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ASU, Wells Fargo advancing sustainability education for K-12 students

March 25, 2019

ASU hosts brainstorming conference on K-12 education for sustainability thought leaders

Sustainability shouldn’t only be taught within the walls of universities. It should also be an integral part of kindergarten through high school (K–12) curriculum.

Accomplishing this will require systemic change and large-scale collaboration — and that’s why Christopher Boone, dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, and CaSondra Devine, sustainability initiatives leader at Wells Fargo, recently put their heads together with more than a dozen local and international sustainability leaders for a three-day brainstorming conference at ASU.

While there is a network of higher education institutions dedicated to sustainability education, there is no similar connection among K–12 education providers. In early March, Boone and Devine convened a conversation with many successful creators and distributors of K–12 environmental and sustainability curriculum to imagine how collaboration could accelerate its integration across the nation and around the world.

These participants, collectively called the K–12 Sustainability Education Network, came from universities (ASUOther ASU staff and faculty involved were: Ariel Anbar, distinguished sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, professor in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and director of the Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX); Joseph Tamer, assistant director of the ETX Center; Rae Ostman, associate research professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and co-director of the Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society; Molly Cashion, program manager of the Wells Fargo Regional Sustainability Teachers' Academy in the School of Sustainability; and Annie Hale, senior sustainability scientist in the ASU Wrigley Institute, and director of research and development for the Sustainability Science Education Project in the Biodesign Institute. and the University of Minnesota), nonprofits (UNESCO, Green Schools Alliance, National Council for Science and the Environment, North American Association for Environmental Education, Ten Strands, the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education and Training to Work an Industry Niche) and Wells Fargo, a corporate sponsor of many K–12 sustainability initiatives.

“We recognize that if we're going to move the needle, we need to think about what we can do collectively and more effectively than we could on our own. There is strength in coming together,” Boone said.

Regardless of their diverse backgrounds, everyone at the conference agreed that young people are key to a sustainable future.

“We need their wisdom, their energy, their creativity, their hopefulness right now,” said Jaimie Cloud, founder and president of the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. “I honestly believe that with teachers and students working together, we can flip this. But without their energy and perseverance, I think adults will be too slow.”

Judy Braus, the executive director of the North American Association for Environmental Education, said that young people will need to understand how to tackle solutions to environmental, social, cultural and economic challenges created by older generations. Sustainability education, she said, “helps give people the tools, the training, the understanding, the values, the motivation to actually become involved in civic life and create that change.”

Throughout the conference, the network formulated a four-step action plan to grow K–12 sustainability education: developing legislation and policy for sustainability education, making the case for environmental literacy and education for sustainability, fostering sustainability storytelling and advancing a network for sustainability education. Each step involves a variety of stakeholders and is a vital part of ensuring that sustainability education can be integrated into all types of classrooms.

Of course, this plan won’t come without challenges. Participants mapped out four main challenge areas they foresee, in the arenas of collaboration, teacher preparedness, assessment and scale. But despite the challenges, everyone in the network is optimistic about the future of sustainability education.

One of the themes that arose during the discussions was that working toward a sustainable future should be a core purpose of education — not an afterthought.

“Right now, the purpose of education seems to be math and language. But these are tools,” said Charles Hopkins, UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education Towards Sustainability, York University. “We want the tools to be as sharp as we possibly can, yes. But ... setting up our systems to address (a sustainable future for all) in our own locally relevant, culturally appropriate ways around the world, and to share how we're doing that, and to assist one another in doing that — I think that's extremely important.”

Visual storytelling meeting notes

A portion of the visual storytelling meeting notes recorded at the K–12 Sustainability Education Network conference.

Participants also discussed the fact that more and better sustainability storytelling will be a driving factor in the success of getting everyone motivated to understand sustainability and how it connects to their lives.

“We know from our own experience that you can provide people with lots of data and evidence, but what people often relate to more than anything else is a really powerful and compelling story,” said Boone, who is also a professor in the School of Sustainability and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

As part of this storytelling effort, ASU and Wells Fargo have collaborated on an all-day social media event called 24 Hours of Sustainability. Broadcast on Earth Day, April 22, through the School of Sustainability's Facebook, this event is a video series designed to reach teachers, students and practitioners with inspiring stories of simple actions to impact a sustainable tomorrow and to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

“I'm really excited about the 24 Hours of Sustainability because I think it will give us the opportunity to showcase a series of different perspectives,” Devine said. “So many people are making a positive difference, from young to old, in public and private sectors. We’re looking forward to focusing on the talent, passion, energy and zeal that's happening all across the world when it comes to envisioning a sustainable future.”

As Devine put it, the end goal of sustainability education is that “sustainability becomes a part of our culture, it becomes a part of our DNA, and it's not something that we recognize on just one day."

Top photo: Core participants of the K–12 Sustainability Education Network. Photo courtesy School of Sustainability

Kayla Frost

Associate Editor , Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability


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ASU works inside prisons, out in community on incarceration solutions

ASU initiatives work inside prisons, with families on incarceration solutions.
March 21, 2019

Initiatives on re-entry and reform include students, inmates and the public

Momentum is beginning to shift toward addressing the effects of mass incarceration, and Arizona State University has several initiatives to address the growing concern over the fate of people in prison, how it affects their families and what happens when they rejoin society.

The programs in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions work inside the prisons and in the community and involve undergraduates, grad students and the public:

• ASU undergraduates are invited to apply for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, in which students will visit Perryville Prison once a week for a semester to learn about crime and justice alongside women who are incarcerated there. The deadline to apply is April 5.

• Members of the public can gain insight from a simulation workshop on April 9 in which they’ll experience what it’s like to navigate life after being released from prison.

• Researchers and practitioners will gather for the four-day National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference held by the Center for Child Well-Being next month to discuss best practices and hear from experts.

Nationwide, about 2.2 million people were incarcerated as of December 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, while about an additional 4.5 million people were under supervision, either probation or parole. That means that about 1 in 38 adults, or 2.6 percent of people age 18 or older in the United States, were under some form of correctional supervision at year-end 2016. Despite declining crime rates and sentencing changes, which led to a decrease in the number of imprisoned people over the previous decade, the United States still has the highest rate of incarceration in the world — at 655 inmates per 100,000 people, according to the World Prison Brief.

