Professor Mary Feeney selected as a National Academy of Public Administration fellow

September 20, 2019

Mary K. Feeney, professor and Lincoln Professor of Ethics in ASU’s School of Public Affairs, has been selected by the National Academy of Public Administration for inclusion in its 2019 Class of Academy Fellows.

“It’s a great honor to have been nominated and selected for membership in the National Academy of Public Administration — an organization dedicated to making government work for all,” Feeney said. “It is a vital time for NAPA to be fully engaged in protecting the integrity of our democratic institutions, strengthening public service and supporting the expertise and talent who make up the government bureaucracy. I am excited to serve as a fellow and contribute to advancing the intellectual and popular discourse on government.” Professor Mary Feeney ASU School of Public Affairs Professor Mary Feeney has been selected as a NAPA fellow. Download Full Image

Feeney and Nicole Darnall, associate dean and professor of management and public policy in ASU’s School of Sustainability, are among 51 new fellows who will be inducted during NAPA’s annual Fall Meeting on Nov. 7-8 in Arlington, Virginia.

They join a prestigious group of fellows at ASU that includes university President Michael M. Crow, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Dean Jonathan Koppell, Regents Professor Barry Bozeman, Foundation Professor Stuart Bretschneider, Frank and June Sackton Professor Karen Mossberger and Thom Reilly (currently on leave of absence and serving as chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education), all in Watts College’s School of Public Affairs.

Darnall is a former School of Public Affairs faculty member and maintains her faculty affiliation with the school’s Center for Organization Research and Design.

MORE: Darnall inducted as NAPA fellow

Chartered by Congress, NAPA was established in 1967 as an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to assisting government leaders in building more effective organizations. The 2019 class joins more than 900 NAPA fellows, including former cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives, nonprofit leaders and public administrators.

NAPA President and CEO Terry Gerton said in a press release the organization’s fellows are nationally recognized for their expertise and contributions to the field of public administration. “I am very pleased to welcome Mary Feeney to the 2019 class of fellows,” he said in the statement.

Feeney teaches in the School of Public Affairs undergraduate and PhD programs. She is the editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, one of the field’s most prestigious publications. She also is associate director of ASU’s Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies (C-STEPS), and director of the doctoral program at the School of Public Affairs. Feeney’s published works include two books and more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles in public administration, higher education and science and technology policy.

“This is a wonderful honor and recognition for both Mary and the School of Public Affairs,” said Koppell, who was inducted as a NAPA fellow in 2012. “Mary’s selection as a NAPA fellow confirms what we already know: that her contributions to the field are making a difference in public administration research and practice. I’m proud to have her as a colleague and welcome her to the ranks of NAPA fellows at ASU.”

Written by Linda Obele

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ASU water policy expert addresses new drought plan for state

August 27, 2019

State will take less water from the Colorado River under a new contingency plan

The Southwest’s long-standing drought has left the state staring down a historic and first-ever Colorado River water cutback in 2020. 

Starting Jan. 1, Arizona will see a 6.9% reduction of Colorado River water under the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, which was finalized in May with California, Nevada and the federal government. Mexico will give up 3% of its allotment under a separate agreement.

The cuts are part of a plan to keep Lake Mead, a reservoir at the Arizona-Nevada boundary, functional. Water levels for both Lake Mead and Lake Powell have precipitously dropped as a result of historic over-allocation and a drought that started in 2000. 

ASU Now spoke to Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, about the cutbacks and what they will mean for Arizona’s agriculture and the state’s roughly 7 million residents.

Woman in front of microphone

Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

Question: Are these cuts a move that has been anticipated for some time, and should Arizona residents be worried?

Answer: Yes, the cuts have been anticipated and were agreed to by the parties to the Drought Contingency Plan or DCP. In fact, until a few months ago, we expected deeper cuts, but good mountain snowpack last winter and aggressive conservation efforts shored Lake Mead up a bit. The cuts are part of a larger plan to safeguard the Colorado River system. The plan was negotiated for several years and finalized this spring.

The Lower Basin DCP incentivizes conserving water in Lake Mead while also imposing bigger and bigger cuts should lake levels fall to certain levels. Water users on the Central Arizona Project, which brings Colorado River water to central and southern Arizona, are in line to take largest cuts because they are the lowest priority users.

The 2020 cuts won’t really be felt by Arizona water users because the state has never built out demand for all of its Colorado River supplies. For years, Arizona water managers have used “extra” Colorado River water for aquifer recharge and other purposes. Annually starting in 2015, Arizona has voluntarily conserved in Lake Mead the equivalent amount of this year’s cut.

