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ASU researcher featured in award-winning documentary on Ngogo chimpanzees

'Rise of the Warrior Apes' to be screened at ASU Feb. 15

February 8, 2018

Arizona State University researcher Kevin Langergraber knows nearly 200 chimpanzees of the Ngogo community by sight and by name — Jackson, the alpha male; Marlene, the oldest female; and Morton, a particularly aggressive adult male. 

Langergraber began learning about the Ngogo chimpanzees in 2001 as a graduate student. Now a research affiliate with the Institute of Human Origins and assistant professor with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Langergraber codirects the Ngogo Chimpanzee Project, a long-term study of the Ngogo chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda. "Marlene" chimpanzee from Ngogo community Marlene, the oldest female in the Ngogo chimpanzee community. Image by Kevin Langergraber

Along with project founders David Watts (Yale University) and John Mitani (University of Michigan), Langergraber is featured in a documentary about the Ngogo chimpanzees and the researchers who have studied them for the last 25 years. "Rise of the Warrior Apes" will be screened at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Marston Theater on ASU's Tempe campus.

Langergraber has had experience working with wildlife film crews before, including for BBC’s "Planet Earth" series. "Rise of the Warrior Apes," however, is very different from most wildlife films.

“Film crews typically come out to Ngogo for a few weeks to film generic chimpanzee behavior — they want to get footage of them grooming one another, hunting monkeys or going on territorial boundary patrols in search for chimpanzees from neighboring groups — just chimps doing chimp things,” Langergraber said.

But the director of "Warrior Apes," James Reed, was specifically interested in telling the stories of individual chimpanzees and the researchers who have studied them since 1993.

“Watching chimpanzees is like watching a soap opera,” Reed said. “At dinner we gossip about who did what with whom that day and what we think will happen to so-and-so in the future. This film is great not only because it tells some of these really interesting stories about individual chimps, but also because it gives some insight into the experiences of the humans who have been studying them for so many years.”

In contrast to other wildlife films, much of the footage in the film was taken by the Ngogo researchers themselves over the last 25 years, rather than by visiting professional camera crews.

Langergraber credits this unique perspective as the main reason "Rise of the Warrior Apes" was recently awarded “Best Animal Behavior Film” at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, besting large budget productions such as BBC’s Planet Earth II series.

“Wildlife film people tell me that Jackson Hole is their version of the Oscars,” Langergraber said. He hopes that publicity from the film will help motivate people to get more involved in chimpanzee conservation.

Chimpanzee populations have decreased dramatically all across their range in equatorial Africa over the past century and they are classified as an endangered species. The main threat to the chimpanzees at Ngogo and elsewhere in Kibale is illegal hunting. Although local people have cultural taboos against eating primates, chimpanzees are often caught in wire snares that poachers set to catch other small mammal species, such as bush pigs or forest antelope. Snares are a major source of chimpanzee mortality, and many “lucky” individuals who escape from snares and survive lose a hand or foot in the process. 

Langergraber employs nine Ugandans, some of whom are ex-poachers themselves, to remove snares from the forest and curtail other illegal hunting activity. Much of the funding for these activities come from donations from the public.

To learn more about chimpanzee research and conservation at Ngogo, visit Ngogochimpanzeeproject.org or Facebook.com/ngogochimps.

The "Rise of the Warrior Apes" screening is free and open to the public but a ticket is required to secure a seat.

Julie Russ

Assistant director, Institute of Human Origins


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ASU expands reach with education partnership for Arab youth

February 7, 2018

The university and Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education will collaborate on two initiatives for high-achieving students

Arizona State University is expanding its global reach with a new partnership with Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education to provide higher education and preparation to students in 22 countries in the Arab world.

ASU is collaborating with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, a UAE-based foundation that provides underserved, high-achieving Arab students with scholarships, support and skills training, on two new initiatives: the Open Learning Scholars (OLS) and STEM Scholars programs.   

• Open Learning Scholars is a program for students to acquire master’s degrees from ASU Online, funded with an $11 million grant over three years.

• STEM Scholars is an opportunity for students to study for their master’s degree at ASU while also receiving mentorship and other support.

The foundation hopes the Al Ghurair OLS and STEM Scholars programs will build the next generation of leaders, according to Maysa Jalbout, the CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education.

The Open Learning Scholars program’s partnership with ASU, launched this semester, will provide scholarships for 550 students in Arab countries to pursue master’s degrees through ASU Online. There is a total of 28 degree programs offered in engineering, education, health care, sustainable tourism and teaching English as a second language.

“The UAE has one of the most ambitious innovation and growth goals in the world,” Jalbout said. “The foundation is ready to invest in the education and skills of Emirati youth so that they can achieve those goals.”

The project started when ASU President Michael Crow met with the head of the foundation in Dubai several months ago.

“They realized there are a lot of common interests between the things the foundation is trying to do with college readiness and scholarships and what ASU wants to do,” said Lisa Flesher, director of strategic initiatives for EdPlus, the unit at ASU that creates technology and forges partnerships to develop new ways of teaching and learning.