When people leave incarceration, they often fall into what is called “the second prison” of poverty and homelessness. Formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of more than 27 percent — higher than the unemployment rate during the Great Depression, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

But several bipartisan efforts are underway to address the effects of mass incarceration. In December, President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act, a bill to repeal some of the harsh sentencing measures passed decades ago. In Arizona, a poll by a bipartisan lobbying group found that 80 percent of those surveyed felt it was important to reduce the number of people in prison, although several bills on the issue died in the Legislature.

About 95 percent of incarcerated people eventually will leave prison, so focusing on their outcomes is critical, according to Kevin Wright, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

"Our ASU students are changing the mindset of people who have had years of experience with criminal justice that is negative and now they see a more promising future.”
— Kevin Wright, ASU associate professor

Wright is the director of the Center for Correctional Solutions, a year-old unit devoted to research, education and community outreach. The center houses the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which has been offered since 2016 but will be at Perryville for the first time next fall. That’s important because work with men in prison is not necessarily translatable to women in prison, Wright said.

“We can’t say all the results we come up with will tidily work with women. There’s good reasons to think that’s not the case,” he said.

“Women who are incarcerated often have different histories — often there’s more abuse, victimization, addiction and financial dependence, and children play a role.”

The Inside-Out class will include 10 undergraduate ASU students, who will take a van once a week to Perryville to meet with 10 women who are incarcerated there. Together, they’ll study motivational justice. There are no prerequisites, but the undergraduates will be interviewed before being accepted. The past few classes have included students from a variety of majors, which has enriched the experience, Wright said.

"In the last class we had students from business, finance and global studies. The perspectives they brought are what we need to come up with innovative solutions,” he said.

RELATED: Barrett, The Honors College Inside-Out program focuses on toxic masculinity and fostering positive change

Prospective students at Perryville must have a high school equivalency diploma and no misconduct points.

“One of the things everyone loves is that we don’t read criminology and justice — we read organization systems and social psychology, what makes a good team and what inspires people,” he said. “We take all that general knowledge developed elsewhere and apply it to criminal justice and our approach to rehabilitating people.”

Last year, an ASU master’s degree student analyzed the results of surveys taken by the participants before and after the classes. As expected, the undergraduates become more understanding of why people end up in prison. But the view of the “inside” people changed as well after they met ASU students who plan careers in law enforcement, Wright said.

“They no longer think, ‘I hate police.’ They think, ‘Megan will be a police officer.’ Our ASU students are changing the mindset of people who have had years of experience with criminal justice that is negative, and now they see a more promising future.”

The Center for Correctional Solutions has other initiatives as well, including the Arizona Transformation Project, a think tank based at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence that includes alumni from the first Inside-Out class held there. Research projects are evaluating whether the state’s Second Chance Centers are helping to reduce recidivism and how restrictive housing affects the mental health of inmates and correctional officers.

Currently, a doctoral student is creating an employment program for the women at Perryville, Wright said.

“She is doing interviews because we don’t want to take something off the shelf and assume it will work with the women,” he said.

“We’re asking, ‘What’s the best programming you’ve ever had?’ and ‘What’s your dream job?’ to develop something that will make an impact.”

When a person goes to prison, the effects reverberate among the family. In 2014, people in the Phoenix community came to the Center for Child Well-Being and asked for help in addressing the needs of children whose parents are incarcerated. So the center held a daylong conference, which was informative but didn’t lead to any momentum, according to Judy Krysik, an associate professor in the School of Social Work and director of the center.

So last year, the center held its first national conference.

“We had people with lived experience — people who were children of incarcerated parents and maybe still had parents who were incarcerated. We had parents who had been incarcerated. Researchers. Advocates. People from the faith-based community. Government agencies such as probation, child welfare, corrections,” she said.

“That was a little bit tense because people don’t always agree or see things the same way. And it was a healthy tension, where people were able to voice their dissatisfaction with certain aspects of research or policy or practice.”

For example, research in this field often focuses on poor educational outcomes or generational incarceration.

“That’s disturbing for children who are trying to do well and feel they are doing well,” she said. “There needs to be a better balance there.”

Families face so much stigma when a parent is incarcerated that sometimes they’ll lie to the children about why the parent isn’t there.

“Sometimes they’ll tell the child that the parent has a job at the prison,” Krysik said. “And a lot of times the child knows they’re not being told the truth, and that creates an even bigger sense of shame around the issue.”

The second conference, on April 14-17, will bring together experts to share best practices, including training for teachers who have children of incarcerated parents in their classrooms.

And the participants also will focus on research.

“There’s pockets of research in different places with children of different ages,” she said. “There’s a little research on visiting programs and there’s a little research on re-entry programs, but there’s nothing that lays out a framework or tells us where our gaps in research are,” she said. “And that’s what we’re trying to put together this year, really mapping that out and making sense of it.”

RELATED: Podcast focuses on children of incarcerated parents

The conference also will be a mini film festival, featuring four documentaries: “Run for His Life,” by photographer Pete Monsanto, whose father is serving a life sentence; “Foster,” about foster families, which will be on HBO later this year; “Tres Maison Dasan,” about three boys whose fathers are in prison, and “The Sentence,” about a mother serving a 15-year term, which also will feature a discussion by the director, Rudy Valdez.

The public will get a unique opportunity to delve into this issue at a “re-entry simulation” workshop on April 9 in which they can experience the first month of post-release life. Each participant assumes the identity of an ex-offender and receives a packet of materials explaining criminal background, living situation, job situation and weekly tasks that must be accomplished to avoid being sent back to prison. Then the participants try to navigate their new lives. A guided discussion will follow.

“We hope to influence the practices and the policies and to reduce some of the barriers for people re-integrating into society,” Krysik said.

“There’s is growing recognition that it’s such a loss of human capital and creates so much havoc with so many families.” 

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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Community conversation moves One Square Mile Initiative forward

March 20, 2019

ASU project to help revitalize a growing community of 230,000 residents in Phoenix

The Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University is moving forward with a project to help revitalize a growing community of 230,000 residents in Phoenix.

Dean Jonathan Koppell led a community conversation in Maryvale Monday to discuss the Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative with a standing-room only crowd of stakeholders representing the neighborhood, various community groups and local police.

The initiative is a core project stemming from Sunstate Equipment founders and philanthropists Mike and Cindy Watts’ investment in the college to support Maryvale, the neighborhood where they grew up. 

“Maryvale is a great place,” Koppell said. “It’s a strong community with lots of people engaged. What we see is a community that is ambitious with aspirations to be more than it is today.”