Rather than worry, Arizona residents should continue to find ways to permanently use water more efficiently. Statewide, Arizona uses the same amount of water today as it did in the mid-1950s, though we now have seven or eight times the population and a much larger economy. There are still lots of opportunities to stretch our water supplies through conservation and efficiency measures.

Q: Who will be the first group of people to feel the sting of cuts in Colorado River supplies?

A: If Lake Mead falls below 1,075-feet elevation, Arizona will take additional cuts and farmers in Pinal County will be the first to feel the impacts. They plan to turn to groundwater (that is, water pumped from wells) to make up for some of those cuts.

Cities are in a different situation. Municipal providers that use CAP supplies tend to have high priority rights, so they would be among the last CAP users to experience cuts. Many cities in the Phoenix and Tucson areas have diverse water portfolios, including groundwater, reclaimed water and other surface water, which gives them a measure of resilience against cuts in Colorado River supplies. And since passage of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, growth has been tied to long-term water supplies in the state’s most populous areas, so water providers must plan well in advance for foreseeable supply reductions.

Q: So if agricultural is the first to take a hit, will this mean the cost of fruits and vegetables will likely go up — and by how much?

A: That’s a question for an economist, but I will note that Arizona’s agriculture industry is not monolithic when it comes to water supplies. Right now, only Pinal County farmers are facing cuts — other Arizona farmers have higher priority Colorado River rights or get their water from other sources. Two-thirds of Pinal County’s agricultural revenues come from cattle and dairy. That production will not be directly affected by cuts in CAP deliveries. The county’s main irrigated crops are cotton and hay. 

Q: What’s the effect going to be on individual households and what should consumers be mindful of, or start practicing?

A: For some households, water rates may increase as their water providers take additional steps to ensure water deliveries in the event of decreased Colorado River supplies. In addition, some households in newer developments in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties depend on groundwater and are required to pay into a fund to purchase water supplies to replenish the groundwater withdrawn for their use. This amount shows up as an assessment on county property-tax bills. As fewer supplies become available, the costs of water to meet the replenishment obligation may also increase.

We should always treat water as the precious resource it is here in Arizona. The single best way for an individual household to help is to permanently reduce the amount of water used for outside landscaping. 

Q: Is this going to be the new normal or a sign of things to come?

A: We should think of this as the new normal. Lake Mead is over-allocated. The prolonged drought has exacerbated the problem because it results in less extra water in the system. There are signs that the region is aridifying, meaning that average flows in the Colorado River may decrease.

We shouldn’t overlook the conservation efforts that are critical to keeping the Colorado River system functional. The Drought Contingency Plan includes important ground rules for conserving water in Lake Mead, and Arizona’s Colorado River Indian Tribes and the Gila River Indian Community, along with CAP, will be conserving and storing significant quantities of water in the lake.

Top photo: The Lake Mead reservoir near the Nevada/Arizona boundary. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU study finds that teens are using a highly potent form of marijuana

August 26, 2019

Nearly 1 in 4 Arizona teens have used a highly potent form of marijuana known as marijuana concentrate, according to a new study by Arizona State University researchers.

Among nearly 50,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders from the 2018 Arizona Youth Survey, a biennial survey of Arizona secondary school students, one-third (33%) had tried some form of marijuana, and nearly a quarter (24%) had tried marijuana concentrate.   Download Full Image

Marijuana concentrates have about three times more THC, the constituent of marijuana that causes the “high,” than a traditional marijuana flower. This is concerning because higher doses of THC have been linked to increased risk of marijuana addiction, cognitive impairment and psychosis, said the study’s lead researcher, Madeline Meier, an ASU assistant professor of psychology. 

The research team also found that teens who used concentrates had more risk factors for addiction. The researchers compared teens who had used marijuana concentrates with teens who had used some form of marijuana but not marijuana concentrates and teens who had never used any form of marijuana on known risk factors for addiction, such as lower perceived risk of harm of marijuana, peer substance use, parental substance use, academic failure and greater perceived availability of drugs in the community. They found that teens who had used marijuana concentrates were worse off on every addiction risk factor. 

“This is important because it shows that teens who have a diverse array of risk factors for developing marijuana addiction may be further amplifying their risk for addiction by using high-THC marijuana concentrates,” explained study co-author, Dustin Pardini, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 

The study "Cannabis Concentrate Use in Adolescents," is published in the early online edition (Aug. 26, 2019) of Pediatrics.

