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ASU invites industry leaders to help rethink design education

June 21, 2018

How do you create a school that is inclusive, collaborative and equitable?

That is the question The Design School at Arizona State University is asking design leaders across the country through ReDesign.School, a new platform focused on the future of design education. ReDesign.School invites people from any background and any city in the world to engage with The Design School — and each other — by addressing pressing questions about the future of design education head on. Industry leaders discuss design education The Design School hosted its final national roundtable in New York City at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Courtesy photo. Download Full Image

Jason Schupbach, director of The Design School, introduced this open, online conversation.

"Our goal is to be on the front lines of innovation in design education,” Schupbach said. “So, we are working with leading designers in the industry to delve into this important conversation and help us redesign our school together. Through this process, we want every voice heard, from students and alumni to top leaders in the industry. This process is about all of us, and moving forward as a community.”

Since February, over 200 ASU students, alumni, faculty and leaders in each design discipline have shared their thoughts on the ReDesign.School website. To keep the conversation growing, The Design School traveled to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York City, to host roundtable conversations in venues like Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. There, designers and educators discussed various facets of design education, including where design is heading and how to keep it relevant. Their feedback? This is exactly the type of conversation the design world needs to be having.

“In order for design to stay relevant, it must incorporate a human-centered approach to empathy, allyship, and systems-thinking,” Liz Ogbu posted.

Ogbu is the founder and principal of Studio O, a multidisciplinary design and innovation consultancy. As a next generation leader, Ogbu is keenly interested in contributing to this global conversation of design education. Her recent TED talk on spatial justice speaks to collaboration with architects, developers and policymakers, asking them to consider design solutions to the problems local communities face. These solutions, Ogbu points out, start with design education and transdisciplinary work.

To address transdisciplinary solutions, Susan Szenasy, Metropolis magazine’s director of design innovation, shared on ReDesign.School that in order to prepare students for this work, design education must “pull the disciplines together, understanding our humanity and the Earth’s functions through a broader evolution of design and collaboration.”

Altay Sendil, manager for core product UX research at Pinterest, added: “The future skill sets designers need to have include the ability to collaborate with multiple disciplines and the ability to embrace storytelling as a tool, in order to be self-sufficient.”

Hundreds of different responses on ReDesign.School can be experienced through a variety of essays, videos and roundtable transcripts addressing questions around equality, inclusion, collaboration, transdisciplinary work and relevance in design education. All are welcome to share their ideas or read through the existing responses as the listening process continues. Once the listening process is concluded, The Design School will take next steps toward bringing these ideas to life, with a radical redesign of future curriculum.

“If we want the design world to change, we need to ask different questions,” Schupbach said. “Through this redesign process, we aim to capture powerful ideas in the design community that, together, can create an environment for our students that is truly equitable and collaborative.”

Share your ideas on ReDesign.School/engage.

Nicole Underwood

Communications Specialist, The Design School, Herberger Institute

High school students experiment with media innovation at ASU's Cronkite School

June 20, 2018

Twenty high school students from across Arizona are at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as part of an intensive, two-week media innovation training camp.

The High School Media Innovation Camp, a joint venture among the Cronkite School, The Arizona Republic/azcentral.com and the USA Today Network, pairs high school students with entrepreneurs, technologists, journalists and professors to learn how to create compelling content for digital audiences. Innovation Camp Students from across the state are exploring news games, virtual reality and more at the High School Media Innovation Camp at ASU's Cronkite School. Download Full Image

The residential camp on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus is free to participants thanks to support from the Arizona Republic’s Media in Education program, which is funded by subscribers who donate the value of their subscription during vacations or other temporary stoppages.

“The High School Media Innovation Camp is a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of journalists to immerse themselves in the future of news,” said Greg Burton, executive editor of the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. “Our ability to deliver deep and engaging stories is limited only by our imagination, and this camp is a place where imagination takes hold.”

The camp, which started June 17 and runs through the end of the month, is led by Retha Hill, director of the Cronkite School’s New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, and Anita Luera, the school’s director of high school journalism programs.

The camp includes sessions on news games, 3D model creation, 360-degree video and 3D printing, among other topics taught by Cronkite faculty and Arizona Republic/azcentral staff.

“The High School Media Innovation Camp exposes students to some of the latest cutting-edge technologies that are reshaping journalism,” Hill said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what the students design for their final projects.”

Students experience the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, staying at the Taylor Place residence hall and visiting the Sun Devil Fitness Complex.

ASU has topped the U.S. News & World Report rankings as the most innovative school in the country for three consecutive years. The Cronkite School has played a key part in the university’s drive to innovate with recent initiatives that include Innovation Day, an annual daylong celebration dedicated to journalism innovation.

2018 Media Innovation Camp Participants

Mikayla Anderson
Fountain Hills High School, Fountain Hills

Aubrey Carpenter
Desert Edge High School, Goodyear

Sydni Cloutier-Standiford
Horizon Honors High School, Chandler

Riley Duemler
Red Mountain High School, Mesa

Anthony Ellerman
Basha High School, Chandler

Talia Frindell
Chaparral High School, Scottsdale

Amanda Hicks
Centennial High School, Peoria

Andrew Kim
BASIS Chandler, Chandler

Minha Kim
Desert Vista High School, Phoenix

Minseo Kim
Desert Vista High School, Phoenix

Alexandra Krueger
Xavier College Preparatory, Phoenix

Connor MacSpadden
Regis High School, Phoenix

Xavier Martinez
Cesar Chavez High School, Phoenix

Aaryan Mukherjee
Hamilton High School, Chandler

Kris Ortiz
Douglas High School, Douglas

Melissa Rimsza
Cactus Shadows High School, Scottsdale

Sam Sarlo
Thunderbird High School, Phoenix

Emmerald Smith
Westwood High School, Mesa

Mario Stinson-Maas
McClintock High School, Tempe

Eve Wodarcyk
Hamilton High School, Chandler

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


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Arizona named an anti-vaccine hot spot

June 18, 2018

ASU College of Health Solutions' Alexandra Bhatti talks about why parents might seek exemption, how states differ and what the risks are to the community

A recent study named Arizona one of several “hot spots” in the nation for higher-than-average rates of nonmedical vaccination exemptions. According to the study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, Arizona has seen an increase in the number of parents seeking vaccination exemptions for their children for religious or philosophical reasons.

