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Music doctoral student receives Fulbright research award

October 5, 2018

Alexander Meszler, a doctoral student in the Arizona State University School of Music, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to France from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Meszler is conducting research in France for 2018-19 academic year, studying music at Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Versailles as part of a project to examine the secular life of organs in contemporary France, “Secularism and the Organ: Learning to Forge New Paths in the Twenty-First Century.” Alexander Meszler Alexander Meszler, a doctoral student in the ASU School of Music, is studying music in France as part of a project to examine the secular life of organs in contemporary life. Download Full Image

Meszler is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree and is currently studying with Kimberly Marshall, the Patricia and Leonard Goldman Professor of Organ in ASU’s School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Meszler studied in Strasbourg, France, for a semester abroad and said he fell in love with the French organ. His research is focused on how secularism in French society is affecting the perception of the organ as a predominantly Christian instrument, and that envisioning a viable organ art for the increasingly secularized 21st century is crucial for ensuring the instrument’s continued use and the preservation of historic organs.  

“My project, about secularizing society, is tailored to a cultural exchange between two countries struggling with this problem — the United States and France — albeit in very different ways,” said Meszler.

“ASU’s Organ Hall is a prime example of the organ in a secular context,” said Meszler. “By exploring ways that the organ has changed to thrive in secular contexts in France, I hope to apply some of these successes to Organ Hall and also the United States at large.”

In addition to his studies, Meszler will be working in the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles, conducting research in Toulouse and studying French classical music in Poitiers. Though his research is both repertoire-based and ethnographic, he will also engage in some archival research.

Meszler is one of more than 1,900 U.S. citizens who will conduct research or teach English and provide expertise abroad for the 2018-19 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


Female entrepreneurs strengthen sustainable businesses through WE Empower Challenge

Five WE Empower UN SDG Challenge awardees spend week in New York for UN Global Goals Week

October 4, 2018

Awardees of the inaugural WE Empower U.N. SDG Challenge — a global business competition for female entrepreneurs who are advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — recenly spent several days in New York City for the U.N. Global Goals Week. The WE Empower Challenge was initiated by Amanda Ellis, executive director of Hawaii and Asia Pacific for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Ellis attended Global Goals Week with the five awardees, who represent each of the U.N. regions, as did ASU student Ember Van Vranken from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, who helped screen the applicants and was randomly chosen to join the group in New York.

MORE: Read Van Vranken's daily journal from Global Goals Week 5 WE Empower Challenge awardees The five WE Empower Challenge 2018 awardees pose at a TED Talk event in New York City. Photo courtesy of Ember Van Vranken

“Just watching these women work (was inspiring) — they are each amazing women who have gone through so much, and it was empowering as a woman to see what they have accomplished regardless of setbacks,” Van Vranken said. “I hope that this continues to grow and become even bigger than it was this year.”

During their time in New York, the awardees were featured at a high-level session at the U.N. General Assembly with the U.N. secretary-general, the president of the World Bank, five female presidents and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. They participated in leadership trainings including blockchain and a number of networking opportunities, and had their work highlighted by the U.N. Foundation. Among their activities was a meeting with Lauren Gula, the U.N.'s senior manager of gender equality, to sign the Women's Empowerment Principles.

The five entrepreneurs, chosen from 150 initial applicants, competed for a $20,000 grant. On Sept. 25, they pitched their innovative sustainable businesses — impacting everything from biodiversity to human trafficking — at an event hosted by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg that brought together business leaders, celebrities and the media. Inspired by every pitch, Diane von Furstenberg made an on-the-spot decision to double the winning grant to $40,000 and award a $10,000 grant to every other participant.

Habiba Ali from Nigeria walked away as this year’s winner after pitching her company Sosai, which brings renewable energy technologies to the most rural of users, improving access to clean, affordable energy and providing clean water and better health outcomes.

In addition to their all-expense trip to New York, all five awardees received a Solar-Powered Educational Learning Library, known as a SolarSPELL, that they can implement in their remote communities to expand educational opportunities. SolarSPELL is an initiative founded and led by Laura Hosman, an assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and in The Polytechnic School.

“It went better than we could’ve all hoped,” said Ellis at a celebration of the WE Empower Challenge, held Oct. 1 at Wrigley Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus. She emphasized the goals of the competition: to ignite change through partnerships, invest in female entrepreneurs so they can be role models in their communities and honor women who are supporting SDGs through their companies.

