ASU graduate plans to empower others through social work

December 11, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Kourtney Conn is the fall 2018 outstanding graduate of the School of Social Work in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions in downtown Phoenix. Kourtney Conn School of Social Work outstanding graduate Kourtney Conn (Photo courtesy Kayla Kitts) Download Full Image

Service to others is an important part of who Conn is. It’s how she was raised.

“I’ve spent my whole life being passionate about serving people,” Conn said.

The Fort Collins, Colorado native chose to attend ASU after a visit to the Downtown Phoenix campus.

“I didn’t know anyone and had only spent a couple days visiting the campus, but I knew ASU was the right choice for me based on the culture and ASU’s commitment to the community,” Conn said.

Originally enrolled as a nutrition major, Conn wanted to make a difference in the lives of people with health issues. But, it never felt right. After talking to friends, family and even high school guidance counselors, Conn switched her major to social work. She hasn’t looked back since.

“On the first day of my social work classes, I genuinely cried tears of joy because it felt like I was where I belonged, like all my passion could finally be funneled into something,” Conn said. “Sitting in that lecture hall preparing for a career of loving and empowering others was the ‘aha’ moment.”

Conn had lots of experience helping others over the years. Her family would annually travel to Somoto, Nicaragua, a rural town near the Honduras border. There, they have helped build homes, hosted a kid’s camp in the small mountain community and paid for local students to attend college.

Kourtney Conn plays with kids in Nicaragua

School of Social Work outstanding graduate Kourtney Conn volunteers in Somoto, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy Kourtney Conn.

“After taking seven years of Spanish classes, I use my language skills to ensure our trips are not just about laying concrete blocks or writing checks, but rather creating positive and meaningful relationships between Americans and Nicaraguans.”

An internship at New City Church in Phoenix gave Conn the opportunity to create a “Foster Care Closet” where foster families could find needed clothes and toiletries. Conn created a system for processing and distributing supplies, recruited volunteers, designed marketing materials and conducted outreach to social service agencies to promote the community resource.

“This was a unique and creative concept that required a lot of thinking from a different perspective and problem-solving on the fly,” Conn said. “While it was certainly a challenging intern project, it helped me to recognize how I represent innovation — by leading with energy and empathy to create new solutions."

Conn is also a student in Barrett, The Honors College. She says being in Barrett is the best decision she’s ever made.

“It opened so many doors for me,” Conn said.

Through Barrett, Conn served as a peer mentor and a residential leader helping create positive first-year experiences for new Barrett students and serving as part of their support system. She also directed communications for the Barrett Leadership and Service Team.

Barrett scholars are required to write a thesis and Conn is thankful for the opportunity.

“My favorite experience in Barrett was getting to write a thesis about digital dating abuse trends among teens with social work professor Lauren Reed as my faculty project director and professor Jill Messing as my second reader,” Conn recalled. “I did a mixed-methods study analyzing survey data and created a project I am so proud of in a field where there is little existing literature.”

Conn and her social work professors are now hoping to get the thesis published in an academic journal.

“Being a part of Barrett has enriched my time at ASU immeasurably and I feel so grateful for the opportunity,” Conn said.

Her time at ASU is even more remarkable as Conn has dealt with health issues that could easily have prevented her from succeeding.

Conn has temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJD, a medical condition that occurs in the jaw joint and can cause considerable pain. For Conn, it’s required numerous medical appointments and physical therapy visits.

“No one ever knows what I’m talking about when I mention it because they think I’m referring to my jaw popping once in a while, not the extreme lockjaw and pain I deal with,” Conn said. “It’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but it definitely played a role in my academic career and learning how to persevere and stay focused despite physical pain.”

The greater obstacle, in her opinion, was her struggle with dysthymia. Dysthymia is also called "persistent depressive disorder," a long-term form of depression that Conn struggled with for many years. It wasn’t diagnosed until she got to college.

“As anyone who has experienced depression knows, it makes it feel nearly impossible to finish tasks successfully, be at your best, attend events or sometimes even just get out of bed,” Conn noted.

While the condition affected her academic productivity, it didn’t define her. She appreciates any opportunity to have a conversation about mental health or be open about health issues in general to reduce the stigma.

“I think it’s important to show that mental health issues can be a part of you, but not the entirety of you,” Conn said. “It’s possible to succeed, it’s okay to ask for help, and there is light at the end of the tunnel!”

After graduation, Coon plans to work in the area of gender-based violence intervention. Ultimately, she wants to return to school to earn her master’s degree and a PhD. Her goal is to do gender-based violence intervention and prevention research.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Public policy graduate prepared to tackle education issues

December 6, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

When Hurricane Irma slammed the state of Florida in September 2017, School of Public Affairs outstanding graduate Max Goshert left the comforts of Phoenix to help those in need. Max Goshert lead the effort to recall Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Goshert talks to members of the media after filing petitions to recall Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas Sept. 1, 2015. Photo Courtesy: James Anderson, Cronkite News Download Full Image

“I think that my experiences there were more helpful to my degree,” said Goshert, who is earning a master’s degree in public policy, “because I got to see what public policy in an emergency situation looks like.”

Goshert assisted shelters with logistics in Orlando and Miami, helping analyze data and provide information to get supplies where they were needed. His decision to help others caused him to miss classes and forgo the first part of the fall 2017 semester. It also dashed any chance he had of graduating in the spring.

It’s a decision he doesn’t regret. If anything, it taught him the important role public policy can play.

“Without well-crafted public policy, communities don’t operate in the ways that they should, especially when you put the strain of a massive, category five hurricane barreling down on them,” he said.

Max Goshert

Max Goshert volunteered in Orlando and Miami following Hurricane Irma in September 2017. He helped the Red Cross with logistical needs at shelters set up to help victims.

Goshert benefited from his experience working in the nonprofit sector. After earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arizona in 2012, he participated in Public Allies Arizona, an AmeriCorps program administered through the Lodestar Center for Nonprofit Management and Leadership in the School of Community Resources and Development. Goshert was placed with St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix and was hired on full time after his 10-month placement. He supervised dozens of volunteers every day and helped raise money and in-kind donations for the nonprofit that serves people in need. Goshert then went to work for the American Red Cross, where he coordinated drowning prevention and life-saving classes in aquatic facilities throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Southern California.

