Sci-fi anthology explores visions of the future


April 28, 2015

Imagine a world devoid of animal life except for humans. Or a future where medical advances enable people to live for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Would life be as sweet if there was no end in sight, or without our pets to greet us at the door at the end of a long day?

These are just a few of the quandaries explored in “Living Tomorrow,” a new anthology of creative, thought-provoking visions of the future crafted by young people ages 13-25 from across the United States and worldwide. The science fiction stories featured in the volume, published by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, Intel’s Tomorrow Project and the Society for Science & the Public, examine futures shaped by environmental and biological science and technology. cover of the "Living Tomorrow" anthology Download Full Image

“Living Tomorrow” also features an essay from technology theorist Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of the book “The Distraction Addiction” (2013), along with interviews with Brenda Cooper, a science fiction and fantasy author, futurist and chief technology officer for the city of Kirkland, Washington, and Vandana Singh, a speculative fiction author, professor of physics and climate change researcher at Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

The anthology is the third in a series of books drawn from “The Future: Powered by Fiction,” a global competition that challenged young people to create science-based narrative visions of the future. The competition attracted hundreds of entries from 15 countries and 36 states in the U.S., plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

“The Tomorrow Project anthologies are an invitation for people to share diverse perspectives on the future we’re building together. The stories in ‘Living Tomorrow’ demonstrate the power of storytelling as a method for assessing the broad array of impacts that advancing science and technology might have on human societies,” said Ruth Wylie, assistant director of the Center for Science and the Imagination.

All three books are co-edited by Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, and G. Pascal Zachary, a professor of practice at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes.

“Thinking about the future is challenging, confusing and sometimes fraught with a mixture of hope and fear,” said Zachary. “Our series emphasizes living – acts of existence – because our challenge is not only to imagine a desirable and meaningful future. We must also try to imagine how we can be in these futures. Stories are often the best way to think about lived experiences that are not yet available to us.”

The first book in the series, titled “The Future: Powered by Fiction,” features stories from the ten winners of the competition, who each received a $1,000 award. They are accompanied by an essay from Intel futurist Brian David Johnson, an interview with Bryan Walsh, foreign editor at Time magazine, and an original piece of art from ASU master of fine arts student AJ Nafziger.

The second book, titled “Dark Futures,” features stories exploring dystopian futures where technology and society have run amok. The volume features an essay from author and technologist Ramez Naam, and an interview with legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. It also includes visual art from ASU master of fine arts students and graduates Haylee Bolinger, Bobby Zokaites, Eli McGlothern and Nafziger, from the Herberger Insititute for Design and the Arts.

"These anthologies are tangible artifacts of the Tomorrow Project’s mission: to encourage imaginative and critical thinking about the future, and how emerging science and technology are shaping the way we live, work, learn and relate to other people,” said co-editor Ed Finn.

“We believe everyone should be an active participant in the future,” said Brian David Johnson, who directs the Tomorrow Project at Intel. “These stories give us a language to talk about our possible tomorrows. But they have even more impact because they have been dreamed up by the young minds who will actually construct and build these futures.”

A fourth volume drawn from the “Powered by Fiction” competition, titled “Journeys through Time and Space,” is slated for publication in summer 2015.

The books are available to download and share for free at tomorrow-projects.com.

Joey Eschrich

program manager, Center for Science and the Imagination

480-442-2682

Grants further ASU Lodestar Center's non-profit development programs


April 29, 2015

Jehryn Plunkett credits Public Allies Arizona with giving him not only hands-on work experience, but the opportunity to finish his college degree.

The program, run by Arizona State University’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation, places dedicated individuals in 10-month apprenticeships within various non-profit organizations. ASU Lodestar Center Download Full Image

Now, with help from the American Express Foundation, the ASU Lodestar Center will be able to extend the program.

The Public Allies National Office from the American Express Foundation selected ASU’s Lodestar Center as one of only three sites in a nationwide network of 23 to receive a $25,000 grant (the other two were in New York and Washington, D.C.).

It is one of two recent grants from longtime partners that are expanding their investment in the center’s efforts to build capacity in the non-profit sector – that is, to create non-profit leaders capable of doing more with limited resources, and to help organizations become sustainable.

The American Express grant will help the center identify more participants from diverse backgrounds – specifically men of color – engaging them in the program to increase their educational and career opportunities and help them to bring about positive change in their communities.

“Public Allies is especially beneficial for men of color because of the opportunities it provides towards education and careers in the non-profit sector,” Plunkett said. “It also helps us demonstrate that we are hardworking and capable of breaking negative stereotypes about men of color.”

Plunkett is working at Phoenix Day, a local non-profit that promotes school readiness and success in school.

“As someone who didn’t complete college for financial reasons, the AmeriCorps education award I will receive at the end of my term of service will help me finish my degree,” Plunkett said.

The partnership with the American Express Foundation has grown over the years, said Robert F. Ashcraft, executive director of the ASU Lodestar Center and professor in the School of Community Resources and Development, part of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“This latest grant extends our reach as we increase participation and retention of underrepresented citizens who are otherwise disconnected from school or jobs to help ensure they are on pathways to educational or employment success when they complete our Public Allies Arizona program,” Ashcraft said.

In addition to completing 1,700 hours of service at a non-profit organization, Allies also receive values-based leadership training and personal coaching preparing them for a culminating team project.

Freeport-McMoRan Foundation has also stepped up investment in programs that have proven successful and received recognition on both a local and national level.

Building on a six-year relationship, the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation has given a $170,000 grant to the ASU Lodestar Center, an extension from a similar contribution last year that gives funding for a dedicated program coordinator to assist in addressing and resolving sustainability issues through capacity-building activities and project development.

The Lodestar Center and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold have collaborated to build and strengthen the capacity of non-profit organizations in six rural Arizona mining communities, offering numerous tools and training sessions dedicated to building sustainability.

“We understand the importance of investing in the capacity of the non-profit sector,” said Tracy Bame, president of the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation. “Partnerships with community organizations help fulfill our commitment to build capacity that grows, diversifies and sustains communities beyond the life of our operations.”

“This grant is the next step in our overall effort to connect non-profits in these communities with the resources they need to strengthen their impact, and as a result our dollars have a multiplier effect,” Bame added.

Collaborations with partners like Freeport-McMoRan and the American Express Foundation have helped the ASU Lodestar Center build a dynamic link between the non-profit community and ASU.

Written by Christopher Hernandez

Media contact:

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions

602-496-0406