According to the study, for the 2016-17 school year, Maricopa County issued 2,947 nonmedical exemptions, the most of any metropolitan area in the country. The next highest number of nonmedical exemptions — 956 — were issued in Salt Lake County in Utah.

To better understand how vaccination exemptions are granted and what these findings mean for Arizona’s public health, ASU Now spoke with Alexandra Bhatti, faculty associate in Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions.

Question: How do school vaccination laws vary from state to state? How are exemptions obtained?

Alexandra Bhatti

Answer: Each state establishes laws governing vaccination requirements for child care and schoolchildren. One could say, if you have seen one state’s school vaccination laws, then you have seen one state’s school vaccinations laws. No two are identical. Most states adhere to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for determining age, dosage and types of vaccines required.

State laws include exemptions to school vaccination requirements for religious or philosophical reasons, commonly referred to as “nonmedical exemptions.” While all states allow medical exemptions, fewer allow personal-belief or religious exemptions. The ease in which exemptions may be attained varies from state to state. Some require only parental signature, whereas others require a parent to complete a vaccination education module before obtaining a nonmedical exemption.

In addition to vaccination exemptions, students may still attend school without meeting vaccination requirements through a grace period or provisional enrollment. Provisional-enrollment laws allow students to attend school without complete vaccinations if they can show they are in the process of obtaining them. Grace-period laws allow students to attend school for a defined period of time without having to show that they are in the process of being vaccinated or exempted. In Arizona, however, no grace period is offered and students must show either proof of vaccination or an exemption in order to attend school.

State vaccination laws are important for maintaining high vaccination rates, and in turn, lowering the rates of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). Vaccination requirements that have more conditions for receiving a nonmedical exemption, that require parental documentation of exemption requests and that are implemented with strong enforcement and monitoring may help promote higher rates of vaccination coverage and, in turn, lower rates of VPDs in the community.

Q: What are the risks associated with having a growing number of residents who are not vaccinated?

A: We can expect more outbreaks like the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2014 to 2015.

Before the middle of the last century, diseases like whooping cough, polio, measles, Haemophilus influenzae and rubella struck hundreds of thousands of infants, children and adults in the United States. Thousands died every year from them. As vaccines were developed and became widely used, rates of these diseases declined.

Vaccination is very much a community matter. When someone gets vaccinated, not only are they protecting themselves, but also their community — particularly those who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or health conditions.

Most vaccine-preventable diseases are transmitted person-to-person. In a population where most people are vaccinated, they create — in essence — a buffer, preventing the infected from infecting the vulnerable, unvaccinated population. This is called community immunity. As coverage rates decline, community immunity is further compromised, putting those who are unvaccinated at risk of contracting a disease.

Q: What are some of the reasons a person might seek an exemption?

A: It is important to note that the majority of parents do choose to vaccinate their children. For example, in the 2016-2017 school year, measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rates for kindergarteners in Arizona was 94 percent.

There are many reasons why a parent or guardian might seek a nonmedical vaccination exemption for their child. Some may choose to exempt their child because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. I personally know parents who, in an effort to speed up the school enrollment process, signed an exemption form because it was the quickest way to get their child enrolled. With no grace period in Arizona, it may be that the child is on their way to receiving the required vaccines, or already has them, but the parents don’t have the vaccinations records and need more time to complete the process so they opt for the most convenient choice, that being an exemption.

There are also parents that choose to exempt their child due to concerns over vaccine safety or necessity. There is a lot of information out there about vaccinations and vaccination safety, and not all of it is accurate. Unfortunately for parents, it is sometimes hard to determine what to believe. Fortunately, there are some great resources online:

The contents within this Q&A reflect the opinions of only Alexandra Bhatti and do not represent Arizona State University or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Top photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Katherine Reedy

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


ASU geotechnical engineering expert recognized with top honor

June 15, 2018

Prominent Arizona State University geotechnical engineer Edward Kavazanjian has earned the highest honor bestowed by the American Society of Civil Engineers on its members for their outstanding career achievements.

Kavazanjian, a Regents’ Professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, was recently named one of 10 ASCE Distinguished Members in 2018. Currently, there are 229 Distinguished Members among ASCE’s membership of more than 150,000 people. Only 697 civil engineers have ever been honored in the 166-year history of ASCE. Photo of three people in a lab. Caption: ASU geotechnical engineering expert Ed Kavazanjian (middle) earned the American Society of Civil Engineers' highest honor for his outstanding career achievements. ASU geotechnical engineering expert Ed Kavazanjian (middle) earned the American Society of Civil Engineers' highest honor for his outstanding career achievements. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU Download Full Image

Recent ASCE Distinguished Members have included engineering firm CEOs, top researchers in their engineering fields and renowned educators who are preparing the next generation of professional civil engineers.

“It certainly is an honor — ASCE is the preeminent professional society in my chosen field,” said Kavazanjian, the Ira A. Fulton Professor of Geotechnical Engineering. “It is gratifying to be recognized for both my technical contribution and the leadership roles I have played over the 45 years I have been a member of ASCE.”

Kavazanjian is an international leader in the field of geotechnical engineering. He initially gained prominence for his work on landfill engineering and seismic design of civil infrastructure and lately has taken a lead role in development of the emerging sub-discipline of biogeotechnical engineering. Geotechnical engineers study the behavior of earth materials such as soil to assess risks and stability for construction and excavation. They also design and monitor structure foundations and earthworks.