“So often people see women as victims. We want people to really see them as the contributors that they are to local economies and to the SDG objectives — not as victims,” Ellis said.

The inaugural WE Empower Challenge could not have been possible, Ellis said, without strong worldwide partnerships — including with the U.N., civil society and corporations such as Salesforce and Procter & Gamble — and hard work from many women at ASU, including Kristin Meraz, an administrative specialist in the ASU Wrigley Institute. Meraz was instrumental in setting up the platform that applicants used to submit their video pitches, fielding applicants’ technical questions and providing overall organizational support for the competition.

“After seeing the applications come in — and I got to view some of the videos — it’s really amazing what these women are doing,” Meraz said.

“Our ASU team (who visited New York) of Kellie Kreiser from ASU Thunderbird, Diana Bowman from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and Erin Carr-Jordan from EdPlus did a fantastic job training and accompanying the awardees throughout the week,” Ellis said. “The whole collaborative experience reinforced my belief that ASU has the potential to become a global leader in creating multiplier impact at scale for the U.N. SDGs.”

Kayla Frost

Associate Editor, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability


Thunderbird prof says Brexit may not be as bad as expected

October 4, 2018

It’s less than six months until the U.K. is scheduled to leave the European Union. As the March 29, 2019, deadline for Brexit approaches, there are still several key goals and parliamentary hurdles to overcome. 

Britain is facing the country’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years. Businesses, economists and government officials on both sides of the English Channel talk about uncertainty as the deadline approaches. Thunderbird Prof Robert Grosse Says Brexit May Not Be as Bad As Expected Download Full Image

Prime Minister Theresa May is challenging her political opponents to back her plan for Brexit — or risk “panic” and “chaos." But not everyone believes that Brexit will cause such chaos for the U.K. and those countries that do business with it. 

One such expert is Robert Grosse, professor of business administration and director for Latin America at Thunderbird. He expects that Brexit will have little impact on either the European Union or the United States.

Whether Brexit turns out to be a Y2K moment — much ado about nothing — or total chaos, as deadlines near it is undeniably causing uncertainty around trade, migration and regulation. Read more in the Thunderbird Knowledge Network overview: Brexit update: What you need to know.

ASU Now asked Grosse to elaborate:

Question: You’ve said that Brexit will not have the impact that some people fear. Can you explain? 

Answer: I expect that Brexit will have very little effect on the U.S. or on the EU. Business will go on as usual, with probably a zero tariff agreement initially between the EU and U.K. until a few specific restrictions might be imposed. The choice to leave the EU had nothing to do with tariffs and everything to do with immigration and the EU budget. Still, trade will probably be marginally affected, because there will need to be documentation of products shipped between the U.K. and the EU. This can be done electronically, so it might not make much difference at all.

The impact will be small in Europe, other than the question of the border between the two Irelands. The U.K. could find some financial service activity moving to Frankfurt, Germany, or elsewhere as a retaliation by the EU and because the EU countries are jealous of London’s position as the world’s financial capital. I do not expect that much will actually change.

Robert Gross, Ph.D., Thunderbird Professor of International Business & Director, Latin America
Robert Grosse

Q: Are you optimistic that the U.K. and EU will come up with a solid exit agreement in time for the March 2019 deadline? Or do you think an extension will be negotiated?

A: I feel pretty sure that an exit agreement will not be reached by the deadline. Politicians prefer to reach agreements under panic situations, so they can blame the outcome on that factor, rather than taking an economic view of what arrangement would be best. Brexit is a populist political statement, not really an economic one — except for the British objecting to a too-large contribution to the EU budget. They might come to some agreement in March 2019, but I definitely doubt that they will do so until the deadline has been reached. 

The optimal economic solution for all concerned is for the U.K. to remain in the EU, and even this outcome is possible under pressure at the end — but I expect that the U.K. will leave, just as they stayed out of the Common Market for 15 years after the main European countries started it in 1958.

Q: What do you see as the stumbling blocks to a smooth withdrawal agreement, if any? 

A: The U.K. government cannot go against the majority vote that was in favor of Brexit, despite many or even most of the legislators and government leaders seeing Brexit as a bad idea. So, they won’t work toward a "smooth" agreement, since many of them don’t want to proceed anyway.

