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Did sanctions bring Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table?

April 30, 2018

ASU expert remains cautious regarding North Korea's about-face on nuclear ambitions

A peace treaty is potentially in the works for North and South Korea, and leaders say they plan to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula within a year. They are also pursuing talks with the United States to put an end to the war that has continued for more than half a century, providing a reason for optimism.

President Donald Trump is taking credit for imposing his “maximum pressure” policy, which includes tough new sanctions on North Korea. He claims sanctions have finally brought their leader, Kim Jong Un, to the negotiation table.

To find out whether that claim has merit, ASU Now consulted Scott Silverstone, a former U.S. Naval officer, an ASU Senior Future of War Fellow with the Center on the Future of War and the author of a forthcoming book, “From Hitler’s Germany to Saddam’s Iraq: the Enduring False Promise of Preventive War.” 

Man in stripped shirt smiling
Scott Silverstone

Question: President Trump believes tough sanctions are bringing North Korea to the table with talks of freezing their nuclear program. Do you believe that sanctions brought them to this point?

Answer: Decision making within the North Korean government remains a mystery to outside observers, so it’s impossible to say with confidence how much impact economic sanctions have had on the regime’s behavior. In recent years, North Korean President Kim Jong Un has been pursuing dual priorities — the development of a potent nuclear weapons capability and economic growth to satisfy the expectations of a network of North Korean elites that his regime’s internal stability depends on. Recently, he announced that his nuclear goals have been met, so it’s now time to prioritize his economic objectives.

Sanctions relief is clearly an important factor for growing the economy. I’m not convinced, however, that Kim Jong Un would have abandoned his nuclear ambitions just to find relief from the “maximum pressure” campaign. For years the Kim regime has bluntly declared that its survival depends on the ability to deter an American attack. We have heard repeated references to the fate of Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi of Libya from the North Koreans, and their determination to avoid a similarly violent end through the deterrent effect of a nuclear arsenal. It is no surprise that Kim Jong Un embraced diplomatic engagement after North Korea launched a missile that is believed to have a range capable of hitting dozens of American cities.

Q: Sanctions don’t seem to be foolproof, however. It has been said that Russia and China are violating the U.N.’s international sanctions. What can be done about this violation currently and again in the future?

A: Some of the best research on this question has uncovered a sophisticated network linking North Korean “state trading companies” and private Chinese companies, as well as foreign companies operating in China, which has provided North Korea a way to procure a range of foreign products, including key technical components for their nuclear weapons program. Interviews with North Korean defectors who previously worked for these companies have convinced John Park of Harvard University and Jim Walsh of MIT that the sanctions have not only been largely ineffective, they have provided an incentive for creativity by North Korean agents.

Disrupting these networks is a worthy policy goal, but success runs through Beijing and the Chinese firms doing business with North Korea. Park and Walsh note an interesting option: International sanctions have spurred the development of a “compliance culture” among Chinese businesses who increasingly fear the negative impacts to their reputations and their ability to do business with American and other foreign firms if they are caught in these relationships with North Korean state trading companies.

Q: In your opinion, do sanctions against other countries work, and when are they most effective?

A: The dominant view among scholars that have been studying economic sanctions for decades is that they are largely ineffective as a tool to inhibit weapons proliferation. While there are grounds for skepticism that sanctions will solve this problem, from a policy perspective it seems reasonable to include sanctions as part of a larger international effort to isolate countries that are violating nonproliferation goals. It sends a strong signal that proliferation is illegitimate, and will make it harder for the target states to operate freely within the global economy.

Three important cases demonstrate that sanctions can have an effect on those tempted to pursue illicit weapons. The sanctions regime imposed on Iraq in the 1990s was full of holes, but Saddam Hussein did in fact feel the pressure created by his inability to sell oil freely in the global market. One key motive for his decision not to reconstitute his illicit weapons programs after the Gulf War was to eventually win relief from oil sanctions. In the early 2000s, Libya came in from the cold, opening its suspect weapons sites to international inspectors in order to secure an end to U.N. oil sanctions.  And it is impossible to explain Iran’s willingness to agree to cap its nuclear ambitions in 2015 without the immensely painful international sanctions put in place in 2012.