Maryvale’s soaring population accounts for 10 percent of Maricopa County, and if it were a city, it would be the seventh largest in the state. The neighborhood is also one of the poorest in Phoenix, where 39 percent of residents lack a high school diploma or equivalency.

“There are some extraordinary things going on and there are some signs of unhealthy patterns,” Koppell said.  

Although Monday’s meeting was the first for the public at large, the college has been working on the project for months by listening to residents and soliciting feedback. That is a key piece for the long-term success of the initiative, because Koppell wants to ensure all work going forward is “of, by and for the community.”

“The idea is not that we come here, plant a flag, say we’re open for business and everything is about us,” Koppell said. “Because that’s not sustainable. What we are interested in doing is helping start things that have an organic basis and they last forever.”

To that end, the college established the Design Studio for Community Solutions. Led by Director Erik Cole, the studio will be the place to share ideas, bring in different perspectives and run possibilities up against reality.

“It’s not purely an architectural exercise,” Koppell said. “We think of it as a studio where we design concepts and we repeat, and if we fail we try again, and we design again.”

Many groups in Maryvale are already engaged in different community initiatives. Watts College is interested in helping concentrate efforts and “connect the dots” between activities that are already happening.

“There are so many assets, opportunities and organizations (engaged),” Cole said. “Maryvale Revitalization Corporation, Heart of Isaac (community center), YMCA, Grand Canyon University, school districts. None of why we are here is to say there aren’t those assets and that incredible work is not already happening.”

One other organization mentioned by Cole was Estrella Supermoms, a neighborhood block-watch program of about 20 families who help clean up Maryvale, remove graffiti and work on other service projects.

“That’s what this is about,” Cole said. “It’s really about community and coming together, and if we can be a vehicle for that, so be it.”

Monday’s community conversation also served as an opportunity to continue gathering feedback from residents. Attendees participated in three faculty-led group discussions about health and wellness; youth, families and children; and public safety. The discussions brought up areas of concern that present opportunities for improvement.

Security is an important topic often taken for granted in other neighborhoods, said Carlos Mendoza, a 16-year-old student at Phoenix Union Bioscience High School.

“Other communities have bright lights, security cameras, everything is safe and protected,” he said. “You look at the parks here; the lights are yellow, dim and so far away from each other.”

Parents don't let their children out to play after the sun goes down, because those who are not at home could find themselves in a “scary situation,” Mendoza said.

Contributing to neighborhood crime is the reality in Maryvale that many people are hesitant to report crimes to police, said Rosa Menjivar, who is the president of the Estrella Supermoms.

“We see the fear in the community that leads people to not report crime,” Menjivar said. “I need officials to help do their part in communicating more with families and get them more engaged.”

Crime is not the only safety factor challenging Maryvale residents. Simply walking down the street can be risky. The community layout and sidewalks are not pedestrian-friendly, and this can account for the high number of accidents, Mendoza said. Pedestrians have to walk a light or two down the street to get to a bus stop, which can take an extra 10 to 15 minutes. So jaywalking is common because some are willing to risk their lives to save some time.

“Sidewalks are not practical,” Mendoza said. “Things are dictated by how things are shaped, and I feel like most things here are shaped by, of course, the engineers that originally designed this community.”

Watts College has not set a specific timeline to achieve objectives of the Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative, Koppell said. The university intends to remain a resource for as long as necessary. The idea is for ASU to serve as an “empowering” force rather than an essential element needed for success.

“We can change Maryvale,” Menjivar said. “If we work as a team.”

Top photo: Dean Jonathan Koppell, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, speaks with Maryvale community members on March 18 in Maryvale. Photo by Jerry Gonzalez/ASU

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

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Arizona school choice options offer up plenty of variety as well as questions

March 18, 2019

ASU experts create primer explaining the differences between public, charter and private schools

Arizona’s K–12 education system appears to be fairly straightforward at first glance. But it’s easy to get into the weeds when you start digging.

School choice options have become increasingly popular in Arizona in the last few decades, but sometimes it’s hard to distinguish which is the best path to take: public, charter or private school? What’s the difference?

ASU Now consulted a variety of experts, scholars and educators at Arizona State University to create a primer to help guide parents and students through the specifics of the different educational opportunities in Arizona, from kindergarten to college prep.

Question: What is the main difference between district, private and charter schools?

Answer: One of the main differences between district, private and charter schools is related to choice.

Public district schools are governed by publicly elected or appointed school boards and state and local districts and are typically assigned students based on location. Households are able to choose public schools by choosing where and in which school districts they live. Public school choice options have become increasingly popular through magnet schools, charter schools, open enrollment, voucher programs and the fact that some households are able to choose from various public institutions within a district.

Charter schools are a “hybrid between public and private schools,” and while they require students to apply for admission, they are unable to restrict admission. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, charter schools are independently operated, public, tuition-free schools that are open to all students, though it is not unusual for some charter schools (and district public schools, for that matter) to sort students by academic ability. Because they are independently run, they are not held to the same laws and state budgeting regulations as public district schools.

Private schools are generally autonomous institutions that do not receive public funding and are not required to follow state laws that govern public schools. Private schools are also often owned and managed by religious groups or independent boards of trustees and therefore have the ability to choose which students they accept. Similarly, households that want a private education choose private schools.

Q: Which of those three charges tuition and how is that money used?

A: Public district schools and charter schools do not charge, and are prohibited from charging, tuition.

Aside from sources like donations and endowments, private schools rely on tuition and fees to function, and private school tuition charges are paid by the parents and families of private school children. Tuition is used to cover the costs of operation including teacher salaries, facilities, school capital, registration and application, textbooks, technology, uniforms, transportation and other student services.

Q: How do public, private and charter schools get their funding?

A: Public district schools and charter schools receive state funding based on enrollment, and both are eligible for results-based funding, a program presented in Arizona in 2017 by Gov. Doug Ducey as a means to increase access to high-quality education based on AZMerit exam performance.

Funding for public schools in the U.S. comes from federal, state and local sources, with nearly half of this funding coming from local property taxes alone. Some public schools also receive financial supplements from corporate or foundation grants and donations, as well as parent- or student-fundraising initiatives. Charter schools lack taxing authority and, unlike public district schools, they are unable to pass local bonds and overrides for the purpose of funding operations.

