Global farmers, young leaders link peace to sustainable agriculture

October 8, 2013

Food. To some of us, food is just one more thing to bother us during our busy days. However, to 870 million people on this planet, food is a constant worry and responsibility. Sometimes, it isn’t even available.

“Sustainable agriculture and food is one of the major global challenges we face,” says Rimjhim Aggarwal, a senior sustainability scientist in Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and an associate professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability. “We face the challenge of increasing production and making sure that production reaches hungry mouths, and to do it all in an environmentally sustainable manner. How we do it is the big question.” farmers outside at a farm in India learning about agriculture Download Full Image

It is estimated that the world’s population will reach 9.5 billion by 2050. As more countries grow and construct cities, rising incomes lead to more extravagant diets, mostly including meat, which takes more crops to produce. And with the advent of biofuel technologies, the pressure increases on already-limited resources – not to mention the unknown outcomes of climate change.

According to Aggarwal, while we face the future challenge of food security, our younger generations are increasingly turning away from agriculture.

“To get our youth engaged in solving the complex problem of world hunger, we need to show them that agriculture is a place for future innovations and entrepreneurship,” Aggarwal says.

Aggarwal collaborated with fellow senior sustainability scientist Marek Wosinski to organize a youth leadership training workshop called “Empowerment for Peace through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability” (EmPeace LABS) in Jalgaon, India. Taking place Oct. 19-26, the workshop will bring together young community leaders from 18 countries including India, Rwanda, Nigeria and Lebanon, where hunger strikes the hardest.

Wosinski, also a senior lecturer in ASU’s Department of Psychology, initiated a partnership between ASU, Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd. and the Gandhi Research Foundation to conduct the workshop. Besides learning about sustainable farming methods like drip irrigation, water conservation and bio-fertilizer, workshop participants will be inspired by Gandhi’s teachings on non-violent conflict resolution.

“When people are hungry, they fight for resources,” Wosinski says, referencing the 2004 United Nations University Report, “Agriculture for Peace.” “If you want to create peace and stability in developing countries, you need to secure food.”

“Gandhi believed that peace on a sustainable basis can be built from a bottom-up approach,” Aggarwal says. “Peace has to be understood not just as absence of crime or terrorism, but as an enduring characteristic of the community. This is why we are trying to make the connection between sustainable agriculture, peace-building and community development in the workshop.”

The participants are required to create and share their idea of a sustainable agriculture project that will fit their community’s needs. The projects will be fine-tuned with collaboration from other leaders. Participants will then return to their respective home countries to share what they’ve learned given their training in funding, technology and government systems.

“We want to show that this is not completely impossible; it will take time,” Aggarwal says. “Sometimes you think a project won’t be successful, but then you meet someone who had similar difficulties and then see that yes, it is a huge task, but it has been done. And that is a tremendous source of inspiration.”

Both Wosinski and Aggarwal coordinated with various teams and students for EmPeace LABS. Brian McCollow, a former School of Sustainability student and director of ideas for his start-up InfinitySquared, is a workshop coordinator.

“Participants will learn from academic experts, business practitioners and local farmers in round-table discussions and workshops,” McCollow says. “Visits to local farms will provide experiential learning. While there will be lectures, most of the training will be hands-on.”

Fellow coordinator, Mohamed Abdalla, says the conference will provide a peer-mentorship atmosphere.

“This conference is a platform where youth from the developing world can learn from each other the important lessons beyond the immediate need for food security and that sustainable development is only achieved by respecting the natural capital of our planet,” says Abdalla, a project coordinator for Wosinski’s University-Community Partnership for Social Action Research Network (UCP-SARnet), a collaborative online network with 1,700 student, expert, community activist and faculty contributors from 75 countries.

While registration for this year’s conference is closed, university students can expect and are encouraged to participate next year.

“Sustainability is a global issue that has to be understood at a global scale,” McCollow says. “My international experiences have helped me to develop my perspective on systems thinking, engage with different cultures and understand concepts on a larger scale.”

A popular and often-quoted phrase of Gandhi’s is “be the change you wish to see in the world.” But Wosinski thinks it’s more local than that.

“Don’t try to change the world; change your community.”

And little by little, with each seed planted, more people can go to bed full and at peace.