The team — which includes ASU researchers Meagan Docherty, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; Scott Leischow, College of Health Solutions; and Kevin Grimm, Department of Psychology — also found that teens who had used concentrates had much higher rates of e-cigarette use. One explanation for this might be that teens are using e-cigarettes to vape marijuana concentrate, according to Meier. Earlier studies, including those by Meier, have shown that youth put marijuana in e-cigarettes to conceal their marijuana use. 

“Vaping marijuana can be passed off as nicotine vaping,” Meier explained. 

This finding reinforces the recent decision by the Food and Drug Administration to impose new restrictions on e-cigarettes and their constituents as a means of reducing marijuana use, according to the researchers. 

Marijuana concentrates don’t look like the traditional marijuana flower. Concentrates can look like wax, oil or a brittle substance that shatters easily. 

“What concerns me most is that parents might have no idea that their child is using marijuana, especially if their child is using marijuana concentrate,” Meier said. “Marijuana is not harmless, particularly for adolescents.”  

Meier’s earlier research suggests that frequent marijuana use from adolescence through adulthood is associated with IQ decline. Pardini’s prior research has linked regular marijuana use during adolescence with the emergence of persistent subclinical psychotic symptoms. 

The researchers’ next steps are to ascertain if concentrate users do in fact exhibit higher rates of addiction, cognitive impairment and psychosis. 

The Arizona Youth Survey is administered by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) through funds appropriated by the Arizona Legislature. For more information about ACJC or the Arizona Youth Survey, visit

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


'Showing (work x family)' in Downtown’s University Center this fall

August 20, 2019

This fall, the ASU Center for Child Well-Being, in collaboration with the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, is hosting Working Assumptions’ “Showing (work x family),” a six-screen photography exhibition that debuts Aug. 22 and will remain on the downtown campus throughout the fall semester.

“Showing (work x family)” was prompted by a simple question, “How do work and family overlap in your life?” Jane Gottesman, the founder of Working Assumptions, was curious how kids viewed the struggles of their parents. What are the demands working parents face? Would these same struggles appear in photographs? African American boy kisses mother's nose as she bends down to him, both standing on a city block Photograph by Steve Liss, Untitled, 2008. Courtesy of the artist.

“Showing (work x family)” strives to answer these questions by highlighting the challenges created by overlapping work and family and the impact on children, coworkers, peers, partners and society as a whole.

Balancing work and family is a well-known struggle in society; and when you throw education into the mix, it only further complicates the day-to-day experience. People who work, tend to family needs and go to school are stretched thin. They worry about maintaining a connection with their children and loved ones and about missing those “firsts” and “only” kind of moments. These worries compete with mental energy dedicated to juggling deadlines, assignments and work obligations.

Beverly Johnson, a master’s student at Hugh Downs School of Human Communications at ASU and a working mother, has a unique way of staying connected with her adult son.

“My son and I send each other song suggestions. … We are both super busy, so when I get a text with a screenshot of a song he thinks I’ll like, it really makes my day,” Johnson said.  

Staying connected to one another is a recurring theme among ASU Online students, and worry of missing out on the little things ranks as a top concern. Additionally, striking a balance between homework and family time often requires creative maneuvering.

Eric Sanchez, a bachelor’s student at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU, finds himself doing all his schoolwork after his children have gone to bed.

“This way, I never felt like my schooling interfered with my personal and home life,” Sanchez said. However, “there were times when my children had difficulties sleeping and I would oftentimes lay in their bed with them to help them go to sleep, but at the same time have reading material with me, as this was all happening during my studying time.”

Johnson and Sanchez’s testimonies provide glimpses into the lives of parents juggling school, work and family, but they are not isolated instances. Many people cherish the small moments and blend school time with family time when necessary. “Showing (work x family)” is a photographic exhibition that allows society to see the everyday hard, happy and rewarding moments created by the overlap of work and family in students’ lives.

The relationship among these competing priorities will be on display in the University Center lobby Aug. 22 through Nov. 15. 

For more information and features follow @childwellbeing on Instagram and @ASUChildWellBng on Twitter.

Lisa Rolland-Keith

Communications Specialist, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


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Generosity to ASU climbs to new heights in 2019

August 12, 2019

Campaign ASU 2020 sets a fundraising record for the fifth consecutive year thanks to support from more than 101,500 individuals

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

Sun Devil supporters bolstered scholarships, medical advancements, professorships and research opportunities as part of a banner fundraising year for the ASU Foundation.

Nikki Hinshaw is one of more than 7,400 students who benefited from private scholarship support through the foundation to advance her learning opportunities. She received the Craig and Barbara Barrett Political Science Scholarship, which enabled her to study abroad and complete an internship in Washington, D.C., as she works toward dual degrees in political science and communication.

Without scholarships, she would not have been able to engage in these learning experiences that require additional expenses including travel and lodging, she told ASU Now in February.