When he returned from helping out after Hurricane Irma, Goshert resumed his full-time job at the local Red Cross and his education at ASU.

His hands-on approach to learning included competing in the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, a national student competition that challenges students to come up with high-level policy recommendations to immediately respond to a major cyber incident.

The experience sent him to Washington, D.C., where Goshert’s team advanced to the semifinals. Those teammates have turned into lasting friends, including one who was an online student from Tennessee.

Max Goshert and the ASU Cyber 9/12 Challenge team

From right to left: Max Goshert, Zak Ghali, ASU professor Brian Gerber, ASU professor Scott Somers, Salvador Ortega and Becca McCarthy.

Goshert is also on track to earn his Master of Education Policy from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU in the spring of 2020. He plans to eventually work in education policy.

“I think that the only way we can avoid our society heading in a bad direction is by dedicating ourselves to educating the population,” he said. “One’s education should never end.”

He has big goals for improving education at a state level, and eventually at a national level.

“Our country is among the highest spenders of all developed countries in education, yet we have so little to show for it — and a large part of that is due to inequality in education, said Goshert. “What we could do to improve education in our state because it’s so poor as it is, is to focus on inequality on education.

“That can be addressed by, among other things, summer educational programs or year-round schooling,” he said. “Right now, those who can afford that do it and those who can’t fall behind.”

Goshert decided to pursue his graduate degree after leading a statewide effort to recall former Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. He felt Arizona’s top education official was not adequately addressing Arizona’s dismal educational performance, instead focusing on what he called trivial issues. Despite mobilizing volunteers statewide, they could not obtain the required 366,128 signatures by the 90-day deadline.

“I was so lucky to have a chance to lead over a thousand people all across the state to talk to their fellow Arizonans about why we need better leaders for our education system,” said Goshert. “My experience with the recall is what drove me to pursue a master’s in public policy at ASU in hopes that I could assist our leaders in building a better future for Arizona’s youth.”

Goshert credits the School of Public Affairs graduate program with providing him a multifaceted approach to public policy and a wide array of policy discussions.

“I have learned so much from each of the classes that I’ve taken that I’ve been able to apply,” Goshert said. “I loved this program because there was so much diversity as far as the information that we were presented.”

Goshert is already putting his degree to work as a senior research associate for the Grand Canyon Institute, a Phoenix-based nonpartisan think tank that provides analysis of fiscal and economic issues from a centrist perspective.

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Emergency Management and Homeland Security graduate embodies 'service before self'

December 6, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

From weatherman to man in black, Russell Pablo has a passion for service. Now, he’s taking that passion from the United States Air Force to the United States Secret Service. Russell Pablo at the Bataan Memorial Death March Download Full Image

Pablo is the outstanding graduate for college-level programs in Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. He is graduating with a Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Originally from Graham, Washington, Pablo is stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. As a noncommissioned officer, the ASU Online student has served into numerous leadership positions. In his present role, Pablo works in weather forecasting operations. He is a synoptic weather forecaster interpreting complex meteorological data used in mission planning by United States Northern and Southern Commanders and staff.

Service runs deep in Pablo’s family — he is a third-generation member of the armed forces. Among his relatives who have served across all branches, they total 450 years of military service.

As he put it, “I come from a family that literally bleeds red, white and blue and it's something that is an embodiment for me. Service before self.”

However, Pablo has also dreamed of wearing a different uniform. It was his interest in a federal law enforcement career that has shaped much of his path in and out of the Air Force.

“I entered the United States Air Force with a bachelor's degree in international relations with the goal of entering into federal law enforcement at some point,” Pablo said. “But with the competitive nature of those positions, I decided a master's degree in homeland security and emergency management would really set me apart. I found that ASU was the best fit for what I needed.”

Competitive is right. Now, after eight years of military service and 24 months’ worth of graduate school condensed into one grueling year, Pablo will be moving on to a new career as a special agent with the United States Secret Service. Pablo was one of 48 people hired from an applicant pool of 70,000.

“I really like the overall mission of the Secret Service,” Pablo said. “A lot of people don't know that they have actually a dual-fold mission: protection and investigation.”

Pablo will be part of an investigative unit, though he acknowledges most people think of the protective side, i.e. black suits and ties and walking next to the president.

It’s an exciting new opportunity, but leaving the Air Force will be bittersweet.

I've gotten to experience quite a bit. I've done things in places I never thought I would have gone. I've seen shooting stars in Texas, had moonshine in Alabama, served in Panama City, marched across the white sands of New Mexico, and ridden in rodeos in Arizona.”

Pablo is no stranger to hard work, but tackling graduate-level coursework in a condensed time frame on top of active duty and caring for his family including six months as a single father of a toddler while his wife was deployed in the Middle East was a bit more than he anticipated.

But Pablo likes a challenge, and he’s been able to leverage a lot of the skills that he learned from the military to get him across the finish line.

“Being resilient and being determined, working hard and sacrificing and doing all those things came in handy because I knew it was worth it,” Pablo noted.

If he were to do it all over again or advise others following in his footsteps, he would suggest going a bit slower recognizing it’s good to push yourself, but it’s also good to keep a manageable pace.

The online student experience can be drastically different from taking classes in person, but being stationed in Tucson has allowed Pablo to take advantage of online flexibility while still traveling to attend some in-person events.

The college has been really good about putting on symposium events and hiring events,” Pablo observed. “Getting to meet people face-to-face as opposed to just talking through a keyboard has been really, really good in expanding my network.”

“Even though I've been in an online environment, I've still made connections with people that will be lasting.”

Lisa Rolland-Keith

Communications Specialist, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU therapeutic recreation grad uses art to make a difference

December 5, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Nikka Brooks-Cullum is the fall 2018 outstanding graduate for the School of Community Resources and Development in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. An Air Force veteran, she earned her associate’s degree from Chandler-Gilbert Community College and is a first-generation college graduate. Brooks-Cullum will receive her bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation. Nikka Brooks-Cullum Nikka Brooks-Cullum, the fall 2018 outstanding graduate for the School of Community Resources and Development. Download Full Image

Financially, it wasn’t easy. She quit her full-time job to focus on her studies.

