High school students study Constitution as they strive to become better citizens


June 27, 2019

More than 60 high school students from Arizona, California and Texas recently spent a week on the Tempe campus at Arizona State University where they studied the Constitution and Abraham Lincoln in the second annual Civic Leadership Institute from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

The Civic Leadership Institute, hosted June 16-21, is a free program for any high school student interested in learning more about the Constitution and American principles. Led by the school’s faculty, students spent four days studying famous court cases and decisive moments in the Lincoln presidency.  The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership hosted its Civic Leadership Institute June 16-21. Students spent the final day at the camp in a moot court, where they presented and debated famous cases that have appeared in front of the Supreme Court.

The program was split into two separate tracks: Constitutional Rights and Liberties, and Abraham Lincoln and the American Principles. On the final day of the institute, both groups came together to listen to each other perform either moot court — where the students simulated famous U.S. Supreme Court cases about freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, due process of law and equal protection under the law — or cabinet battles between different members of Lincoln’s cabinet on the issues of emancipation, the Civil War and more. 

The students who attended the Civic Leadership Institute recognized how crucial it is to be informed citizens despite the fact many of them cannot vote, yet. 

“In order to be educated citizens when we grow up and vote, it’s important for us to understand the Constitution, the rights it protects and the rights we have,” said Sowmya V., a student at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale.

“If we’re educated and have the knowledge we can go back and share, it makes a much more informed people and public,” said Gustavo C., a Brophy College Preparatory junior. “We can use that information to go out on Election Day and make informed decisions and be better citizens of our country.” 

In addition to the courses, students also had the chance to explore life on the ASU campus, as well. They lived at Barrett, The Honors College’s residence hall, spent time at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex, hiked “A” Mountain and visited the Hayden Library. 

"(The program) gives you really great insight on what life would be like at ASU,” said Lexie S., a student at Veritas Preparatory Academy who also attended last year’s Civic Leadership Institute. “You can see the great teachers and great opportunities, and they talk about the amazing stuff. The campus here is so beautiful.” 

The Civic Leadership Institute is in its second year and has doubled in size in that time. The program began through inspiration from like-minded concepts at the University of Notre Dame, Yale and Princeton in an effort to expose high school students to a Socratic, small-class environment while introducing them to dorm life on a university campus. The first cohort of the Civic Leadership Institute brought together 32 students from Arizona to study the Constitution. 

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

ASU students experience Israel and West Bank to study democracy, leadership, civility


June 21, 2019

Israel and the West Bank offered the latest opportunity for students in The College’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership to grapple with complex political ideas.

Twelve students from Arizona State University visited the region shortly after the end of the spring 2019 semester. The trip represented a first-of-its-kind experience to explore diverse views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, practice service and leadership and reflect on the differences in the democracies of Israel and the United States. School of Civic and Economic Thought Students visited Israel and the West Bank this summer Students from the School of Civic and Economic Thought visited Israel and the West Bank this summer to explore diverse views about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, practice service and leadership and reflect on the differences in the democracies of Israel and the United States. Download Full Image

The nine-day Global Intensive Experience is part of a series of courses in the school about democracies around the world. The course provides three credits toward degrees or minors in civic and economic thought and leadership. The trip challenged the students to assess their own views about justice, democracy, conflict and leadership through a blend of readings, meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and activists and immersive experiences.

"We designed the course so that American students could encounter political polarization and conflict in another liberal democracy, and reflect on our own political polarization so that they might become leaders who contribute to more constructive political and civic activity,” said Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “The blending of service activities with exposure to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders seeks to reinforce a commitment to reasonable disagreement and taking practical steps to resolve competing claims about justice and rights."

Julia Jackman, a biochemistry and global health major planning to graduate in 2021, said the trip gave her an appreciation for the differences between groups in Israel. But rather than being satisfied with what she has seen, she wants to continue to learn more about the region.

“I am more curious than ever and want to hear more perspectives, more facts and more stories from the people who live through this reality every day,” she said.

Jackman also stayed in Israel after the course to undertake an internship supported by the school with the African Refugee Development Center. 

A unique learning opportunity

This immersive course took the students and two ASU faculty to important political, economic and religious sites in Israel and the West Bank, including Tel Aviv, East and West Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho.

The course readings and field components were designed to provide students with a glimpse into the democratic system of Israel and the leadership challenges for a liberal democracy immersed in conflict. Among other experiences, the group shared a Shabbat dinner in a Tel Aviv home, spoke with an imam at the Dome of the Rock/Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, interviewed politicians from across the political spectrum and met with a joint Israeli-Palestinian peace project.