Q: It seems that much of the concerns about Brexit's impact center on timing — concerns that businesses will have to deal with significantly altered trade processes without enough time to get ready. Do you think these fears are overstated? 

A: Yes, they certainly are overstated.

Q: Do you have any tips for U.S. or European companies that do business with the U.K., Scotland or Ireland as the split approaches?  

A: Diversify your business into the EU, to avoid hassles on transportation of products and movement of your employees that may occur for months after Brexit is finalized. Don’t lose sleep over it, however, since the impacts will be quite limited.

Q: CEOs of several U.K.-based companies have announced stockpiling supplies or moving resources, including people, to Europe. Is that unnecessary?

A: It is a very valuable step to take to demonstrate to the public that the companies are taking risk seriously. I do not think it is necessary in an economic sense, but because perceptions are hugely important in business, the companies should take visible steps to protect themselves — but they should not spend too much money doing so.

Q: Do you think Britain will leave the EU by March 2019?  

A: Probably by default, because they won’t have taken any concrete steps to undo Brexit, at least until that time. 

Marketing associate director, Thunderbird School of Global Management


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Biodiversity conservation needs new partnerships

October 4, 2018

ASU ecology professor says a systematic approach is needed to save the species under threat today: 'It’s an efficiency issue'

If conservation science is going to save the myriad species under threat in the world today, it’s going to have to go about it more efficiently, according to a paper published this week by an Arizona State University ecology professor.

If academia remains in an ivory tower and nongovernmental organizations working to save species lurch from problem to problem, headway won’t be made fast enough to stem the tide of biodiversity loss, said Leah Gerber, a professor in the School of Life Sciences. She is also founding director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, where she leads a team of staff and scholars building capacity to solve the most pressing biodiversity environmental challenges.

“The idea is to be more systematic,” Gerber said. “We have an exciting opportunity to bring ASU's deep breadth and depth of scholarship from multiple disciplines to decision-making contexts and folks working on the ground globally to give them what they need for informed, science-based decision-making.”

Like many other fields, conservation science tends to rely on intuition — rather than evidence — about decision-making, resource allocation and spatial planning. Evidence would be the basis for an actionable principle, Gerber said.

“For example, if you want to do science that has impact, here’s how you do it,” she said. “We’re still winging it instead of being systematic.”

What Gerber proposes is a particular kind of boundary organization in conservation science — one with interdisciplinary research capacity and “real‐world” experience.

Last year ASU powered up its conservation biology program by adding seven professors of practice to the faculty as part of a partnership between the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes and Conservation International, the biggest American conservation organization.

Cambridge, Cornell and Stanford have set up similar partnerships in recent years. Gerber hopes that model will become the wave of the future in conservation.

“Increasingly this has to be the way it goes, because it’s an efficiency issue,” she said. “Conservation International has excellent scientists, but they’re doing a lot more than science. This offers an opportunity for ASU to offer a deep research bench to achieving measurable conservation outcomes across the globe, all while training the next generation."

Conservation organizations get the best science, methods and technologies. Scientists get to see their research implemented on the ground.

“What we collectively get is by putting those two things together we get a different type of innovation that we haven’t yet realized,” Gerber said.

The paper, co-authored with Daniela Raik, a senior vice president of Conservation International, was published this week in the Ecological Society of America’s Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.'"

“Conservation organizations know that we can’t achieve our objectives working alone," Raik said. "We need many partners from all sectors. Universities are no exception since we rely on science and knowledge to help us develop tools and guide our efforts to have the greatest impact as quickly as possible.”

Top photo: One of two Amur tiger cubs, Thyme and Warner, at the Buffalo Zoo with their mother, Sungari. The cubs were born at the zoo to Sungari and father Toma, on Oct. 7, 2007. Photo by Dave Pape/Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU alum featured in science documentary with actor Jeff Bridges

October 3, 2018

Amy Jacobson, an Arizona State University alumna and evolutionary anthropologist, is taking to the big screen this month in a feature film about climate change, energy and the future of humanity narrated by actor Jeff Bridges.

The documentary "Living in the Future’s Past" is a unique look at the issues facing society today, analyzing them through a lens of philosophy and science.