“Dr. Kavazanjian is absolutely the world expert in his area,” said Edd Gibson, director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “His leadership has placed ASU at the forefront of geotechnical engineering, seismic design and biogeotechnical engineering.”

Kavazanjian is director of the Engineering Research Center for Bio-Mediated and Bio-Inspired Geotechnics, or CBBG. The center, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on cost-effective and ecologically friendly solutions inspired by nature for developing and rehabilitating resilient and sustainable civil infrastructure systems. His role as director includes engaging young engineers in the center’s work to strengthen the pipeline of professional geotechnical engineers. His charitable donations also advance his mission of supporting students and faculty in the field.

Prior to joining the ASU faculty in 2004, Kavazanjian worked for 20 years as a geotechnical engineer in the private sector.

He has lent his expertise as co-author of guidance documents on geotechnical earthquake engineering for highways for the Federal Highway Administration and seismic design for municipal solid waste landfill facilities for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Kavazanjian has served on several National Research Council study committees, including on the Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Barriers and the Opportunities for Research and Innovation in Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the 21st Century committees, and most recently as chair of the Committee on the State of the Art and Practice for Assessment of Earthquake Induced Soil Liquefaction and its Consequences. He also served as chair of the National Research Council standing committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering for several years and on the Board of Governors of the ASCE Geo-Institute, including a term as its president.

Kavazanjian’s achievements also led to his 2013 election to the National Academy of Engineering.

As an ASCE Distinguished Member, Kavazanjian says he will likely field more requests to serve on ad hoc study committees and review panels, an activity he says he finds “to often be a satisfying and enriching experience.”

Regents’ Professor Bruce Rittmann, a colleague in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, is another ASCE Distinguished Member who was selected in 2012.

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


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College of Health Solutions focuses on youth interventions for lifelong health

Introducing kids to healthy habits when they're young makes for healthy adults.
June 15, 2018

From nutrition summer camps to lunchroom makeovers, ASU researchers aim to prepare young people to become healthy adults

Research shows that the earlier kids are exposed to healthy lifestyle habits, the more likely they are to be healthy adults. Professors and researchers at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions are putting that knowledge to practice in a variety of ways, from summer camps that teach children about nutrition and physical activity to giving school lunchrooms a healthy makeover.

“At a young age, kids are still forming habits, so it’s important to give them tools and teach them how to engage in physical activity and have a basic understanding of nutrition and health that they can take with them to adulthood,” said Christy Alexon, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion clinical associate professor.

Craving nutrition knowledge

On Friday, Alexon looked on as kids from the Phoenix area gathered in the Instructional Nutrition Kitchen on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus to learn about Egyptian food and make their own flatbread sandwich as part of the College of Health Solutions’ annual Camp CRAVE, for which Alexon serves as faculty adviser.

Dakotah Beck, 10, who attends Vistancia Elementary in Peoria, watched carefully as kitchen coordinator Kent Moody demonstrated the smack-and-spread technique to thin out the flatbread dough. Earlier in the week Dakotah and other kids at the camp learned about portion control, whole grains and water-based veggies that can help with hydration.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Dakotah likes apples and bananas but was a bit skeptical of the squash that was mixed in with the basmati rice as a side dish to the flatbread sandwiches on Friday — but she tried it anyway.

“Dare to try new things,” she said as she spooned some of the veggie-infused rice onto her plate. Being adventurous is part of Camp CRAVE’s philosophy.

“There may be foods they think they don’t like, but we show them different ways to prepare it that they find out they actually enjoy,” Alexon said.

Innovation in the cafeteria

Cameron Scholtz, a graduate student in exercise and nutritional sciences at the College of Health Solutions, said the number of kids in America who don’t get enough fruits and veggies is appalling: He has seen recent stats that put it at about 75 percent.

At Camp CRAVE this summer, Scholtz is pilot-testing a research project that will kick off this fall in which a “flavor station” will be implemented at salad bars in elementary school lunchrooms. The flavor station will feature condiments and toppers like peanut butter, yogurt, hummus and sriracha in an effort to encourage kids to consume more produce.

Scholtz and his team will compare the weight of the produce in the salad bar before and after kids’ lunch hour, and subtract whatever fruits and veggies found their way into the trash, then divide by the number of kids to get an average of how much fresh produce each child consumed.

“We’re hoping it will increase consumption and decrease waste,” he said. “It’s eye-opening how much food is wasted.”

Recently, Scholtz completed a similar intervention that replaced ordinary black and gray serving utensils at school cafeteria salad bars with brightly colored ones. He found that the simple act did increase the amount of produce kids put on their plate.

The best part about that kind of intervention? “It’s sustainable,” he said.

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Students watch chef Kent Moody prepare ground beef for an Egyptian-style kofta sandwich during Camp CRAVE on June 15. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Taking that idea a step further, Scholtz and his team livened up lunchrooms with full-wall murals depicting fresh fruits and vegetables to create a more exciting environment for kids. Afterward, they saw about a 10 percent increase in the amount of fruits and veggies consumed.

“The increase is small, but that small change can move the curve enough to improve health across the population level,” Scholtz said.

Seeking solutions on many fronts

Other College of Health Solutions researchers doing work in elementary school cafeterias include Assistant Professor of nutrition Meg Bruening and Assistant Professor of exercise science and health promotion Marc Adams. Last September the pair received a $2 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to conduct a four-year study on the efficacy of salad bars in school lunchrooms.

Building on previous research published in 2016, the study will look at the effects of lunchroom interventions by age group. More specifically, they’ll be looking at how simply having a salad bar available, along with promotional materials to encourage healthy eating, affects consumption of fresh produce.

And in November of last year, nutrition Professor Punam Ohri-Vachaspati published a study that found legislation that made critical nutrition reforms to school lunch and breakfast programs was not only effective, despite opposition and claims to the contrary, but in some cases actually increased kids’ participation in school meal programs.