“At almost forty, I had thought this opportunity might never come, but the decision to finally do it was the best I have ever made,” Brooks-Cullum said. “My husband and I had to give up quite a bit to make this happen, and I am so glad we did.”

A professional artist, Brooks-Cullum originally planned to major in art education. But after serving as a substitute teacher, she found being in a classroom setting would not be true to her calling. Her real passion was using her artistic ability to help people in need. She learned that a degree focusing on therapeutic recreation would allow her to do just that.

“There are so many different ways that recreational therapy can be used, that the therapist's own strengths and interests can really help them decide where they want to go with their practice,” she said.

For Brooks-Cullum, painting was once an escape. She suffered from mental health issues, but the stigma of seeking help prevented her from reaching out.

So, she reached inward.

She expressed her feelings through the stroke of a brush and a dash of color. She painted serene landscapes, flowers, and women in contemplative poses. Sometimes the women had fairy-like wings. What she put on canvas helped Brooks-Cullum find her own inner beauty.

“I just did this one thing I enjoyed doing, over and over until I got good at it, and it helped me cope with stress, anxiety and improved my sense of self-worth,” Brooks-Cullum said. “This personal experience was something I felt others with mental health issues could also benefit from.”

A native of Chino Valley, Arizona, Brook-Cullum joined the Air Force out of high school and soon found herself in a technical career as a vehicle operator/dispatcher. She left military service a few years later as the spouse of an airman. They spent several years living abroad, in Okinawa, Japan and later in Stuttgart, Germany, where she began to sell her paintings.

The flowers, women and landscapes she painted to find beauty within have morphed into a deeper juxtaposition of life and death.

“My current work is also about me, but this time finding an acceptance for the inevitable end of life,” Brooks-Cullum said. “I use flowers to represent the fragility of life and beauty and images of bones to symbolize death. There is such a fine line between the two. We seem strong and vital, but life is delicate as well.”

Brooks-Cullum plans to use her skills as an artist and a certified therapeutic recreation specialist to help an often overlooked population, people who are incarcerated.

“I was surprised by how important the idea of second chance became to me,” she noted. “Two of my career field experience volunteer locations allowed me to get to know people who had at some point in their lives been involved in a crime, and they were either still doing time for it, or were trying to reintegrate back into society.”

In Arizona, 40 percent of those released from prison reoffend within three years. Brooks-Cullum wants to be part of the solution.

“I believe therapeutic recreation has a lot to offer to the field of corrections, and am advocating for Arizona Department of Corrections to offer people who are incarcerated and the newly released more access to services such as recreational therapy to lower the state's high recidivism rate,” Brooks-Cullum said. “I volunteered at the Maricopa Re-entry Center last spring with a classmate and used recreational therapy to remind former inmates there that they are people and deserving of a happy, healthy life, regardless of their past.”

Brooks-Cullum also interned at the Arizona State Forensics Hospital where she had the chance to work with people with severe mental illness and behavioral issues. She saw the difference she made in the lives of people and she’s grateful for the opportunity ASU gave her as a student.

“I think it’s important to find ways to make your assignments have actual meaning to you,” Brooks-Cullum said. “Apply them to a setting or a population that you want to learn about, or help in some way, and you may find that the work becomes more interesting to you, and less like work.”

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Arizona’s next US senator guided by social work

ASU School of Social Work reception honors alum Kyrsten Sinema

December 4, 2018

Arizona’s next U.S. senator Kyrsten Sinema began her workweek by finishing her semester as a lecturer in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. She submitted her grades for the two classes she teaches, an undergraduate online course titled “Legal Issues in Social Work” and a graduate seminar she taught once a month on weekends titled “Development Grants and Fundraising.”

“As I submitted them I thought to myself ‘I'm so lucky, not only am I preparing to head into the United States Senate to serve our great state as the first woman senator in our state, and as the first social worker, but I'm equally proud of the fact that, as of this morning, I've finished my 16th continuous year of teaching in the School of Social Work at ASU,’” Sinema told an audience at a School of Social Work reception held at the Westward Ho Concho room in downtown Phoenix Monday evening. two women talking Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema talks with one of her former professors, Elizabeth Segal, at a reception honoring current adjunct faculty member Sinema, in the Concho Room at the Westward Ho in downtown Phoenix, Monday, Dec. 3. Download Full Image

Sinema told invited students, alumni, faculty and staff about her journey into politics. As a social worker in the Sunnyslope community of Phoenix, she saw the community needs going unmet.

“I would go to bed each night thinking to myself, 'This was not enough, I need to do more,'" Sinema recalled. “'The change I need to make in my community was greater than what I was able to do today.'"

Sinema enrolled in the School of Social Work and earned her graduate degree in 1999. She was asked to start teaching a few years later. Paola Villa was a student in Sinema’s fall 2018 graduate class.

“She was outstanding, probably one of the best professors I have ever had,” Villa said. “She had everything very strategically planned and knew what to do. She had deadlines but was always available regardless of being in D.C. She replied to emails, like, day of.”

Villa had her photo taken with Sinema at the event. She's still in awe that Sinema served in Congress, ran for election and taught two classes during the fall.

“Everyone in the class is shocked about how much she does it and we're constantly asking her, ‘How do you do it?’” Villa said.

Sinema's answer? Making sure she took care of herself and setting priorities.

For Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Dean Jonathan Koppell, Sinema is an example of what public service can be.

“I am enormously proud, not just that you won ... but how you conducted yourself in the campaign,” said Koppell, a political scientist by training. “It showed how politics can be and I would humbly guess that some of your social work training and experience was relevant.”

Sinema explained how her social work ethos guides her interactions with others, including opposing candidates.

“I pledged early on in my career and I doubled down on that pledge in this race for the United States Senate that I would campaign the same way that I govern, the same way that I teach and the way that I try to live my life — which is to seek understanding of those around me rather than to move forward with a combative attitude,” Sinema said.