Abdulla Al Ghurair, a businessman and philanthropist from Dubai, created the foundation that bears his name in 2015 to provide educational opportunities to 15,000 Arab youth over the next decade.

Jad Aboul Hosn is in the first group of foundation STEM Scholars to attend ASU, where he is enrolled in the computer engineering master’s program. He won the scholarship after graduating with a degree in computer and communication engineering from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, where his professor recommended ASU.

“ASU is a very international university,” said Hosn, who joined the Lebanese Student Association and is working with them on a community service project to help redirect unused food to homeless people in Tempe. 

Hosn was one of three foundation STEM Scholars to enroll at ASU in the fall, and he’s become good friends with the other two, who are from Tunisia and Egypt. 

He especially likes the way engineering is taught at ASU.

“I learned pure technical skills back home, which is good but all you do is solve a problem and solve a problem,” he said.

“Here, it’s a chain of thoughts. We go over the wrong approach to see what they did wrong and then we go over the correct one. They teach us to think about it.”

The foundation is especially interested in fostering those critical-thinking skills in future engineers and scientists, so it is funding study in one of 28 master’s programs at ASU, including aerospace, biomedical, chemical and construction engineering, astrophysics, nanoscience, aviation management, education and health. The move is innovative because online education has not been embraced in certain countries the university is pursuing, according to Flesher.

“This is a huge step for the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education to say, ‘We hope to shift that mindset,’” she said. “… [With ASU] there’s academic integrity and there’s validation to make sure you are who you say you are.”

The authorizing body for education in Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), has approved the 28 AGFE Open Learning Scholars online degree programs after a lengthy and detailed process, Flesher said.

ASU Online will begin acquiring authorization from the other 21 countries, a process Flesher compared with gaining accreditation in all 50 states when ASU Online launched.

The scholarship winners must be Arab citizens, younger than 30 years old, academically high achieving and show financial need.

Top photo: Computer engineering graduate student Jad Aboul Hosn poses for a portrait outside Hayden Library on Thursday Nov. 2, 2017 on the Tempe campus. Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education is working in partnership with ASU for the STEM scholars program of which Aboul Hosn is a recipient. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

ASU scholar focuses on Native leadership, advocacy in the US South

Novel use of archival sources earns professor Denise E. Bates coveted research grant

February 6, 2018

For Arizona State University professor and historian Denise E. Bates, primary sources such as original archival documents and oral interviews form the bedrock for her scholarship in indigenous leadership.

So for Bates, the news that she was one of 30 scholars chosen to receive a 2017–18 Princeton University Library Research Grant — supporting travel and living expenses for up to a month’s work in the archives — felt something like winning a historian’s version of the lotto. ASU professor and historian Denise E. Bates outdoors at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus ASU professor Denise E. Bates, a scholar of American Indian studies and leadership studies in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, has been awarded a prestigious Princeton University Library Research Grant. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now Download Full Image

“I plan to spend much of April immersed in the Mudd Manuscript Library’s public policy papers and records of the Association on American Indian Affairs,” said Bates, assistant professor of leadership and interdisciplinary studies in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

“The not-for-profit association is one of the oldest Native American legal advocacy groups in the U.S., but the role that the organization’s collaborations played in the development of the Southern Indian Rights Movement remains largely an untold story,” she said.

“I’ll be looking at the relationship-building and reciprocal learning that happened between the AAIAAssociation on American Indian Affairs and Southern Indian communities from 1953 and 1980,” Bates said, “a time of intense activism and political strategizing and maneuvering by Native leaders, and a time when the AAIA was regularly approached to help meet diverse tribal needs on a national-level.”

How did Southern tribal communities communicate and strategize with the AAIA as they pursued their goals toward further developing their tribal nations? How did the organization decide which communities to work with, given they couldn’t serve all that contacted them for support?

These are a few of the questions she will focus on as she studies the collection, which contains all of the AAIA’s administrative records, meeting minutes and internal correspondence between staff members and their legal consultants. Recently, the papers of the late William Byler, who served as executive director of the AAIA from 1963 to 1981, were turned over to the Mudd collection, which further expands the resources Bates will have available in her pursuit.  

Working with some of the collection from afar through photocopy requests, Bates has already glimpsed some of the challenges the organization’s staff and legal partners faced.

“For example, the AIAA non-Indian lawyers, who were based in New York City and had worked primarily with tribes in the West, were well versed in federal Indian law but knew nothing about tribal politics in the South,” she said. “As they started to dip their toe in the Southeast region they were in a persistent state of discovery and learning from tribes they worked with, to better understand the nuances of the region’s politics, how each Southern state handled Indian affairs, and the unique characteristics of each community.”  

The intellectual adrenaline Bates finds in archival work is enormous. 

“There’s nothing like having access to archival documents, like meeting transcripts, that provide a largely unfiltered narrative,” she said, “letting the words bring out the story, finding where the voices are, witnessing an unfolding of people’s assumptions, perceptions and revelations and understanding what shaped them.” 