Private schools receive their funding primarily through nonpublic resources such as tuition, foundations, religious bodies, endowments and private donors. In Arizona, direct and indirect funding is also used to fund private schools. The former is the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account program, open to students who meet specific eligibility requirements and providing tax dollars to families and households that allow them to pay for educational expenses including private-school tuition. The latter refers to the dollar-to-dollar tax credits that the state provides to individuals and businesses that can be donated to nonprofit organizations, which can then put that money toward private school scholarships.

Q: Who can start a private or charter school?

A: To start a charter school, an application must be submitted to the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools along with a $6,500 fee. The application must describe in detail what the vision of the applicant is for their school, including demographic information for the surrounding communities, budget outlines and curriculum plans. The application then goes before the state board, which grades the application in three areas: education, operation and business. If the applicant scores at least a 95 in each category, they face a 90-minute interview with the board’s Technical Review Panel. The panel’s recommendations are then provided to the charter board, which approves or denies the application.

Starting a private school is a much simpler process. In Arizona, there are no requirements for accreditation, registration, licensing or approval. Private schools face few requirements for operations and have very little oversight. They are required to have a minimum number of school days equal to the local school district, and must provide education in the subjects reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science. Aside from a small number of requirements for health and safety and special education, private schools are able to operate as they please.

Q: What is a budget override, how is it funded, and how are those funds used?

A: A budget override is a voter-approved initiative used by public districts to raise additional funds from their local community. District boards call for an override election through a board vote, and a subsequent stakeholder group comprising parents, educators and community members forms to support the override. There are three types of budget overrides: a maintenance and operations override, which supports salaries and general operations; a special override, which supports specific programs; and a capital override, which funds equipment. The override amount is capped based on the type of override, with M&O overrides capped at 15 percent of the school budget, special overrides at 5 percent and capital overrides at 10 percent.

If the override passes, funds are raised through a separate property tax applied to homeowners and businesses within the district boundaries. The funds are then used by the district on whatever operations or programs were designated to receive the money based on the type of override passed.

Similar to overrides are bond elections, which differ in that they involve the district selling bonds that earn interest for investors. Bond elections generally involve much larger amounts of money than overrides.

Q: How does each entity test and score students?

A: There are state requirements for testing in public and charter schools. There is currently no state policy on testing students in private schools. Following President Barack Obama’s authorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, states are required to asses all student proficiency levels in reading/language arts and mathematics annually in third through eighth grade and once in high school. Arizona has a menu of assessments that schools may use, the most common being AzMerit. ESSA also clarified the regulations that require states to perform an annual assessment of English Proficiency for English language learners in grades K–12. The assessment used in Arizona in known as AZELLA. Additionally, Arizona requires that students in fourth and eighth grade and high school be assessed annually on AIMS Science.

Q: What happens to a child’s individualized education program if they switch schools?

A: In Arizona, when a child with an IEP transfers to another public school or a charter school, the requirements are the same. Either type of school, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), must “provide the child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents, until such time as the school district adopts the previous IEP or develops, adopts and implements a new IEP that is consistent with federal and state law.” Since charter schools are considered public schools in Arizona, federal regulations ensure that all students with disabilities that attend charter schools retain the same rights under Part B of IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the American Disabilities Act.

If a child is placed in a private school by a school district, this is considered an educational placement, not a switching of schools, so the child’s IEP would remain the same. However, if a child is placed in a private school by a parent, the private school is not required to uphold the previous IEP as they are not covered under IDEA.

Q: Which has the least government oversight and which has the most?

A: Traditional public schools have the most government oversight. The government funds, provides and regulates public education.

Charter schools have the next highest level of government oversight. Charter schools are funded and regulated by the state through a charter contract with a charter school sponsor or authorizer like the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.

Private schools have the least amount of government oversight. Private schools in Arizona are not controlled or supervised by the state board of education or any other school district boards.

Q: Can any of the three reject students on the basis of learning and attention issues?

A: Public schools and public charter schools cannot reject students based on a learning disability, including “attention issues.” Title II of the American Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit all public agencies receiving federal funding, including charter schools, from discriminating against students with disabilities.

Private schools that accept vouchers are also required to follow Title II and Section 504 and must not discriminate against or reject students based on race, religion, creed, color, national origin or disability. Private schools that do not accept federal funding are not held to these or any requirements.

Q: Must all general education teachers be state certified?

A: All public-school teachers in Arizona are required to hold an Arizona teacher certificate, a valid out-of-state teaching certificate or emergency certification. Private and charter school teacher certifications are not regulated by the state and are determined by each individual school or school board.

Q: How does each of the three choose curriculum?

A: Although there is not a national curriculum, states, school districts and/or national associations require that certain educational standards be met. Charter schools were developed to free teachers from “bureaucratic constraints” by allowing them to develop a new type of public schooling system where they could design and implement innovative means of instruction based on the specific school’s charter. That said, charter schools are unique in that they often have different purposes and specializations, with some that follow a Montessori curriculum, some that focus on college prep, some that focus on the arts, some that are taught in two languages and others that focus on STEM. Because each state possesses unique laws to help it meet its specific needs and objectives, charter schools tend to differ across states. States determine the laws surrounding charter schools, though charters are free from many of the laws and regulations that are enforced for traditional public schools because they are independently run.

Both traditional public schools and charter schools are required to adhere to state academic requirements, meaning they must teach to state-approved academic standards, that their students are required to participate in standardized testing and that policies pertaining to state school accountability must be followed.

Private schools are different from their public counterparts in that they are not required to follow all state schooling laws because they are autonomous.

Q: Do owners of charter schools make a profit?

A: Technically, there are no “owners” of a charter school; rather, there is an organization (generally a nonprofit) that holds the charter. The charter is the right given to the organization by the state to operate a school that receives public funds in exchange for providing an education to students. These organizations must have governing boards, which set policy and guide the organization based on their shared vision.

Charters differ from public district schools in that there are much fewer state regulations on how they must operate. Because of this, executives of the charter holder are free to pay companies owned by themselves or other board members. These are called “related-party transactions,” and generally take the form of management organizations (that provide teachers), property ownership companies (that provide facilities), and curriculum development companies; 77 percent of charter schools engage in related-party transactions. Owners of such companies have been able to make substantial profits that occasionally reach into millions of dollars.

Q: Are charter schools really an attempt to privatize all education through the use of for-profit charter holders?