Q: If North Korea does freeze its nuclear program, where do we go from here? How do we keep them in check?

A: This is the million-dollar question: How will the United States react when Kim Jong Un fails to offer complete unilateral nuclear disarmament in the coming negotiations? Kim will likely offer to “freeze” his nuclear activities, which could include foregoing weapons and missile tests for some period into the future.  Since this will lock in the status quo, preserving the various nuclear capabilities North Korea possesses today, the United States will likely refuse to consider this a legitimate option. On this point, the talks will deadlock. In the meantime, North Korea will try to use the offer to freeze its nuclear programs to drive a wedge between America and South Korea, and to gain greater support from China for its call for sanctions relief and normalized relations on the Korean peninsula. 

Logically, and historically, there is no reason to expect North Korea to denuclearize, since the regime believes its very survival depends on the ability to threaten nuclear reprisal against the United States and its regional allies. While American officials will never openly accept this status quo, the most likely response will be to continue with the United States’ de facto current policy: containment of a nuclear-armed North Korean adversary and deterrence of its potential aggression.

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

Les Schiefelbein endows Global Dispute Resolution Program and scholarship at ASU Law

April 26, 2018

Les Schiefelbein, CEO and founder of Schiefelbein Global Dispute Resolution, has announced a gift to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University to establish the Les Schiefelbein Global Dispute Resolution Program and Endowed Scholarship.

A goal of the global dispute resolution program is to provide students at ASU Law an innovative and interactive environment to gain knowledge, experience and develop professional connections that will help prepare them for practice in international arbitration and mediation with global law firms, multinational corporations, governments and nongovernment organizations. Les and Linda Schiefelbein Linda and Les Schiefelbein. Download Full Image

The program will feature an annual International Arbitration Forum where top lawyers, counsel for global corporations, internationally recognized arbitrators and mediators, and leaders at arbitration institutions will engage in discussions on timely issues in international dispute resolution.

The Les Schiefelbein Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide scholarship support for law students pursuing careers in global dispute resolution.

"The generous gift from Les and Linda Schiefelbein to create the Global Dispute Resolution Program, at the law school's Lodestar Dispute Resolution Center, will improve our ability to offer a world-class legal education to our students and prepare them for careers in the field of global dispute resolution," said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. "Through this collaborative program, our students will have opportunities to interact with and learn from leading lawyers, arbitrators and mediators across multiple disciplines."

"International dispute resolution is complex, constantly evolving due to the breadth of a global economy and the fast pace of technology innovation and the need for new practitioners, both men and women, is paramount," said Les Schiefelbein. "The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law has an impressive commitment to dispute resolution education, being ranked number seven in U.S. law schools for dispute resolution by U.S. News & World Report.

"It is the right place and this is the right time to provide a focused program to nurture the learning, talents, passion, and leadership skills for the next generation to be successful practitioners in global dispute resolution, especially where it is growing at a rapid pace in Asia, Europe and the United States."

Schiefelbein is a leading domestic and international arbitrator serving in complex commercial, government and technology disputes. Les has an extensive business and law background that includes 30 years as vice president and deputy general counsel at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. At Lockheed Martin, Schiefelbein advised senior leaders on a wide range of international aerospace, technology and national security matters and acted as counsel in many international arbitrations. He also is a retired colonel, Air Force judge advocate lawyer.

Schiefelbein currently serves as CEO and vice chairman of the executive committee of the Silicon Valley Arbitration & Mediation Center, a nonprofit that serves the global technology sector by promoting business practical resolution of disputes. He made the Silicon Valley Arbitration and Mediation Center's "Tech List," a catalog of the world's leading technology arbitrators and mediators, in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Schiefelbein received his JD from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

Senior director of communications, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


ASU program partners with scouts in Nicaragua on drug and conflict intervention program

April 24, 2018

In recognition of the need to curb drug use and violence for adolescents, the president of the National Scouting Association of Nicaragua signed a partnership agreement with Dale se REAL, an Arizona State University program that teaches young people practical ways to handle situations involving drugs and conflict.