“I hope that (with the experiences), I’m able to make a bigger impact on my community and give back to others someday as well,” Hinshaw said.

This spirit of generosity from donors is what enabled the ASU Foundation to set a fundraising record for the fifth consecutive year. More than 101,500 individuals, corporations and foundations donated $413.7 million in fiscal year 2019, a 65% increase from fiscal year 2018. Of those, 25,520 were new donors.

“Our donors’ generosity provides life-changing experiences for our students and allows ASU to realize its aspirations as a world-class research university,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “ASU would not be the university it is today without the support of those who believe in the power of education to transform lives and our society and commit their resources to make that happen.”

While many students received scholarships, many even donated to scholarships to aid other students.

A group of 42 donors, half of which are current students, worked together to establish the newly endowed James Madison Scholarship that will aid a second- or third-year full-time law student in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law who is also a member of the Federalist Society. In addition to creating new scholarships for law students, the scholarship encouraged 36 first-time donors to give to ASU students.

“We are tremendously grateful for the support given to us this fiscal year, money donated to support ASU’s vision for what higher education can and should be,” ASU Foundation CEO Gretchen Buhlig said. “Every gift is important, whether it’s $10, $100 or thousands of dollars. It all makes a tremendous impact on our students, faculty and the community.” 

Private support funded a variety of initiatives and programs that will transform the university and community. 

Community-based businesses that benefited from private support include food truck and catering small businesses owned by women and underrepresented groups. They have access to Prepped, a free early-stage food business incubator, through a collaboration with Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and support from the College of Health Solutions. An anonymous donor invested in this opportunity to ensure the incubator had the staff and funding needed to help businesses. 

Students in the School of Earth and Space Exploration were able to send their payloads — including live bees — into space thanks to donors Cathy and Peter Swan. The students involved with this project traveled to west Texas in May to watch the launch and used remote acoustic sensing technology to record the bees’ vibrations, pressures and orientation in space. 

“When we launched Campaign ASU 2020 we had six core objectives — several of which focused on students — and we’ve had tremendous success in that area,” Buhlig said. “In the last year it has been really exciting to see a dramatic increase in gifts to support our faculty who are core to this institution.” 

Faculty not only benefited from private support, but also contributed to a culture of philanthropy. Nearly 2,700 faculty and staff members donated to Campaign ASU 2020 last fiscal year.


Video by Joel Farias

Three transformational gifts received in the past year are intended to revolutionize medical discoveries, expand dementia research, further nursing education to offset the nursing shortage and revitalize Maryvale and other Arizona communities.

Leo and Annette Beus donated $10 million toward the Beus Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) Lab at ASU’s Biodesign Institute. The lab will house a CXFEL laser, which is a first-of-its-kind X-ray technology. Worldwide, there are only five X-ray Free Electron Lasers, and researchers often have to wait as much as a year to use them. ASU’s compact version may provide accessibility that can lead to faster research and discovery for medicine, renewable energy and the computer industry.  

Charlene and J. Orin Edson donated $50 million to be split between the ASU Biodesign Institute and the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation. The money is earmarked for the university’s multidisciplinary dementia research and to increase nursing education. 

Mike and Cindy Watts donated $30 million to advance the prosperity of Arizona communities such as Maryvale, where the Wattses grew up. Through a collaboration between community leaders and the university, the gift will enable embedded community services, strengthen entrepreneurial efforts and increase community engagement through the renamed Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“Private support is critically important to Arizona State University because it enables solutions to problems that can transform lives and improve communities,” Buhlig said. “Private support enables opportunities for growth, innovation and excellence for our students and faculty.” 

Campaign ASU 2020 was publicly launched in January 2016 to raise the long-term fundraising capacity of the university and focuses on six priorities including student access and excellence; student success; the academic enterprise; discovery, creativity and innovation; enriching our communities; and Sun Devil competitiveness. The fundraising campaign is in its final year.

Learn more about supporting ASU.

Top photo: ASU Foundation staff express their gratitude on Sun Devil Giving Day — a day for ASU community members to designate what university areas they want their donations to support. 

Michelle Stermole

Director of communications , Enterprise Partners


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ASU students organize art show to connect prison inmates to community

ASU students organize show of inmates' artworks to benefit youth charity.
July 30, 2019

Sales from 'Inkcarcerated' gallery show will benefit children's art charity

Even as they are separated from their communities, the men who are incarcerated at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence are finding a way to give back, with help from Arizona State University.

Two ASU students have organized a gallery show of art made by the men, and sales will benefit a nonprofit that provides art therapy to traumatized children.