Cronkite, W. P. Carey teams advance to semi-finals of Academic Bowl

October 8, 2013

The 2013 edition of the ASU Academic Bowl kicked off last night to a rousing start. Competitors among 16 teams from various colleges and schools across Arizona State University showcased their knowledge on topics as diverse as Picasso to the American Civil War. When all was said and done, two teams were left standing – the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the W. P. Carey School of Business – and are now headed to the semi-finals.

Up first were teams from the Herberger Institute and the College of Public Programs. The Herberger team buzzed in first to snatch the toss-up question, but answered incorrectly, allowing Public Programs to sneak in with a correct answer to a question about the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. But Herberger managed to edge their way back in by scoring some bonus points after correctly identifying the author of “The Good Earth” as Pearl S. Buck and then sealing the deal with a final score of 140-50, Herberger. Download Full Image

Next up were the Cronkite School and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. It was the nursing students who nabbed the toss-up question about the state of Nevada, but surprisingly missed a follow-up bonus question to which the answer was polio. Cronkite added some points to the board with a stunning display of math skills, and then Nursing came back swinging with several correct answers to Civil War questions. In the end, Cronkite managed to pull ahead, with a final score of 160-130.

Cronkite kept their place on stage as Herberger came back for the third match. Herberger ran away with the toss-up question about Pocahontas, but struggled with the math-themed bonus questions, allowing Cronkite to clean up with some ancient Egypt knowledge. Some basketball questions pulled Herberger back into the mix, followed by some apt board game questions. It was Cronkite who eventually shut down the match, with 180 points to Herberger’s 130.

After neither team was able to answer the first toss-up question, Nursing got the fourth match going with a correct answer to the follow-up. They answered the second toss-up question correctly, as well, regarding Prince Rainier of Monaco, and gained an astonishing 90-point lead before Public Programs jumped into the competition with a correct answer about mRNA. Public Programs managed to add an extra 10 points to the board with a correct response of the Democratic National Convention before time ran out, but it was Nursing who came out on top with a score of 140-105.

Herberger joined Nursing on the stage for the fifth round, who kept their streak going by snatching the first toss-up question about the writings of Anne Frank. Nursing hit the ground running, gaining another huge lead of 70 points over Herberger, who eventually fought their way in with John Brown as the answer to who raided Harper’s Ferry Arsenal. Herberger brought their score up to 60 before Nursing stole the lead back by correctly answering a telescope question that Herberger got wrong. The final score was 180-90, Nursing.

Cronkite and Nursing went head to head as the last two contenders of the first half. The first toss-up question about Marc Antony and Cleopatra was answered correctly by Cronkite for an early lead. However, things got exciting when Nursing stole an electricity question from Cronkite and answered correctly, evening up the score. Cronkite found their footing again with some Star Trek and Civil War questions, but Nursing threw a wrench in their progress when they stole yet another question about the Mayans. It wasn’t enough to get them the lead, though, and Cronkite came out on top, 150-130.

The students who made up the winning Cronkite team are Travis Arbon, Jayson Chesler, Agnel Philip, Mauro Whiteman and Trevor Godfrey.

Mitzi Montoya, vice provost of ASU’s Polytechnic campus and dean of the College of Technology and Innovation, served as the moderator for the first half of the competition.


Come out to the Academic Bowl to support your college and for a chance to win door prizes! Can't make it? Follow the action here:

• follow the action on Twitter: @asunews_insider will be live tweeting, hashtag #ASUacbowl
• watch the competition live on ASUtv and ASUtv Ustream
• live web stream, Twitter updates, videos, photos and articles at


In the first match of the night's second half, the Gold team representing the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts faced off against the W. P. Carey School of Business, backed by a large crowd of supporters. History questions on Amelia Earhart and Napoleon gave the young businessmen, clad in sweater-vests and ties, a leg up over their competition. Although Herberger managed to win back a few points, thanks to their literary knowledge of "Madame Butterfly," the sweater-vests steadily climbed the scoreboard – spouting a correct answer for everything from history to kinetic energy to film to Greek mythology. Neither team, however, could recall the name of novelist L. M. Montgomery's orphan protagonist teased for her red hair. When the buzzer sounded, the sweater-vests came out on top with a final score of 225 to 40.