The project is led by Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Assistant Professor Jonathan Pettigrew. It has received funding since 2013 from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, a division of the U.S. State Department. Nicaraguan Scouts Asociación de Scouts de Nicaragua. Photo by Televicentro (Canal 2) Download Full Image

Dale se REAL is a program customized by Nicaraguan youth, for Nicaraguan youth. The program builds on the best drug and violence prevention practice in the U.S. and has adapted it to fit the Nicaraguan context. 

The story of the partnership agreement between the scouting program and ASU was recently covered on a national television station in Nicaragua.

“It was the scouts who called the news agency to witness the signing, which indicates the value they see in Dale se REAL and its role in their mission to support youth development,” Pettigrew said.

Dale se REAL teaches middle school students in 47 schools and organizations in Nicaragua skills for developing healthy relationships. The program also surveys some of the students in these institutions to learn about their family experiences, parent-child communication, and health behaviors like drinking alcohol or bullying. This enables Pettigrew and his team to examine direct and indirect associations between family bonding and adolescent alcohol use. 

Josh Allsup
Jorge Katín, president of the Asociación de Scouts de Nicaragua at a news conference with Josh Allsup, national director of Dale se REAL.

“We have discovered that it is the quality of direct communication about drugs and alcohol between parents and children that predicts adolescents' anti-drug perceptions, rather than the quantity," said YoungJu Shin, assistant professor in the Hugh Downs School who served as co-investigator for the grant project. "One good conversation between a parent and a child can be better than a series of conversations.”  

“Nicaraguans face unique substance-related challenges,” Pettigrew added. “For one thing, there is no legal drinking age, per se. The legal age for purchasing alcohol there is 18, but it is rarely enforced. Alcohol is relatively inexpensive and readily available. It is the most commonly used substance, which has led to numerous alcohol-related deaths. Because of this, the role that parents and prevention programs like Dale se REAL play in deterring teenage drinking is extremely valuable.”

Pettigrew is optimistic about the expansion of the program through the scouting program in Nicaragua. “Because of this agreement, hundreds more Nicaraguan youth will develop skills to keep them healthy throughout their lives.”

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


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ASU scholars save priceless manuscripts from obscurity

ASU profs' monumental find to inform virtual reconstruction of medieval church.
The Brigittine order of nuns gave women autonomy as far back as the Middle Ages.
Artifacts in monastery would be "El Dorado" for 18th-, 19th-century scholars.
April 23, 2018

Art historian, musicologist felt it was their duty to preserve centuries-old manuscripts detailing lives of unconventional nuns

In 1799, soldiers of Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign were knocking down walls to build a fort near the city of Rosetta when they found a large basalt slab inscribed with strange symbols. In 1820, a peasant searching for marble building blocks on the Greek island of Melos uncovered the statue of an armless woman. In 1974, Chinese farmers digging a well near the city of Xian unearthed 8,000 life-size terra-cotta soldiers, horses and chariots.

The Rosetta Stone; the Venus de Milo; the Xian Terra-cotta Army — priceless relics of the past, each imbued with a unique historical significance.

More recently, in October 2015, an international group of scholars visiting a monastery in Altomuenster, Germany, were unexpectedly granted entrée to its usually off-limits library. Inside was a treasure trove of texts and artifacts belonging to the unconventional Brigittine Order of Catholic nuns, dating from the 15th century to present day.

“You never think you’re going to discover an unknown library ever in your career,” said Corine Schleif, Arizona State University professor of art history. She and Volker Schier, a musicologist and visiting faculty at the Institute for Humanities Research, were leading the fortuitous scholars on a tour of European women’s monasteries.

The Altomuenster monastery, just northwest of Munich, was their last stop.

