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ASU student's team earns second place in global public policy simulation competition

April 18, 2018

A team of five students, including one from Arizona State University, tied for second place in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition — the largest student public policy simulation competition in the world.

Teams made up of graduate students from 159 universities and 27 nations competed at host sites, including ASU, in February and March. The simulation put students in leadership positions of fictitious countries and tasked them with minimizing the impact of a deadly infectious disease. They were given extensive real-world data, and with little time, asked to work together to prevent the outbreak from becoming a pandemic on a continent with four very different countries. Team from ASU regional site that placed second in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition From left to right: Benjamin Bass of the University of Southern Utah; Victoria Laskey of the University of Colorado, Denver; Rebecca McCarthy of Arizona State University; Hayden English from the University of Texas, Austin; and Breck Wightman of Brigham Young University. The team placed second among 139 competing in the 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition. Download Full Image

The winning team from the ASU regional round was comprised of students from five schools: Rebecca McCarthy of ASU's School of Public Affairs; Breck Wightman of the Romney Institute of Public Management at Brigham Young University; Victoria Laskey of the University of Colorado, Denver School of Public Affairs; Benjamin Bass of the University of Southern Utah and Hayden English from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.

“The competition provided an incredible experience to network and work with students from other universities in a fast-paced, intellectual team environment,” McCarthy said. “To be part of the regional winning team was exciting to begin with, but when I found out that our team was the second place global winner, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!”

The team from the ASU School of Public Affairs regional site tied for second with a team that competed at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. A team of Northern California graduate students hosted by San Jose State University’s College of Social Sciences won first place. Third place went to a team competing at Cornell University Institute of Public Affairs. Cash prizes of $1,500, $500, and $150 will be awarded to first, second and third place students from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the University of Virginia’s Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

A team of “super judges” evaluated the simulation scores, negotiation skills, and presentations that 22 winning regional teams made to site judges. Yushim Kim, an associate professor in the ASU School of Public Affairs and an expert on public health services and management, served as a regional site judge. She praised the ASU regional site team members for their ability to adapt their proposals during the competition.

“Two policy memos written by the ASU site winning team showed that the group slightly changed their recommendations based on the characteristics of the countries involved,” Kim said.

Giving students the ability to make such important decisions in a rapidly-evolving situation will help them as they seek careers in developing and implementing public policy,

"My goal in designing this computer simulation and the overall educational outcome for the competition was simple: to make it immersive so that each student can benefit from experiential learning prior to going out into the real world,” said Noah Myung, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. “Students had to make complicated analytical decisions with limited information, were required to write multiple policy memos, and finally make a decision briefing to world-class experts. It was a policy boot camp for our students."

And it’s a boot camp that ASU School of Public Affairs graduate student Rebecca McCarthy hopes benefits many more students in future competitions.

One of those who watched her team compete was Don Siegel, director of the ASU School of Public Affairs. He was impressed by the team’s ability to analyze data and present well thought out recommendations. He gives McCarthy kudos for her role in helping earn her team second place among almost 130 teams competing worldwide.

“The most notable aspect of Rebecca’s performance was her ability to blend theory and practice to develop a practical solution to a difficult problem,” Siegel said. “We strive to develop this skill in our students and it’s a real joy to see them display it before a large audience.”

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


CNN host Van Jones to give 2018 Delivering Democracy Lecture at ASU

Author, entrepreneur and former Obama White House adviser to be featured at annual community dialogue

April 17, 2018

Continuing its commitment to further the dialogue on some of the complex issues facing our world, the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University is welcoming author, activist and TV host Van Jones to headline its annual Delivering Democracy Lecture on Saturday, April 21.

Jones, a Yale-educated attorney, is known for his work on CNN as a commentator and host of “The Van Jones Show.” He also served as President Barack Obama’s special adviser for green jobs. Flyer that says: Delivering Democracy Lecture, Van Jones, Saturday, April 21, 2018, 4 p.m., Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Free, Open to the Public, Tickets Required. For more information visit: csrd.asu.edu/DeliveringDemocracy or call 602-496-1376 Download Full Image

Jones has published three New York Times best-selling books, including his most recent, “Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together.” He is the founder and president of Dream Corps, which, among other initiatives, aims to help youth from low-opportunity backgrounds find success in the tech sector; make communities safer; reduce prison populations; and advance environmental solutions.

