Online anonymity to be focus of Oct. 22 debate

October 7, 2013

Experts on topics including cyberbullying, freedom of expression, data security and citizen-based journalism will debate the proposition that “I should have the right to remain anonymous online,” at 6 p.m., Oct. 22 at Arizona State University’s West campus. The 90-minute debate, which will take place in the La Sala Ballroom at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix, is free and open to the public. Visitor parking on campus costs $2 per hour.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their mobile devices; a web application will be used to solicit questions from audience members, who will have the opportunity to submit and vote on questions that they want to be posed to the debaters. Jillian C. York Download Full Image

Dan Gillmor and Jillian C. York will argue in favor of the debate’s motion, while Sheri Bauman and Jason Weinstein will argue against it. The moderator is Alexander Halavais, associate professor of sociology in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus.

“Today, it is harder than ever to remain anonymous online,” Halavais said. “That may be a good thing if you find yourself the victim of bullying or stalking, particularly in the most virulent forms that the Internet provides for. But if you are trying to blow a whistle, or even just express yourself openly without fear of government, corporate or social reprisals, anonymity is a key tool.

“There are no easy solutions here. It’s extremely difficult to credibly claim that anonymity is either always good or always bad, and it is in the complex and contextual application that it gets particularly interesting. And that is also what makes it a good question for debate,” Halavais said.

“We wish to engage students and the community in an informed discussion of important topics,” said Amit Ron, a political science assistant professor in New College’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, who chairs the planning committee for the debate. “In doing so, we hope to foster a culture of respectful and informed exchange of opinions on controversial political and social issues.”

The debaters are a journalist, an electronic media expert, a former prosecutor with expertise in cyber crime and an educational psychologist who works on online bullying.

“Each one of them brings one lens through which to approach this question,” Ron said. “But the format, aided by questions from the audience, forces the debaters and the audience to engage the different perspectives. For example, it is very likely that the topic of the debate will force the debaters and the audience to reflect on the meaning of the commonly used concept of ‘rights’ and the distinction between different kinds of rights, including legal, constitutional, moral and natural rights.”

Gillmor, an internationally recognized author and leader in new media and citizen-based journalism, is the founding director of the new Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and the Kauffman Professor of Digital Media Entrepreneurship at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He had a long career as a journalist for newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News.

York is a writer and an activist. She is the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Her work focuses on free expression, with a focus toward the Arab world. She has written for a variety of media, including Al Jazeera, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and CNN. Having spent a few years living in Morocco and traveling throughout the Middle East and North Africa, York is particularly interested in free expression issues in that region.

Bauman is a professor and the director of the Counseling and Mental Health master’s degree program at the University of Arizona. Prior to earning her doctorate from New Mexico State University in 1999, Bauman worked in public schools for 30 years, 18 of those as a school counselor. She is a licensed psychologist. Bauman is the recipient of two grants from the National Science Foundation, both focused on cyberbullying. She has completed data collection for a three-year longitudinal study of the emergence of cyberbullying from middle childhood to early adolescence.

Weinstein is a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, where he concentrates his practice on white-collar criminal defense and privacy and data security matters. He previously served for 15 years in the Department of Justice. From 2009 to 2012 Weinstein was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department’s Criminal Division, where he oversaw the Division’s computer crime and intellectual property programs, as well as its violent crime, organized crime and human rights programs.

Staging a debate on a pertinent societal topic has become a fall tradition for the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Last year’s event focused on the proper role of government in reducing economic inequality; it attracted hundreds of attendees.

“The debate has become a hallmark for the school, as it showcases many of the interdisciplinary connections one will find in the fields that comprise the social and behavioral sciences,” said Jeffrey Kassing, the school’s director.

The program was made possible through a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council. Founded in 1973, AHC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and the Arizona affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. AHC supports public programming in the humanities that promotes understanding of human thoughts, actions, creations, and values. AHC works with museums, libraries, and other cultural and educational organizations to bring humanities programs to residents throughout Arizona.

For more information about the Oct. 22 debate, contact Amit Ron at

ASU partners with Ameresco, Rocky Mountain Institute to achieve climate neutrality

October 7, 2013

To achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2025 – defined as having no net climate impact resulting from carbon or other greenhouse gases – Arizona State University has announced a strategic partnership with Ameresco, Inc., the largest independent energy services-solutions provider in the nation, and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an independent nonprofit working to transform global energy use.

The partnership marks the beginning of a 22-year-long collaboration toward developing a strategic roadmap for climate neutrality and identifying innovative projects and initiatives that will further ASU’s position as a national leader in sustainable universities. The energy services giant is also partnering with RMI to facilitate collaborative workshops and evaluate emerging technologies and innovative financing structures. Download Full Image

“Arizona State University, Ameresco and RMI serve as living laboratories for ideas and experiments that are transforming the world in varied and meaningful ways,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow, co-chair of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) steering committee and one of the original signatories of the commitment.

“The partnership will not only support ASU in reaching our institutional climate neutrality goals, but also affect the fundamental way in which more than 85,000 members of our community approach sustainable living," Crow said. "We hope this effort creates a ripple of similar commitments from other institutions of higher learning, communities and future generations of environmentally aware citizens across the globe.”

“Ameresco is delighted to partner with this leading university committed to global sustainability,” said Ameresco President and CEO George P. Sakellaris. “Our alliance supports ASU in reaching climate neutrality status and establishes a great example for other institutions and businesses to follow. In addition, we expect a secondary effect of our partnership to foster a revolutionary impact on society and the environment for years to come.”

The master agreement encompasses three initial primary objectives. Ameresco and RMI will first craft a climate neutrality implementation plan, which will provide the framework for the duration of the 22-year partnership. The second objective is identifying additional sources to fund the implementation of the plan. Lastly, Ameresco and RMI will conduct technical climate assessments that will help identify projects to significantly reduce climate emissions across all campuses.

"RMI is excited to work with ASU and Ameresco to create a real-world example of Reinventing Fire, RMI's roadmap for getting the U.S. off coal, oil and nuclear energy by 2050, using efficiency and renewables," said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of RMI. "Campuses are microcosms of our communities across the country. This bold project can inspire similar efforts and catalyze a powerful movement with the potential to reinforce deep and broad energy efficiency as both an economic driver and an environmental opportunity."

In order to achieve a net zero climate footprint, ASU has been working to mitigate 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions from building energy, refrigerants and waste-related sources by 2025, and 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 2035.

Nick Brown, the director of University Sustainability Practices and senior sustainability scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability, said that ASU has made important strides toward climate neutrality and that the unique ASU-Ameresco-RMI partnership is poised to fulfill the goal successfully.

“We’ve completed about a quarter of the work toward a zero-climate footprint through our solarization program, energy savings performance contracts and conservation work, and investment in an on-campus, combined heat and power plant,” said Brown. “By working together on projects related to energy retrofits in buildings, biogas and bioenergy, microgrid management, innovative transportation systems and perhaps even geothermal energy, Ameresco and RMI will help us bring our ambitions to fruition. It’s an exciting time to be a Sun Devil.”

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development