Back at Camp CRAVE, nutrition undergrad and camp organizer Heather Schwartzmeyer laughed as camp participant Noah Hargis, 9, dictated instructions to her while stirring the ground-beef filling for his flatbread sandwich.

Schwartzmeyer has been involved with the camp for two years now. When she graduates in December, she’s thinking of becoming a dietitian for the Department of Veterans Affairs but wants to continue working with Camp CRAVE because of how rewarding it is to see the kids’ enthusiasm for learning important skills about nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

“Some of these kids have never cooked before,” she said. “So to see the raw excitement they have is just great.”

Top photo: Students Chloe Appel, Dakotah Beck and Noah Garay roll out their flatbread for their Egyptian-style kofta sandwich during Camp CRAVE on Friday June 15, 2018 at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASUNow

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

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Rewiring justice: Viral outrage signals a change in power

June 14, 2018

ASU professor says people are turning to 'socially mediated vigilante justice' to right perceived wrongs

The internet loves creating villains: People get caught on camera or social media behaving badly, the post or video goes viral and anyone with a computer or smartphone piles on and fans the flames.

You've seen them — the New Jersey Port Authority commissioner who verbally abused two police officers after they ticketed her daughter's friend for a traffic violation; the New York state employee who caused a scene on an airplane over a crying baby and threatened to have a flight attendant fired; the Dallas district attorney employee who taunted an Uber driver with legal action for taking a wrong turn; the Tucson CFO who videotaped himself bullying a Chick-fil-A clerk at the drive-through window.

And unlike a prison sentence, punishment is swift and open-ended for these Hall-of-Shamers. It often includes enduring public ridicule, being suspended or terminated from a job or switching vocations. For many, it means a partial or complete withdrawal from social media, which may be a trivial sacrifice — or a career-ender.

ASU Now turned to Dawn Gilpin, an associate professor in Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, to discuss the new cultural phenomenon that she calls “socially mediated vigilante justice” and says is a grass-roots “American Idol" model for addressing perceived wrongs.

Red headed woman smiling
Dawn Gilpin

Question: What exactly is socially mediated vigilante justice, and how is it being employed?

Answer: I’m a big fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and when I consider these situations, I always think of a quote from the show: “It’s about power: who’s got it, and who’s willing to use it.”

We are experiencing a very particular cultural moment, one that is influenced and enabled by media and technologies. The information environment is so vast and dynamic, there is increasing awareness of systemic injustices and insults that happen daily in many areas of life. All of this fuels a desire to ensure that society better represent our values, however we might individually and collectively define them.

On the one hand, we are told that as consumers, and as citizens, we have a responsibility to make our opinions heard if we want to enact change. On the other, many people feel alienated from social, economic and political structures and institutions. It can feel as though expressing our views through conventional means, such as by voting or individual consumer choices, is more like tossing a pebble into the void than having a legitimately recognized seat at the decision-making table.

Social media platforms offer an opportunity to build awareness of issues and form widespread ad hoc coalitions of people who share issue positions, and to make collective public statements that can be difficult for the holders of economic, political and cultural power to ignore. As a result, a number of people are turning to socially mediated justice-seeking efforts, which occasionally result in tangible change.

In her book "Twitter and Tear Gas," the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci distinguishes between two aspects of movements: capacities to organize and sustain coordinated action, and signals that promise (or threaten) the mobilization of those capacities. If we think in these terms, we can see how agitation to remove someone perceived to be a bad actor, a one-off response to specific behaviors or allegations, differs from a more enduringly organized response such as the March for Our Lives protests that took place in the wake of the Parkland shooting. And those in turn differ from a more amorphous shift in cultural awareness such as the #MeToo movement, which is less narrowly focused.

We might say, then, that these efforts to seek socially mediated justice are grass-roots experiments in harnessing the signaling power of today’s communication technologies to address institutional inadequacies, bypassing the need to develop long-term capacities.

Q: For lack of a better term, isn’t this really just public shaming? 

A: I prefer the term “signaling” to “shaming,” because it allows for those instances where people cohere to support individuals as well as those fueled by anger. The latter tend to attract more media attention, but we find examples of both. In fact, wherever we find people mobilizing against a person or organization, we typically find a countermovement of supporters. Humans tend to naturally self-organize into opposing teams.

That said, legal systems are slow to change, and lag well behind cultural values. They also aren’t designed to cover the full range of behaviors people might find unacceptable. There is a wide gap between what some consider to be highly objectionable or even unethical behavior, such as Rachel Dolezal representing herself as African-American (although she was recently also charged with welfare fraud), and someone like Charlie Rose, with numerous allegations of sexually harassing subordinates and colleagues in the workplace. If, as I mentioned, people feel alienated from the formal social structures that should enforce consequences for misconduct, they are likely to turn to the nearest means that allows them to swiftly assert their power to settle perceived wrongs: social media.

I would caution against flattening these varied cases into a single category because they begin online, however. It’s tempting to dismiss these protests simply as “online outrage,” but this is where signaling comes into play: People in positions of power within those institutions, as well as broad swaths of the public at large, receive a message when hundreds or thousands of individuals express their indignation. Politicians and voters can decide that certain legislation is worth sponsoring or supporting, corporations can gauge how personnel actions may be received by stakeholders, and everyone paying attention can consider where our culture is headed. In the best-case scenarios, these instances spark positive change and ongoing dialogue. In the worst, they lead to hasty, unreflective calls for action in what essentially amounts to vigilantism.

The "American Idol" model of “letting the people decide” may not the best approach to settling nuanced social issues, but it can be a useful starting point for identifying where change is necessary.

Q: These internet villains are getting fired, having to change vocations or not finding employment at all for years. In those instances, it seems as if the justice might be a little too harsh. Are we going too far?

