ranking is a jump from last year’s 35th place.

In the annual rankings published by Times Higher Education magazine, ASU scored 96.3 out of 100 points. It was the top American university in the rankings. Only three American universities placed in the top 100.  ASU beat the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Penn State.

“This is more than a target to motivate behavior, this is a commitment Arizona State University has made to demonstrate that sustainability is achievable." said ASU President Michael Crow.  “It reflects the focus and dedication of people across the university and we are proud to be leading a new wave in the evolution of higher education. As an emerging service university, we are designed to be adaptive, nimble and skilled in leveraging ideas and technology to create impactful solutions to complex global challenges, and take responsibility for continuing to move this pioneering work further every day.”

Many of the ranked institutions do not participate in all 17 goals. For example, only 372 institutions out of 766 work on eradicating poverty. ASU participates in all 17 categories, pursuing these goals in every aspect of education and operations for almost two decades. Research in each category also is conducted at the university.

"Being ranked as the No. 5 university in the world for impact reflects that Arizona State University, our faculty, staff and students, consider it our fundamental responsibility to inspire positive change and contribute to the overall health of our global community," said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost. "Alongside our charter commitments to excellence and access, making an impact in the world is intrinsic to our organizational DNA."

Research alone is only one component of each ranking. In the first goal — eradicating poverty — ASU conducts research (score of 88), provides financial aid (69.4), and runs antipoverty programs both within the university and in the community (100 each).

Among the 17 goals, ASU ranked highest in eradicating poverty; zero hunger; affordable and clean energy; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; peace, justice and strong institutions; and support of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Graphic courtesy United Nations.

Supporting aquatic ecosystem education and action and water-sensitive waste disposal all earned perfect scores of 100. Maintaining the local aquatic ecosystem earned 86.7 points. Research in the category scored 91.6.

Terrestrial ecosystem education and land-sensitive waste disposal both earned perfect scores. Research earned more than 88 points. Support of land ecosystem action earned 85 points.

In sustainable cities and communities, ASU scored 88.2, with arts and heritage support scoring 100, sustainable practices 92.6, research 90.6, and arts and heritage expenditures 56.6.

ASU’s myriad partnerships supporting the goals scored 89.6, with education about the goals earning a perfect 100. Publication of sustainable development goal reports earned 91.1, relationships supporting the goals earned 86.7, and research 79.6.

In the category of peace, justice and strong institutions, ASU scored 85 points. The university’s work with government won a perfect score of 100. Research and governance measures scored more than 96 each, while the percentage of graduates with degrees in law and civil enforcement scored 43.6.

Top photo: Maligne Lake, Canada by Rich Martello, courtesy of Unsplash.

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4502

 
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Caribbean coral reef decline began in 1950s and '60s from human activities

April 22, 2020

Not long ago, the azure waters of the Caribbean contained healthy and pristine coral reef environments dominated by the reef-building corals that provide home to one-third of the biodiversity in the region.

But the Caribbean reefs of today pale in comparison to those that existed even just a generation ago. Since researchers began intensively studying these reefs in the 1970s, about one half of Caribbean corals have died. The iconic elkhorn and staghorn corals that once dominated Caribbean reefs have been hardest hit, with only 20% of their populations remaining today.

Although researchers believe climate change, fishing and pollution are to blame, the lack of baseline data prior to the 1970s has made it hard to determine the precise reasons for these coral die-offs. Arizona State University researcher Katie Cramer wanted to document when corals first began dying to better understand the root causes of coral loss. 

Now, in a new paper in Science Advances, Cramer has combined fossil data, historical records and underwater survey data to reconstruct the abundance of staghorn and elkhorn corals over the past 125,000 years. She finds that these corals first began declining in the 1950s and '60s, earlier than previously thought. This timing is decades before climate change impacts, indicating that local human impacts like fishing and land-clearing set the stage for the widespread coral declines that are now accelerating in response to warming oceans.

"I am interested in going back to the scene of the crime when humans first began to significantly impact coral reefs centuries ago, to understand when, why and how much reefs have been altered by humans,” said Cramer, an assistant research professor at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and an Ocean Science Fellow at the Center for Oceans at Conservation International.

The earlier, local roots of declines of elkhorn and staghorn corals in the 1950s and '60s highlight the urgency of mitigating local human impacts on reefs to allow these corals to recover. “In an era where coral reefs are being hit with multiple human stressors at the same time, we need to resolve why and how much coral reefs have changed over human history to inform our responses to the current reef crisis," said Cramer.

“Recent studies are showing that reefs are better able to cope with climate change impacts when they are not also stressed from overfishing and land-based runoff. So let’s get a handle on these tractable problems now to give reefs a better chance of weathering the current climate crisis."

Joe Caspermeyer

Manager (natural sciences) , Media Relations & Strategic Communications

480-727-4858

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