“Inkcarcerated: Creativity Within Confinement” will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at the A.E. England Building at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

The students, Genevieve McKenzie, a senior majoring in criminology and psychology, and Caitlin Matekel, a PhD student in criminology, created the show through their work with the Center for Correctional Solutions in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

The event is meant to connect the men to the communities they will eventually be returning to, Matekel said.

“It’s bridging that gap between corrections, which is so hidden, and the community that they’re eventually going home to. How do we connect those two groups?” Matekel said.

This is the second art show of its kind organized by ASU students. Two years ago, McKenzie was in a project-based learning course that spent two semesters exploring incarceration.

“We spent the first semester learning about what goes into recidivism and the reentry process and the challenges that people face when they’re leaving prison,” said McKenzie, who toured a prison and reentry center and interviewed formerly incarcerated people as part of the class.

“In the spring semester, we focused on how to address it, so we planned this art show.”

The students sold all of the art and donated the money to charity — an experience that was so successful, she wanted to try it again.

Over the past several months, McKenzie and Matekel organized donations of canvases, canvas panels, pads of paper, pencils, brushes and paints to the men in Florence, many of whom attend organized art classes. Others pursue art as a personal hobby.

More than 200 works of art will be in the show, and proceeds will go to Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, an organization that provides programs for children who have experienced family trauma, homelessness and violence. The artworks, including paintings and drawings, will be priced at about $30 and up.

The show is among the projects being done by the Center for Correctional Solutions, which is directed by Kevin Wright, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“The center is more interested in working with people rather than on them. We don’t want to do research on them, we want to do it alongside them," Matekel said.

McKenzie is involved in a project in partnership with the Arizona Department of Economic Security to create a new employment program for women incarcerated at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville.

“We interviewed around 200 women, asking about programming and the types of jobs they have had or would be interested in having.

“Now we’re working with our advisory board to create entrepreneurship training — how someone can start a career with all these restrictions placed on them and still thrive, with a focus on the power skills that go into being your own boss,” she said.

The center also developed the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program, in which ASU students travel to a prison to learn about crime and justice alongside incarcerated people. This fall, that program will be held at the women’s facility in Perryville for the first time.

The work of the center is intended to make incarceration more transparent to the public, Matekel said.

“It’s a way to communicate and have people care about this, because these people are coming home. They matter.”

Top photo: The “Inkcarcerated: Creativity Within Confinement” art show will include more than 200 artworks produced by men incarcerated in the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Corrections

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


'Beautiful Boy' brings his story to ASU behavioral health conference

July 5, 2019

When Nic Sheff was 11 years old, he began drinking vodka. A year later he was using marijuana, soon joined by acid, ecstasy, mushrooms and cocaine. By the time he was 18, crystal meth was his drug of choice as everything spiraled out of control.

“When I was using, I had this philosophy that, well, if I wanted to kill myself with drugs, that was my business,” said Sheff, now 37. “I felt like I lived in a vacuum. Like I was the one in all this pain, so I should be able to decide whether to blot it all out with drugs or not. I had no idea whatsoever the extent of pain I was causing my family and the people that loved me.” Author Nic Sheff smiles atop a mountain in a black baseball cap reading "Dockweiler Surf Club" and blue open jacket New York Times best-selling author Nic Sheff will share his experience with recovery from a substance use disorder during ASU’s 20th annual Summer Institute. Download Full Image

His compelling story of addiction, relapse and recovery inspired both his father's memoir, "Beautiful Boy," and the 2018 Felix van Groeningen film of the same name. And in July, Sheff will recount his painful addiction experiences as keynote speaker at the Summer Institute, hosted by the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy at Arizona State University.

Nearly 400 national and local leaders, educators, researchers, counselors and behavioral health professionals will take part in the 20th annual conference held July 16-19 in Flagstaff, Arizona. The four-day event provides networking opportunities and education, part of the center's commitment to building more resilient and healthier communities.

Sheff will speak the morning of July 16, sharing his insights into recovery, including how it affects the addict and others. His personal account about dealing with addiction, combined with his bipolar disorder, builds to his inspiring breakthrough to sobriety and its maintenance. He offers a compassionate and contemporary viewpoint, with a understanding of chemical dependency, risk factors, the isolation people who use drugs experience and the resulting trauma, pain and survival. 

He says he believes that helping people with recovery is like “putting together the puzzle” concerning the issues surrounding addiction. “We all have this one moment: NOW!” Sheff wrote in "Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines" (2007). “Now is now. There is nothing but now … this, right here, is all there is. So, my challenge is to be authentic. And I believe I am, today. I believe I am.” 