Left undisturbed for 500 years, the library contained over a thousand previously unknown manuscripts, as well as works of art and devotional objects. If it had belonged to another order, such as the Benedictines or Franciscans, about whom a great deal is already known, it probably wouldn’t have been as monumental a find.

“For the Brigittines,” Schier said, “it more than doubles the number of known manuscripts.”

Immediately recognizing the magnitude of the discovery but with impending flights back to their countries of origin, the group vowed to return at a later date and properly delve into the bounty. A month later, a proclamation came from the Vatican that the monastery was to be permanently shuttered.

“We assumed we could go back any time, that there was no immediate rush,” Schleif said. “Then when they closed the monastery we became very concerned.”

The location of the monastery, in the suburbs of Munich at the end of a commuter rail line, means real estate there is at a premium. Many older buildings have been converted into luxury housing to capitalize on the area’s popularity. Once it was announced that the monastery would be closed, Schleif and Schier feared it would succumb to the same fate, and the precious artifacts inside cast heedlessly asunder.

“You can only turn a monastery into condos if it’s empty,” Schier said.

Alarmed at the sheer volume of historical knowledge that stood to be lost if the ancient texts were split up and sold off to private buyers, or worse, thrown in a landfill, he and Schleif sprang into action. At first, they appealed to the papal commissar in Munich, offering to write a grant and secure funds to catalogue and digitize the collection.

Their offer was denied.

“They kept saying that they didn’t have any valuable books there,” Schleif said. “We had seen enough of them that we knew they were very valuable. They had more Brigittine texts than the whole rest of the world.”

So they went higher up the chain of command, writing a letter to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and had it signed by all the scholars in their tour group — including the late Tore Nyberg, a well-known Swedish professor and influential historian, whose clout they hoped might sway the church.

But still, nothing.

Once again, Schleif and Schier upped the ante. They drafted an online petition that garnered roughly 2,500 signatures from experts in fields as diverse as anthropology, literature and religious studies, who all agreed the Altomuenster library was a rare and invaluable find.

Adding to the pressure, several news outlets had gotten wind of the story and began sniffing around the monastery, where they were met with a less-than-warm reception. According to Schleif, one representative of the church told an Associated Press reporter something along the lines of: “We don’t need Americans telling us what to do with our cultural heritage; we have been at it much longer than they have.”

“So somehow our whole group — through me — became American,” Schleif said. Aside from her, the group of scholars included Schier, who is German, as well as citizens from such countries as Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands.

“That was kind of hard to take,” Schleif said. “This notion of ownership. That historical and cultural artifacts don’t belong to all of us.

“I feel really strongly that [for example] my African-American PhD student should not have to work [only] on African-American art. … Or a Native American student at ASU shouldn’t have to work [only] on Native American art. If we want to talk about global history and global culture and ‘worlding,’ as the new term is, then we have to find ways of practicing that.”

“What we are interested in as scholars is world cultural heritage,” Schier added, “and this is clearly world cultural heritage. Anybody on this planet should have the possibility to enjoy it, to see it, to study it, to work on it.”

The Altomuenster texts provide an excellent opportunity to study women’s history, in particular. The Brigittines were founded in 1344 by Saint Bridget of Sweden, who had a distinct vision for the order — one that gave women the upper hand. Whereas other orders were still presided over by men, Brigittine monasteries were entirely under the rule of an abbess.

“Women ran this institution for hundreds of years,” Schleif said. During the Middle Ages, that was no small feat. At the time, one of the only acceptable alternatives to marriage was to become a nun, and the Brigittines gave the women in their order the autonomy to make their own decisions, especially in financial matters.

One Brigittine Schleif and Schier learned of through letters recovered from the monastery was a widow who had entered into the order (one of the only ones to allow widows) upon her husband’s death in order to maintain control of her self-made fortune. As a Brigittine, she was able to use her wealth and influence to improve the lives of other women in the order.

“They were responsible for their own destiny, until right now,” Schleif said, alluding to the state of affairs the order finds itself in today; the reason behind the Vatican’s decision to close the Altomuenster monastery for good — presently, the Brigitine order counts just a handful of members. Both Schleif and Schier agree it’s on its last legs and that its impending demise only underscores the urgency to preserve the library and related artifacts.

“As an institution in the Middle Ages and beyond, where women had the option [to be autonomous] … we certainly want to keep documentation of that,” Schleif said.

The petition had been the tipping point. Soon after it went viral, Schleif and Schier received an email inviting them to come view the manuscripts at the diocesan archives in Munich, where they had been moved following the announcement of the monastery’s closing.

Over three days during the summer of 2017, Schleif, Schier and a third colleague sorted through towering stacks of dusty, weathered tomes, flipping the embrittled pages with diligence and alacrity. It wasn’t long before the treasures began to surface: a meticulous, hand-written card catalogue of the entire library, which proved exceptionally accurate and immensely helpful; processionals whose margins had been curiously torn away; and page after page of brilliantly colored illustrations.

Eventually, Schleif, Schier and their interdisciplinary group of scholars — including musicologists, historians and computer scientists — hope to use the texts to create a virtual reconstruction of a medieval church, where one can become immersed in the experience whilst listening to the songs that were sung, reading the prayer books and looking around at the architectural elements and fellow congregants, nuns and priests in period-appropriate dress.

They’ve titled the project Extraordinary Sensescapes. Their hope is that the combined effect of visual details and acoustics will transport users to another point in time.

“It’s important that we are able to empathize with each other and that we’re able to think ourselves into situations that are so vastly different from our own,” Schleif said. “And if we go back into history, maybe we can do it in a way that’s nonthreatening because we have analytical distance, and apply it to our own situations today.”

They’ll need to digitize whatever manuscripts from the Altomuenster library they intend to use for the project, and ideally they would like to digitize the entire library to make it accessible to scholars everywhere. However, both Schleif and Schier agree the need to protect the physical texts themselves is just as crucial because of what we can learn from the material elements.

“It wouldn’t be enough to digitize them,” Schier said. “A photo can never show you the real colors. It jumps at you. But it’s not only the colors that you can’t digitize, it’s also the utmost detail, down to every little brushstroke.”

And every little torn margin. He and Schleif presume that the margins torn out of the processionals may have been used to stiffen the fabric of the Brigittines’ distinctive crowns, which are composed of several white strips fastened with five red dots depicting the wounds of Christ.

“That gives you an idea of how important the material is,” Schleif said. “These things tell stories. It’s not just about the text. You really do want to touch it and look at it carefully. These books were put in oxcarts and traveled through Europe. Each book has its own history, if it could only talk.”

Thanks to the efforts of Schleif, Schier and their colleagues, those histories will continue to be shared, now that the library is safely housed at the diocesan archives.

“I see it as one of the major successes of my career, and [a major success for] ASU, actually,” Schleif said. “We’ve preserved world cultural heritage, even though we’re so far away. I think our interests should go beyond the desert, to the rest of the world, too.”

Another win for the scholars is the fact that the Altomuenster manuscripts are being kept as an ensemble. Often, through accidents of preservation, collections of texts become irrevocably separated as books are lost, sold or thrown out, leaving scholars with the task of piecing together and trying to make sense of what remains.

“Here, we have this intact library,” Schleif said. One that serves as an uninterrupted historical account of the life and culture of the Brigittines from 1496, when the Altomuenster monastery was built, to present day.

The future of the nonliterary items that filled the monastery remains uncertain. Schleif and Schier witnessed their removal from the monastery vicariously, through photos taken and sent to them by one of the last nuns still residing there. They described the manner in which centuries-old habits, altars, crucifixes and statues were handled and transported as “appalling”: roughly packed into ordinary moving trucks without protection. And they’re still unsure as to where the items ended up.

That, however, is a mantle they hope a more suited champion will assume.

“If one fights, one has to try to succeed. And we were happy that we could succeed [where the library was concerned],” Schier said. “But we thought that perhaps another scholar might take up the fight for the other objects. And they’re worthwhile to fight for. Somebody working in the 18th or 19th century … for them, this is El Dorado.”

Looking back on the ordeal, it’s no question Schleif and Schier would do it all over again if they had to.

“We are scholars. We have to pipe up if we see important cultural heritage endangered,” Schier said. “This is our responsibility, and we have to make it known and take on necessary actions.”


Top photo: Liturgical manuscript dated 1486, probably written in Nuremberg and brought to Altomuenster by the founding sisters from the monastery of Maihingen. Photo by Volker Schier

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Barrett senior wins one of world's most prestigious scholarships

April 19, 2018

ASU student and Zimbabwe citizen heads to UK for pharmacology doctorate with Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Charity Bhebhe had about a 1.5 percent probability of winning one of the world’s most prestigious scholarships.

It was enough.

This month, the Arizona State University senior from Zimbabwe found out she beat out thousands of other applicants from around the world to earn a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

One of 92 scholars, the molecular biology and biotechnology major in the School of Life Sciences — also a Mastercard Foundation Scholar — will pursue a doctoral degree in pharmacology at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

“I am very excited, and I am proud of myself,” Bhebhe said. “I am also very thankful to everyone who helped me with the application — especially my advisers, professors and my mentor and (principal investigator) Dr. Heather Bean for all the guidance and support. I wouldn’t have done it without their help.”

While at Cambridge, scholars pursue the full range of subjects available and are spread through its departments and colleges. Up to 95 scholars are selected each year, including 40 from the U.S. and 55 from other countries. Of this year’s almost 5,800 applicants, 423 were shortlisted by their departments and, of these, 201 were interviewed in the U.S. and Cambridge by four panels of interviewers drawn from across Cambridge University.

“Winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship is a remarkable achievement, and my office and the Barrett leadership could not be prouder of Charity,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College at ASU and director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement.

“She is among a cohort of only 92 stellar students from around the entire world chosen to receive this honor, which illustrates not only her remarkable academic and intellectual potential, but her long-term leadership potential,” Mox said. “She’s somebody that is going to make a real difference in the future.”

The lack of basic resources to treat minor illnesses in Zimbabwe spurred Bhebhe to study the molecular mechanisms of diseases with the goal of successfully preventing them.

“It has always been my goal to be able to apply my medical research skills in investigating and preventing diseases to improve health care standards and give people from disadvantaged communities like my own a fair chance to fight against disease,” she said. “I intend to use my training in pharmacology to continue researching molecular and cellular systems involved in disease progression and, consequently, develop therapies for human disease.”

ASU and Barrett were a huge help in winning the honor, Bhebhe said. She heard about the opportunity from the Barrett Office of National Scholarship Advisement.

Mox talked her through the process and provided pointers for the application.

“I received a lot of help and guidance from my professors and advisers as well on the writing portion of the application and the preparing for the interviews,” she said.

Charity is the third Gates Cambridge Scholar from ASU in the past four years. In the 2016 competition year, ASU alum Michael Meaney was selected, and in the 2015 competition year, Blake Thomson was honored. Other recent ASU winners include Nicole Person-Rennell in 2011 and Ben Strauber in 2010.

“This high level of commitment — to research, leadership, and service — is a fundamental quality of the Barrett community, and we try to encourage our students to see how they can leverage their talents against the opportunities that they receive at ASU to go out into the world and tackle the big problems,” Mox said. “It isn’t always apparent to our students, when they’re walking back and forth to meals or study sessions, that they live and study at a global campus. When our students win these sorts of awards, I hope they say, 'Yes, I can do that, too.'”

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was established in October 2000 by a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge. Scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the U.K. to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Scholars are selected on the basis of their outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential and commitment to improving the lives of others.

Top photo: Charity Bhebhe will head across the pond to study on the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Photo by Nicole Greason

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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