A: There is no evidence this is the case. The Arizona legislature began to allow charter schools in 1994 with the hope that charters would create competition among Arizona’s public district and private schools and create innovation and improvement in the sector. Since the inception of charter schools, Arizona has created and expanded several options for school choice. Choice options for parents now include district schools, charter schools, private schools, home-schooling, scholarships from school tuition organizations and empowerment scholarship accounts. While the charter sector has experienced significant growth since its founding and now includes 544 schools, it accounts for only 17 percent of public-school students. The rest are taught in district schools.

Q: Why are charter schools not accountable to the taxpayers for their spending?

A: Charter schools have less financial oversight than district schools in an attempt to free them from regulations and allow them to innovate. Proponents for charters argue that, while there are limits on what financial activities charters are allowed to engage in, they are few. Charters are allowed to engage in large, no-bid contracts and do not have to justify hiring a business owned by a related party such as a governing board member.

The only financial document charters are required to provide that details their spending is the Annual Financial Report, submitted to the State Board of Charter Schools. This body requires that all charters hire an external auditing firm once per year and that the results be submitted to the state board. These audits are then made available on the state board’s website.

Q: Discuss the racial and socioeconomic demographics of each kind of school in Arizona.

A: Enrollment data in Arizona show that white and Asian students attend charter schools at the highest rates. Hispanic students make up 44 percent of all school-age students in Arizona, but account for 36 percent of the state’s total charter school student population.

White students make up 40 percent of the state’s school-age population, but account for 48 percent of its charter population and 41 percent of its public district school population. While minority populations are more represented in public schools, even going as far as being overrepresented in charter schools, the majority of Arizona’s private school students are white. 

Additionally, the families of students enrolled in private schools tend to be wealthier on average than the families of students enrolled in public district schools. Tuition costs associated with the former limit the accessibility of such institutions to the general public, as the latter are free and public, therefore being more accessible to a broader population. Although school choice options like Arizona’s open enrollment law — which allows households to send their children to any public school they choose, even outside their local district — are meant to increase access to high-quality public schools, higher-quality schools are more likely to reach capacity faster.

Contributors were graduate students Max Goshert and Maya Watts (educational policy, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College), and Jenna Parker (public administration, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions).

Reporter , ASU Now


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African-American law enforcement officers balance dual identities

African-American law-enforcement professionals talk about racism, reform.
March 14, 2019

Criminal justice system professionals talk about racism, reform during panel at ASU

African-American law enforcement officers must balance two identities simultaneously during these complicated times, and each identity serves the other, according to a panel discussion at Arizona State University on Thursday night.

Five African-American men discussed the complexity of race in their experiences as professionals in the criminal justice system in a talk titled “Being Blue from a Black Perspective” at the Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Kevin Robinson, a lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and a retired police officer, said that a student recently asked him: “Are you a black law enforcement officer or a law enforcement officer who happens to be black?”

“I didn’t answer right away, but I came to this conclusion: Being one makes me more acutely aware of being the other,” said Robinson (pictured above), who was assistant police chief in the Phoenix Police Department when he retired.

“As a police officer, I understand what happens to black males at stops sometimes. I get it. As a police officer I understand the concerns that police officers have in dealing with adverse situations. It goes both ways.”

Timothy Woods, a Phoenix Police Department patrol shift commander, said: “One thing I cannot escape from forever is the melanin in my skin.”

“Whether I have the uniform on or have the uniform off, I’m a black man. I’m proud to be a black man. I’m proud of my culture, and I’m proud to serve as a Phoenix police officer as well. It is a career path I’ve chosen,” he said.

The men described the discrimination they have faced on the job. Michael Powell, a former state trooper, deputy sheriff and retired senior manager in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, recalled how he was handcuffed by two troopers for speeding while working as an undercover agent in Miami.

“They didn’t believe I was a DEA agent, and I was locked in the back of the car,” he said. “About 15 minutes later, it didn’t turn out well for them.”

Robinson said that he more often faced racism from fellow officers on an individual basis than institutional racism.

“You have to go right to them,” he said of the racists. “And they were a real motivation for me to take promotional exams.”

Jocquese Blackwell, a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, said he didn’t always have a good view of law enforcement. He worked in military intelligence for several years and then as an engineer before going to law school at ASU.

“I had dreads in law school, and I got pulled over all the time. I had dreads when I worked as an engineer, and I got pulled over all the time,” he said. “We need to address that.”

Cecil Patterson said that, besides being mistaken for a clerk, he also dealt with the “fishbowl syndrome.” He was the first black judge appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court, the first black lawyer in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the state’s first black appeals court judge. He also was a graduate of the second class of ASU’s law school, in 1971.

“I had five major jobs in 32 years of practice, and every job I was the first and only African-American in the job. And that lasted a long time,” he said.

“I had the chance to influence, but it was on an individual level and what hurts is not having more African-Americans. If you have more people, you can have a community effort and more lasting positive change.”

Patterson said he has seen an evolution.

“One of the things that I was proud of and that has continued to happen is the presence of blacks in the system — defense attorneys, prosecutors, police officers, probation officers — and the numbers have increased,” he said.

The experts were asked what they would tell the current candidates who are running for president about the American criminal justice system and black people.

Robinson said that the next president needs to work with states to make sure that law enforcement has more training.

“If we look back at all the negative things we see occur in law enforcement with folks of color, it is lack of communication,” he said. “They don’t understand someone else or take the time to listen. You have to understand folks.”

Powell, who now owns a company that consults with law enforcement, said that accountability is critical.

“You have to hold police departments accountable, and it has to be transparent. All the action has to be transparent,” he said.

Woods said that law enforcement has often been on the wrong side of history and is now figuring out how to be on the right side.

“This goes back to slavery. When the slave ran away, who was entrusted to capture the slave? The sheriff was,” he said.

“We’ve had such a long ‘us versus them’ mentality. We’ve gone into a community and called it ‘the jungle’ or ‘the hood.’ We go in and wreak havoc and destroy and leave. But we’re entrusted to serve and protect, and a candidate needs to understand that dynamic.”

He also said that incarcerating people for nonviolent crimes is expensive and unhelpful.

“We need to be restoring the rights of people and if you don’t, you keep them in prison. And if you keep them in prison they won’t have any options to get resources, and if they don’t get them legally, they’ll get them illegally. We have to change that.”

Blackwell said that candidates who supported the 1994 federal crime bill must acknowledge that the result has been increased rates of incarceration for black people for nonviolent crimes.

“If they believed that crime was rampant and that black people and poor people were ‘superpredators,’ they need to own it and they need to apologize for it,” he said.