A: It’s hard to generalize about these cases, since they vary substantively to such a significant degree and there are rarely clear causal paths. When public outcry is widespread and harsh, there is certainly the risk of a disproportionate or inappropriate reaction, but it’s hard to pin down who is responsible for outcomes. For example, in the case of Adam Smith, who filmed himself bullying a Chick-fil-A employee about the company’s social policy stance, the social media backlash came from multiple quarters: those who supported the fast food chain’s positions on issues such as gay marriage, and those who were indignant about his rudeness, just to name a couple. It’s debatable whether either should constitute a firing offense, but an employer may find itself in a difficult position if a high-level executive draws public fire. They may have found his conduct to be unbefitting of someone at his rank, and question his judgment in filming and posting the encounter. Prospective employers may also reasonably balk at hiring someone with such a history. In this case, who would we say has “gone too far”?

When we are dealing with perceived wrongs that aren’t clearly addressed by our current systems, and with multiple sources of pressure, it’s hard to say what we mean by “too far,” or who is taking those steps beyond what is reasonable. This is why we need to have public conversations about the topics these cases engendered and try to decide, as a society, what needs to be deemed acceptable, regulated or legislated, and why. Unfortunately, outrage movements can exercise pressure on organizations and institutions to act without adequate time for reflection and discussion. This in turn may lead to codifying harsher punishments or more extreme expressions of values that might need to be walked back later, when the emotional dust has settled.

Q: Is this effective when watchdogging in the commercial realm, such as the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad or the Dove T-shirt controversy?

A: The commercial realm offers an interesting perspective. Businesses can act swiftly and unilaterally, without the need for coalition building required by legislative bodies. In crisis communication, one concept we look at when determining strategy is “locus of control.” If the organization itself is at fault, then it bears more responsibility for righting the perceived wrong than if the situation was caused by an external actor. And of course, there’s a big spectrum in between.

Rosanne Barr’s highly successful television program was canceled just a few hours after she posted a series of racist tweets. There was nothing illegal about her statements, but the network made a business decision that the continued revenue would not be worth the reputational damage that might result from appearing to support her positions, even tacitly. In this case, the locus of control for the crisis was clearly Barr herself, and the network decided to sever ties immediately to distance themselves.

Distancing is harder to accomplish when the locus of control clearly rests within the organization itself, such as when a company creates an ad campaign that many find objectionable. The cosmetics subscription box service Ipsy recently came under fire when its online ad video, intended to celebrate Pride Month, was instead seen by many as using transphobic language. The company removed the ad and apologized, but not before it had arguably worsened the situation by, allegedly, spending the first couple of days deleting negative comments and responses from trans customers. The marketplace of ideas moves very quickly these days, but consequences tend to come more swiftly when the cause is an employee or third party.

Q: Let’s flip this. Can this scenario also be used as a powerful force?

A: I think the continued effects of the #MeToo movement remain an excellent example of how powerful a force this kind of response can be when it crosses over from online into offline domains, and develops capacities as well as signaling. Actress Asia Argento, one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, made a formidable statement at this year’s Cannes (Film Festival) warning that powerful people will no longer be able to get away with workplace sexual misconduct as they have in the past. And Netflix canceled the U.K. press tour for the latest season of “Arrested Development” after a cast interview with "The New York Times" went awry. Actress Jessica Walter received massive social media encouragement for describing, in tears, the verbal abuse she had suffered on set from co-star Jeffrey Tambor — who had been fired from the Amazon series “Transparent” for sexual harassment claims. Her male co-stars, on the other hand, were excoriated for minimizing her pain and rushing to the support of Tambor.

Nothing that happened in the interview crossed into the realm of illegality, and Netflix operates on a subscription model that shields it from the risks of advertising-driven network television. And yet, even they took some steps to limit their exposure on this issue.

These incidents both happened months after the most recent wave of the movement began last October. That suggests this is not an ephemeral phenomenon that can be dismissed as mere online outrage, but a lasting shift in our collective consciousness and expectations, even without any kind of formal organization.

What’s changing is who has power, and who is willing to use it. We just need to try to thoughtfully adapt our structures and systems alongside these changes, to reduce the risk of institutionalizing hasty decisions.

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Diminishing returns may threaten Medicare, Social Security

June 13, 2018

The Trump administration recently announced that the Medicare trust fund will be depleted by 2026 — three years earlier than previous estimates — and the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted by 2034.

To better understand how this could impact the more than 60 million Americans who rely on these programs, ASU Now spoke to Swapna Reddy, clinical assistant professor in Arizona State University's College of Health Solutions.

Question: What does this announcement mean for the future of these programs, and for those who rely on Medicare or Social Security?

Woman in black shirt smiling
Swapna Reddy

Answer: The shortfalls refer to the trust funds that are designed to ensure full payment of both programs. It's important to understand that these announcements don't mean the entire Medicare and Social Security programs will be dissolved, but that without additional action, program benefits will have to be gradually reduced to meet financial constraints. The trust funds are a source of revenue for the programs, but not the sole source. The majority of the funding for these programs is derived from income and payroll taxes from current incomes. As such, even if the trust funds are totally depleted, 90 percent of Medicare and three-fourths of Social Security can be financed through dedicated revenue streams.

This is not the first time these programs have had their financial sustainability questioned, as reports of predicted Medicare funding exhaustion have been published intermittently since the program's implementation in 1965 and most recently under the Obama administration. The Obama administration responded through the Affordable Care Act, which put into place spending cuts and increased revenues that added an additional 10 years of sustainability to the Medicare program.

Efforts by Congress and the Trump administration through the 2017 tax law to reverse the efforts of the Affordable Care Act have reduced this 10-year projection by three years, to 2026. If new policies are not established to extend the longevity of Medicare and Social Security, these programs will not have the funding to continue performing as they have been.

Q: More than 60 million people are on Social Security, Medicare or both. What options will be available to those individuals if the funding for these programs runs out?