"Tweak" utilized the extensive journals Sheff kept as a teenager and, along with his father's 2008 book "Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction," inspired van Groeningen's film starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.

Sheff collaborated with his father, David, for the book, "High: Everything You Want to Know about Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction," published in January 2019. This handbook serves as a resource for middle school readers to learn about the realities of drugs and alcohol. It addresses what drugs look like, how they are used, what they are called and their side effects. It also draws on the experiences of the New York Times best-selling father/son team to teach how to recognize drug behavior, how to understand it and what can be done to overcome it. The book features candid testimonials from those who have experienced substance abuse and from families who have lived through the addiction of a loved one.

Sheff’s poignant perspective is a timely addition to the center's Summer Institute, given the increasing pressures facing behavioral health professionals amidst the current opioid epidemic. For more about the conference, visit The center is a unit of ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

Written by Deon Brown, ASU Class of ’85

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ASU professor's research finds teens' confidence in law enforcement plummets

ASU professor finds that teens' confidence in law enforcement has plummeted.
July 5, 2019

Data from nationwide survey shows drop in perception of police but not other authority

An Arizona State University professor’s new research has discovered that teenagers’ positive perceptions of law enforcement have decreased dramatically in the past few years, even as their confidence in other institutions has remained stable.

Adam Fine, an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU, discovered the shift in attitudes by analyzing data from the nationwide Monitoring the Future survey of young people. His article was published in Developmental Psychology.

“I typically study kids in the juvenile justice system, but for this paper, I wanted to look at kids in the community. What do these kids actually think about law enforcement and the justice system?” he said.

“With the national conversations surrounding policing and law enforcement these days, this is huge.”

The research was based on the stereotype that teenagers are negative about all authority.

“My argument is maybe, but we should establish if kids are differentiating between law enforcement and the justice system on the one hand and other types of authority on the other,” he said.

It turns out they are.

The Monitoring the Future study surveys about 50,000 students every year in the 48 contiguous United States. Fine and his co-authorsFine's co-authors are Emily Kan and Elizabeth Cauffman, both of the University of California, Irvine. used data from more than 10,000 teens from 2006 to 2017. The survey questions mostly measure drug use and attitudes toward drugs, but also include a question about authority. The teens were asked to rate how good or bad a job was being done for the country by police and law enforcement agencies, the justice system, public schools and religious organizations on a scale of one (very poor) to five (very good).

Until 2015, the results showed that teens tended to have the most confidence in religious institutions, followed by public schools and then law enforcement, while they viewed the justice system least favorably. But from 2015 to 2017, teens’ perception of law enforcement dropped to be equally as negative as the justice system, he said.

The team also found differences by race.

“What I thought I’d find, knowing that black youths are disproportionately criminalized in schools, including being expelled and suspended, was that they would view schools more like police and the justice system — a controlling, law enforcement authority,” he said.

But what he found was that across the last decade, black youths in the United States perceive social authorities, like religious institutions and schools, much more positively than do white youths. However, they also reported the worst perceptions of legal authority compared with other racial groups.

“That’s a really important story to tell,” he said.

Fine said he believes the change in perception is driven by teens’ use of social media, where in recent years they have seen a surge of content about policing.

“A variety of studies have looked at exposure to social media and linked that to poor perceptions of police,” he said.

Fine said that in another paper published a few years ago, his team found that black youths, with the same arrest history as white and Latino youth, reported worse perceptions of law enforcement and the justice system.

“On the one hand you could say they’re reporting worse perceptions. On the other hand, you could say their perceptions are more realistic.”

In a paper published a few months ago, Fine looked at perceptions of law enforcement by teens according to their political party preference.

“Similarly, because it’s the same data set, we found that perceptions have declined pretty dramatically in recent years,” he said.

“But kids who identify as Democrats or liberals report substantially worse perceptions of law enforcement than kids who identify more as Republican or conservative,” he said.

However, that effect was limited exclusively to white youths.

“We don’t see the same effect with Hispanic/Latinx kids or black/African American kids. The reality of being a person of color is more impactful than your political preference,” Fine said.

Fine is also researching the effectiveness of a California-based nonprofit program called Team Kids that brings police officers into elementary schools to work on community service projects with students. That article should be published soon.

“This organization is one of the few that’s trying to repair these relationships and rebuild them and create positive change,” he said.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU professor among top experts chosen to define firearm injury research agenda

ASU professor among top experts to set research agenda on pediatric gun deaths.
June 18, 2019

As funding resumes, scientists look for answers on pediatric gun violence

Firearms are the second leading cause of death behind vehicle crashes for young people in the U.S., and gun deaths among people age 19 and younger have skyrocketed 44% since 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But research into factors around firearm deaths and injuries has lagged, including how they could be prevented and who is most at risk.

