US needs to cultivate imagination of students in science, technology fields

November 10, 2011

U.S. higher education needs to engage incoming students on their level and rework some of its long-standing practices so it can help the nation regain its competitive advantage in science and technology, said Mitzi Montoya, dean and vice provost at ASU's Polytechnic campus.

“We need to create a culture of learning in new environments that cultivates the imagination and embraces change,” Montoya said. “Students today have access to incredible resources and the cost of access is nearly zero. We need to reinvent the learning experience so that it is personally meaningful and inspiring in this world of motion.”   Download Full Image

Montoya was speaking at a Nov. 10 forum on American competitiveness and education. The forum featured a panel of industry, government and educational leaders discussing the options available to the United States to improve its worldwide competitive position.

The panel included Patrick Gallagher, director, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Thomas Kalil, deputy director for policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; William Kiczuk, vice president, Raytheon; and Freeman Hrabowski, president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

One of the key points of discussion was the role education plays in providing a prepared work force for emerging science and technology fields. To that end, the panel talked about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

Montoya said today’s model for STEM education has been practiced for generations and focuses on absorbing material at a set pace. This ends up discouraging students rather than encouraging them to engage their field of study.

“Learning is an active process of creation and engagement,” Montoya said. “We need to create a culture of learning in new environments that cultivates the imagination, as well as embraces change.”

Montoya also spoke about the stigma placed on failure in STEM education and on some required courses designed to “weed out” students.

“Rather than weed out these students, who have shown an interest in the field, we should encourage their failure,” she said. “Isn’t that the basis of the scientific method, to try something and if it fails to try again in a different way.”

She added that “we also should have them build things from their first semester of freshman year,” rather than focusing on required courses, “and if they survive that, they can go on and build things.”

Mitzi Montoya

Media contact:
Skip Derra
(480) 965-4823

Britt Lewis

Interim Communications Director, ASU Library

Gandhi's teachings conclude Downtown Phoenix lecture series

November 10, 2011

The teachings of Mahatma Gandhi are more relevant than ever as nonviolent civil disobedience is making a comeback.

From Wall Street to Greece to Egypt to the West Bank, mass uprisings seem to be spreading around the globe. As a form of protest, civil disobedience has a noble lineage that includes Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Nelson Mandela. One leader’s teachings paved the way for those who have followed in his footsteps according to one expert. Download Full Image

“There is indeed a form of civil disobedience worthy of respect, and lessons can be learned from Gandhi, who set the gold standard. To find this ‘gold,’ we must use history as our guide,” said Dennis Dalton, a professor of political science at New York’s Barnard College/Columbia University, who will conclude the fall 2011 Humanities Lecture Series at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Dalton’s presentation of “Nonviolent Change and Reform Today: Lessons From Gandhi” takes place at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 16, at the Nursing and Health Innovation Building Two, 550 N. Third St., Phoenix, Innovation Auditorium, room 110.

The free lecture series is hosted by ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, and is open to the general public.

“As we wrap up our fall series on violence, it is pertinent that we conclude with some ideas for change and hope. Dr. Dennis Dalton provides alternatives such as ‘the power of nonviolent action’ by the masses that can lead to empowerment and freedom from tyranny. It is important that all of us listen and learn of these Gandhi-based ideas to promote a better tomorrow,” said Mirna Lattouf, faculty in the humanities and series organizer.

The School of Letters and Sciences provides students across ASU with the knowledge and skills to comprehend and effectively engage the changing world of the 21st century at local, national and global levels. Theory, creativity and applied learning are integrated as students build entrepreneurial opportunities both inside the university and in their communities.

Dalton said under Gandhi’s leadership, he led India to its independence from British colonial government on Aug. 15, 1947, and gave the country its democratic system that it has steadfastly maintained since. 

“It was the method of change that Gandhi employed which was most meaningful. He made history by helping India achieve its independence through nonviolent action,” Dalton said. “For Gandhi’s movement, it was all about using the right methods, connecting means to an end. His insistence on nonviolence came from this conviction, that we reap as we sow.”

Dalton will also briefly mention three other historical political movements contemporary to Gandhi: Lenin’s Bolshevism in Russia, Mao’s communism in China, and Hitler’s Nazism in Germany. Gandhi was the only leader to use nonviolent action to bring about revolutionary change.

For directions, visit For parking information, visit For more information, call Mirna Lattouf, series lecture organizer, at (602) 496-0638.

Reporter , ASU Now