The center's Delivering Democracy Lecture provides a platform for visionary speakers to discuss democracy and the importance of participatory democracy with the local community, a national audience and beyond. The Van Jones lecture will be followed by a facilitated dialogue led by ASU justice and social inquiry Professor Rashad Shabazz.

Shabazz, who has a personal relationship with Jones, thinks he has a special way of connecting with people. 

“Van Jones is funny. I think one of the things people are going to discover when they are at the lecture is that he is incredibly astute, he is engaging, he’s thoughtful, he’s highly intelligent, but he does it in a way that is really accessible, entertaining and funny,” Shabazz said.

Shabazz also thinks that Jones offers something different when it comes to discussing such topics as race and democracy. 

"Van Jones is bringing a critical perspective to contemporary politics. He’s helping us to think past some of the narrow, underdeveloped political understandings,” Shabazz said. “Whether people agree with Van Jones or not, hearing his perspective will provide a unique opportunity to have a nuanced and thoughtful political discussion.”

The event will kick off at 2 p.m. at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Phoenix with a community resource fair featuring local organizations and a mini concert by the church's choir. Van Jones will speak at 4:30 pm. Registration and parking information is available now. 

Video courtesy of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy

The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts serves as a hub of collaborative activity and interchange among several colleges, schools and departments within ASU and the community at large. It is committed to socially embedded scholarship, increasing awareness and informed dialogue involving the topics of race and democracy. The center strives to provide safe and inclusive environments in which to question one’s own assumptions as well as those of other participants, amplify diverse voices and increase the number of allies who may find common ground to complex issues, and train emerging leaders in the necessity of effective anti-racism work. The center was the winner of the 2015 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award.

Contact Kelley Karnes at Kelley.Karnes@asu.edu or 602-791-8278 for more information.

Media Relations Officer, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


Webinar with Cronkite School and Mexican think tank explores today's turbulent journalism field

ASU Professor Len Downie and renowned Mexican journalist Carlos Bravo Regidor discussed the state of their field

April 17, 2018

Want to understand why it’s a turbulent time for journalism? Look around in Mexico and the United States.

In Mexico, reporters must cover corruption, organized crime, an election year, and a surge in anti-establishment sentiment — all amid an alarming rise in threats and attacks to their lives and livelihoods. Mexico has been called by journalism advocacy groups “the most dangerous place to be a reporter in the entire Western Hemisphere.” Download Full Image

In the U.S., the press faces less dire threats. But upheavals such as the disruption to ad-based revenue models, the fracturing of audiences into media niches and bubbles, the decline and consolidation of local news coverage, the rise in speed and scale of fake news, eroding credibility, and, of course, the routine lashing out at the press by those in high office, also have a way of feeling like existential threats.

These aren’t just problems for the media, they’re dangers for democracy. And they’re the tough issues that Leonard Downie, former executive editor of the Washington Post and a Weil Family Professor at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Carlos Bravo Regidor, a renowned Mexican journalist and coordinator of the journalism program at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) tackled in a live webinar last week co-hosted by ASU’s Convergence Lab program of events in Mexico City and COMEXI, Mexico’s leading foreign policy think tank.

For Downie, who saw investigative journalism grow to be seen as an essential function of the U.S. media during his 44 years at the Washington Post, his biggest concerns lie with countries where threats to journalists mean this kind of aggressive accountability reporting can’t take root. He said we need to draw as much attention as possible to the governments, including Mexico’s, actively cracking down on the press or willing to turn a blind eye to attacks on reporters. The Mexican government, starting with the president, needs to make it clear this is wrong, and that this is a high priority, because, he said, “it’s a disgrace.”

Downie expressed optimism for the continued health of investigative journalism in the U.S., however. He praised the high-caliber reporting holding Trump administration officials accountable and the delving into the Russia probe from journalists at the New York Times and the Washington Post. He also believes the growth in readership and paid subscriptions seen by both publications since Trump’s election is a sign that audiences are willing to step in to support news, and fill the holes in the media’s business model created by eroding advertising dollars.

Downie also pointed to the expansion of other types of news media such as nonprofits, public radio stations, and the university-supported student reporting seen at Cronkite and its news service as examples of ventures that will be needed to ensure robust journalism can help shore up democracy in all communities.