A: The projected years that Medicare and Social Security will have depleted funds represent when these programs will no longer be able to pay full benefits. For individuals relying on these programs, this means that they will not see an immediate absence of these programs, but they will not be receiving the same benefits or payment rates as program participants are currently.

In 2026, it is predicted that Medicare benefits will be reimbursed at 91 percent of their current rate and decrease to a reimbursement rate of 76 percent by 2039. For health insurance, there will still be the option for individuals over 65 to purchase supplemental plans to pay for any benefits not covered under Medicare.

Social Security projections predict that enrollee payments will be reduced by 25 percent, but that funding could be sustained at this rate for 75 years.

Although Medicare and Social Security have historically seen repeated threats to their funding sources, Congress has never allowed the complete bankruptcy of these programs. Due to their popularity among the public, it is most likely that policymakers will find a way to compromise to extend the longevity of both programs before funds deplete.

Q: Are there are policy changes or other government actions that could reverse the decline of these programs?

A: It’s important to understand that together Social Security and Medicare make up around 40 percent of the federal budget. Large cuts to "government spending" to offset large tax cuts will inevitably have an impact on the programs. It is a matter of opinion and ideology which approach one takes to address this issue.

There are many policy changes that could be put in place to reverse the decline of Medicare and Social Security, and policymakers are fiercely debating what actions to take. Two major overarching options are reducing overall health care spending or increasing revenue through taxpayers. These have become standard debate issues in our nation's struggle with our national identity on health care and health programs. In essence, most of us want the security that the programs provide, think we are entitled to it and don't want to pay more than we already do to sustain them. Considering the high cost of health care, the needs and size of our aging population, and prevalence of chronic conditions, the numbers simply don't add up. 

The Trump administration and Seema Verma, current administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have advocated for budget cuts that would reduce payments to physicians and other health care providers. Past Republican administrations have pushed for the complete restructuring of Medicare or Social Security programs to perform more efficiently, and current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been a staunch proponent of a voucher-style program that would limit Medicare funding and encourage retirees to obtain private insurance.

Some Democratic legislators have supported the return of enforcing the often unpopular individual mandate, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires a tax penalty for individuals who do not purchase health insurance. The individual mandate will no longer be in effect beginning in 2019 and is expected to increase the uninsured American population and rates of uncompensated care within hospitals. Legislators from both parties can agree that healthcare spending should be reduced, but whether or not to increase revenue via taxpayers is an ongoing policy debate and will determine whether additional funding is allocated to sustain Medicare and Social Security beyond their expected depletion timeframes.

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Katherine Reedy

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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Adapting learning spaces for a culture of safety

June 13, 2018

Architects rethink school designs for education, protection

It used to be that the idea of stepping up school security meant the hiring of a school resource officer or simply educating the school population on facility entrances and exits in cases of emergency.

Enter the age of lockdowns, active shooter trainings — and school redesign.

As educators and legislators wrestle with ideas on how to protect students from intruders in built environments, the increased frequency of school shootings is also drawing architects and designers into the conversation about creating safe spaces for learning.

For some insight on the discussions taking place on the future of school design in the changing cultural climate, ASU Now turned to Philip Horton, assistant director and head of architecture at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, with a few questions.

Question: Educational facilities are exposed to an increasing amount of complex issues related to school safety. Is there anything in the design of a facility that can prevent some of the issues we are seeing, especially with the increased frequency of school shootings across the nation?

Answer: Certainly, the issues related to school safety are complex. We are all hyper-aware of the sad and frightening numbers of school shootings, but there are also many other security issues including bullying and physical altercations between students in schools, concerns about student pedestrians mixing with car and bus traffic on school grounds, vandalism of school property, and much more. The built environment (architecture, landscape architecture, planning) of schools can play a significant role in school safety, but other systems such as social and administrative are also key. In the best-case scenarios, the built environment is integrative with the school's sociocultural and administrative systems.

The International CPTED Association (ICA) is one research-based organization that seeks to advance knowledge about how best to design, build and maintain safe and secure environments for schools and the communities beyond. CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) is an evolving concept that dates back to the 1960s, with roots that are often traced back to the observation and ideas of critical urban theorists like Jane Jacobs.

Q: Is it possible to design schools for safety and maintain an open and welcoming learning environment at the same time?

Philip Horton

A: No school design can eliminate all security risks, but yes, there are ways to plan and design schools to be more safe while maintaining an open and welcoming environment. Studies have shown that ample daylight is important for the educational performance of students, but it is also important for security. Dark recesses within schools are a security risk for all kinds of unwanted activities. Wide, straight, well-lit corridors are desired within schools, so that you can "read" the space very clearly. This allows students to find their classrooms easily, and it also allows staff to monitor students and others easily as well.

In large schools different organizational strategies such as courtyards, radial plans and pods have different advantages as they relate to the social mission, administrative structure and surrounding community of the school. This is where things can become very complex, and this is why the process for planning and designing a school is so important. Hiring a licensed architecture practice that has good experience with designing schools, and engaging faculty, staff, security consultants and even the local police and fire departments in the design process from beginning to end can be critical.

Q: Following the May 18 school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, the lieutenant governor of that state made headlines for asserting that too many entrances and exits may have compromised safety for students and that the gunman could have been stopped had there been one single entrance possibly for every student. Is there any merit to this assertion? Is this a plausible and/or effective way to approach school safety in the design process?

A: Limiting the entrances to schools is a common safety practice in the contemporary design of schools. There is commonly a separate side or rear entrance for teachers and staff that can only be entered from staff parking via a card-reader access door. You do also have to locate a distributed number of egress doors throughout a school to meet life-safety requirements in the event that a school has to be quickly evacuated from fire and smoke, for example. Keeping these ancillary doors secured can be critical. They might have alarms that sound if they are propped open and cameras that monitor the comings and goings through the doors.