For Arizona’s Senator-elect, that means trying to understand where people are coming from and having empathy for other perspectives. She said she wants to learn why people have particular points of view or perceptions, even if they are different from her own.

“I promised myself and instituted this throughout my entire campaign — all 700 or so people who were working for us by the end of that campaign — that we would behave in the highest ethical manner every single day, regardless of what happens in the rough and tumble of American politics today,” Sinema said. “That we would stand up every single day and we would continue to behave according to the ethics of our profession that we would not engage in that low name-calling or the ugliness and the pettiness of personal attacks.”

With about 100 social workers in attendance, Sinema used the opportunity to get recommendations for new staffers. Since her election to the United States House of Representatives in 2012, Sinema has exclusively hired social workers with graduate degrees or MSWMaster of Social Works to serve in her casework office. She plans to hire more as she now represents the entire state.

“I need more MSWs, so please send me your best and brightest, hardest working MSWs,” Sinema said. “I expect that the number of calls we'll receive in our office come Jan. 3 will skyrocket and that is exactly what I hope. I want folks all around the state to wake up and think to themselves, ‘I got a problem with the federal government, something's not getting done. I can call my senator and she and her team of social workers will help solve these problems.’"

James Herbert Williams, director of the ASU School of Social Work, couldn’t help but smile when he heard Sinema say she wants to hire social workers with graduate degrees to solve problems.

"I couldn't see a better role model for students, especially women,” Williams said. “It shows what you can accomplish in life, and the importance of an MSW degree.”

In addition to earning her master's degree in social work from Arizona State University, Sinema earned a law degree from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, a PhD in justice studies from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and an MBA from the W.P. Carey School. 

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


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ASU-led statewide survey finds big jump in e-cigarette use among adolescents

ASU-led statewide survey finds alarming jump in e-cigarette use by adolescents.
December 3, 2018

Marijuana concentrate use surveyed for first time and finds 23.5 percent rate

A new statewide survey of adolescents in Arizona finds alarmingly high rates of e-cigarette use as well as use of marijuana concentrates, and an Arizona State University professor who led the research believes that intervention should begin at younger ages.

The Arizona Youth Survey is administered to students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades every two years. The 2018 survey results were released Monday at a press conference held by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission in Phoenix. This year’s survey included 48,000 students in all 15 counties and addressed drug use, violence and other risk factors.

The use of electronic cigarettes was up dramatically across all three age groups:

  • Eighth-graders: 21.6 percent reported using e-cigarettes in 2016, while this year, 27.7 percent reported using the devices.
  • 10th-graders: 29.4 percent in 2016, 39.4 percent in 2018
  • 12th-graders: 35.3 percent in 2016, 45.8 percent in 2018.

The e-cigarette devices are increasingly popular with young people because the nicotine is flavored, according to Sheila Polk, county attorney for Yavapai County and chairperson of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said that progress in getting adolescents to stop smoking cigarettes is being undone by the e-cigarette industry. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“What’s alarming is that decades of progress in getting our kids to stop using cigarettes has been undone in two short years with the e-cigarette industry,” Polk said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has targeted the e-cigarette industry’s marketing to young people, in part because the agency estimates that about 5 percent of adolescents using e-cigarettes are actually using the devices to inhale marijuana concentrate.

This is the first year the Arizona Youth Survey asked about marijuana concentrate use, according to Dustin Pardini, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. His research team helped design the survey, collected and cleaned the data and generated the school-level reports.

“This is the largest study that’s ever looked at the prevalence of use of concentrated marijuana,” said Pardini, who is working with Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at ASU, to drill down further into the data and publish the results.

The survey showed that 14 percent of eighth-graders reported using marijuana concentrates, along with 25 percent of 10th-graders and nearly 33 percent of 12th-graders. And more students are using the typical flower-budFor 2018, 15.7 percent of eighth-graders reported using traditional marijuana at some point in their lives compared with 13.3 percent of eighth-graders in 2016; for 10th grade, it was 32 percent this year compared with 27 percent in 2016, and for 12-graders, it was 44 percent this year compared with 40 percent in 2016. marijuana than two years ago.

Marijuana concentrate is a highly distilled mass of THCTetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. that can be consumed in e-cigarette devices and in other ways, such as edibles.

Meier said that the vaping devices can look like thumb drives yet be filled with marijuana concentrate and used without detection because there’s no distinctive odor.

“So we get kids who are using not only nicotine in school but also using cannabis in class,” she said.

This is concerning because the amount of THC in concentrates is much higher than in the flower-bud marijuana that is typically smoked, according to Bill Montgomery, county attorney for Maricopa County.

“Some of the perceptions of marijuana use that even voters are familiar with are the types of THC concentration in the 3 percent level we used to see in the 1980s to the early 90s, whereas today, you can have commercial-grade marijuana sold in dispensaries that is upward of 30 and 35 percent THC, and with concentrates, THC can be 90 percent in some formulations,” he said.

The survey showed that youths are more frequently acquiring marijuana from someone with a medical marijuana card. In 2014, 10 percent of eighth-graders got marijuana from someone with a card, and that percentage doubled this year.

Because medical marijuana is legal, young people are perceiving marijuana as a medicine, not an illegal substance, Montgomery said.

The survey showed that more than 80 percent of students believed that people are at “moderate or great risk of harm” if they smoke one or more packs of cigarettes a day, have five or more alcoholic drinks at once, use prescription drugs without a prescription or use illegal drugs besides marijuana.

But nearly 40 percent of the young people felt that there was “no risk” in trying marijuana.

“So you have a perception of a product that is inconsistent with its true impact and how it’s being manufactured,” Montgomery said.

Pardini said he is further analyzing the data to see if there are differences in risk factors or attitudes between young people who use concentrates and those that use traditional marijuana.

Another issue he’s studying has to do with the side effects of concentrate use, such as extreme levels of paranoia, anxiety and panic attacks, which may linger.

“For a smaller portion of kids, there’s some evidence to suggest that it can trigger a predisposition to schizophrenia,” he said.