Now, a group of 25 nationwide experts — including an Arizona State University professor — has collaborated to create a list of 26 topics that are most important for researchers to answer. They spent a year on the project, and their report was released last week and published in JAMA Pediatrics.

“As a criminologist and social scientist, you always want to do something that will matter and save lives,” said Jesenia Pizarro-Terrill, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice who studies urban violence. “This is a public health crisis, and it makes no sense in a country like ours that children are dying because of this.”

Pizarro-Terrill is a member of the Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens Consortium, known as FACTS, a team of 25 scientists from 12 universities that is funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

The priority research topics they selected vary from the most basic question, such how children get access to firearms, to policy issues, such as how to better use data analysis. Other questions include:

  • What explains racial disparities in firearm injuries and deaths?
  • How effective are school-based programs for reducing firearm suicide risk?
  • How do media and social media affect firearm outcomes?
  • Does “smart” firearm technology decreases firearm injury and death?
  • How can police best partner with community groups on anti-violence programs?

Jesenia Pizarro-Terrill

The journal articles notes, “Currently, there is a substantial deficit of data for pediatric firearm injuries.” That’s because in 1996, Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to advocate or promote gun control, and that deterred money targeted for research. Inquiry into firearm-injury prevention waned. But in 2018, the federal budget bill clarified that the amendment does not prohibit federal funding of research on the causes of gun violence. The new list of priorities is meant to be a road map as research funding begins to flow again.

The process of creating the list of questions was intense, Pizarro-Terrill said.

“At first it was a little intimidating because these are the leading experts in the field of injury prevention and firearms, and you’re seeing people whose work you read in grad school,” she said.

Every scientist was asked to consider the most pressing research issues they could think of in their own area of expertise. Then the team divided into groups and did a massive review of thousands of existing studies.

“There’s good stuff out there, but a lot of it is 20 or 30 years old,” she said. “We wondered, ‘Does it still hold up in this context?’”

After the literature review, there were more discussions and several rounds of voting. The final research agenda included questions that 70% of the experts agreed on.

Pizarro-Terrill is interested in finding out about protective factors.

“We talk a lot about risk, but not everybody who has a firearm becomes a victim or a perpetrator,” she said. “What serves to protect that individual, even one who is exposed on a daily basis?”

One important part of the process was input by community stakeholders representing schools, police, churches, veterans, gun owners and health care providers. One of them was Geraldine Hills, founder of Arizonans for Gun Safety.

“As someone who’s been doing grassroots work for almost 24 years now, they wanted to know our experience with survivors and what areas we thought needed research in order to develop policy going forward,” she said.

“We were that bridge between practice and academia,” said Hills, who founded Arizonans for Gun Safety after her brother, a police officer, was shot to death in 1994. She is president of the group, which she said approaches gun policy from a public-health framework.

“We talk about safe storage, and we hand out trigger locks. We talk about being responsible gun owners, and not leaving guns in your car or unlocked where criminals can get them. We do a lot of public safety campaigns.”

Her group was instrumental in getting Shannon’s Law passed, the statute that makes it a felony to shoot guns randomly into the air, named for Shannon Smith, a 14-year-old Phoenix girl killed by a stray bullet in 1999. The law passed in 2000 after failing twice in 1999.

“Getting (firearms) bills passed is so difficult that we want to be able to make sure the policies we’re putting forward are research-based solutions to reduce gun deaths and injuries,” said Hills, who earned a master’s degree of nonprofit administration from ASU in 2015.

“There have been bills passed that aren’t as effective as we had hoped because we were guessing that they would have an impact. Now that research is finally being done again, we can say, ‘Here are the places we can change policy to have the greatest impact.’”

One foundation of the FACTS team’s mission was the acknowledgement that Americans have a right to own guns.

“That viewpoint was very important,” Pizarro-Terrill said. “We wanted to come up with realistic strategies that can save lives and not infringe on people’s rights.”

So the group looked to decades of research on auto fatalities.

“Research has informed ways for us to be safe in our automobiles. We’ve had a decrease of almost 90% in auto fatalities in the past 40 or 50 years,” she said.

“It was done by recognizing that automobiles are not going anywhere. They’re part of our fabric. So what can we do to create an environment that’s safe while we have cars?”

The list of research priorities is just one project that the FACTS team is doing. Other goals are: create a data archive on pediatric firearm injury, train the next generation of firearm researchers and create conferences, webinars and other resources to educate researchers and policy makers about firearm injury science.