“I don’t think there’s ever been anything that’s ever been done like this before,” Jacobson said. “It is a perspective-expanding experience because it lays out the reality of the situation we find ourselves in, and then kind of tries to peel apart the layers looking through time, as a species what is unique ... that has led us to this point, and then attempts to set the table for a discussion of how to move forward.”

Woman poses under flowers
Amy Jacobson poses in Hawaii after shooting for the documentary "Living in the Future’s Past."

Jacobson, who got a master's degree in physical anthropology at ASU in 1996, said that her time at the university was integral to getting her where she is today.

“I really am grateful to the structure of the anthropology program at ASU,” she said. “Everyone took the same classes, so anybody who hired them or took them into a PhD program could be assured that they had a very well-rounded background in physical anthropology.” 

That experience has made her able “to teach any kind of course in physical anthropology, anywhere” — including some unique courses, such as dental anthropology.

“Coming from ASU, we are probably some of the few people that are sent out into the world that have a good knowledge of dental anthropology,” she said.

Jacobson went on from ASU to get a PhD from Rutgers University, where she is now a professor. While pursuing research, she was approached by filmmaker Susan Kucera who was filming another movie about her PhD adviser at the time, Robert Trivers.

"When she was there videotaping him, he wasn’t feeling that well, so he kept booting her out of his office into my lab, which is right next door," Jacobson said. "So she came into my lab … and we started talking about my research … and she said, 'Woah, you are really interesting I would like to interview you.'"

Six months later, Kucera accompanied Jacobson to Hawaii, where she was filming for an earlier iteration of the movie.

“I flew to Hawaii and she taped me for 10 days, literally we got up and we just taped all day long … and that’s the footage that ended up making it into 'Living in the Future’s Past.'"

Originally the film didn't include Bridges, but once he came on board he took a keen interest in the message behind the film.

“'Living in the Future's Past' was chugging along, and then all of a sudden, I got an email saying, ‘Oh Jeff Bridges has signed on to narrate,’” Jacobson said. “And then … the more he got involved the more he really believed in the message of the project, and then she went and filmed him and now he became more than the narrator, but the person who kind of weaves the story, and sets up the experts, which I am one of.”

publicity poster featuring Jeff Bridges for "Living in the Future's Past"

The movie will release nationwide in select theaters on Oct. 9, including Filmbar in Phoenix, and Jacobson said that the movie is unique in the way it looks at energy and climate change without getting mired in the politics.

“One of the main themes in the film is basically energy, and you know it’s not political in any way, and it’s not trying to push any sort of agenda,” she said. “It’s just trying to look at the science of the reality of what our industrial global current situation is. Have we gone down the rabbit hole so far that it’s too late to try to turn around? Or are there things that we can try to do, to help create a sustainable future.

“I mean that is the whole point, to get you to realize that you are living right now in the future’s past, so if you want to think about the future, you have to think about now, and what we are doing now, and how that is impacting the future.”

If you go:

"Living in the Future's Past"
7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 9
Filmbar, 815 N. Second St., Phoenix

Trailer for the documentary "Living in the Future's Past."

Top photo: Actor Jeff Bridges in a still from the documentary "Living in the Future's Past." Courtesy of Sicily Publicity

Isaac Windes

Reporter , Media Relations and Strategic Communications

ASU Cronkite School joins Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program

October 1, 2018

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is looking to recruit returning Peace Corps volunteers into its graduate programs at Arizona State University.

Cronkite is now part of the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program that helps returning Peace Corps volunteers pursue graduate degrees while continuing to help underserved communities. The program is a partnership between the Peace Corps and select graduate programs across the country. Cronkite School ASU's Cronkite School is now part of the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program that helps returning Peace Corps volunteers pursue graduate degrees while continuing to help underserved communities. Download Full Image

Returning Peace Corps volunteers who apply to the school’s professional master’s programs in journalism or investigative reporting will be considered for a Coverdell Fellowship.

The Master of Mass Communication degree program prepares students to report, write and produce compelling stories for broadcast and digital platforms through immersive learning experiences, including in news bureaus in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles. The new master's degree in investigative journalism culminates in the students producing a national investigative project in the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, a new initiative funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation in honor of the late news executive and pioneer Roy W. Howard.

“Public service is central to our mission as journalists,” said Cronkite Assistant Dean Rebecca Blatt, who oversees the school’s master’s degree programs. “The Coverdell Fellows program allows returning Peace Corps volunteers at the Cronkite School to continue to help those in need on a broader scale, telling their stories to help encourage change in communities across the country.”