The cohort also visited important sites for both Israeli and Palestinian communities including the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the barrier wall around East Jerusalem, an eighth-century Islamic palace near Jericho and Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. Conversations with Jewish settlers, Palestinian community organizers, a rabbi with a background in political philosophy and soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces added to the many narratives students were asked to consider.

A public service mission

Each of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Global Intensive Experience courses includes a service component. For this trip, the ASU students and faculty worked with children in a Jewish-Muslim kindergarten and harvested wheat at a Palestinian farm that hosts an educational project about political rights.

After the course concluded, the students were asked to reflect on their deepened understanding of the challenges and rewards of leadership and global awareness in the 21st century, as well as the challenges of being a citizen and leader in a liberal democracy.

“This benefited my educational experience by allowing me to search for answers beyond the American context,” said Justin Heywood, a double major of civic and economic thought and leadership and political science.

“I am more convinced than ever that social connection must be incentivized and encouraged in order to find a solution to this conflict. There will be no peace without trust,” Heywood added.

Discovering other world democracies

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Global Intensive Experiences programs are sponsored in part by the school to make them more accessible for the school’s major and minor students. Last year, students embarked on a 10-day journey to India, where they studied ways in which the nation’s religious, economic and cultural diversity impacts the world’s largest democracy. And in 2021, the school is developing a trip to South Africa to focus on democratic transition.

“I learned a tremendous amount about myself and my opinions through the many discussions and debates we had over the nine days. I was grateful to have been able to get a taste of the country and the ongoing conflict prior to spending the summer in Tel Aviv on my own,” Jackman said. “In the end, I also feel like I gained a much greater appreciation for international relations and perspectives.”

To learn more about the 250-plus study-abroad programs in more than 65 different countries offered at ASU, see the Study Abroad Office website

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

StoryCorps project coming to ASU to promote civil discourse on campus


June 7, 2019

Arizona State University founded the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership in 2017 in part to promote civil discourse and free speech on campus.

In the more than two years since its founding, the school has developed a robust curriculum. It has expanded its academic offerings to include two bachelor's degrees, as well as a minor; expanded its public programs to include nationally renowned and politically diverse speakers from all over the country; and launched several new civic education initiatives to benefit the Arizona community. The school recently celebrated its first graduate, a Dean’s Medalist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. StoryCorps' One Small Step project is coming to Arizona State University The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will host StoryCorps’ One Small Step project at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester. Download Full Image

To further its mission, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will host One Small Step at Arizona State University this August. The project, put together by national nonprofit StoryCorps, will give ASU students the opportunity to have a civil dialogue with other students with different political views.

“We’re happy to be partnered with One Small Step because it complements our curriculum and the broader experience for students, which emphasizes fundamental debate about political and civic affairs,” said Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

One Small Step will host a series of 40-minute conversations between pairs of students in August to preserve and record the stories of the ASU community. With permission, StoryCorps will then archive the conversations at the Library of Congress to be preserved for future generations.

“Arizona State University's commitment to engaging with difficult topics with respect and thoughtfulness, specifically through programming hosted by the School for Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, creates the perfect environment for having these types of conversations,” said Roselyn Almonte, manager for community partnerships for One Small Step.

One Small Step is a new project from StoryCorps, which has given over 450,000 people the opportunity to record interviews about their lives and have them preserved in the Library of Congress. The One Small Step project invites people to sit down with people with different political views and have StoryCorps-style conversations in an effort to break down the barriers created by politics.

One Small Step is open to all students from all ASU campuses. To sign up, students will need to fill out a questionnaire by July 19. The questionnaire will help StoryCorps staff to match people for discussion topics.

“We think this strengthens the intellectual foundations for our 21st-century leaders in America and beyond,” Carrese said. “It also strengthens the civic and intellectual fabric of ASU, as well as our broader community.”

One Small Step has held similar programs at other universities across the country, including Berry College in Georgia, Hamilton College in New York and Trinity College in Connecticut. Past recordings have included moving connections between two seemingly opposite people days after the 2016 election

“These conversations are not debates, but a space to learn about the life experiences that have shaped someone's worldview, and share their own, as well,” Almonte added.

Another step forward

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership encourages nonpartisan civil discourse. Through the school’s previous public programs, as well as its upcoming lecture series “Citizenship and Civic Leadership in America,” the school seeks to promote honest conversation about the principles, values and discussions that influence America today.