Building collaborations, launch-points for public history

An advocate and practitioner of community-based history, Bates has focused her scholarship on opening up greater conversation and understanding of the complex history of Native communities in the U.S. South by bringing Native voices, experiences and influences to the forefront.

Interested in a career in history since she was a child, Bates earned a master’s degree in American Indian studies and a doctorate in history at the University of Arizona before joining ASU’s faculty of Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies in 2007, first as a lecturer and, since 2015, as the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts’ first tenure-track professor of leadership and interdisciplinary studies.

She is part of a small but growing community of scholars focused on the Native U.S. South, and looks forward to seeing the sub-field grow even more at professional academic conferences in the coming years.

“In the 20th century, leaders of Native communities of the South were forced to navigate political and social barriers constructed primarily along lines of race and class — all while confronting inconsistent and politicized federal Indian policies and practices,” Bates said.

“With nearly 100 tribal communities located in the region — 10 federally recognized, 45 state recognized, and dozens of others with no formal political status — there is a rich array of organizational structures and leadership approaches that warrant exploration for insights into scholarly and applied arenas,” she said.

In doing extensive archival and oral history work over more than a decade, she has built a network of collaborators among tribal communities across the South, and each project has led organically into the next.

Her collaborations with the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana have grown into an especially strong partnership, foundational to her first two books: “The Other Movement: Indian Rights and Civil Rights in the Deep South” and “We Will Always Be Here: Native Peoples on Living and Thriving in the South.”

The first book highlighted Southern Native activist work toward tribal sovereignty and nation-building during the civil rights era, and the second shared more than 40 personal narratives and essays that Bates compiled working closely with Native leaders throughout the region, she said, “to document their historic and contemporary successes and struggles in areas that range from cultural preservation to economic development.”  

The work for those books led to a third, “Basket Diplomacy,” which is a study of a century of Coushatta tribal leadership and is now under contract with the University of Nebraska Press.  

“It grew out of two years of intensive research and 300 hours of interviews on Coushatta agency between 1884 and 1985. It is a history of tribal political and business leaders making really savvy decisions and alliances, with the intent to establish cultural and economic stability for future generations,” Bates said. “I’m especially interested in taking a longitudinal approach, identifying areas of continuity across multiple generations and capturing a cultural and historical understanding of leadership.”

On Feb. 8, Coushatta tribal leader and activist Ernest Sickey, who served as tribal chairman from 1973 to 1985, is presenting a public lecture at ASU titled “Tribal Nation-Building in the U.S. South.” His visit, which Bates coordinated with sponsorship from a number of ASU units, also includes a luncheon discussion hosted by the Indian Legal Program of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. 

“Mr. Sickey is a superstar in the evolution of Indian affairs and the movement promoting Indigenous rights in the Southeast,” Bates said. “Under his strategic leadership the community was the first to be recognized by the state of Louisiana and the tribe was reinstated to a federally acknowledged status after being terminated in 1953. The state’s Inter-tribal Council and Office of Indian Affairs are a direct result of his work. And today the Coushatta Tribe is one of Louisiana’s top private employers.”

She is collaborating with Sickey and other tribal leaders on a number of projects to transform the academic scholarship, governing documents and oral histories into instructional and public history materials that can be readily accessed and used.   

“With the Coushatta Tribe, for example, we’re developing a digital learning platform to encourage civic engagement and leadership among tribal youth,” Bates said.

“I feel very strongly that history belongs to the community,” she reflected. “It’s important that this knowledge not just go in scholarly journals and books. Young people are hungry for access to their own history.

“It’s a joy to help pull it together and make it accessible for all to connect with,” she added, “but I’m just a facilitator.”

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ASU joins UC3 coalition to tackle climate change issues

February 6, 2018

13 leading universities will work to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future

Arizona State University is part of a new coalition of 13 leading research universities that will help communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

The group, called the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, includes distinguished universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The universities have committed to mobilizing their resources and expertise to help businesses, cities and states achieve their climate goals.

Formation of UC3 was announced today at the Second Nature 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, being held in Tempe.

Original members of UC3 are: ASU; California Institute of Technology; Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey; La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; The Ohio State University; The State University of New York (SUNY) system; The University of British Columbia; The University of California system; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Maryland, College Park; The University of New Mexico; The University of Toronto; and The University of Washington.

Among initial specific UC3 goals are:

Cross-sector forums: Every UC3 institution will convene a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and advocates. Forums will be tailored to meet local and regional objectives focusing on research-driven policies and solutions to assist various communities.

Coalition climate mitigation and adaptation report: A coalition-wide report, to be released in late 2018, will synthesize the best practices, policies and recommendations from all UC3 forums into a framework for continued progress on climate change goals across the nation and the world.

All UC3 members have already pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the Under2MOU for subnational climate leaders. 

“While college and university campuses across the country are, in aggregate, responsible for only about 3 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions emitted in the U.S., we are educating 100 percent of our future political, business and social leaders,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “This fact alone places significant accountability on higher education and its leaders to take action.” 