Alcohol still the top substance

Alcohol was by far the most commonly reported substance used, with 45 percent of students reporting drinking alcoholFor 2018, 31 percent of eighth-graders drank alcohol, 47 percent of 10th-graders and nearly 60 percent of 12th-graders. in their lifetime. The rates showed a slight increase from two years ago, but were slightly less than in 2014 for all three grade levels.

The next most common substance reported was e-cigarettes, with 37 percent reported using. This was followed by typical marijuana (about 30 percent), marijuana concentrate (23.5 percent), regular cigarettes (17 percent), multiple drug use (12 percent), prescription pain relievers, such as OxyContin (9 percent), and over-the-counter drugs, such as cough syrup (6 percent). All other substances (cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, steroids, prescription stimulants and synthetic drugs) has usage rates of less than 5 percent among all students surveyed.

“If anything, I think, this would be an underestimate on my mind of the level of substance use,” Pardini said. “Because the kids who are smoking weed all the time aren’t going to school.”

Prescription pain reliever use declined steeply among 12th-graders, with nearly 16 percent reporting using it in 2014 compared with 10 percent this year. Inhalant use also dropped, with 9.5 percent of eighth-graders using in 2014 and 6.5 percent this year.

The survey also measured risk factors and found 33 percent overall to have at least eight risk factors, such as academic failure, rebelliousness, friends’ use of drugs, gang involvement and others.

There was a big increase in the percentage of students who responded that they would be “seen as cool if you carried a handgun”: In 2016, 11 percent of eighth-graders thought they would be seen as cool, while this year it was nearly 20 percent.

Ten percent of students said they had seen someone shot, shot at or threatened with a gun at least once in the past year.

This year, for the first time, the survey asked if students had been “punched, kicked, choked or beaten up” at least once in the past year, and nearly 27 percent of the eighth-graders reported that they had.

In good news, the survey found big decreases in all three age groups of students reporting that they had been in a car driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol. For 12th-graders, the rate was nearly 22 percent in 2014 and half that this year.

Two-pronged approach needed

The Arizona Youth Survey results are important, according to Maria Christina Fuentes, director of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family.

“To see what’s working, we have to know how youth perceive drug use and substance abuse and how that perception is shaped,” she said. “These survey results have a direct impact on how funding is awarded to specific programs and initiatives.”

The officials at the press conference noted that 57 percent of the students reported never having a conversation with their parents about using drugs. Fuentes said her office addresses that with its “Overcome Awkward” initiative to teach parents how to talk to their kids.

Pardini said that drug-prevention programs should start in elementary school because substance use typically begins around age 12.

“Getting the message about appropriate behavior is critical because by the time you’re in 12th grade, talking to your parents is not going to matter very much,” he said.

Prevention should be two-pronged he said, with one program for all students and another targeted to students particularly at risk.

“We know that kids with conduct problems such as physical fighting, being oppositional, defiant, are at the highest risk for abusing substances later on,” he said.

Pardini said that researchers at ASU have developed empirically based programs that have been shown to prevent and reduce substance use: The BRIDGES Program increases school engagement and keep teens on a positive path; The Family Check-Up model promotes family management and addresses child and adolescent adjustment problems; and “Keepin’ it REAL” is a culturally grounded curriculum for grades six through nine.

“These programs have been implemented in Arizona on a relatively small scale and could be disseminated more broadly with sufficient funding and support,” he said.

Top photo: Dustin Pardini, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, worked with his research team to design the Arizona Youth Survey, collect the data and generat school-level reports. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Mural paints true picture of immigration

December 3, 2018

An intergenerational group, including ASU students and members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, gathered Sunday to connect and work on a new mural

Perceptive residents of downtown Phoenix may already be aware of the latest mural to crop up in the city’s ever-growing collection. Located in the parking lot of the Lincoln Family YMCA, it depicts a young girl holding a cage from which a constellation of monarch butterflies bursts forth. At the other end are the faces of Americans of all ages and creeds — from Eastern-European Jews to Mexican braceros to Muslim Congresswomen — whose lives have been touched by migration.

“We all have some type of migration story,” said Arizona State University sociology undergrad Kira Olsen-Medina, looking on as a diverse group of people gathered on Sunday to bring the mural to life. “We are a nation of immigrants.”

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Artist Hugo Medina (center) coordinates student and community painters as they work on their mural at the downtown Phoenix YMCA parking lot on Dec. 2, 2018. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute paired with the ASU Humanities Lab to bring together students, both international and American, and individuals aged 50-plus to talk about experiences of immigration and then relay those stories onto a mural coordinated by Medina. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The undertaking was one of four student projects to come out of the Humanities LabFacing Immigration” course co-taught by School of Social Transformation Associate Professor Sujey Vega and School of International Letters and Cultures German Instructor Christiane Reves.

Just like any science course, Vega said, humanities courses should also have a lab component that puts students to work outside the classroom to help them understand big-picture issues.That’s the thinking behind the creation of the Humanities Lab, which also offers such courses as “Re-envisioning Food Systems,” “The Future of Cars” and “Rebuilding Puerto Rico.”

“It’s not just about absorbing information but getting it out there,” she said.

Students in the Facing Immigration course were asked to consider how they might address the topic of immigration in their community, and decided on educational ventures. Then they broke up into four project teams, each addressing a different age group.

Olsen-Medina and teammates Zoe Lacey, Zhulin Li, Angelica Penuelas and Brittany Romanello decided to focus on the elderly. So when Olsen-Medina’s husband, mural artist and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute faculty associate Hugo Medina, told her about a scholarship the OLLI at ASUThe mission of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Arizona State University is to provide university-quality learning experiences for adults ages 50 and over through diverse classes, campus-based learning opportunities, and civic engagement initiatives. was offering specifically for an intergenerational project and offered to help out, it was as if the stars had aligned.

With an experienced artist on board and funding in place, the team went about designing the project curriculum.

“The idea was for students to use their own talents and connections to bring this topic into the community,” Reves said.