One large, single point-of-entry — often with multiple doors closely grouped together to meet life-safety requirements — for all students is a common, contemporary practice in school design. Commonly located within the main entry is a secured vestibule, administrated by a staff within an adjacent, secured reception area, sometimes behind security glass or a roll-up/lockable counter door. Parents can often enter the secured vestibule with their child, a forgotten backpack or parental forms, but they can often go no further. From this point, children are often signed in, and when the staff is ready the children can be buzzed in to open the otherwise-locked doors that proceed from the vestibule into the actual school. Children may have to successfully pass through a metal detector before they will be buzzed in.

Many of these most-secure design practices have only been implemented within the last 15 years of school design. The public school that I went to in the Midwest decades ago did not have anywhere near this degree of security. Also, many schools do not have the fiscal resources, the time or the space to readily accommodate Renovations that include demolition and/or additions can take months to complete.these kinds of security features. 

Q: What types of structures, features and installations might be implemented in the design of a school campus to address safety concerns?

A: These are commonly separated into passive or intuitive design versus active security systems. Active systems include: cameras, alarm systems, key-card access control, motion-detection systems, and other technologies that are constantly evolving. These technologies are often easy to retrofit into older buildings, but they can be expensive.

On the passive/intuitive side, lighting — both daylighting and good artificial lighting — are important throughout a campus from the street to the building and throughout the interior of a school. The design of landscaping is also important. Fences and gates can secure outdoor spaces, but they should be very open so one can see through them. Neighborhoods and passing police or security should be able to see into and across school grounds from the perimeter of a school site. Tall shade trees and low shrubs can be good, but tall shrubs, green-screens and vine walls that can hide an intruder are not desirable. Transparency and view corridors through the common spaces of schools are also useful for monitoring many spaces from key administrative/security control points day and night. But as details from recent school shooting events have emerged, we have also seen that opaque and lockable doors to classrooms can provide shelter for teachers and students trying to escape intruders.

Q: Is there an example of a currently existing structure that you think is not only safe but aesthetically pleasing — something that can be modeled for school retrofitting or redesign?

A: This is a tricky question to answer because what works for one school in one city might not be a good solution for another school in another city with a different culture, climate or community context. Every year the American Institute of Architects (AIA) gives out Education Facilities Awards for what the expert jury deems to be the best new schools, additions and major renovations in schools for that year (preschool through higher education). But you could also look back through history at great schoolsThe work of Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger is counted among the best in school designs. for great principles of school design.

This year, Arlington Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington, designed by Mahlum Architects won an AIA award for a great design. A couple of years ago Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., by Studio Twenty Seven Architecture won an AIA award. Henderson-Hopkins School in Baltimore, Maryland, by Rogers Partners won an AIA award for some really great design features. And one after-school facility on the South Side of Chicago, the Gary Comer Youth Center by John Ronan Architects, is a particularly noteworthy project.

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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Catalytic development spurs significant shifts in urban areas

ASU and downtown Phoenix a best-practice example in Brookings Institute report.
June 11, 2018

ASU's 'Duke' Reiter to participate in national conference on catalytic development and walkable communities

Cities across the nation are experiencing a revival thanks to architectural practices that infuse underutilized core spaces with innovative, mixed-use projects to attract and retain educated young workers and support creative collaboration among them.

The Brookings Institute is calling it “catalytic development,” and cites Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus as one of six case studiesOther case study cities include Detroit; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Cincinnati; Seattle; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. in a new 82-page report.  

Wellington "Duke" Reiter, executive director of the University City Exchange at ASU and senior adviser to President Michael M. Crow, lent his creative vision to ASU and the city of Phoenix in the design of the Downtown Phoenix campus more than a decade ago. He participated in a Monday forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by Brookings.

ASU Now caught up with Reiter before he departed for the nation’s capital to discuss catalytic development and how ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus transformed the city.

Man in black coat and gray tie
Wellington "Duke" Reiter

Question: Let’s start with a clear definition of what catalytic development is and how it’s re-energizing cities around the country.

Answer: The Brookings Institute has identified trends that are happening in cities and have tried to capture the ingredients. I think this includes several things: It’s a place-based strategy where an area of a city is ready for reinvention, it’s got to be about employment, and the Brookings report [must have] confirmed that there are investors and institutions willing to invest in such projects. Walkable urbanism is an attractor of the kind of people who want to live and work in cities, and that ultimately matters to employers, of course. Catalytic development takes into account the amenities that go with thriving cities and the ambitious people who want to be there.

Q: This development obviously takes vision and investment by cities, businesses and corporations. How do they know it will work?

A: I think they can’t be absolutely 100 percent sure that it will work. Take Phoenix, for example. Did we know that ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus would look the way it does today and that its enrollment would reach nearly 10,000 students in the first decade? I don’t think we ever anticipated it would be as successful as it has become, but we did our homework and looked at success stories from other places which had thriving urban campuses and adjusted our expectations accordingly.

We also selected and moved those schools and colleges which were going to take advantage of an urban circumstance — social work, journalism, law, nursing. They were now close to the public- and private-sector institutions they could leverage and where students might find opportunities. We invested heavily in the research behind those decisions and what would make for a great student experience in this untested environment. I believe we were pretty confident, but in part you have to go on faith and best practices.

Q: Young workers and the “creative class” appear to be pushing this movement. What is it that they are seeking?

A: I would flip that around. I don’t think they’re actually pushing this movement. Employers who want them to come to work for their companies are the ones pushing this. If you’re running a tech company of some kind that will require skill sets likely found in recent graduates and young to mid-level career workers, you know your potential employees are also looking for great urban experiences and the lifestyle found in cities.

Yes, the employees are the end beneficiaries, but it’s the employers and, in our case, a university who are looking to attract those kinds of people and are the ones driving this. In the case of Phoenix and other up-and-coming cities, they are looking to change their fortunes with more businesses and tax revenue, as well.