The talk was sponsored by the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, the nation’s oldest African-American professional fraternity, and moderated by Greg Vincent, president of the international organization and a retired law professor.

Vincent said that the often-repeated statement that there are more black men in the criminal justice system than college is a myth.

“But what is true is that for black men in their 30s, on any given day, 1 in 10 is connected to the criminal justice system, many for nonviolent drug offenses,” he said. And although black men make up 13 percent of the population, they make up more than 30 percent of the victims of police shootings.

“We know there have been bipartisan efforts to reform the criminal justice system, and we think in the next election cycle, we’ll see this issue front and center,” he said.

Top photo: Kevin Robinson, an ASU lecturer and former assistant chief for the Phoenix Police Department, introduces the discussion "Being Blue from a Black Perspective" on Thursday evening at the Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


ASU In the News

Students say 'I do' to a career in marriage and family therapy

Mary Doyle and Karissa Greving Mehall, co-directors of the MAS-MFT program in Arizona State University’s T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, were recently featured in a new article by The State Press about this life-changing program.

The advanced studies in marriage and family therapy master's degree is an accelerated applied program that provides expert training for students interested in a behavioral health career as clinicians that focus on marriage and family therapy.  Drawing of a family holding hands at a sunset Photo by Angel Jimenez | The State Press

Read more about the program and hear from past graduates who have gone on to pursue rewarding and successful careers helping others.

Article Source: The State Press
John Keeney

Media Relations Coordinator, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics


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Groundbreaking celebrates new PBC Innovation Center

Space will host commercial companies and research focused on health, wellness.
March 14, 2019

ASU will lease half of 225,00-square-foot building on Phoenix Biomedical Campus; rest to be filled by private companies

If everything had gone as originally conceived, the land at Fourth and McKinley streets in downtown Phoenix would be smack-dab in the middle of the Arizona Cardinals NFL football stadium complex.

Instead, last week in a formal groundbreaking ceremony, the city of Phoenix welcomed Wexford Science and Technology and Arizona State University to celebrate the construction of a new building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, the PBC Innovation Center. And while the local NFL football team has been playing games in its Glendale stadium since 2006, city leaders will tell you that that the effort with Arizona State University to attract the Wexford team was worth the wait.

For ASU, this is an assignment that began three Phoenix mayors ago.

“More than 10 years ago we became the partner of the city of Phoenix with two mutual objectives,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “First, to help increase the educational attainment, educational success and scientific discovery inside the city of Phoenix by embedding university ideas and energy in downtown Phoenix. Second, to partner with everybody else, with the UofA, NAU and city of Phoenix, and to find world-class development partners like Wexford, who have built fantastic projects and who make things happen by attracting scientific and technological enterprises to their facilities.”

“This building represents progress on all fronts.”

The $77 million, 225,00-square-foot Wexford building will be the first piece of a 7-acre parcel ASU is responsible for on the city’s 30-acre biomedical campus. ASU will lease approximately 112,000 square feet — half of the building — for 15 years with three five-year options. The remainder will be occupied by private-sector companies — the part that organizers say makes this step so important to the city, to the campus and, ultimately, to discovery and innovation.

“This is the first time since Phoenix has had its biosciences campus that we’ll have space for companies to commercialize and commercial companies to participate,” said Christine Mackay, community and economic development director for the city of Phoenix. “Wexford Science and Technology is an internationally recognized biosciences thought leader in creating and developing innovation corridors.”

Wexford Real Estate Company is focused exclusively on partnering with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions to develop vibrant, mixed-use, amenity-rich knowledge communities that are built on a foundation of research, discovery and entrepreneurial activity. Headquartered in Baltimore, Wexford’s portfolio extends across nine states and includes projects in key urban centers in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami and Baltimore. It has 6 million square feet of property developed or under development.

“Wexford is all in on creating this knowledge community in downtown Phoenix,” said Jim Berens, CEO of Wexford. “The reason we are so confident about its success is that when we look around the country at these kinds of projects, it starts with having a world-class university — and here, we have that in spades with Arizona State University, their research enterprise and their commitment to creating jobs and building communities.”

“At 200,000 square feet, you will have everything from a scientist with an idea renting a bench and using equipment, to attorneys and marketers who can help them grow their business, to full labs, to large labs and to eventually having commercialization. ... This is not just your typical building. It’s much more about driving new companies and life-saving technologies and ideas.”
— Christine Mackay, community and economic development director for the city of Phoenix

Mackay described the Phoenix project as “a lab to grow startups.”

“At 200,000 square feet, you will have everything from a scientist with an idea renting a bench and using equipment, to attorneys and marketers who can help them grow their business, to full labs, to large labs and to eventually having commercialization in other buildings on the campus,” Mackay said. “So this is not just your typical building. It’s much more about driving new companies and life-saving technologies and ideas.”

ASU’s involvement is catalytic and is key to attracting private-sector involvement, Crow said.

“Wexford is taking a risk on us, and we’re very excited about it,” he said. “Our job within the university is to be a knowledge enterprise. We produce several types of knowledge products, and our most important product is people who pass through the university. The second product we produce is ideas — ideas that come from facilities like this.”

“This facility empowers our College of Health Solutions, our College of Nursing and Health Innovation, the UofA College of Medicine, NAU programs in allied health, and all of this activity creates a critical mass. And that attracts the private investment of companies that want to be here with us, linked to us. That’s what we’re after.”

Inside the building, ASU researchers and their counterparts will be unlocking discoveries.

“Right here ... ASU health researchers will have the unique opportunity to partner with the clinical ecosystem on the Phoenix Biomedical campus and in the adjoining area — entities like Banner Health, Barrow Neurological Institute, Dignity Health, the VA, MIHS (Maricopa Integrated Health System), Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” said Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, executive vice president of ASU Knowledge Enterprise. “This will create amazing new opportunities for clinical research that focuses on health, wellness, nutrition and more.”

While a big step forward, the Wexford Building represents only a small portion of what will occur on the remaining portion of the site. The master plan for the 7 acres north of Fillmore includes approximately 1.8 million square feet of additional development of this innovation district. 

Rick Naimark, associate vice president for program development planning, who worked for nearly three years to find the right partner for this project, said the next building will come soon after this one — now called the Phoenix Biomedical Innovation Center — opens.

“The next building will be even larger than this one,” Naimark said. “But before we move forward on that, our immediate task is working with the provost, KED and several deans in identifying the more specific research activity that will go into our half of the building, and working with Wexford’s designer and builder to design the tenant improvements to meet their needs.”