Other student projects addressed access to health services for immigrants and refugees, used digital storytelling to relay immigration stories and engaged middle-schoolers by drawing and exchanging zines of their stories.

Olsen-Medina and her team proposed a two-part project: Part one consisted of a storytelling workshop in which 10 OLLI at ASU members paired up with 10 international ASU students for cross-generational immigration conversations where they discussed their backgrounds, got to know each other and brainstormed content for the mural.

“We wanted to cross those generational gaps but also wanted to maybe speak a little bit to the similarities of those two groups of people who might seem so different but actually really aren’t,” said Lacey, a gender studies grad student.

The experience inspired many of the OLLI at ASU members to research their own family immigration stories. Some who already knew their family immigration stories but were separated from them by several generations reported feeling a new sense of appreciation for the challenges their ancestors faced after speaking with their younger counterparts, whose immigration stories were far more recent.

“This is the most amazing woman, she just sparkles,” said OLLI at ASU member Susan Friedman Kramer of Gloria Martinez, a print-making undergrad who came to the U.S. illegally at the age of 8. “I (thought) I knew a lot about how hard that would be, but I had no clue until I was listening to (her) story.”

Friedman Kramer has lived in the Valley since she was 2 years old (she calls herself a “desert rat”) but said of her grandparents who came from Russia: “They dealt with people not wanting them. It seems any immigrant group is unwanted.”

Martinez nodded as she listened to her but became emotional when recounting her own youth and her desire to be considered a true U.S. citizen.

“It’s really difficult for me to talk about where I came from and the struggles that my parents have lived through and the struggles that have been imposed on me, because I feel like this is my home,” she said. “I came here when I was 8 years old, so I grew up here.”

During part two of the project — paint day — classical music played as Friedman Kramer, Martinez and others shook cans of spray paint, stabilized ladders and considered the placement of a butterfly’s wings.

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School of Community Resources and Development Associate Professor and OLLI member Wendy Hultsman fills in the details on butterflies on the YMCA parking lot mural on Dec. 2, 2018. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Their smiles and easy laughter belied the darker side of the stories behind the picture they were painting. But that’s sort of the point.

“A lot of the people here come from completely different backgrounds but they all have a lot of commonalities in their stories and in the human element of what it means to migrate and the challenges that are faced,” Olsen-Medina said. “So even though they all have very different stories, they’re able to connect on many different levels, which is really beautiful.”

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'Hot Spots' project demonstrates the power of community to prevent crime

December 3, 2018

Criminology professor’s new study looks at efficacy of nonenforcement alternatives in separate neighborhoods

Want to seriously reduce crime in your neighborhood? Throw a party and bring in the love.

That’s essentially the big takeaway in a newly released study headed by Cody Telep, an assistant professor in Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“Community Crime Prevention in High-Crime Areas: The Seattle Neighborhood Group Hot Spots Project” was spearheaded by Telep and conducted with Julie Hidbon, a professor at Southern Illinois University. The two-year study examined the effectiveness of two interventions led by a community-based nonprofit organization in Seattle. The results showed that community-led prevention efforts — holding block parties, activities and events, building relationships and other nonenforcement alternatives — in high crime areas can have a positive impact on crime and disorder.

Telep, whose research focuses on synthesizing research to assess what works in policing and practices on crime, disorder and citizen perceptions, spoke to ASU Now about his new findings.

Man in beard and suit smiling

Cody Telep

Question: What is a "hot spot"?

Answer: Hot spots are small units of geography with high levels of crime. The actual level of crime is really relative to the city, so it’s about finding the highest crime locations in a particular jurisdiction rather than meeting a threshold. 

The exact size varies too, based on the particular focus of a program. Sometimes they can be as small as a single address, but they are often defined as a single street block or street segment. They can be slightly larger too, for example when there’s a drug market that might span a few street blocks. What’s important though is that they are small — we often refer to them as microplaces or microunits of geography. And this is significant, because policing is often organized around larger units of geography like beats or precincts, while community groups or nonprofits often emphasize entire neighborhoods. The focus with hot spots is on the particular locations or street blocks within a police beat or neighborhood that have very high crime. The idea is to really focus attention on the microplaces that need it most.

Q: Why is it that a small number of microplaces are responsible for significant crime throughout an entire city?

A: There has been a really consistent finding across a number of different cities of different sizes that crime is highly concentrated. Generally, half the crime in a city is found on 5 percent or less of the street blocks, suggesting that focusing on those locations could be really important for reducing crime citywide. 

Only recently has research begun to explore what explains this level of concentration. What we’ve seen so far though is that factors related to crime opportunities and factors related to street-level disorganization or community dynamics are also highly concentrated at a small number of places. Crime is highly concentrated because there are also a small percentage of streets in a city with the most favorable conditions for crime. Some of that has to do with the concentration of residents and employees on certain streets, which increases the opportunities for victimization. Community dynamic factors, like poverty, are also highly concentrated, and impact crime levels at the street block level. Even collective efficacy, or the extent to which neighbors look out for another, varies by street, and streets with higher collective efficacy or informal social control are less likely to be hot spots.

Q: There’s a line in your report that seems to be the heartbeat of this study: “When disorderly behavior goes unchallenged, over time potential offenders recognize the neighborhood as a place with low social control, allowing more serious crime to move in.” Can you expound on this statement?

A: This statement draws from the famous broken windows theoryThe broken windows theory is a criminological theory that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. Source: Wikipedia, first described in 1982 by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. Broken windows has most prominently been adopted by police agencies, and has been used as a justification for focusing on lower level disorder crimes as a means to prevent more serious crime. There is somewhat mixed evidence on the effect of targeting disorder through more low-level arrests on more serious crime.

But the broken windows theory does not require the police to be the ones to intervene. In our study, we wanted to understand whether a community nonprofit, rather than the police, could lead that charge to increase social control. Obviously a nonprofit organization does not have the same formal control ability as the police do, but we were interested in whether they might be able to effectively increase levels of informal social control by motivating residents to play a greater role in addressing crime, or, in the language of the broken windows theory, challenging disorderly behavior.

Q: Talk about the two sites in your study and what was conducted, what worked, and didn’t work and the big takeaways.

A: The project was led by Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNG), a nonprofit organization focused on crime prevention that has been working in Seattle for 30 years. SNG staff were aware of research showing the strong concentration of crime at small units of geography, much of which was initially done in Seattle, and thought it would be useful to focus their community building and work in smaller geographic areas.

Our evaluation focused on two sites. The first was a neighborhood park and the residential streets surrounding it. The second was a two-block area that was more mixed-use with residences and bars and restaurants. In both sites SNG implemented a number of different projects, designed to both address opportunities for crime and encourage community building. In both sites SNG led crime prevention trainings and worked with residents to identify changes that could be made to the environment (e.g., adding more street lighting). In the park site, community building activities focused on residents taking back the park from drug dealers, and SNG coordinated park barbeques and movie nights.  On the mixed-use site, SNG focused more on activities where residents and business employees could meet one another and work together on crime prevention activities. 

We looked at pre- and postprogram changes in 911 calls to the police in each site. We found evidence of declines in disorder-related calls in both sites, with more evidence for a decline in total crime in the park site. Crime was not just pushed to geographic areas nearby, and crime decreased more in the targeted hot spots than similar nearby high crime locations. Our results suggest that a hot spots intervention that was community-led, rather than police-led, can still have significant impacts on crime. We think the program may have been somewhat more effective in the park site, because SNG was especially successful in engaging with residents, while partnering with the business community in the other site proved more challenging.

Q: What is it that nonprofit groups and residents can do in crime-heavy neighborhoods can do that police can’t?

A: While the police will always play an important role in crime reduction efforts, we think that neighborhood nonprofits may be especially well positioned to lead crime prevention projects, particularly in communities where trust in the police is low. SNG has a long history of working with diverse and immigrant communities, where there may be greater hesitancy to partner with police. Additionally, the crime reduction benefits of this program came without any intensive enforcement or increased arrest from the Seattle Police Department. Such efforts can be effective in targeting high crime locations, but may also have negative implications for perceptions of police legitimacy.

Q: What are the next steps in this area of work?  Is there a potential to replicate this project elsewhere?

A: SNG continues to focus their crime prevention work on hot spots, and we are working on plans for a second evaluation. The organization adopted our recommendation to include additional data collection in their project efforts, so moving forward, we can look at not only crime, but also changes in resident perceptions of crime and safety and changes in observed levels of disorder. 

We also would really welcome the opportunity to test this model elsewhere, and see whether we can replicate the positive findings in a different context. There are a number of engaged nonprofits in Phoenix, so it would be great moving forward to try to implement and evaluate a similar program locally. 

Top photo courtesy of

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Remembering Ed Pastor's spirit of service, generosity

After leaving Congress, Pastor founded ASU center to inspire students to engage.
November 28, 2018

The lifelong Sun Devil and Arizona's first Latino congressman died Tuesday at 75

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, who in 1991 became Arizona’s first Hispanic member of Congress, left a legacy of public service to his home state when he died Tuesday night, including through his namesake Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service at his alma mater, Arizona State University.

His family announced his death at age 75 in a statement by his daughter, Phoenix City Councilwoman Laura Pastor: "Congressman Pastor will be remembered for his commitment to his family and his legacy of service to the community that he loved."

ASU President Michael M. Crow said the nation, the state and the university had lost a remarkable individual.

"As the first Mexican-American to represent Arizona in Congress, Ed served as a living representation that through hard work, education and perseverance, anyone can rise from humble beginnings and achieve greatness," Crow said. "For ASU, this is a very personal loss, because Ed was a diehard Sun Devil and ASU advocate and remained highly involved with the university after retiring from Congress. Ed and his wife, Verma, played a major role in establishing and supporting scholarships and programs to help disadvantaged students achieve their educational dreams. Many of the recipients of these programs have gone on to become leaders in the Hispanic community."

The Pastor Center — housed in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions — equips students to engage politically and within the public arena. Created when he donated more than $1 million in unspent campaign funds after his retirement from Congress in 2015, the center reflects Pastor’s fierce commitment to public service, which he exhibited throughout his life.

“This is a devastating and tremendous loss to the community,” said Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell. “Congressman Pastor exemplified what public service is about: working together to solve problems and better our communities.

"He was not interested in grandiose speechmaking or incendiary partisanship because that never got things done. Students who want to make the world a better place are inspired by Ed Pastor to jump into the political fray and make it happen.”

A life of service to Arizona

Born in the tiny mining town of Claypool tucked in between the communities of Miami and Globe, Pastor was the first in his family to graduate from college.

He took tremendous pride in being a Sun Devil, having earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1966 and a law degree in 1974 from ASU. He taught high school math before becoming a community organizer in the town of Guadalupe. He went on to work for Arizona Gov. Raul Castro before being elected to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, where he served for 12 years.

Pastor was elected to Congress in 1991 and served until he declined to seek re-election and retired in 2015. He was key to securing funding for the Phoenix and Tucson light rail systems. Light rail was "was key to establishing ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus," Crow said.

In 2014, Pastor received the University Medal of Excellence, considered one of ASU’s most prestigious honors, at the fall undergraduate commencement. The medal was established in 2006 by Crow to honor innovative leaders who have worked to advance awareness and action on issues that affect the well-being and positive development of their communities, and whose leadership has helped ASU in its effort to define excellence and inclusion.

At the time of his retirement, Pastor was the most senior member of Arizona’s House delegation and served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. It was after he left Congress that he made the gift that established the Pastor Center.

“I thought it would be a good idea to get involved because there's very few things that occur daily in our life that are not the result of political decisions,” Pastor said in 2015. “And so I just want to make sure that the students at ASU are well aware of that and engage in public service.”

Gretchen Buhlig, CEO of the ASU Foundation, said Pastor not only spent his career serving the people of Arizona, he also saw the need to equip the next generation of Arizonans to carry on that service.

“His vision aligned so well with that of ASU, to train students from all walks of life to be engaged and fearless in seeking positive change in their communities,” Buhlig said. “ASU’s Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service teaches real-world, hands-on participation in public processes that will equip our students to solve community challenges. ASU is honored to carry on his legacy.