The project has funded 10 pilot studies, and Pizarro-Terrill is an investigator on one — a nationwide online survey of high schoolers and their parents about firearm beliefs and perceptions. Hills is a stakeholder participant in two studies, one that examines extreme-risk protection orders and one that will evaluate whether state gun laws have an effect on the number of school shootings.

Pizarro-Terrill’s own research looks at how firearm violence occurs in the moment.

“We know economic inequity and family instability are good at predicting violence, but there’s not much you can do with those big macro problems. My approach is more situational in nature — what are the dynamics at the immediate situation level that cause violence to occur?

“I have looked at weapon selection, like what are the factors that affect whether you’ll use a firearm or a knife or a bat to commit the act? A lot of it has to do with opportunity.”

Much of Pizarro-Terrill’s research has been in northern New Jersey, where she grew up.

“Northern New Jersey has one of the most violent crime rates in the country,” she said. “What sparked my interest is my background.

“I wanted to do something to help my community.”

Top image by Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU to offer Thunderbird global affairs master's degree at DC location

ASU to offer global affairs master's degree at Washington, D.C., location
June 7, 2019

Yearlong executive program is aimed at midcareer professionals in nation's capital

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

Arizona State University will soon begin accepting students into its first degree program based entirely at its 1-year-old Washington, D.C., location.

The executive master’s of arts in global affairs and management degree will be offered starting in January 2020 by the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and is intended for professionals in the Washington area.

The program is offered in partnership with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“We’ve developed a transdisciplinary, solution-oriented degree focused on global innovation,” said Sanjeev Khagram, dean and director general of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Thunderbird, which has been offering degrees in international business for more than 75 years, became part of ASU in 2014 and is based at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

The yearlong master’s degree program will be held at the Ambassador Barbara Barrett and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center at Arizona State University, a few blocks from the White House. ASU already offers several academic programs at its Washington, D.C., location, including the International Rule of Law and Security Program for law students, the Cronkite News Washington Bureau for journalism students, and the Capital Scholars Program for students in the School of Politics and Global Studies. The site also is home to the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

But this will be the first time that residents in the Washington area can earn an ASU degree at the location. Khagram said that Thunderbird alumni encouraged the idea.

“We have regularly had dozens and dozens of folks from the D.C. area join us for our full-time, immersive, core management graduate degree,” he said. “We have more than 2,000 alums in the area and when we talk with them, we heard, ‘It would be great if there was a degree program in D.C. so people didn’t have to fly back and forth.’”

Khagram said the degree is intended for people who are looking beyond their own career.

“It’s a truly global degree for midcareer professionals in the public, private or nonprofit sector who want to understand other sectors, engage other sectors or move to another sector,” he said.

“A lot of folks in government want to move to the private sector, or vice versa. They want a global degree that’s critical for that next phase and they want to continue to work.”

The 30-credit degree will be completed in one calendar year, from January to December, with weeklong immersive courses the first and last week, and class meetings on Fridays and Saturdays every other week the rest of the year.

Students can choose three pathways: global business, taught by Thunderbird faculty; global law, taught by faculty from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and global policy, with Watts College faculty. Students will take three courses in their pathway.

The partnership with Thunderbird on the new degree was a natural fit for the law school, which already has several experts in international law and the existing rule of law externship in Washington, D.C., according to Diana Bowman, a professor of law and associate dean for international engagement in the law school.

“We recognize that we’re not training lawyers to be trade experts. We’re arming these students with the knowledge that everything they do in business has a legal dimension to it and you can’t just guess,” said Bowman, who is also associate dean in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU.

“We’re giving students the tools to know when they need to talk to a legal professional.”

The three courses in the law pathway are international law, human rights law and international trade law, according to Adam Chodorow, the Jack E. Brown Professor of Law and associate dean of academic affairs at the law school.

“Those courses are fundamental to anybody who is engaged with a global mindset and who wants to interact on the global stage,” he said.

“You have to know something about international law. Is it binding on nations? Is it binding on companies? How is it enforced?

“Human rights are a critically important part of everything we should be doing and there are issues involved in hiring and building,” he said.

“Trade is at the heart of much of the interaction between countries and you have to understand the World Trade Organization and other organizations that set rules for global commerce."

Chodorow said the hope is that law school students who are in Washington, D.C., could take some of the courses that will be offered.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity that builds on ASU’s culture of working across disciplines and across schools,” he said.

Top image: The new executive master's in global affairs and management degree will be offered starting in January 2020 by the Thunderbird School of Global Management. The yearlong program will be held at the Ambassador Barbara Barrett and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center at Arizona State University, a few blocks from the White House. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now