It’s another move that will fill-in the bio-medical campus checkerboard the city envisioned when it turned away a public sports facility for something more complicated — but something with potential to pay off over and over again. 

“For an economic developer, this is a dream come true,” Mackay said. “This is where we will be helping to grow new companies for Phoenix, and it will help create a sustainable industry by which to diversify our economy.”

Top photo: An artist's rendering of the future building at Fourth and McKinley streets in Phoenix. Image by Wexford Science and Technology

Assistant vice president, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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Students' efforts bring prestigious national conference to ASU Law

March 13, 2019

Two-day event at downtown campus featured panel discussions and keynotes by dignitaries and the country’s top legal minds

Go West, young attorney.

For only the fourth time in the 38-year history of the Federalist Society National Student Symposium, it was held in the former territories and not the colonies.

Lured by the Valley’s mild spring climate, an enticing theme and a hungry group of law students, the 2019 symposium came to Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on March 15-16 at the Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus.

The symposium featured two keynote speeches — a Friday night opening keynote by prominent law and economics Professor Richard Epstein, and a Saturday evening "fireside chat" by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jon Kyl.

The event was expected to draw more than 600 participants, thanks largely to the efforts of a few dedicated law students who labored behind the scenes for an entire year to make it happen.

“One of the things we are proud of at ASU Law is providing our students with the opportunities that help them not only receive the best legal education, but also extend their legal experiences," said ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester. "It is a testament to our students that the Federalist Society chose ASU Law to host the society’s annual event. It has been amazing to see this talented and active student chapter work tirelessly to put together this national event. This is also one of the many reasons we built our new law school building in downtown Phoenix — to host events that help foster debate among students, academics, legal practitioners and public policy experts.”  

The yearlong journey started last March, said Grant Frazier (pictured above), who served as president of ASU’s Federalist Society during 2017-18 and who served as symposium chair. He said ASU Law lost out to Yale Law School for James Madison Chapter of the Year at last year’s symposium at Georgetown University. That loss didn’t sit so well with Frazier.

“I’m a natural competitor and took losing Chapter of the Year as motivation to further improve the ASU Law chapter,” said Frazier, who is a third-year law student. “I figured the best way to do this was by winning the bid to host the 2019 symposium and showing the rest of the country how far our chapter has come.”

Easier said than done. ASU as a host site had many hurdles to overcome: never having hosted the symposium before, a truncated symposium bid timeline, the Southwestern location far from the majority of East Coast law schools and competition from much older and more established law schools and student chapters. However, Frazier and fellow ASU Law students Stacy Skankey, Maddalena Savary and John Thorpe were willing to put in the necessary time and effort.

The process started when ASU Law formulated a comprehensive 75-page proposal from scratch in the span of five weeks. Not only did this proposal have to be completed, it had to be enticing. 

The proposal included two fully built-out programs — each with its own theme, 10 panel descriptions and a host of potential panelists across each panel’s respective viewpoint spectrum. Additionally, the proposal included details relating to the law school’s state-of-the-art facilities; proposed event spaces; information on local hotel room rates, restaurants and houses of worship; a list of law schools within a 400-mile radius; average airline tickets from law school hubs; a comprehensive budget; support staff capabilities; and attractions throughout Arizona, if attendees wanted to turn their symposium travel into a longer vacation.

ASU Law’s student leaders also secured letters of support from many eminent members of the Arizona political and legal communities, including judges from the Arizona Supreme Court, the Arizona Court of Appeals and attorneys from prominent local law firms.

But the real lure was the theme of the conference. Frazier said ASU Law was going to have a difficult time competing with the prestige and legal firepower of fellow symposium contender Yale Law School and thus had to come up with a unique theme that made decision-makers forget all that.

Frazier said that this year’s theme, “The Resurgence of Economic Liberty,” was inspired by Frederic Bastiat’s maxim: “Life, liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”

“It seemed fitting to do this topic in Arizona because we have a strong historical and state constitutional tradition of cherishing economic liberty,” Frazier said. “As part of the West, Arizona played a key role in American history where ordinary people have crossed the frontier at huge personal risk for, in large part, the sake of economic freedom and opportunity for themselves and their families. I think the idea of risking everything for individual economic liberty is a uniquely American trait, and one that is still most alive in the West.”

It was the bait needed to draw the event to Phoenix.

“How big of a deal is this? It’s a huge coup to get this honor,” said Ilan Wurman, a visiting assistant professor at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, where he teaches administrative law and constitutional law. “I think it shows how ASU’s reputation as a law school has significantly increased over the past few years and is a testament to the work and efforts of ASU’s chapter of the Federalist Society.”

Beyond the victory, said third-year law student and chapter Vice President Stacy Skankey, was the invaluable experience of putting together a large-scale event like this and creating networking opportunities.

“I’ve already been able to talk to many federal circuit court judges who (were) going to be in attendance,” said Skankey, who will clerk for the South Dakota Supreme Court starting in August. “It will be nice to show on my resume that I have worked on a project of this size and sophistication. It has been a great opportunity.”

In conjunction with the symposium, Frazier has been leading an effort to endow the James Madison Scholarship at ASU Law. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a second- or third-year law student member of the Federalist Society who promotes awareness of the society’s founding principles and actions. So far he has raised $23,190 of the $25,000 needed to endow the scholarship.

Top photo: Grant Frazier poses for a portrait on the third-floor balcony of the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix on March 11. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU joins network of universities focusing on technology for public interest

March 11, 2019

21 colleges and universities unite to develop generation of civic-minded technologists across disciplines

At a time when technology shapes every facet of our lives, there’s a growing consensus that its role should be evaluated in a social context so that questions of impact and consequences are considered from its very beginnings.

Colleges and universities have a fundamental responsibility to educate the next generation of leaders in the social context of technology, so that they can more fully connect considerations of technology to questions of individual rights, justice, social welfare and public good.

The new Public Interest Technology University Network is a partnership of 21 colleges and universities dedicated to building the nascent field of public interest technology and growing a new generation of civic-minded technologists. Arizona State University is one of the charter members of the network.

Convened by the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and New America, the network combines higher education, philanthropy and public policy as part of a new push to define and build the public interest technology sector.

NEW YORK TIMES: ASU an 'early adopter' of interdisciplinary technology studies 

To facilitate a cross-pollination of ideas and expertise, the network includes individuals who approach public interest questions from a technological background, as well as those coming from other disciplines, such as law and the social sciences, who seek to understand, leverage and respond to the changes brought by new technologies.