Cronkite School Coverdell Fellows earn an assistantship for the first two semesters, including full tuition, health insurance premiums and a stipend, and receive full tuition coverage in the third semester.

As part of the fellowship, students spend 10 hours per week at an internship, focused on helping underserved communities, for the first two semesters of the program.

The three participating internship organizations are Spot 127, a Phoenix-area media center for low-income students created by NPR member station KJZZ; the National Center on Disability and Journalism, a journalism organization at the Cronkite School that provides support to reporters as they cover people with disabilities; and ASU’s Center for Indian Education, where fellows would work with Native American students to produce a magazine and a podcast focused on improving educational outcomes.

Get more information about the Cronkite School’s master's degree programs. For questions, contact Assistant Dean Rebecca Blatt.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


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Meeting the UN's Global Goals village by village

September 28, 2018

ASU community is working on sustainable solutions to global problems by starting with specifics

In 2015, world leaders agreed to establish 17 goals to achieve a better world by 2030. An end to poverty and hunger. Clean water and energy. Gender equality and decent work. Together, they are called the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

And when they’re met, it's remarkable.

Arizona State University faculty members working on projects that fulfill the goals have seen it in places stretching from Pakistan to Pacific islands.

Here’s a look at three Global Goals-related projects coming out of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society: 

Fuel from a pest in Nepal

The Nepalese government has established buffer zones around their national parks so local people can gather firewood or fodder for their animals. In 2007, the buffer zone around Chitwan National Park began to be invaded by a vine similar to kudzu. One plant was recorded that year. Seven years later, it covered 75 to 100 percent of the forest surveyed. The vine, called mile-a-minute leaf, can grow very rapidly within a week, and it can cover the forest and kill the trees. The Nepalese jungle is trees and grasses, not vines, so the vine changes the dynamics. It creates extremely dense cover in the jungle. Women go to the jungle every single day for about two hours to collect wood and grasses.

“In that time you’re really risking your life because there are so many animals there that are threatening,” said Associate Professor Netra Chhetri. “In that way it’s taking more time to collect resources because where they used to go is now covered in the vine. They have to go deeper and deeper into the jungle to find the things they need. … We want to convert this problem into a solution through bio char.”

Bio char is charcoal used as soil enrichment.

“This charcoal is better than the coal we mine,” said Chhetri, who also is part of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

In June, Chhetri began working with 29 communities in the buffer zone surrounding Chitwan National Park. “We engaged with them and went with them to the forest,” he said.

They built charcoal kilns, collected heaps of the vine, and created a solution to several problems.

The bio char is a source of fuel. It contributes to the health of the forest. It adds nutrients to the soil and helps retain moisture. Chhetri calls it a low-cost, high-impact solution to multiple social problems.

“It increases the productivity and farmers don’t have to buy these expensive chemical fertilizers,” he said. “The reaction was ‘Wow.’”

The work isn’t over. Chhetri is working on how to scale the solution and how to improve collecting the vine. “My job is to hone in on this problem.”

Socially driven, clean, cheap power in Pakistan

Along Pakistan's Afghan border in the mountainous north is an extremely poor part of the country where villages don’t have electricity — or don’t use it because it’s too expensive.

The provincial government has been building a series of small-scale hydropower projects in an attempt to bring electricity generation to local communities at a price they can afford.

In a collaboration with the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar, Associate Professor Clark Miller traveled to Pakistan in July.

Miller went in with a team from the university to collect data on the social and sustainability outcomes of the hydro projects, using a methodology developed at ASU in order to improve the design of future projects. The province has built a couple hundred of the projects and plan to build a couple thousand more over the next few years.

“The design specs for one of the projects contained 50 pages of engineering details — and four bullet points on how it would fit into the community,” Miller said.

“What our framework does is flip that around and ask the question to begin with: How are people going to actually use this energy to make a difference in their lives? To create new income? To improve their ability to deliver healthcare? Or to advance any one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: improve food security, access clean water, improve their agricultural productivity? How are they actually going to use the energy to make that difference in their lives? How do you design the technical part of the project in order to make it possible for them to use the energy in that way? It recognizes that effective energy systems have to be both socially and technically designed.”

Seven master’s degree students from the Pakistani university are at ASU this fall as part of an exchange-student program, training in social data analysis. A report on the project will be produced in May.

A library in a backpack, where there’s no power or internet

Obviously, remote communities without electricity — or internet access — don’t have the same educational advantages shared by the industrial West.  

Enter Assistant Professor Laura Hosman and SolarSPELL, a portable, solar-powered digital library that comes with its own digital Wi-Fi hotspot, able to function without electricity or existing internet connectivity.

“A library that can fit inside a backpack,” it’s full of educational resources. The only thing needed to access the information is a laptop, smartphone or iPad. The information in SolarSPELL is curated to include as much localized information as possible. This allows the device to teach things like science and mathematics, but also to preserve local indigenous knowledge.

“This project hits on a lot of ASU's charter aspirations,” said Hosman, who holds a joint appointment in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. “I'm all for engaging globally and providing access to those who don't have it.”

Today there are 220 SolarSPELL digital libraries in Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia, Rwanda and South Sudan. They are used by teachers and Peace Corps volunteers.

"Since we received the SolarSPELL digital library, students do not miss school,” said the dean of students at a Rwandan primary school where SolarSPELL was introduced. “Previously, there were students who would come in the morning but leave in the afternoon. Now, we find them in the morning and the afternoon. … They say, 'If I don't go to school, I won't use the SolarSPELL.' When they arrive they ask teachers to use the SolarSPELL library. They are so interested.” 

Both biochar in Nepal and SolarSPELL are projects in GlobalResolve, a service abroad program with a student focus, headquartered in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.

Top photo: United Nations headquarters in New York. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU students advocate for the deaf in East Africa

September 27, 2018

Two sophomores traveled to three countries to incubate a grassroots movement for inclusive education

For seven weeks this summer, Arizona State University sophomores Courtney Langerud and Elliot Wasbotten traveled throughout East Africa, working with deaf organizations and schools to advocate for inclusive education for deaf and disabled children.

A significant portion of their advocacy work, done through the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, involved working to change the mindset of how deaf and disabled children were viewed in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.

"It really stemmed from a lack of education — people don't understand what a disability actually is," said Langerud. She encountered this particularly in Uganda, where a disability is often attributed to a curse or witchcraft.

Langerud and Wasbotten emphasized that it was important that they went to the communities as advocates and with an open mind.

"We wanted to learn the culture and customs so that we can see what they were doing, and then offer insight," Wasbotten said.

It wasn't just about working specifically with deaf or disabled children: 

"It was really a community effort," Wasbotten said. "We were in one classroom and I started signing just to let people know that, 'Hey, I can listen but I can also take the effort to communicate with someone who's deaf.' A big part of it was not only having that conversation, but giving that conversation the open space that it needed to reach these children and the community they live in."

Jamie Ell

Multimedia editor , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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Raised fists, rising hope: 50 years later, activist athletes reflect on Mexico City Olympic Games

September 25, 2018

John Carlos and Wyomia Tyus speak about modern sports activism at ASU-UNAM event in stadium where '68 salute occurred

When Wyomia Tyus and John Carlos stood in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City for the first time in 1968, they helped launch a movement of athletes raising their voices — and in the case of John Carlos, raising his fist. Their goal was to bring light to racial inequality in the United States. A half-century later, their message still rings loud in stadiums around the world.

On Monday, Carlos and Tyus returned to Mexico City as guests of ASU’s Global Sport Institute and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). On the track of the Olympic Stadium, home to UNAM’s Pumas soccer team these days, the athletes reflected on modern sports activism. They were joined by another athlete and social activist, Chris Kluwe, a former punter for the Minnesota Vikings well known for his outspoken support of same-sex marriage and whose career's premature end many see as a result of his activism.

When Tyus walked through the entrance to the stadium on Monday, accompanied by her daughter, she said she could feel the chills. It was the first time she had returned to the track where she set a world record for the 100-meter sprint and became the first person to win the 100-meter in two consecutive Olympics, having won it four years earlier in Tokyo as well.

Similarly, for Carlos, the stadium is more than a building or a reminder of a moment in time.

“It’s a living organism,” he said. “That stadium breathes.” 

But for a moment, on Oct. 16, 1968, the stadium did not so much breathe as hold its breath. On that day, Carlos and fellow American Tommie Smith took to the podium to claim their bronze and gold medals in the 200-meter sprint. They stepped onto the podium wearing no shoes, only black socks, which represented black poverty in the U.S. Pinned to their chests were badges for the Olympic Project for Human Rights, an organization established by Smith, Carlos and others to fight racial segregation and racism in sports. Most famously, they each wore a black glove on one hand. When the American national anthem began to ring out through the stadium, they raised their gloved fists and bowed their heads.

“The whole stadium got quiet,” Tyus said. “That’s what I heard. I heard nothing.”

Global Sport Institute and UNAM event in Mexico City
Olympians Wyomia Tyus and John Carlos on Monday visit the track where they competed in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Photo by Mia Armstrong

Soon after, silence morphed into mumbles, which quickly gave way to both boos and cheers. From Olympic officials, the response was harsh — Smith and Carlos were banned from the Olympic Village and expelled from the games.

Carlos and Smith’s gesture has been ubiquitously memorialized as a Black Power salute. But for Carlos, its significance was broader: It was a symbol in support of human rights.

It was also a symbol that had a profound impact on the world, and particularly on Tyus. In a relay race later in the games, she wore black shorts in support of Smith and Carlos and dedicated her medal to them.

Tyus and Carlos reflected on the lasting legacy of their Olympic stories at a public event Monday evening organized by the Global Sport Institute and UNAM entitled “The Power of Sports Activism: From Black Power in Mexico ’68 to the Trump Era.” The event, held on UNAM’s campus, featured Carlos; Tyus; Kluwe; Kenneth Shropshire, the CEO of the Global Sport Institute and ASU’s Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport; as well as Georgina González and Juan Villoro, two leading sports journalists and commentators in Mexico.

Villoro reflected on the profound and wicked effects of racism in the U.S. and Mexico, noting that sports can be a space for both deliberation and manipulation. The salute at the ’68 Games, Villoro said, marked a “before and after” in the world of sport, as well as in the world of civil rights.

Kluwe is part of the “after ’68” generation of athletes and social activists. But similar to Carlos and Tyus, Kluwe’s decision to raise his voice against social inequality was met with icy consequences. Kluwe’s experience was a demonstration of what González identified as an overarching principle of sport and social activism: Those willing to sacrifice their positions of privilege are those who will be able to affect meaningful change.

“It is incumbent on us to show that the world can be a better place,” Kluwe said. “In America, we still have much work to do.”

Carlos and Tyus agreed that not enough has changed since they brought the world’s attention to their fight for social equality in 1968. Today, players like Colin Kaepernick follow in their footsteps — a reflection of the fact that politics are inextricably linked to sports, the athletes said, even if some might prefer to think of them as separate. Kluwe argued that to say there should be no politics in sport is in itself a political statement.

Carlos remains hopeful thanks to the idea that, five decades on, people can look back on his raised fist and find a reason to continue their own fight for social justice. “Everything we did was for this moment,” he said.

And Tyus, who remembers being annoyed as a child when told that she should wear a cowgirl outfit when she wanted to play at being a cowboy, credits the Tennessee State Tigerbelles track program and its legendary coach Ed Temple for opening her path to being not only an Olympian, but someone who could speak up for those without a voice, to try to improve the world.

Running opened the door for her, Tyus told the audience in the UNAM auditorium, “but education kept it open.”

For Shropshire, these moments of reflection are at the core of the Global Sport Institute’s mission. “If we understand the past,” he said, “we can do better today and in the future.”

Written by Mia Armstrong. Top photo: (From left) Kenneth Shropshire, Chris Kluwe, John Carlos and Wyomia Tyus are interviewed at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City on Monday. Photo by Mia Armstrong 

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Thunderbird provides culturally relevant mentorship for students from emerging countries

Thunderbird helps students remove cultural barriers to business networking.
September 24, 2018

SHARE fellows learn subtleties of networking

The Thunderbird School of Global Management is all about working across cultures, and after the school launched a generous scholarship program a decade ago, it has adapted the program to be more culturally competent.

Thunderbird is marking 10 years of SHARE Fellows, students from emerging countries who receive a full scholarship, expense money and mentoring. Over the past decade, 59 students from 29 emerging countries have received SHARE Fellowships to attend Thunderbird, which became part of Arizona State University four years ago. The fellows are encouraged to then give back to their communities.

“They end up being very active members of the campus because they don’t have those financial worries,” said Maria Houle, program director for the SHARE Fellowship.

“A lot of these students come from countries where you don’t give charity to people you don’t know, so many are surprised that alumni will give them money.”

The program was started in 2008 by Marshall Parke, who graduated from Thunderbird in 1977 and is now a partner and vice chairman of Lexington Partners investment firm.

“Marshall’s idea from his own experience at Thunderbird was that students from developing countries enriched the experience of everybody, and that they could make big changes in their own regions. But they needed mentorship,” Houle said.

Parke enlisted several alumni to raise money for the fellowship, with donors agreeing to be mentors to the fellows. But the mentorship piece didn’t take off, Houle said.

“These were high-end donors and we realized that with this population of students, many come from hierarchical cultures and they were uncomfortable calling them,” she said. “There wasn’t a formal procedure in place, and the students were very shy to initiate.”

Houle said that one student from Africa told her he couldn’t call someone he didn’t know.

“They did not have experience in calling strangers. That’s an American phenomenon,” Houle said.

So that’s where Houle comes in.

“Mentorship is a relationship that doesn’t have an end game, but we do have a goal: That the fellows have a job when they leave school,” she said.

“So we started setting career goals with the students, and I pull in people to be mentors as needed.”

share fellows
The SHARE Fellows get coaching in how to overcome cultural barriers to networking. The fellows from 2018-19, from left: Irene Kinyanguli, Younis Altaie (Unis Taye), Hala Al Kasm, Han Zhang, Pauline Nalumansi, Yully Purwono, Yagana Hafed, Lemmy Gitahi, Annie Wambita Okanya, Rexcel Lagare, Mfon Vanessa Udo-Ema and Madit Yel.

Mentors can be Thunderbird alumni or people that Houle has known professionally.

“We have loads of seminars on how to network and how to call a stranger and what they can expect to get out of it,” she said.

“And I try to get their heads around the idea that if they call someone, it gives that person validation for their experience.”

Houle gives the fellows a lot of attention.

“If they want to run every email by me for cultural appropriateness, they can. Sometimes I’ll reach out on their behalf and I’ll get the ball rolling for them,” she said.

Nana Oureya, who is from Togo, was a SHARE Fellow last year and graduated from Thunderbird in 2017. She said that making networking calls was difficult at first.

‘I was shy. I said, ‘Maria, I can’t do it.’ But she said, ‘No, you’re giving something and you’re asking something and you can build these relationships,’ ” she said.

Oureya, a financial analyst at Intel in Chandler, said learning to network was crucial because she rotates among departments every 18 months.

“You have to be comfortable talking to senior people and know the politics and who to reach out to,” she said.

With the coaching, Oureya was able to land a summer internship position at Intel in October of her first year.

“I was so relieved, and it was because of everything that Maria taught us,” she said. “She taught us about our resume, how to dress, everything from head to toe.”

Houle said that many of the SHARE alumni have mentored other fellows.

“Mentors tend to be people who are more advanced in a career, but these students are looking for the entry point and the best ones to help are the ones who have just done it,” she said. “When you have a Vietnamese talking to a Kenyan, both have dealt with work authorization or issues with English.”

Mentoring is one way the SHARE alumni can give back — something the program encourages once they are settled in their careers. Some SHARE alumni support the community through their jobs, such as working in a nonprofit. Others have launched initiatives. Tenzing Paldon Nepali, a SHARE Fellow in 2014, co-founded Kalyani, a nonprofit to improve the health of women in rural Nepal. Stefan Dyulgerov of Bulgaria, a fellow in 2015, is a co-founder of the Society for Unity, which promotes education and civic values in southeastern Europe.

Rexcel Lagare is a current Thunderbird student and a SHARE Fellow who hopes to grow the economy in his native Philippines.

“My game plan now is to boost my skills portfolio to make me more qualified for advanced management positions, which in turn will raise my network and influence by being a successful business leader,” he said.

“That would provide that proverbial beacon of hope that will help eliminate poverty — currently the driving force in lawlessness and crime.”

Oureya is interested in helping girls in her native Togo aspire to higher education.

“You have to give back,” she said. “It’s like a chain, and that’s how you amplify the effect of what SHARE gives you.”

Top image from Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now