Yet, as Bravo Regidor noted, it’s not just about producing quality journalism. It’s also about getting the public to engage with it. He noted that Arthur Miller once said, “a good newspaper is … a nation talking to itself,” and went on to ask what happens when citizens only get news from outlets that confirm their own bias? And what happens if they only focus on the more entertaining coverage, or, as is the problem with the scandal-fatigued public on both sides of the border today, tune it out entirely?

Downie agreed that is the timely, difficult question, and that fact-based news media needs to be as vigorous and transparent as possible — and open to reacting to criticism when they’re wrong — to build public interest and public trust. For example, he said he’s noticed that the Washington Post reporters no longer just write that their investigative stories rely on “confidential sources inside the White House,” but instead will instead get specific, “12 confidential sources, who include people who work in the White House and people outside the White House who they’re talking to.” The president and others may say that those stories are “fake news,” but it’s harder for him to convince people of that with that level of transparency and detail backing them up.

Considering the changes in media and politics that have made journalism so turbulent in recent years, the news coverage of elections in both Mexico and the United States this year will likely prove a telling test of the press and the public. In the U.S., where a volatile electorate will vote on an unusually high number of open Congressional seats in November, it’s a question of whether the news media will fall back on the perennial horse race-style of coverage — casting it as a who’s-up-and-who’s-down referendum on President Trump — or whether journalists will report on the underlying issues that are making this race so competitive, and that helped elect Trump in the first place.

In Mexico, says Bravo Regidor, the press also needs to report beyond the “horse race” and polls. With all the issues contributing to the surge in anti-establishment sentiment that has helped leftist former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador take a commanding lead and a dubious decision by the country’s election tribunal to put a disallowed independent candidate back on the ballot, Bravo Regidor said the media should be focusing less on the horse race and polls, and more on the continuing shortfalls of the country’s democratic process. 

Watch the full webinar.

Article by Kirsten Berg, senior editor, ASU Office of University Affairs

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Changing the way we play

Global Sport Summit experts discuss how the fan experience is changing.
April 15, 2018

First Global Sport Summit draws experts to discuss new innovations in sports, fan relationships, business models

The business of sports is changing the fundamental nature of the fan relationship, as well as the financial model and even the career path into the field, according to several experts who spoke at the first Global Sport Summit held by the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University on Friday.

Kenneth Shropshire, CEO of the Global Sport Institute, said that the summit was meant to share practices that work best.

“When we get together again next year, think about what steps you’ve taken to make sport be more positively impactful,” said Shropshire, who is also the adidas distinguished professor of global sport.

“How can sport be used in a better way than it is to make lives better?”

The summit brought people from different areas of the world of sports. Here is what they had to say:

For the fan, it’s about more than a good seat

Andy Gorchov, general manager of the University of Phoenix Stadium: “We are competing with the couch at home but the stadium experience provides something you don’t get on the couch — to participate in a singular event that’s at a scale beyond everyday life. We work 365 days a year to focus on 10 days a year.“

Chris Richardson, ASU IT development who is developing interactive technology for Sun Devil Stadium: “The Stadium 365 initiative will be 365-day access to certain services, whether it’s an employee here to go for a run or someone who’s going there to showcase something about ASU or to go to a concert or a farmers market.”

Graham Rossini, vice president of special projects and fan experience for the Arizona Diamondbacks and an ASU alum: “We talk a lot about our mindset of ‘find a way to win even if we lose.’ Don’t let the wins and losses dictate whether you come out to the ballpark. There’s a lot to do when you get out there. The days of coming in, sitting in a seat and focusing on a sporting event for three hours are over. The stadium lends itself to exploration.”

Bryan Sperber, president of ISM Raceway, formerly Phoenix Raceway, which is currently being completely renovated: “Never before in the history of sports have we seen this disruption. Most of the younger fans have grown up as participants because of the device. They’re not wired to watch someone else do something for three hours, but our business model is watching someone else do something at a high level.

“In our project, it’s less about watching every play and more about a social event that takes place in an arena. We’re trying to create venues within the venues. As we build our infield we’ll add two bars and technology that’s interactive no matter what going on in the racetrack. We challenged our architects to create a way for fans to see the NASCAR garage and see the race teams working on the cars. They can take selfies and talk to the drivers and the teams.”

