$1M Carnegie Investment Fund to launch high-impact ASU projects in humanities

February 24, 2014

ASU President Michael M. Crow has created a $1 million Carnegie Humanities Investment Fund (CHIF) to launch high-impact, collaborative projects in the humanities. Open to any faculty member doing work in the humanities, the fund is supported by President Crow’s $500,000 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award and another $500,000 from the president’s initiative fund.

“What we hope to accomplish is to enhance the means through which human cultures understand themselves. Projects that are collaborative and built upon robust infrastructure can infuse humanities across all academic areas to change the world for the better,” said George Justice, dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and associate vice president for humanities and arts in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development (OKED). portrait of ASU President Michael M. Crow Download Full Image

According to Justice, humanities projects already under way will be considered, but he will speak to any faculty member who believes he or she has an appropriate proposal. Justice envisions such possible interdisciplinary project areas as medical humanities, sustainability humanities, computational history and creating an infrastructure for oral history projects.

He emphasized that the fund provides only seed funding, and the projects must be large-scale, with a team in place and a plan for acquiring external support.

"This important investment further solidifies ASU's commitment to advancing humanities and recognizes the immense contribution of humanities to many disciplines and every aspect of our lives,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of OKED. “Our approach to scholarly and research activities in humanities has made ASU a national model and CHIF will further strengthen the growth of innovative projects.”

Humanities research has often focused on the individual scholar pursuing projects generated by the scholar's background and an informal survey of interests of the research community. The research product is generally a publication in either journal article or book form, mostly intended for reading by fellow scholars. Impact largely remains within the scholarly community, which assesses the extent of impact through book reviews and often poorly counted citations in future publications.

Funding for traditional humanities research has largely focused on buying out teaching time of faculty members and providing access to unique archival resources. In contrast, funding provided by the CHIF will focus on the technological and human infrastructure that will enable new modes of research with a wide variety of research products, many of which will be iterative, with commercial as well as academic impact.

Some projects funded by the CHIF will be internal to ASU, but others will include collaborations with other institutions, including cultural institutions in Arizona and universities in the United States and internationally.

With ASU already home to one of the top-funded set of humanities researchers nationally, the CHIF seeks to have major influence on humanities research, and have critically important impact on a world that is hungry for knowledge about the past, present and future of humanity in a complex and rapidly changing world, said Justice.

The fund provides opportunities for scholars in the humanities to change both the content and the nature of their work.

The process for the Carnegie Humanities Investment Fund will follow the process of the already-successful President's Strategic Investment Fund at ASU. Justice, as the dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will be responsible for evaluating projects and recommending awards.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

White House names CompuGirls founder a Champion of Change

February 24, 2014

CompuGirls founder Kimberly A. Scott will be named a STEM Access Champion of Change at the White House during an event Feb. 26 to honor people who are working to support and accelerate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for African-American students, schools and communities.

Scott, a women and gender studies associate professor in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University, founded and leads CompuGirls. The program combines advanced computational skills learning with key areas of social justice to develop skills and interest among adolescent girls in technology and computer science. Kimberly A. Scott Download Full Image

Girls use technology as a tool through the program to address complex issues such as child abuse, indigenous language and culture loss, and gentrification. Starting as eighth-graders, girls who participate are from underserved school districts and are predominantly Hispanic, African-American and Native American.

“Being named a STEM Access Champion of Change is not only a distinct honor, but also an acknowledgement of the need to teach girls technological skills in an engaging and transformative way,” Scott said. “Bringing girls from underserved communities into the digital world ultimately will add intellectual diversity and talent to our country’s workforce.”

The Champions of Change program began in 2011 when President Barack Obama called for recognition of citizens doing extraordinary things at a local level. Champion of Change honorees are chosen through a rigorous nomination and selection process.

Scott saw the need for a program to teach girls advanced technological skills in 2007 when she started CompuGirls. At that time, just 10 percent of middle school girls rated the computer science profession as a “very good” choice for them, according to the National Science Foundation.

A new analysis of test-taking data, recently reported in Education Week, found that no female, African-American or Hispanic students took the Advanced Placement exam in computer science in Mississippi and Montana. Overall, of the 30,000 students who took the exam last year, less than 20 percent of those students were female.

A 2012 study by the National Center for Women and Information Technology reported that African-American and Hispanic women represent only 3 percent and 1 percent of the United States computing workforce. Native American women majoring in computer and information sciences represent less than 1 percent.

Part of the issue is that girls see programming or other technology careers as culturally irrelevant, not as a tool to reach their goals, Scott said. When they are engaged in social justice issues that are important to them, girls learn the technology as a means to build their projects.

By providing fun programs where participants learn the latest technologies in digital media, game development and virtual worlds, girls learn skills such as digital media production with photo editing software, documentary filmmaking, game design and simulations with Scratch, and virtual world creation with open-sim technology.

Self-esteem is boosted through the program, as Mitzi Vilchis discovered when she overcame a fear of making public presentations through the program.

“The culture in CompuGirls is really positive,” Vilchis said. “It was definitely challenging, but we all felt really empowered about our topics.”

CompuGirls allowed her to address domestic violence and taught her technological skills that gave her confidence to help others when they have a problem with computers – something she never would have done before. Currently a freshman at ASU, Vilchis is working toward a degree in secondary education and English.

Scott originally developed CompuGirls with support from the Arizona Community Foundation. Recently, the National Science Foundation awarded multiple large grants to bring the program to girls in school districts in the Phoenix-metro area, including at the Gila River Boys & Girls Club in Sacaton and Komatke, Ariz., part of the Gila River Indian Community. The program has since expanded to Colorado.

Scott is also co-leader of STEM For All, with Kevin Clark of George Mason University, that brings together a diverse group of researchers, practitioners, funding organizations and policy analysts to work on developing a forum where an interdisciplinary team shares knowledge and devises agendas and action items that lead to broadening understanding and pragmatic solutions for traditionally underserved students to enter and persist in STEM fields.

The School of Social Transformation is an academic unit in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.