Applying the model of public interest law to the technology sector, the network brings together colleges and universities committed to building the field of public interest technology, creating robust pathways for students seeking to pursue careers in public interest technology and fostering collaboration across the network. 

ASU also strongly associates public interest technology with related concepts such as responsible innovation and humanitarian engineering, both of which bring public interest technology cognates into the international context.

Public interest technology at work at ASU

While public interest technology activities are distributed widely across the university, one focal point is the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Created in 2015, the school is a transdisciplinary unit at the vanguard of ASU’s commitment to linking innovation to public value. Foundation Professor and Founding Director of the school Dave Guston will serve as a representative for ASU to the network. 

“ASU is particularly interested in extending and creating curricular and co-curricular activities that train students and build career pathways,” said Guston. “We are interested in the real-world outcomes of public interest technology, both in terms of influence on policy- and decision-making, but also in terms of the social, ethical and legal aspects of technologies that help constitute their public interest orientation, as well as in the design of technologies and systems with a holistic consideration of such aspects. We hope to develop partnerships across sectors, especially building technical capacity in nonprofit organizations whose work aligns with the ASU charter.”

In addition to degree programs and areas of study, ASU has several programs and initiatives that address the concerns and needs of those interested in technology for public good.  

Science Outside the Lab explores the relationships among science, policy and societal outcomes in a two-week workshop in Washington, D.C. Doctoral students from science and engineering disciplines meet and interact with congressional staffers, funding-agency officers, lobbyists, regulators, journalists, academics, museum curators and others.

Responsible Research and Innovation in Practice is a three-year project under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research program. It aims to understand the barriers and drivers to the successful implementation of responsible research and innovation; promote reflection on organizational structures and cultures of research-conducting and research-funding organizations; and identify and support best practices to facilitate the uptake of responsible research and innovation in organizations and programs. 

The Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation was created to accelerate the formation of a community of scholars and practitioners who, despite divides in geography and political culture, will create a common concept of responsible innovation for research, training and outreach — and in doing so contribute to the governance of emerging technologies. Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation facilitates collaborative research, training and outreach activities among roughly two dozen institutions across the globe.

Global Resolve began in 2006 working to help provide clean water in a Ghanaian village. Today the program encompasses projects ranging from prosthetic limbs to improved crop production with partners in 13 countries in Asia, Africa and North and South America. Global Resolve offers students a unique opportunity to bridge the global divide with sustainable and collaborative solutions to help relieve the effects of poverty in the developing world.

The Engineering Projects in Community Service program, known as EPICS, is an award-winning national social entrepreneurship program where teams design, build and deploy systems to solve engineering-based problems for charities, schools and other not-for-profit organizations. Participating students represent a variety of disciplines within ASU. A common theme through all projects is that of sustainability — finding environmentally friendly solutions to community problems.

Future goals

Through these activities, ASU is cultivating a new field of study to position the next generation of tech and policy leaders to design, build and govern technologies in ways that advance the public interest.

By offering a systematic way of studying technology in the world — including the unforeseen and adverse consequences of technology and methods to harmonize technology and society — educational institutions like ASU can train a new generation of graduates who have both technological literacy and a rigorous foundation to navigate the societal, ethical, legal and policy implications of our new technological age.

"Public interest technology is a critically important area for our attention," said ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle. "As technology becomes more ubiquitous, it is essential we consider the impacts on people, whether unintended consequences or designs that exclude certain groups or disadvantage them in some way. This is not just an issue for the developed world but also one for the developing world, and so bringing ASU’s expertise to bear is part of our commitment from our charter to be inclusive and take responsibility for the social, economic, cultural and overall health of the communities we serve."

Top photo: Students collaborate at one of ASU's innovation spaces. Photo by ASU

Studying global issues led first-generation ASU alumna to pursue a career in community advocacy

March 8, 2019

Recently, at ASU Day at the Capitol, School of Politics and Global Studies alumna Ana Licona reflected on experiences that led her to pursue a career in public service. In her job at the Arizona State Senate, Licona works to ensure that constituents in Arizona’s 30th Legislative District are valued and represented.

Licona was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona, to immigrant parents who pushed her to achieve a higher education. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2016 with degrees in global studies and sociology. Her education has empowered her to cultivate change within the community at local and national levels. Ana Licona Ana Licona pictured in front of the Arizona State Senate building. Download Full Image

Question: What was your motivation for studying global studies?

Answer: In high school, I was very involved in extracurricular activities like Model UN and the Global Citizens Club where I learned about political, environmental and social issues. In addition, my own experiences growing up in a first-generation immigrant family opened my eyes to study and understand how global challenges such as immigration and human rights impact our society. I chose to study global studies because the major would provide me with a well-rounded approach to learning and addressing these multilayered and complicated issues, and I wanted the proper knowledge and tools to fight for social justice and human rights.

Q: How was your experience in the School of Politics and Global Studies?

A: Being a student in the School of Politics and Global Studies opened so many doors for me through the myriad opportunities offered to learn outside of the classroom. I participated in the McCain Institute Policy Design Studio and Internship Program in Washington, D.C., where I learned to address foreign policy issues. I also participated in the Arizona State Legislative Internship Program, and I studied abroad in Spain with Barrett, The Honors College. In addition, I participated in the Public Policy and International Affairs Program at Princeton University, which furthered my interest in public policy. These hands-on opportunities equipped me with the appropriate experiences and knowledge to address real-world issues through action and policy.

Q: What has been your most impactful career experience?

A: Upon graduating from ASU, I moved to Washington, D.C., and joined the Obama White House Office of Presidential Personnel where I led leadership and professional development programs for Obama’s 3,000 political appointees. When the administration ended in 2017, I decided to return to my home of Arizona to lead grassroots movements around civic engagement and youth empowerment. Since then, I have worked on different campaigns and voter-registration efforts in order to empower and educate our communities to seek social and economic justice by building political power.

Q: What piece of advice would you give current students of global studies or political science?

A: Be involved and participate! Take advantage of all your resources including internships, study abroad, elective classes, mentorships, staff support, policy events, career panels, speaker series, etc. There is so much that SPGS and the greater ASU community offers to students, and you just need to be open-minded about new experiences and opportunities. Your dreams are valid, and you must work hard every single day to achieve them.

Baltazar Hernandez

Center Coordinator, School of Politics and Global Studies