Lyndsey Fry, Olympic silver medalist in ice hockey, speaks about her youth sports experience during the "Sports for Youth Development" panel session at the Global Sport Summit at the Palomar Hotel in downtown Phoenix April 13. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

What you need to work in the sports industry

Josh Rawitch, senior vice president of content and communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks: “Whenever anyone tells me they want to work in sports and if they’re at a school with an athletic department and they’re not involved in it, it tells me they’re really not that interested. It’s right on your campus.

“When I was with the Dodgers 15 years ago, it was straight PR and we were doing game notes and setting up interviews. To me the single biggest thing that’s changed our job is social media. We have to be feeding the beast constantly. It pushed us to be this content factory and do videos and use our graphic designers. To those who want to get into this world, you have to be creative. I push everyone around me to think of something different from what we normally do. What new food item can we come up with? What new platform?

“When I was an intern at the Dodgers I stumbled on the assistant general manager’s office and he said, ‘You have to learn Spanish.’ I took it and studied abroad in Spain. I pushed myself to use it. I backpacked around South America. It is so incredibly useful to me.”

Nicole Taylor, public relations manager for Position Sports marketing agency, handling communications for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and an ASU alumna: “I knew I would work in sports from age 5. I am a fan and I found myself in so many positions that money can’t buy, like being in a room for a player’s biggest moment.”

“As a part of the NBA Associate Program (development program), what do I think made me stand out? In school I had taken a lot courses that prepared me for cultural appreciation. So often we see sports through the lens of a white male. Even if you don’t know it, have an understanding that it’s different from what you’re used to. So it’s being able to go to China and deal with them on credentials.”

The business of esports is booming

John Pierce, an ASU faculty associate who teaches the first-ever course on esports in the W. P. Carey School of Business: “In 2015, esports was a $323 million industry and last year, it was $696 million. By 2020, it’s expected to hit $1.5 billion. Unlike the traditional sports world, 90 percent of the people who watch it also play. It’s happening with or without the student services or the athletic departments. It’s happening in the high schools; it’s happening with 9 to 11 year olds.”

Mike Nealy, executive director of the Fiesta Bowl, which hosted the recent Overwatch college championship: “The most common question I get is, ‘What is it?’ There’s a lot of money being made on this. A kid can sit in his basement and get on Twitch and make money. Can you image the NCAA trying to get its arms around this? Any small school in the country can get up to speed quickly and beat Penn State or the Ohio States of the world.”

Michael Udall, professional player and “Heroes of the Dorm” competition winner while a student at ASU: “The way I got started is I won this huge collegiate tournament. I was on ESPN. I won college tuition. I proceeded to drop out and become a pro player.

“I think one of the biggest turning points has been realizing that it’s a job. It’s something I put 80 hours a week in. Realizing you won’t enjoy every second is a big thing for me. I do love what I do. But it’s an industry and there’s a lot of money being made. I wake up around noon and work until 4 or 5 a.m. It’s a high-stress environment, especially with social media. Every time I make a mistake everyone on Twitter is blasting me for it. Burnout is a big issue. Every minute I’m not playing, someone else is getting better.”

Partnerships make a difference

Mark King, North America president of adidas: “When I met Ray Anderson (vice president of Sun Devil Athletics) in the summer of 2014, our business in the U.S. was really struggling. One of the turning points was when ASU took a chance to leave Nike and put their faith in us. We were this German soccer brand and Ray saw that we could be different from that. We were not embedded in sport in North America and the first step was at ASU.

“Our brand represents the intersection between culture and sport. Young people are not just interested in the athlete but also in the social issues and the way they live their lives and diversity and inclusion and things that weren’t traditionally talked about in sports.

‘Now we look for athletes, male and female, that have good character, but what has happened is we love athletes who have a platform to make the world a better place. And if they’re acting in a way that brings attention to something or moves the world forward, even if there is controversy in that moment, we’re interested in that athlete.”

Jay Dieffenbach of the Arizona Republic answers a question about monetization during the "Future Models of Sports Media" discussion session at the Global Sport Summit at the Palomar Hotel in downtown Phoenix April 13. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow

In a changing sports media landscape, content is still key

Adam Anshell, senior vice president of Stadium broadcast sports site: “What we found as a digital company is that no longer should a viewing experience be passive the way television was. The Facebook Live broadcasts are a great way to do that, where people comment during the broadcast. It gets them more involved and willing to come back.”

Stewart Mandel, editor of The Athletic digital sports site: “As a subscription model, (readers) expect it to be of a high quality. For the more long-form content, we hope it has nuggets you can’t get anywhere else. In terms of the people who cover the individual teams, the key word is authoritative. We want people to feel they got smarter.

“People are reading more sports content than at any time in history. When The Athletic goes into Arizona it means they won’t stop reading the Arizona Republic, it means they’ll read both.

Jay Dieffenbach, content coach for professional sports at the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com: “Our death has been greatly exaggerated. We’ve been a digital presence since the 1990s. If you’re going to ask people to pay, the expectation is your writers will provide an elite level of content. That includes access as well. The expectation is that we’ll be on the road.

“As a Diamondbacks fan, you won’t get super constructive critical thinking unless you read it with us.”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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GlobalSport Matters website to examine sports, society across the globe

New ASU site dives into the global sports scene.
April 13, 2018

Thanks to the spread of information and technology, the world is more connected than ever before — and with the language of sport being so widely understood, the opportunities for connection can be even greater. 

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is looking to expand that connection with the launch GlobalSport Matters, a new website that looks at the intersection of sport and society across the globe.

A partnership with the Global Sport Institute, the new site will focus on five topic pillars — culture, business, science, health and youth — and will serve as a multimedia hub of content to tell those stories in a meaningful and impactful way.

"Our goal is to make content that is as accessible as possible," executive editor Kathryn Kudravi said. "We want content that people want to share. There's all this great research out there that no one knows is available, so we're looking for things that anyone who is interested can find and share with ease."

The new site will give writers and reporters a chance to take a deeper dive into the world of sport, and take a step back and see why something in Phoenix is meaningful to someone overseas. 

Content for GlobalSport Matters will be curated from freelancers, Cronkite School students and undergraduates in Kudravi's Sports Knowledge Lab, which starts in earnest this summer on the Downtown Phoenix campus.  

The Global Sport Institute is supported by a combination of funding from ASU and adidas, and its efforts are supported and integrated across the entire university, from engineering to the athletic department and beyond.

"It is going to be the concierge to everything we are working on at (the institute)," said Kenneth Shropshire, CEO of the institute. "It's a content hub that will push out all the great research being done at ASU and elsewhere and will allow us to reach people we may not have direct access to. So it will be pretty far-reaching beyond the typical informational website."

GlobalSport Matters will aim to reach people through sports content that extends further into the realm of activity and health around the world. 

And at its peak, Kudravi hopes that the vast and diverse group of people that populate ASU will play a role in the site's extension across the globe. 

"We want to engage people globally on every aspect of sport and society whether it's the best ways to hydrate when you exercise, to trends in elder activity, to what is the latest wearable technology," Kudravi said. "I'm hopeful that the wider ASU community involved in research that relates to sport will help work with us on this."

Top photo: GlobalSport Matters executive editor Kathryn Kudravi talks with students Emily Ducker (at the computer) and Colton Dodgson (standing right) on April 5. Photo by Summer Sorg/ASU Now

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer , ASU Now

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Solving a pest problem that's been plaguing us

April 13, 2018

ASU's Global Locust Initiative connects international experts to combat the expensive crop damage the insects commit worldwide

During a plague year, locusts affect the livelihoods of one in 10 people and cover 20 percent of the earth’s land surfaces. In most of the world, they are one of the most destructive crop pests. From 2003–05, $450 million was spent to stop a desert locust plague in Africa that caused $2.5 billion in crop damage.

But an issue that size inevitably attracts the brightest problem-solvers.

Representatives from 12 countries gathered at Arizona State University this week for the inaugural meeting of the Global Locust Initiative, a new research and action program designed to help scientists, governments, agribusiness workers and farmers cope with locust plagues.

The initiative, a unit of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, combines lab science, fieldwork and data modeling to help reduce locust outbreaks and the effects of plagues.

The goal? The well-being of farm communities and global sustainability. It’s based on three pillars: facilitating research, creating a global network and developing on-the-ground solutions with local stakeholders.