Q: But aren’t young workers and the creative class contributing to this phenomenon? It seems as if in the past, they got a job somewhere and they moved. Millennials in particular, seem to be cherry-picking employers and calling the shots.

A: That’s true. People no longer simply go where the employment opportunities are; they go where they would like to live. Employers need to recognize this. If a business has a suburban campus that’s hard to get to other than by driving and there’s nothing else around it, they might have trouble attracting the people they want. Future workers might not want to have a car. And in addition to being able to get to work easily, they might just want to walk to the gym, restaurants or the symphony or the clubs. Music is a big part of the creative class, as is diversity. They want to be around different people and experiences. So they are motivated to move to where they want to be and hopefully employers get the message. This is the creative class thesis.

Q: What are some positive byproducts of catalytic development?

A: The rehabilitation of older buildings. As author Jane Jacobs wrote, “New ideas need old buildings.” That’s been true of the New York art scene forever. After serving as warehouses and manufacturing buildings, many were transformed into artists’ lofts and studios, then they were galleries, and now home to tech companies. … Older buildings being rehabbed suggest a rejuvenation, something being reborn. That’s very attractive to young people and to companies. In new buildings, however wonderful they might be, it’s hard to have the same kind of vibe, so the rehabilitation of older buildings is a byproduct of this trend.

Another byproduct is the activity that you see on the street — that anybody can partake of — whether it be increased retail or more restaurants and more diverse places to live. Then there’s presumably more support for art-based institutions and increased attendance for events.

In theory, everybody should win. But one thing that should be emphasized is that a wider spectrum of people must be the beneficiaries of new urban development. Who are we serving? Who are we attracting? Are we going out of our way to make sure that the communities that are already in local neighborhoods are benefiting from this development, as well? This is an important conversation taking place in many cities at this time.

Q: What has the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus done for the area?

A: The reason why it has been cited by Brookings as a successful model was because of the unusual source of inspiration, in this case a major university as the driver. Of course, the project had great support from former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and the Phoenix City Council.

At the time we were communicating the mutual benefit of such an idea, we used a Venn diagram that featured what the hopes for downtown were on the left and the needs of the university on the right. How could the fifth-largest city in the United States be as empty as it was? Both parties wanted to fix that problem. We needed help with buildings to advance our programs. The city wanted more activity downtown. They were expanding their convention center. They were betting on light rail.

Now that the campus is well established, the city is seeing more activity on the streets, increased retail, more emphasis on civic spaces. Together the city and ASU built one because we knew it was one way for the people to get to know their city and the university. The byproducts — the urban amenities — grow out of these partnerships.

Q: It appears as if cities that need a boost now have a proven model for success. So what will it take for them to act on this?

A: The point of the Brookings paper is to disseminate best-practice case studies and to convene the people who have been instrumental to the selected examples. They can see proofs of concept. However, other cities will succeed if they tailor a catalytic development model to their particular situation and not simply copy others. They can see different ways of how catalytic development can happen or how a political, business or academic leader can make a difference. Ultimately, a leader or institution has to push. There are many examples of success, and most cities in the present economy have something like this going on.

Reporter , ASU Now


Social work doctoral student connects research to her community

June 11, 2018

Charlene Poola says her interest in social work started with her mother.

“I am Hopi-Tewa and Navajo. My mother would be sure that the elders in our community had transportation to get groceries or go to the Laundromat. She would take them to town to get a warm meal,” Poola said. “I saw her community mobilizing. I didn’t know it was social work, but thought — that’s what I want to do.” Charlene Poola Charlene Poola Download Full Image

Poola is now pursuing her PhD in social work at Arizona State University. She is also one year into a prestigious Council on Social Work Education Minority Fellowship Program for doctoral students.

The program supports students who are leading efforts to improve healthcare outcomes for diverse, underserved populations.

Connecting research and practice

Before coming to ASU, Poola spent 14 years working with tribes in New Mexico.

“I really liked working with tribal organizations to enhance their behavioral systems. I was working for the University of New Mexico to bring in partnerships. My goal was to make sure our work was engaged, using community-based participatory research principles,” she said.

Poola did a needs assessment with New Mexico Native American tribes. It took nearly eight months to identify behavioral health resources, types of therapy provided and support the tribal organizations wanted to see and their thoughts about evidence-based treatments.

“Back then evidence-based was a buzzword,” she said. “I compiled the feedback and was able to present the needs to UNM and the tribal organizations to develop resources.”

“I didn’t want to collect data just to collect data,” she said. “This is what the tribes need and we have a responsibility as a public institution to support those needs. I also didn’t want to do that without tribal involvement.”

The results of her assessment took off for eight years. She helped three tribes get SAMSA grants. They implemented clinical trainings statewide that fused traditional and western culture.

Poola would stay with UNM but moved to more of a hospital environment.

“I discovered that I didn’t really like it. I realized that I am a community-based person. I also realized that our work — American Indians — was not being represented in research so that’s when I decided to come back to school,” she said.

Bringing expertise back to the community

Poola examines how to help American Indians adapt evidence-based treatment to fit their communities. She is particularly interested in the process.

“When I graduated with my master’s degree, I was a clinical social worker. The first thing I wanted to do is find out what treatments are out there for American Indians. At that time — 2003 — there were none. So what are we doing in the field to make it work?”

Poola says she learned from the team who had years of experience.

“Now, I know what occurs, because I have 14 years of practice but I didn’t document how I did it. I just knew surface adaptations that needed to occur,” she said. “I knew we needed to start doing this. Our upcoming generation of clinicians needs to have a bag of tools to provide the best treatment possible.”

She’ll be working with tribes in New Mexico as part of her dissertation.

“Social work is about addressing social injustices, social equality. I feel like if we have more students of color addressing this, maybe there would be more equitable resources for all to access,” Poola said.

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions