New Public Service Academy at ASU promotes leadership, collaboration

March 30, 2015

Arizona State University announced a first-of-its-kind Public Service Academy today – a specialized program to develop leaders of tomorrow that are prepared to create solutions for society’s biggest challenges through effective collaboration.

Wendy Spencer, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Public Service, which administers AmeriCorps, helped announce the new academy at an event marking ASU’s designation by Americorps as a charter Employer of National Service. She was joined by Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions at ASU. Michael Crow, Wendy Spencer, Jonathan Koppell talking at ASU Download Full Image

"Public service is more than just giving of your time. It's what skills you bring to the table," Spencer said. "The academy is going to take students who are engaged in public service to the next level. This is brilliant. "

When it launches in August 2015, the Public Service Academy will be the first undergraduate program in the nation to integrate cross-sector and civilian-military experiences to develop collaborative leaders of character. The academy is planning on accepting 100 students, aspiring leaders potentially from around the world, for the inaugural class that starts in the fall.

“ASU already has forged a new model for higher education; now it is blazing a new path for public service,” said Tom Brokaw, former NBC Nightly News anchor, author and early proponent of the academy. “In an era of global uncertainty, this is exactly the kind of educational initiative our country needs. I hope many more universities start encouraging the desire to serve locally and globally, and to be engaged as citizens.” 

The program has two tracks: Reserve Officer Training Corps, the existing university-based program to commission officers into the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Next Generation Service Corps, a new program for service-oriented students from all majors to become civilian service leaders.

“We are committed to helping students prepare for the pathways they want to follow after university, and our charter makes explicit that ASU takes responsibility for contributing to the public good,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “This program furthers those aspects of our mission by devoting significant resources at ASU to training the next generation of leaders committed to public service.”

For the academy’s architects, collaboration is the name of the game.

The four-year Next Generation Service Corps experience includes a set of seven leadership courses taken throughout a student’s university career, as well as a series of summer internships in nonprofit, government and private organizations. The program offers annual retreats, service opportunities and shared experiences with ROTC cadets.

“The Public Service Academy transforms students’ raw commitment to service into focused preparation to affect social change,” Koppell said. “Through courses, experiences and internships, PSA (Public Service Academy) students will be ready to move beyond the conventional paths of their peers, forging new solutions through cross-disciplinary collaboration – artists working with medical scientists, environmentalists working with engineers, military leaders working with social workers. The academy embraces ASU’s mission to prepare students for advancing community solutions, no matter their profession.”

Newly admitted students echoed their generation’s civic-minded drive for hands-on opportunities to make a difference.

"There's no such thing as a simple problem that my generation faces,” stated Eric Arellano, a future program participant and Flinn Scholar from Oro Valley, Arizona, who is interested in environmental entrepreneurship. “Our parents' generation is proof that it's not enough to just act through singular means; we need unprecedented collaboration to counter climate change, to guarantee high-quality education for all, to solve water scarcity – to reshape the world how it deserves to be. And the Next Generation Service Corps offers the best medium I've found to do just that."

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, ASU’s special advisor to the president for leadership initiatives, emphasized the need for military and civilian leaders to understand each other.

“Tomorrow’s increasingly complex problems will require solutions that come from networks and cross sector leaders. Our future leaders will not come from strictly civilian or strictly military sectors but from those who have served or are trained in public, private and non-profit organizations, who are influenced by experiences from the three sectors," Freakley said. “Our students, in or out of uniform, benefit immeasurably from a broader understanding of the influences that shape the globe so that they are comfortable working in a complex environment where partnerships are essential.”

Starting with the academy’s first year pilot program in the fall, approximately 100 students per year will be admitted into the Next Generation Service Corps, and the approximately 480 students across all four years of the various ROTC programs will participate.

Contingent on funding, the goal is to have 1,300 students in the two programs annually – approximately two percent of the undergraduate student body.

Spencer’s appearance at the university and designating ASU as Charter Employer of National Service effectively recognized ASU’s full-circle role in developing leaders in public service. The university guides and graduates students who go on to enter public service, and actively seeks employees with national service experience in organizations like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.

Employees with national service backgrounds have rare experiences that can benefit corporate, public and nonprofit organizations. ASU actively fosters service as a fundamental part of its charter, and hiring national service alumni, as well as cultivating the next generation of service leaders, advances the university’s abilities to meet the needs of communities locally and globally.

For more information on the PSA, please visit

For media or public inquiries, please call: 480-965-9681. 

Iraq, Afghanistan war photos on display at ASU journalism school

March 31, 2015

A national exhibition of photographs from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is currently on display at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Conflict Zone,” showcasing dozens of images captured from the front lines, opened March 27, in the Cronkite School’s First Amendment Forum on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. Afghanistan war photograph Download Full Image

The weeklong traveling exhibition highlights the work of numerous photographers, including combat photographer Bill Putnam, as well as Chris Hondros, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist who was killed while covering the Libyan Civil War in 2011. The exhibition features a variety of photographs showing what soldiers and journalists experience – ranging from turbulent battle scenes to intimate moments of everyday life.

“The ‘Conflict Zone’ exhibition offers the public a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of the emotional toll of war through the lenses of some of the best combat photographers,” said Kristin Gilger, associate dean of the Cronkite School.

“‘Conflict Zone’ is a unique show. It’s a global show with American, British and Iraqi photojournalists,” said Putnam, a U.S. Army veteran who was deployed to Iraq and Kosovo. “It shows that whilst the roles of a journalist and soldier on the battlefield are different, they're both affected by things they see on the battlefield.”

Putnam's photos have appeared in The Washington Post and Newsweek, among others.

Marine veteran Steve Danyluk and former Washington Post correspondent Jackie Spinner created “Conflict Zone” to help photographer João Silva, who lost both of his legs after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan while on assignment for The New York Times in 2010. The exhibition has traveled to numerous cities, including New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., generating critical acclaim and support for The Independence Fund, a volunteer nonprofit dedicated to serving the severely injured after they return home from war. Danyluk is executive editor of The Independence Fund, which sponsors the exhibition.

“This is really a unique opportunity for people to see work from both civilian and military photographers all in one place,” said Spinner, now a journalism professor at Columbia College Chicago. “The exhibit is apolitical, as the best conflict journalism should be. It exists simply to show people what war looks like from the perspective of those of us who were there to document it.”

The “Conflict Zone” exhibition is at the Cronkite School through April 3. It is open to the public 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, in the First Amendment Forum, located on the second floor of the Cronkite School.