UC3 was formed at the request of the University of California system and its president, Janet Napolitano. 

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Former Arizona governor and current University of California President Janet Napolitano raises a few issues her schools face at the announcement of the creation of UC3.

“The University of California system is thrilled to partner with this group of preeminent research universities on an issue that has long been a major strategic priority for all of our institutions,” Napolitano said. “No one is better positioned than we are to scale up research-based climate solutions.”

Harnessing the unique resources and convening power of member institutions, the coalition will work to inform and galvanize local, regional and national action on climate change. Coalition members will bring to these efforts a critical body of expertise in areas including advanced climate modeling, energy storage systems, next generation solar cells and devices, energy-efficiency technologies, biofuels, smart grids, regulatory and policy approaches, etc.

“The research university has played an important role in creating new knowledge, convening thought leadership, and serving as long-term community members,” said Timothy Carter, president of Second Nature. “By applying these strengths to locally relevant climate challenges, we see transformative potential for accelerating climate solutions in these locations in a way that couldn’t happen if the institutions and sectors continued to act on their own.”

Crow added Arizona State, which established the first freestanding School of Sustainability in the U.S. in 2006 and had the first degree program, has several other projects that focus on dealing with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and limiting future emissions.

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ASU President Michael Crow speaks at the announcement of the creation of University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, at the start of the closing plenary at the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit at the DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix-Tempe, on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

These efforts include:

• ASU is working to reach its commitments to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from building energy sources by 2025, and from all sources by 2035. Between 2007 and 2017, ASU reduced emissions per on-campus student by 46 percent.

• ASU has one of the largest university solar installations in the U.S., with 88 solar installations — more than 82,000 photovoltaic panels — that generate 24.1 MWdc, which, combined with ASU’s off-site solar fulfills 30 percent of ASU’s electricity needs.

• ASU has a power purchase agreement with Arizona Public Service at the Red Rock Solar Plant near Picacho Peak, Arizona. The agreement allows ASU to secure solar power from the plant during a 20-year span and adds approximately 29 MWdc to ASU’s solar generating supply. 

• ASU researchers, led by Klaus Lackner in the ASU Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, are developing a device that removes carbon dioxide from the air for re-use or sequestration.

• The Center for Carbon Removal, in partnership with ASU and several other research institutions, launched a new industrial innovation initiative to develop solutions that transform waste carbon dioxide in the air into valuable products and services. The Initiative for a New Carbon Economy is focusing on rethinking the climate challenge as a new economic opportunity, and figuring out how to reuse carbon in real, valuable and lasting ways.

• ASU researchers have developed a software system called Hestia that can estimate greenhouse gas emissions across entire urban landscapes, down to roads and individual buildings. The software provides high resolution maps identifying CO2 emission sources in a way that policymakers can utilize and the public can understand. Hestia can provide cities with a complete, three-dimensional picture of where, when and how carbon dioxide emissions are occurring.

Top photo courtesy pixabay.com

Associate Director , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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Anita Hill delivers powerful testimony at John P. Frank Memorial Lecture

February 5, 2018

Civil rights advocate has historic ties to Arizona attorney

Civil rights advocate and law professor Anita Hill said Monday that while women are currently experiencing "a movement” and moving the needle on sexual harassment, it hasn’t happened quickly enough and there’s still more work to be done.

“This attention is long overdue and this is a moment where we can still get change if we use our voices,” Hill said. “There is a new urgency and need. ... We can take this movement and make it one for change that can be institutionalized in ways so that in 20 years we won't have to say, ‘Where did we go wrong?’ or ‘Why didn’t we do more?’

"I am impatient and I hope you are all, too."

Hill, 61, was this year’s guest for the John P. Frank Memorial Lecture, hosted by ASU’s School of Social Transformation.

The John P. Frank Lecture is the school’s signature event. The endowed lecture series honors the memory of John P. Frank (1917-2002), a leader in the Arizona legal community who is recognized as part of the team that represented Ernesto Miranda before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966 — the case in which the high court ruled that suspects must be advised of their right to legal counsel.

Frank also served as a legal adviser to Hill when she testified in October 1991 during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“The demand and interest for this appearance is great. There’s a generation, including my own, that remembers Anita Hill from her courageous testimony, demonstrated by speaking up regarding the sexual harassment that she had experienced from now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” said Madelaine Adelman, a professor in the School of Transformation who sits on the John P. Frank Lecture selection committee. “It was electrifying, it was depressing, it motivated lots of women to run for office and we’re seeing a really similar pattern with women and some men about their experiences on the job and what has been viewed as normal. It’s an interesting echo from all those years ago.”

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Brandeis University Professor Anita Hill speaks with a group of 50 faculty and students Monday, Feb. 5, before giving the 19th annual John P. Frank Memorial Lecture. While answering questions about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, she suggested to be aware and anticipate the next wave of sexual harassment, and other ways that people disadvantage others — sexually, gender-wise and economically. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Hill became a national figure when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during Thomas’s 1991 confirmation hearings. Hill, an African-American law professor at Brandeis University in Boston, testified under oath for nine hours before an all-male panel that she was sexually harassed by Thomas while under his employ at the Department of Education. Thomas denied the allegations and called the hearings a “high-tech lynching.” Despite Hill’s pointed testimony, days later Thomas was confirmed as a justice.