“It’s a challenge all continents except Antarctica are dealing with,” said founding director Arianne Cease, an assistant professor in the School of Sustainability who studies locusts.

Video: In many parts of the world, locust swarms devastate crops and communities. Arianne Cease is trying to change that, and she talked about that in a recent KEDtalk.

A panel of experts from seven global regions kicked off the event.

Aliou Diongue from the World Food Programme in Senegal expressed his region's primary focus: the necessity of healthy crops.

“Food security is our utmost concern,” Diongue said.

In China, more than 1,000 species of grasshoppers and locusts pose a danger to crops including bamboo and rice. The nation struggles to control swarms like these, and Long Zhang of China Agricultural University was intent on prediction.

“How can we exactly forecast the big swarms?” he asked.

Australia deals with three native species, according to Chris Adriaansen, director of the Australian Plague Locust Commission, but in the U.S., “the North American locust is gone, essentially,” said Derek Woller of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Woller noted that his unit deals with small outbreaks from 12 species.

The Global Locust Initiative is dedicated to fostering the knowledge transfer that will lead to new interventions that reduce the frequency and impacts of locust plagues.

“We are here to learn from you,” said Maria Martha Cigliano of the National University of La Plata, Argentina, addressing the assembled group.

But elementary questions about locusts and grasshoppers remain. Why do they take off when they do? How do they decide which direction to fly in? How do they decide where to land?

Researchers such as Cease and her team are looking to answer those questions, which may lead to better plague prevention for years to come.

“We’re in this for the long term,” Cease said.

More than just an issue of economic impact, the danger of locust plagues extends to basic human resources, making the initiative's goals all the more pressing.

“My objective is saving life and feeding people,” Diongue said. “That’s why I’m here.”


Above photo: Braedon Kantola, a sustainability graduate student holds an Americana grasshopper at the launch of the Global Locust Initiative, outside Wrigley Hall on Thursday, April 12, 2018. The locust project, part of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, has as its goal to help address and lessen the destructive effects of locust plagues. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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Out of this world events on tap at ASU for Earth Month

It's Earth Month for ASU. Check out a list of events.
ASU Baseball to hold annual Green Game on Earth Day, April 22.
April 10, 2018

April 1 may have brought tricks and pranks, but Arizona State University's plans for Earth Month are no joke. 

Centered around Earth Day on April 22, which has been celebrated annually around the world for nearly the 50 years, Earth Month looks to further raise awareness for those who are still living in the dark when it comes to taking care of the planet. ASU plans to do its part over the next few weeks, sponsoring more than 20 different events through April 27.

"Earth Month has grown over the past years out of a celebration for Earth Day," said Lesley Forst, program manager at ASU's University Sustainability Practices. "This year, I'm thrilled to see new partnerships and collaborations from across the university joining in on the celebration. We are continuing to expand the celebration and demonstrate that sustainability is a university-wide value."

One of those celebrations will include the Sun Devil Baseball Green Game, which takes place at 12:30 p.m. April 22 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

"'Green Games' are a celebration of sustainability and sports," Forst said. "The baseball Green Game falls on Earth Day this year, so it’s a perfect day to recognize ASU's leadership and commitment to sustainability. Student groups will host a variety of sustainability-themed games, fans can test their knowledge by participating in in-game trivia and there will be some sustainability-themed giveaways."

It's a commitment Sun Devil Athletics has focused on since spring 2013. Since then, they have hosted zero-waste events for basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and other select sports. 

Other events include the year-end celebration for the Green Devil Network, a group that leads the way in championing sustainability at all of ASU's campuses. The group will meet from noon to 1 p.m. April 25 at the Student Services Lawn on the Tempe campus to both network and garden with other like-minded individuals.

"The Green Devil Network was founded in 2014 as a tool to educate, connect and recognize staff, students and faculty from across the university who are actively creating a culture of sustainability," Forst said. "The program is now active on all campuses and monthly events are facilitated by University Sustainability Practices and Zero Waste. This year, in partnership with ASU Grounds, the herb garden near the student services building was dedicated to the Network as a way to recognize the work that they’ve accomplished."

For more ASU Earth Month events visit sustainability.asu.edu/earth-month or view the list below.