The second match of the second half pitted the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Maroon team against the School of Sustainability – the first team to come alive on the board. The symphony and science helped Sustainability to an early 40-point lead over CLAS, who wasted no time catching up, correctly answering questions about history, culture, geography and current events. Their knowledge of Japanese art forms – kabuki and haiku – soon gave CLAS a 25-point lead over Sustainability. Laughs erupted from the audience when Brendan of the CLAS team correctly identified The Battle of the Bulge; he was, after all, wearing a T-shirt that said: "I ate the batter of the bulge." The final score was 205 to 80, CLAS Maroon.

In the third match CLAS Maroon watched as the W. P. Carey School of Business buzzed in first – they knew their British novels. The sweater-vests were on a roll – it appeared they knew their Southern novels too. With pencil and paper ready, they won a mathematic toss-up question. If one circle has an area of 16 pi while another circle has a circumference of 16 pi, what is the radius of the first circle and what is the area of the larger circle? CLAS Maroon had some catching up to do, and catch up they did. Questions about anatomy and a little prince who finds himself in a strange land helped even the score. With just a 5-point lead, the businessmen anxiously buzzed in for another math toss-up, but this time their numbers didn't add up. The sweater-vests got a second chance though to take their opponent. Appearing confident in their knowledge of TV sitcoms, the W. P. Carey team fired off a series of correct answers – NBC, The Office and Community – to take the match 140 to 100.

Match four featured Herberger Gold and the Sustainability team, who knew their economics lingo: goods, durable goods and opportunity costs. Greek goddesses, children's literature and the 1809 Battle of Talavera helped the green team sustain a healthy lead over Herberger, who sat silent at the buzzer. Famous city squares – Time Square, Tiananmen Square, and Trafalgar Square – drove the score to 160-0, Sustainability. By match's end, the green team had whizzed their way through film, history, geography and chemistry, bringing the score to a tragic conclusion for Herberger: 255 to 0. The real tragedy, though, was not one player knew the name of the Aussie film actor who played Crocodile Dundee, who smugly told his mugger, "That's not a knife. This is a knife."  

The poetry of Walt Whitman helped CLAS Maroon to an early lead over Sustainability in the fifth match. Hiroshima and helium tested the Maroon team's knowledge of history and science – a test they passed with flying colors. Ambient light and other photography terms gave CLAS a 100-plus point lead, as politics and Jane Austen helped the green team advance a bit. It was not enough however to catch up to CLAS, who won the match 200 to 120.

And then there were two. CLAS Maroon and the sweater-vesty W. P. Carey School of Business came together for what Business hoped would be the final match of the night, as they had the advantage. The Gregorian calendar handed CLAS a 30-point lead right from the get-go, with Shakespeare and Emily Brontë further padding their score. They knew Monet's "Sunrise" and "Water Lillies" too. Finally coming alive on the board, thanks to some pop culture references à la "Saturday Night Live," the sweater-vests won a meager 25 points. CLAS fired back with "Saturday Night Fever" to the tune of 200 total points, and continued to dominate the match with a final score 270-105, taking away the sweater-vests' advantage and brining the game back to love.

But there was no love between these two teams, as CLAS Maroon and W. P. Carey desperately grabbed as many toss-up questions as they could – for a chance to win the match and advance to the semi-finals. "Things Fall Apart" may have been wishful thinking for their opponent, but it also helped the sweater-vests to a series of won points over questions regarding Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. The businessmen knew their amino acids too – bam! 50 more points. To no one's surprise, the pervasive pop song "Call Me Maybe" found its way into this year's Academic Bowl – a question CLAS missed and Business swept up. Trailing by more than 50 points, CLAS eagerly buzzed in to win a series of questions about the Mexican-American War. With looks of sheer panic, the Maroon team raced their way to 90 points. But a lyric by Duke Ellington turned the table back to the sweater-vests and from here on out, it was business time. W. P. Carey pulled ahead by 100 points and clinched the match 205 to 170.

The students who made up the winning W. P. Carey team are Kevin Risser, Jacob Pruitt, Stephen Bergauer, Mitchell Andreas, Brandon Vincent and David Ludwick.

Connie Pangrazi, assistant dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, moderated the second half of the first night opening rounds.

Opening rounds of the ASU Academic Bowl continue from 4-6 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., Tuesday, in the Pima Room of the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus, to determine which two teams will join the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the semi-final and final rounds slated for Thursday night.

For more information on the Academic Bowl, including event details, visit

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library