However, Hill’s testimony opened a door for the feminist movement. Sexual harassment and abuse claims to the Equal Opportunity Office doubled, and awareness of sexual misconduct in the workplace received more media and government attention.  

Past John P. Frank lecturers include Sonia Sotomayor, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio; and Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist, filmmaker and activist.

About 800 people attended the lecture at ASU’s Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus.

Former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and the current president of the University of California system, introduced Hill to audience members. 

“I will never forget the image of Anita Hill seated alone at the witness table as she faced a panel of skeptical, stone-faced men,” said Napolitano, who was enlisted by Frank to serve on his legal team at the time of Hill’s testimony. “Her words opened peoples’ eyes to the damaging effects of sexual harassment and paved the way for future change. Anita Hill’s words have not only endured, (they have) grown.”

Napolitano also noted Hill’s legacy, calling her a “tireless champion of civil rights and equality for women, girls and people of color.”

Hill’s lecture ranged from race to civil rights, the country’s legal system, the Weinstein scandal, failed leadership, and the current presidential administration. She said sexual harassment and gender equality got swept under the rug for several decades, starting with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It remained ignored under several presidential administrations, due to shifting public moods and inaction from government to make it public policy.

“The idea of sexual harassment was never part of the government or public agenda,” Hill said. “Most in government thought that this was private behavior … there was never a full public agenda or approach for ending sexual harassment.”

She called her 1991 testimony simply a moment in time, and said she stood on the shoulders of the women of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. She said it was they who endured countless acts of sexual extortion, harassment and abuse and “paved the way for where we are today.”

She said today’s current climate of holding workplaces accountable and movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have been “25 years in the making.”

“I am pleased to say that people underestimated the will of women,” Hill said. “They galvanized themselves and they didn’t wait for the government to say this is a matter of public concern. They made it a matter of public concern … They did it themselves. They’d had enough suffering in silence.”

Hill saved her greatest praise for Frank, saying he came along at a pivotal moment in her life and was an incredible “legal mind and force.”

“He (Frank) made me believe that what I was doing was worthwhile,” she said. “He reassured me that what I was saying really did matter to the world that we were living in and to the world that we were going to be moving into in the future.”


Top photo: Brandeis University Professor Anita Hill delivers the 19th annual John P. Frank Memorial Lecture in front of 800 people at the Student Pavilion, on Monday, Feb. 5. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now.

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ASU Regents’ Professor a leading voice in international law

February 2, 2018

Daniel Bodansky fights global climate change with words and policies

Arizona State University Professor Daniel Bodansky isn’t a betting man, especially when it comes to global climate change. He likens the issue to a cancer diagnosis: “If ninety-seven doctors told me I had cancer and three said that I didn’t, I’d hope that the three were right. But I wouldn’t want to bet my life on it.”

Bodansky, a Foundation Professor in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, thinks the same is true of climate change.

“I’m not a scientist so I have to rely on what the vast majority of climate scientists say,” Bodansky said. “I hope the skeptics are right and that predictions of catastrophic warming are unfounded. If climate change isn’t a problem, that would be fantastic.”

However, Bodansky believes we should put our money on the consensus view. That’s why he’s spent much of his professional career working to help solve the climate change problem.

Recently the university recognized Bodansky by naming him as one of four ASU Regents’ Professors for the 2017–18 academic year.

Regents’ Professor is the highest faculty honor and is conferred on full professors who have made remarkable achievements that have brought them national attention and international distinction.

“Dan’s work is — literally — Earth changing. There are few things more important than climate change and Dan is at the forefront of the issue. As one of the leading voices and thinkers on this topic, Dan is sought after for his expertise on the legal and governance aspects,” said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of LawBodansky is also the faculty co-director for the Center for Law and Global Affairs. In addition, he is an affiliate faculty member with the Center for Law, Science and Innovation, and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability's School of Sustainability at ASU..

Over the course of his three-decade career, Bodansky has authored or edited five books, more than forty articles and book chapters, and numerous policy pieces for non-governmental organizations and think tanks, including several touchstone pieces on the design of international climate agreements.

The Harvard-Cambridge-Yale law school graduate said his interest in climate change started in 1991 when he studied the negotiation of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change on a fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations. A year later he attended the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which provided a framework for governments to rethink economic development and find ways to stop the depletion of irreplaceable natural resources and pollution of the planet and replace the use of fossil fuels with alternative sources of energy.

“I saw the climate change movement from the ground floor and I’ve been following it closely ever since,” Bodansky said.

Over the year, he went from follower to leader. In August 1999 he was appointed Climate Change Coordinator for the U.S. Department of State. It was there, he said, where he experienced firsthand how difficult it is to get agreement internationally.