List of events for Earth Month 2018
*Note: The location for the Borderlands Food Bank on April 21 has changed to the Tempe Public Library northwest parking lot.

Download PDF: PDF iconem2018_elevator_v3.pdf


Top photo: Green Light Solutions displays a poster where students contribute "Dear Mother Earth" notes of how they will live a more sustainable lifestyle during the Student Sustainability Club Earth Day Festival on Hayden Lawn on April 19, 2017. Photo by Deanna Dent

Connor Pelton

Communications Writer , ASU Now

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Answering the call of the curious

April 10, 2018

ASU's Ask A Biologist website, recently redesigned, has 50 million visits and growing

Do reindeer have red noses?

Of course they don’t. (Sorry, but they don’t fly, either.)

However, if you posed the question to the website Ask A Biologist, you might be surprised by the scientific truth. When it’s very cold, reindeers’ noses heat up. If you look at them under infrared light, they glow red.

Hosted by Arizona State University since before Google existed, Ask A Biologist provides answers like that every day to people around the world. The site, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, unveiled a new redesign last month. 

Ask a Biologist by the numbers

• more than 50 million visits
• more than 40,000 questions answered
• more than 30,000 visits every day
• 46 percent of traffic comes from abroad
• 4th most visited page on ASU’s website
• 1,200 top search results in Google

“Without a doubt we teach more students than any instructor at ASU,” creator and developer Charles Kazilek said. Include the fact that teachers download content for their classrooms, and “it has a multiplier effect,” he said.

Video by Jamie Ell/ASU Now

It started because of people trying to reach experts at the university to answer questions. Kazilek, a senior research professional in the School of Life Sciencespart of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, had an idea. He grew up in a small town where you could call a help line at the library.

“But you’ve got to have someone on the other end of the line to answer it.”

So, the site started with an oath to answer the question within 72 hours. That gave the faculty time to research the question and respond. The time frame has another benefit too.

“That allows us not to be turned into a homework site,” Kazilek said. “We’re here for the truly curious.”

Each semester, a student teaching assistant and a graduate student playing Dr. Biology route the questions to the appropriate expert. There are more than 150 volunteer experts. (Not all of them are from ASU.)

Answering questions can get complex. The answer to “Why is milk white?” involves chemistry and physics, as well as biology. When the answers come back, they’re turned into kid-friendly prose.

“We offer a service and we package it in plain language,” said Kazilek.

The site has more than 5,000 pages of content. There are resources for teachers and games and activities for kids. Virtual tours of rain forests, deserts and the inside of a beehive are on tap. The Bird Finder tool can help identify mystery birds in your backyard. There’s also a dedicated Youtube channel.

“Its footprint has been growing stronger and stronger,” Kazilek said. “Lots of ASU creativity and vision and desire to communicate to the world … It reaches such a large global audience. It is a bit of an ambassador for ASU.”

ask a biologist 


Top photo: Chuck Kazilek, ASU's chief technology innovation officer, and the creator and developer of the "Ask A Biologist" website, works from his Computing Commons office on Wednesday, April 4. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU hosts conference to reduce violence in Latin America and the Caribbean

April 9, 2018

Criminal justice experts from the Western Hemisphere will examine the impact of violence in Latin America and the Caribbean and how to prevent it at a two-day conference held at the Arizona State University Tempe campus April 11–12. The free event is sponsored by the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, part of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU in downtown Phoenix.

The event takes place as National Guard troops have been deployed to the U.S./Mexico border in advance of the arrival of a caravan of migrants from Central America that is making its way north through Mexico. Researchers from the center have studied violence in Honduras, El Salvador and nations throughout the Caribbean and are working on solutions to help governments and communities reduce violence. Charles Katz, a criminology professor and director of the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, talks to ASU Now about the conference.  Unidos Por La Justicia in Honduras From left to right: Jonathan Hernandez from the ASU Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety with Vivian Pavon, Ana Karina Suazo and Faiz Velazquez of Unidos Por La Justicia (United for Justice) at a community event in Tegucigalpa, Honduras held to establish a better relationship between the National Police and the citizens they serve. Download Full Image

Question: Why hold a leadership conference on violence and its prevention in Latin America and the Caribbean?

Answer: Over the past 10 years, our faculty and staff have focused much of their effort on projects that diagnose problems associated with violence and have been collaborating with governments in these regions to identify and evaluate best practices to respond to violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, these nations are at a critical point where they are about to embark on a major shift in policy and responses to violence. Given the relationships we have developed and the progress we have seen we believe that there is a unique opportunity for ASU to play an important role in the development and institutionalization of citizen security in the region.

Q: Can you talk about ASU’s role in researching violence in these regions?

A: ASU has played both large and small roles in examining violence in the region. From 2004 to 2010 we worked under contract with the Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to reform the Trinidad and Tobago Police Services. We have also completed a project funded by the United Nations Development (UNDP) program to assess citizen insecurity throughout the Caribbean; and completed work for the Eastern Caribbean’s Regional Security System (RSS) to diagnose the gang problem in nine Caribbean nations and develop a regional approach to responding to gangs.  We have also completed several research projects for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to examine violence and responses to in El Salvador and Honduras.

Charles Katz
ASU criminology professor Charles Katz speaks at the 2017 American Society of Evidence Based Policing Conference held in Phoenix.

Q: You’ve been interviewed a lot by major news organizations about the MS-13 gang. What kind of threat does the violence of gangs in Latin America and the Caribbean pose to the United States?

A: That is a complicated question with multiple issues interwoven through it. First, the violence in Latin America and the Caribbean has an effect on the U.S. in terms of the fact that people in those nations are driven from their countries to the United States in the hopes of finding a safer place for themselves and their families. The violence in those nations also has a substantial impact on those countries' economies, which also drives people to the United States in the hopes of better employment opportunities. While the vast majority of these immigrants have nothing but positive intentions and seek a better life for them and their family, a small minority of those who come have a deeply disturbing past and have ill intentions. These are the people that federal and local officials need to identify quickly to prevent violence from occurring in the U.S.  

Q: Who will be attending the conference and what do you hope they come away with?

A: We have a variety of people who will be attending the meeting. Some of these folks are from USAID, UNDP and various organizations that attempt to work within developing nations to improve their security and decrease violent crime. Faculty from Brazil, Jamaica and the United States, as well as graduate students will be attending. We have also noticed some local criminal justice officials who will be attending the event.

Conference registration: Future of Violence and Its Prevention in Latin America and the Caribbean

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


With thesis project, student discovers Korean culture through ASU school

April 9, 2018

The Korean department at Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC) is one of the college’s fastest growing programs, with more students benefiting every year. Senior Simon Huynh, in pursuit of his thesis project, found out exactly what that growth and energy meant.

“I originally got involved with SILC on a recommendation to find an honors thesis director,” Huynh said. "SILC has a very open faculty, willing to help you. Their level of expertise is very high.” Simon Huynh Simon Huynh used School of International Letters and Cultures classes to explore Korean culture for his thesis project. Download Full Image

Huynh’s thesis project for Barrett, The Honors College, analyzes how Korean popular culture, or K-pop music, is influenced by videos, livestreams and reality television.

“The goal of my thesis was to see how various social media tools generate a very interactive, very invested fan base for K-pop. Something very unique about K-pop is how organized the fans are around a particular group,” Huynh explained.

He said this ranges from active fan clubs to wide-scale donations in a band’s name. Huynh himself has listened to K-pop since middle school, but realized his interest had thesis potential after learning about Professor Jiwon Shin’s class on Korean popular culture. Shin became Huynh’s director.

“Studying culture enables you to obtain and widen your lens of perception,” Huynh said. “You’re able to see people for who they are. In my study of Korean culture, I’ve come to appreciate both the differences and the similarities between my original culture … Vietnamese American.”

Huynh credits his thesis and Shin with helping him become more aware of other cultures and more empathetic of cultural differences. In the future, students can get even more out of the Korean department than Huynh was able to, thanks to the addition of a Korean minor to SILC degree options.

The Korean minor will empower students to explore technological, economic and political realities tied in with Korean language and culture. Korea is at the center of geopolitical, security and global conversations. SILC wants students to be part of those conversations.

“My professors are actually trying to help me publish my thesis,” Huynh said. “I think that’s a huge step I didn’t consider, but they want to help me build that step. … It’s important for me to share my culture and understand other people’s culture.”

Gabriel Sandler