Pastor’s history of generosity to ASU also includes support for the Indian Legal Program in ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. The program provides legal education and scholarships in Indian law and equips students to represent Native peoples.

He was also generous with his time and expertise, appearing at ASU to speak with scholarship recipients in the ASU Spirit of Service Scholars program about elections in Arizona, or participating in formal presentations at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the law school, where he earned his degrees.

He was a member of the CLAS Dean’s Council, alumni who work with the dean to advance the college through service and philanthropy.

“His leadership on our council made such a difference in the lives of our students, and he spoke many times to various classes as an ambassador of our college,” said Lisa Roubal-Brown, senior development officer in CLAS.

Touching the lives of students

Despite the age difference, Pastor was a hit with students, said Alberto Olivas, executive director of the Pastor Center. The congressman was a frequent guest at many of the center’s events.

“His informal, genuine style captivated students and community members of all political persuasions,” Olivas said.

The Pastor Center gives students direct access to political leaders through seminars, forums and internships. One of the center’s signature programs is the Spirit of Service Scholars. Each year, about a dozen ASU students are selected to receive leadership training and learn from in-depth seminars on important public policy areas. Students are also paired with a mentor in the field they aspire to make a difference in. 

Spirit of Service Scholar and Sandra Day O’Connor Law student Thomas Kim was mentored by former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch. He applauds the leadership and learning opportunities afforded by the program.

“We’re not just some students spending time in theory la-la land,” Kim said. “We’re actually coming up with an action plan. And with all the resources that this program provides, we’re going to make a dent.”

Olivas said Pastor’s legacy is much more than what he accomplished for Arizona as a public servant.

“Pastor was a role model for effective, inclusive and community-building leadership,” Olivas said. “Over the years, he inspired countless young people — particularly those from underrepresented communities — to become politically active and to consider careers in public service.”

Paul Atkinson and Melissa Bordow contributed to this article. 

Top photo: Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor discusses how to get beyond the partisan gridlock in Washington, along with U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl and moderator Grady Gammage Jr., at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy's State of Our State Conference in Phoenix on Nov. 16, 2016. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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Climate change statistics rising faster and higher

November 27, 2018

ASU Professor Dave White discusses the dire new National Climate Assessment, which he co-authored

The fourth federal climate change report was released late last week. The assessment was grim.

Thousands could die. Annual losses could top billions of dollars. Seafood harvest and crops will decline. Wildfires and floods will increase. Rising sea levels will threaten trillions of dollars' worth of coastal real estate.

Dave White, director of the Decision Center for a Desert City and professor in the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University co-authored the paper. ASU Now talked to him about what the results mean.

Question: The Fourth National Climate Assessment report (NCA4 Volume II) was released this week. How is the report produced and who are the authors?

Answer: The Fourth National Climate Assessment was produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program with input from more than 300 expert authors. The contributors come from federal government agencies, universities, national labs, tribal and indigenous communities and the private sector. The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that the federal government prepare a report for Congress every four years to analyze the effects of global climate change on the environment, economy, agriculture and other aspects of American life. The report is classified as a "highly influential scientific assessment," which means that it has the potential to affect many areas of federal law and policy and therefore must meet the most stringent quality and review requirements. 


Dave White

 Q: What are the major highlights or key findings from the assessment? 

 A: First of all, the report once again confirms the overwhelming scientific consensus that there is clear, significant and compelling evidence that human activities, especially greenhouse gas emissions, are warming the Earth's atmosphere and causing global climate change. The report makes a direct connection between climate change and negative impacts on Americans' lives both now and in the future.

The report concludes that the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and that climate impacts are intensifying across the United States. These impacts are increasing risks to environmental, physical, social and economic well-being. The NCA4 details the impacts of climate change to national topics such as human health, water, energy, forests, oceans, agriculture, transportation and tribes and indigenous people. Also, the report explains how climate change is affecting different regions of the country such as the Southwest.

Most importantly perhaps, the report focuses how we can respond to climate change by reducing emissions and adapting to changes. While the message is clear that the risks are real and already here, the report highlights responses that can not only help us to adapt to climate change but also improve equity, justice, health and national security, for instance. 

Q: Which chapter did you help to write and what are the take-home messages? 

A: I co-authored Chapter 17 of the assessment (Complex Systems), which highlights the interconnected nature of climate change risks. For example, climate change is increasing the severity and extent of droughts in the West, stressing the availability of water supplies and leading to less water available to support agriculture or energy. As climate change leads to more severe heat waves, stressing electricity demand, we will experience more energy infrastructure failures, or blackouts, which can cripple a city's water treatment plants. One of the key messages from our chapter is that we need to improve the joint management of these interconnected systems to enhance the resilience of communities, industries and ecosystems to climate stress. For example, in the Southwest during times of severe drought, reservoir operations are managed to balance the demands for drinking water, farms and electricity production. 

Q: The chapter in the Southwest included some helpful things being done in the region. What can individuals do to do their bit?

A: Climate change is affecting the Southwest by increasing the likelihood and severity of water shortages, wildfires and droughts but also occasional floods, episodes of extreme heat and diminished snowpack, among other factors. Many of these risks disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of our communities. People, communities and governments across the region, however, are taking action to respond to climate change and reduce future vulnerabilities. These are discussed in Chapter 25 of the report (Southwest), which was led by our colleague Greg Garfin of the University of Arizona. To contribute to climate change adaptation, communities of the Southwest are promoting renewable energy, urban water conservation, wildfire fuel reduction and increasing agricultural efficiency. This report provides the most authoritative and up-to-date assessment of the impacts of climate change — impacts that are here now — and provides specific actions we must take to avoid the most disastrous consequences. 

Above photo: The image, taken while the International Space Station was located over western Africa near the Senegal-Mali border, shows a fully formed anvil cloud with numerous smaller cumulonimbus towers rising near it. The high energy levels of these storm systems typically make them hazardous, due to associated heavy precipitation, lightning, high wind speeds and possible tornadoes. Credit: NASA. Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Flickr page.

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now