“International law doesn’t have a lot of sticks to force countries to change their behaviors because there aren’t a lot of sanctions or enforcement mechanisms,” Bodansky said. “A lot of international law is finding ways to coax countries into changing. Look at our Congress. It’s hard for them to decide anything. Think how much harder it is to get 195 countries to reach consensus.”

That’s why the 2015 Paris Agreement was such an achievement. It established for the first time a truly global process to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

He hopes his counsel will spur the next generation of international environmental lawyers.

“International law requires getting into the details to understand the complexities of an issue, and sometimes that can be frustrating,” Bodansky said. “This is a long slog and there are no easy shortcuts or solutions.

“Big ideas are great but there’s also a role for more nuanced detail.”

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ASU sending more first-generation students to study abroad

ASU works to send more first-generation students to study abroad.
ASU Study Abroad Office provides guidance, support to first-gen students.
January 31, 2018

Scholarship, workshops are preparation for a journey that many never expected

For some first-generation students, walking into a college classroom is the end of a long and complicated journey, and for them, traveling to another country for study can seem like an opportunity that’s too far away.

But Arizona State University has created a unique program to help these students find a way to study abroad, and it has been so successful that the university has won a national award for it.

The Planning Scholars program, which provides study-abroad funding and other support for young people who are the first in their families to attend college, has won the 2018 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award from the Diversity Abroad organization.

Adam Henry, director of ASU’s Study Abroad Office, said the university is honored to win the award, announced Wednesday, and that the scholarship was developed as a direct result of underrepresentation of first-generation students.

“After reviewing the research literature on first-generation students studying abroad, we also created the program around a model of support, and helping participants identify their particular support needs before, during and after their study-abroad experience," he said.

Since 2015, more than 150 students have received the Planning Scholars award from ASU’s Study Abroad Office. Funding is in place for three more groups of 35 students each over the next three years. Students who identify as first-generation on their FAFSA form and have financial need are invited to apply. In the fall 2017 semester, 26 percent of all enrolled students at ASU were the first in their families to go to college, compared with 18 percent a decade ago.

Cody Holt, a senior global studies and global health major from Mesa, didn’t think he would ever study in another country.

“I grew up in a low-income household so that was not financially feasible for us,” he said. “Even the thought of going to college was out … until I got a bunch of scholarships.”

Holt was in the first group of Planning Scholars and did an internship in Beijing in the summer of 2016 through the Study Abroad Office. It was the first time he had left the country, and dealing with homesickness and the language barrier wasn’t easy. But he now talks about his experiences to students at his alma mater, Skyline High School in Mesa.

“I talk about what it means to go to college as someone from a low-income community. How do you navigate things when no one in your family can help you?” he said.

“Study abroad is a microculture of a culture that’s already difficult.”

The Planning Scholars program not only helps pay for travel but also addresses issues that are important to first-generation students, such as not adding extra time to college and helping their families appreciate the value of the experience.

ASU student Catalina Lee had never been to Europe when she started her four-week marketing course in Prague in 2016. "I was blown away when I arrived in the city to see how beautiful and rich in history everything was."

ASU sent about 2,500 students abroad last year, an increase of nearly 40 percent from four years ago, and has been committed to widening access to students from all kinds of backgrounds.

“But within study abroad, unfortunately, the population going is very homogenous and does not look like who is enrolled in colleges today,” HenryHenry also is a faculty associate in the School of Politics and Global Studies and the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. said. “Our end goal is to make sure the population of students who go abroad looks like the same demographic as who’s enrolled at ASU."

The Planning Scholars program will be offering scholarships to 35 students every year, with 25 funded by the International Studies Abroad organization and 10 by ASU.

In the first few years, the ISA-funded scholarships provided $2,000 toward study-abroad costs for the semester or $1,000 for a summer trip, while the ASU awards were for $4,000.

But some students who received the smaller amounts were not using them, according to Kyle Rausch, assistant director of the Study Abroad Office, who launched the Planning Scholars program as part of his doctoral dissertation. So starting next fall, all the scholarships will be for $4,000.

The program provides more than money. All the scholars attend workshops covering topics such as how to find additional funding, choosing the right program and dealing with homesickness.

“We talk about the importance of finding a program that will fit within your major map because when I was doing my study focused on this population, I saw that they are concerned with getting in and getting out of college quickly,” Rausch said. “So we talk about how this can help them progress toward their degree.”

Most importantly, the Study Abroad Office now helps first-generation students to leverage their unique advantages. All of the scholarship winners go through StrengthsQuest, a personality assessment that highlights each person’s strengths.

Rausch said that in higher education, the assumption is often that first-generation students might need extra help because they lack skills or background knowledge because their parents didn’t go to college.

“This is a change from a deficit model to celebrating what they already have to succeed,” he said. “Because they do. They got to college on their own.

“We work with them to think about the challenges they’ll encounter and how they can rely on their strengths to get past those.”

Growth in self-confidence was a major outcome for the students who traveled, Rausch discovered in his research.

For example, students in the first group of Planning Scholars told Rausch that when tricky problems came up, they typically had to figure out the answers rather than relying on a call to their parents for help.

Catalina Lee said the sense of independence was hugely satisfying when she traveled to Prague in 2016.

ASU student Cody Holt
Cody Holt did an internship in Beijing in 2016 as part of the Planning Scholars program. He said he never thought he'd get to study in another country.

“The best part was the ability to take control of my time,” said Lee, a senior who visited Hungary, Austria and Poland, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, while based in Prague for her international marketing course. “There were a lot of choices, and I really enjoyed that freedom.”

The Planning Scholars workshops were key to getting the most out of the trip for Lee, who was encouraged to set goals before she left and to reflect on the experience afterward.

“I already had a program in mind, but other students had no idea and they supported us in finding the best fit,” said Lee, who was born and raised in Tucson and has a double major in marketing and supply chain management and a minor in anthropology.

“It was important to me the think about study abroad as something more than flying somewhere in the world and having fun.”

As she prepares to graduate in May, Lee said that employers have been very interested in her experience.

“Sometimes students don’t think about how study abroad can affect job hunting,” she said.

Holt said that his study-abroad experience in China also is influencing his job search.

“Ultimately I’d like to work internationally and use my language skills to make a difference,” he said.

The Study Abroad Office offers more than 250 programs in more than 65 countries, and the Planning Scholars initiative is just one way the office has worked to diversify the population of students who travel. Some other ways are:

• Encouraging students to apply for Gilman scholarships. These national awards fund young people who qualify for the Pell grant and who might not otherwise consider study abroad — such as first-generation students, those with disabilities and underrepresented ethnic and demographic groups, including veterans and online students. Last year, ASU had 19 Gilman scholars, the most ever.

• Shorter programs, including “global intensive experience programs,” which are seven- to 10-day trips that are embedded as part of a semester course and occur over break or just after the semester. Students can use their financial-aid packages to pay for them.

• Revised deadlines so students can know whether they have funding before they have to commit to a trip.

ASU's Study Abroad Office has several information sessions scheduled. For details, click here. For information on Gilman scholarships, visit the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement here.

Top image by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


ASU Japanese instructor creates opportunities through language

January 30, 2018

Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures is packed with students and professors explaining the benefits of studying language and culture. Japanese lecturer Bradley Wilson can speak with extra authority, however, because before he was an instructor in the school, he was a student.

“I started at ASU as an undergrad in 1997, and I got my degree in Japanese and a second degree in religious studies,” Wilson said. “Then I moved to Japan after graduation and lived there for two years teaching English.” SILC Japanese Instructor Bradley Wilson ASU alumnus Bradley Wilson is now an instructor in the School of International Letters and Cultures. Download Full Image

He came back to ASU after this time abroad and earned a master’s degree in Japanese literature.

Wilson was exposed to Japanese language and culture at a young age, as his father had a number of Japanese business partners. While Wilson’s high school didn’t offer Japanese, he knew at university he’d have a chance.

“People call Japanese ‘the devil’s language’ because it seems so difficult, but I find it’s not that difficult once you get past reading and writing in a different language,” Wilson said.

During his time as an ASU student, Wilson remembers competing in language competitions, attending faculty-student picnics and representing the Japanese department at tabling events. Once he got to Japan, he exponentially increased his skills using his ASU experiences as a foundation.

Wilson lived in the far south of Japan, in a rural area called Kagoshima, through the Japan Exchange and Teaching program (JET). Used to city life, Wilson loved being immersed in nature and a small, closely-knit community. He remembers the friendliness and openness his neighbors showed him.

“I opened my door and it was a forest,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s philosophy abroad was “say yes to everything, be proactive.” When an elderly woman from the community offered to instruct him in wearing kimono, which requires certification, he accepted.

“I went to these classes, and I didn’t realize what she was actually doing was grooming me to get good at this. Her ultimate goal was to ask me to be in a competition,” Wilson said. “A kimono-wearing competition. They put you on a stage with all the pieces on the floor and you’re standing there in your underwear.”

Without a mirror, Wilson had to dress properly, correctly layering and knot-tying. Representing his region, he and the other contestants were then put in a televised parade.

“I always thought to myself when things like that happened, when are you going to have a chance to do something like this ever again? Probably never,” Wilson said. “So just go for it.”

At the School of International Letters and Cultures today, Wilson teaches language, calligraphy and popular culture. In calligraphy, his students are always surprised how quickly they can improve.

“When I started out, it looked like a kid with a crayon … I try to show them that even in 15 weeks I can take them from zero to hero,” Wilson said.

“And a double major with Japanese and another subject is so doable and so worth it,” Wilson said, citing his experience and students he’s had from business, engineering and computer science backgrounds who now work in Japan.

“A degree in Japanese, or any language ... you’re heading into something like interpretation, translation or instruction,” Wilson said. “And if you combine it with something else, you really double your opportunities.”

Gabriel Sandler

ASU dean shows that language learning is for any age

January 30, 2018

At Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures, students and staff demonstrate every day how useful and accessible language learning can be. Inspired by his own college, College of Liberal Arts and SciencesThe School of International Letters and Cultures is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Associate Dean Paul LePore decided to take on a new language of his own.

For his sociology work, LePore looks at a range of different topics related to student advancement and achievement. This includes cross-cultural systems of success, where he identified Finland as an innovative model and took a group of students to study the country. Dean Paul LePore in Finland Dean Paul LePore (left) with a study abroad group in Finland. Download Full Image

"We really got to see the ins and outs of what made the Finnish experience exceptional, we were in schools, we met with teachers, we observed classrooms,” LePore said. “We also got to be tourists, checking out a cool part of the world I had never been to.”

Over multiple trips, Finland made a strong enough impression on LePore that he wanted to push the cultural exchange even further. Excited by the global experience, he took steps to make his next Finnish adventure more immersive.

“I started studying Finnish. It’s one thing to be able to appreciate and understand another area of the world, but to truly get to know its people, I think the communication needs to be two ways,” LePore said.

Using School of International Letters and Cultures faculty recommendations, he found digital lessons on Pimsleur to play during his daily commute to campus. He'd go through each listen-and-repeat lesson between 10 and 20 times.

While it's not the first language LePore has studied, he recognizes the uniqueness of taking on Finnish at this stage in his professional career and adult life.

“There’s this idea, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ I’m going to be 50 this year,” LePore said. “Language learning, of all the areas I’ve been exposed to, was probably the hardest … but to be able to really fundamentally shift my own perceptions of myself as a learner, the study of Finnish has provided that.”

“It excites me to learn what’s possible,” LePore added.

This new endeavor has helped LePore design student opportunities with a new lens. He also has confidence that anyone can become a student of language and culture.

“If it’s structured well, the types of global, international experiences, including language instruction, need to be part of a process, not just an add-on,” LaPore said. “Fumbling through the language is part of the fun … it makes me want to try harder.” 

Gabriel Sandler

ASU Barrett scholar-in-residence gives advice, inspiration in keynote speech

January 29, 2018

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the first scholar-in-residence under Barrett, The Honors College’s Distinguished Global Leader Program, dispensed practical advice, world observations and inspiration in a wide-ranging speech Jan. 24 at Arizona State University.

Vike-Freiberga, is the former president of the Republic of Latvia (1999–2007) and current president of the World Leadership Alliance/Club De Madrid. She will be a scholar-in-residence at Barrett until March 2. Vaira Vike-Freiberga Former President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Photo courtesy Nicole Greason/Barrett Honors College Download Full Image

In her talk, which was attended by approximately 300 ASU students, faculty, staff and community members in the Carson Ballroom at Old Main, the former president touched on many themes, including involvement in world affairs, leadership, the women’s movement, and politics.

Addressing students specifically, Vike-Freiberga said millennials should not be reticent about getting involved in domestic and world affairs, but rather seek out opportunities to engage locally and globally in meaningful ways.

“The decisions you make in life now will affect you all of your life. At the end of your life, hopefully you will have constructed a beautiful and worthwhile life of service to others,” she said.

Young people also should not fear change, but strive to find their place in society, as well as their purpose.

“We have to adjust to change. We can’t stay the same. Ask yourself, where do I fit in? Where does my country fit in?” adding that, “without a sense of contribution, without a sense of purpose we can’t have influence on the wheels of fate and fortune.”

A good dose of practicality and healthy skepticism also is necessary when engaging with leaders.

“Beware of political leaders who make unreasonable promises. Leaders will promise their followers the moon, but won’t give them what’s on the earth. Look for leaders who are practical and grounded in reality,” she said.

woman speaking to audience at podium
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia, speaks to a crowd of about 300 in her keynote address as Barrett, The Honors College's scholar-in-residence, under the college's Distinguished Global Leader Series. Photo courtesy Nicole Greason/Barrett Honors College

She also touched on these topics:

• Her views on U.S. President Donald Trump: “Is Mr. Trump’s threat of nuclear war going to change North Korea? I doubt it. Is the leader of North Korea’s work on developing nuclear bombs going to bring him world respect? I don’t think so.”

• Using privilege responsibly: “You are a privileged bunch. Privileged in the facilities that are available to you. Privileged to be where you are. You have the privilege of your capabilities. Make use of your gifts and privilege and use them to the fullest. Make yourselves agents of change for the good of your community and your world.”

• Thoughts on the worldwide women’s movement, in response to a question from an audience member: “Unfortunately, women have been clinging to the bottom of the wheel rather than the top. The key is to get a critical mass together to develop a super-saturated movement that will crystallize and create change. We are moving toward that and change is coming.”

• On refugees who may want to return to their own countries, in response to a question from an audience member: “The best thing you can do for your country is to go back and bring your knowledge and perspective. It is the biggest gift you can bring to your country; the fact that you have a broad perspective on the world.”

Vike-Freiberga will continue her residency with events, panel discussions and meetings with students. See her schedule here.

Nicole Greason

Public relations and publicity manager , Barrett, The Honors College