The school’s curriculum is designed to produce a new class of leaders. Graduates from the school will thrive in public service, journalism, law, business or elected office. Through the discussion of classic, primary texts, as well as hands-on learning through the school’s Global Intensive Experiences and Summer Leadership Institutes, students in civic and economic thought and leadership courses will be prepared to handle tomorrow’s challenges.

Carrese says partnerships like this one with One Small Step will only further the school’s mission of preparing its students. By providing a platform for civil discourse, the school is giving its students a chance to have challenging, yet meaningful conversations with their peers — something they will have to do frequently when they enter their careers and civic life.

“People who want to be leaders in the private or public sector need to be able to hear diverse points of view and respond in a civil and reasonable fashion, accepting that those who disagree with one’s own principles or policies are not always bad people,” Carrese said.

For more information on the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, or the One Small Step program taking place at ASU, contact Joe Martin.

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

Experiential learning: ASU students get jumpstart in Washington, D.C.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Capital Scholars Program gives students an opportunity to work, live in nation's capital


June 4, 2019

Alexandria Maese grew up knowing firsthand how international affairs hit home.

“My dad is a U.S. Army veteran, and so part of the direction I’ve taken has been to try to understand that perspective,” Maese said. “My mom came from Mexico as a student and has always emphasized the importance of school especially, because not everyone has the opportunity — I really took all of that to heart.” Alexandria Maese spent two months in Washington, D.C. as part of the The College's Capital Scholars Program. Alexandria Maese, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and concurrent minors in Italian and military leadership, spent two months in Washington, D.C., as part of the The College's Capital Scholars Program. Download Full Image

Alexandria Maese, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and concurrent minors in Italian and military leadership, spent two months in Washington, D.C., as part of the The College's Capital Scholars Program.Alexandria Maese, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and concurrent minors in Italian and military leadership, spent two months in Washington, D.C., as part of the The College's Capital Scholars Program.

Maese turned that knowledge into action at Arizona State University, declaring a political science major in The College of Liberal Arts and SciencesSchool of Politics and Global Studies, along with minors in Italian and military leadership. Outside the classroom, she interned at the Arizona Democratic Party and volunteered with community service and advocacy projects in the Valley.

By her junior year, she wanted to see how the topics she’d studied played out in real time on Capitol Hill. Scholarship support from The College helped her spend two months in Washington, D.C., as part of the Capital Scholars Program, where she interned with lobbying and consulting firm the Madison Group.

“D.C. was an amazing stepping stone because it made me realize that I wanted to go back to the capital, but not right away,” said Maese, who graduated in May. “Some of the best advice I received was to start by focusing on how I can impact Arizona.”

Finding common ground between local and global issues is no easy feat, but Maese said her experience allowed her to do just that. She spent her senior year as a research intern at Global Ties Arizona, the state wing of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor and Leadership Program.

Experience as a hiring prerequisite

A 2017 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found some 65% of employers consider field experience when hiring fresh graduates.

The preference is already understood by students — at ASU, almost 50% of undergraduates complete at least one internship before graduating.

Carol McNamara, associate director for public programs at The College’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, said opportunities in the nation’s capital serve as vital platforms for those with public service aspirations.

“There is nothing quite like spending a semester on Capitol Hill for understanding and appreciating the structure of American government, and means by which Americans govern ourselves,” said McNamara, also a senior lecturer at the school. “Students have the opportunity to make themselves a part of that process by engaging with political leaders, their staff and their constituents.”

Funding the future

But living and working in Washington, D.C., comes with its own set of hurdles. Student ambitions can be stymied by the financial strain of balancing a cross-country move with the demanding, and often low-paid, intern schedule. At The College, scholarship funds play a key role in filling the void.

That was the case for Nikki Hinshaw, who studies political science and communication through the School of Politics and Global Studies and Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Like Maese, funds from The College supported her internship with the Washington, D.C.-based McCain Institute Policy Design Studio in 2018.

Hinshaw spent the semester engulfed in foreign policy courses and international seminars through the program, all while completing an internship at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs.

“Without scholarships, I would not have been able to engage in these unpaid and often costly opportunities,” she said. “I hope that (with the experiences), I’m able to make a bigger impact on my community and give back to others someday as well.”

Matthew Jernstedt, a first-generation student who transferred from Phoenix College, used the McCain Institute Policy Design Studio internship to advance his foreign diplomacy aspirations. With the help of a recommendation letter from lifetime U.S. diplomat and current McCain Institute Senior Director Michael Polt, Jernstedt received the Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship this year.

“I want to use my fellowship to advocate for the representation of first-generation and community college students in foreign policy,” said Jernstedt, who studies political science at The College’s School of Politics and Global Studies. “With great privilege, comes the responsibility to reach out and speak out on behalf of those who are underrepresented and may doubt whether competitive fellowships are even within their reach.”

Multifaceted opportunities

Some 25 students from the School of Politics and Global Studies engage in internships through the McCain Institute and the Capital Scholars Program yearly. But students from other majors also find opportunities there.

Kristy Dohnel, a history major in The College’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, became one of just two national recipients of the Dorothy Andrews Kabis Memorial Internship last month.

The opportunity, which honors former National Federation of Republican Women president Dorothy Andrews Kabis, sends recipients to the organization’s Washington, D.C., headquarters for a summer.

“The internship is vastly unique, covers my living costs, travel expenses and gives weekly stipends — an opportunity that is almost unheard of,” Dohnel said. “Learning how to deal with the hustle and bustle of D.C. is a skill that not many people have, and I am especially excited to hone many new skills.”

Experiences in Washington, D.C., are essential building blocks for students across The College and at ASU at large. Learn more about how you can help sustain opportunities for years to come.

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

480-965-5870

First graduate of a growing school sets the bar high

Elana Quint will graduate from School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


April 24, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Elana Quint grew up asking the big questions. School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Elana Quint. Elana Quint, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership's first graduate, plans to go to Washington, D.C., to study law. Download Full Image

It starts with her family. Originally from the Soviet Union, Quint's mother immigrated to the United States in 1989 with her family. Not knowing a word of English, unfamiliar with customs and without any connections in the United States, they settled in Tucson, where Quint would eventually be born. Her family having come from a country with a turbulent government situation, Quint quickly understood the importance of good governance and the impact the law has on society.

“Ever since I was young, I have had an insatiable curiosity and love of learning. One of the most compelling dimensions of studying philosophy and law is that oftentimes there is not a 'right answer,'" she said.

This May, Quint will graduate from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in civic and economic leadership, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, a minor in business, and as a graduate of Barrett, The Honors College. Quint is also being recognized by The College as a Dean’s Medalist.

Her education won’t stop in May, however. Quint was one of only 24 students selected from around the country to participate in the Hertog Foundation’s seven-week political studies program, where she will study political philosophy, contemporary public affairs, economics and foreign policy. Quint plans to attend law school, clerk in appellate court and go on to a career as a lawyer.

A major milestone

When Quint walks across the stage in May, she will be the first student to graduate from ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, which was founded just over two years ago.

“I carry a great responsibility to both represent the school well and carry on our mission statement,” Quint said. “I strongly believe in the importance of vigorous debate about issues facing our world and that studying great thinkers can provide useful insight as to how we ought to approach them.”

As the first graduate of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Quint sets a high bar of achievement, something Paul Carrese, SCETL’s founding director, hopes other students see as a goal they should strive to.

“We’re delighted that talented students like Elana found us immediately and dove into our regular courses and broader experiential-learning curriculum,” Carrese said. “Our student cohort grows with each semester, and we think the school’s approach to developing students as leaders will continue to attract new students from various parts of the university who want to invest in a broader preparation for service in whatever career or life path they might choose.”

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership also will have several students graduate with a minor in civic and economic thought and leadership.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My academic interest in studying philosophy began my freshman year of high school when I joined the speech and debate team and has only grown since.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: ASU has an incredibly diverse student population. Some of the most profound moments in my personal and intellectual growth resulted from my discussions after classes with my peers who may be considered nontraditional students. I do not think I would have these experiences were I to study at another university.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU to stay close to home — but not too close.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: At the end of my sophomore year I took a course with the theatre department in Acting Fundamentals. Dan Tobin taught me that we should take our life experiences and use it to connect more deeply with others. When he taught us how to act, he emphasized the importance of given circumstances so every moment we spent on stage would be a genuine and authentic expression of emotion.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Seek activities that push your thinking outside your comfort zone; take the remainder of the time you have in college to gain as many new experiences as you can.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The theater building, but generally the entire northwest artsy corner of campus.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation I will move to Washington, D.C., to study law.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?  

A: I would put $40 million dollars to solve substance abuse, such as drug and alcohol abuse. Addiction can take a terrible toll on families, which are our core social institutions.

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership forms advisory board


April 16, 2019

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University has formed a National Board of Counselors to advise the school on its mission to develop a new understanding of America’s civic principles and to help foster a vigorous and civil discourse.

The National Board of Counselors, which held its first meeting in March at ASU’s Barrett & O'Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C., will also work with the school’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership. These national and civic leaders are committed to: ASU's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership forms National Board of Counselors The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership's National Board of Counselors. Download Full Image

  • Improving civil discourse and constructive disagreement in our democracy.

  • Increasing America’s engagement in and learning about the fundamental civic principles that should inform robust debate on political and economic issues.

The school is still actively recruiting additional board members.The following distinguished public servants and civic leaders have joined the bipartisan project:

Co-chairs:

  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend — former lieutenant governor of Maryland.

  • Jon Kyl — former U.S. representative and senator from Arizona.

Members:

  • Dan Cardinali — president and CEO, Independent Sector.

  • Ron Christie — former special assistant for domestic policy to President George W. Bush.

  • Grady Gammage Jr. — senior research fellow, ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

  • Tom Gentzel — executive director and CEO, National School Boards Association.

  • Rich Lowry — editor in chief, “The National Review.”

  • Donald Graham — former publisher, “The Washington Post.”

  • Marc Morial — president, National Urban League.

  • Anna Tovar — Mayor of Tolleson, Arizona and former state legislator.

Arizona State University launched the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership in 2017 to develop new leadership and engagement on political civility, education in our fundamental civic principles, and rigorous open discussions on economic and policy issues. The school, with special funding from Arizona’s Legislature and governor, seeks to play a major leadership role in developing new understanding of and commitments to America’s civic principles; fostering vigorous yet civil discourse; and turning America’s current polarized politics toward a more effective liberal democracy in the 21st century.  

More information on the school and its Center for Political Thought and Leadership is available at scetl.asu.edu. For more information on the National Board of Counselors, please reach out to Joe Martin, marketing and communications manager at the School for Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

 
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The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recognizes academic excellence with spring 2019 Dean’s Medalists

April 15, 2019

On Tuesday, May 7, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will recognize its highest achieving students from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities at its 2019 convocation ceremony.

Each department and school within The College has selected a phenomenal student who has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to academic excellence during their time at ASU.

These students will be awarded a prestigious Dean’s Medal in honor of their achievements, to be worn with their graduation regalia as they lead their fellow graduates during the processional.

Meet this year’s Dean’s Medalists in The College:

Portrait of School of Politics and Global Studies spring 2019 Dean's Medalist, Alexandria Paterson

Alexandria Paterson
Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Major: Asia studies
Minor: Political science
Certificate: Korean studies

Paterson became interested in pan-Asian studies and culture early on.

She traveled to China through a National Security Language Initiative youth scholarship in high school, and spent her senior year in South Korea as an exchange student.

The experience allowed her to go directly into advanced Korean language courses upon arriving at ASU.

“Allie is a highly articulate and knowledgeable young person,” said Tracy Fessenden, the interim director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. “Her achievement exemplifies the mission of the Asia studies major.” 

American Indian Studies program spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Alexander Soto.

Alexander Soto
Dean’s Medal: American Indian Studies
Major: American Indian Studies
Certificate: American Indian Nation Governance

When he first came to ASU as an undergraduate back in 2010, Soto made a mark on American Indian Studies faculty members right away.

“When I met Alex, his rap group, Shining Soul, was gaining traction and his growing awareness and commitment to social justice issues were evident in his lyrics and creative process,” said Michelle Hale, an assistant professor in the program.

With powerful messages about indigenous pride, culture, history and identity, Soto’s group has garnered national fame producing music Hale said resonates with Native American youth in the Phoenix area and beyond.

Soto returned to finish his undergraduate studies after briefly leaving ASU to pursue other ventures in Arizona. Under Hale’s direction as the program’s internship coordinator, he is currently working with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to bolster infrastructure and community access to information in both the nation’s tribal and elementary school library.

He also inspires others inside the classroom, said David Martinez, an associate professor in Soto’s program.

“Alex’s written assignments and comments during class discussions make clear that what students are learning in their AISAmerican Indian Studies program has real-world application to the American Indian community, on and off the reservation, from academia to politics and social science.”

 Department of English spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Chandler Fritz.

Chandler Fritz
Dean’s Medal: Department of English
Majors: English, philosophy

In addition to completing concurrent degrees from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, dual English and philosophy major Chandler Fritz is also a student at Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.

During his time on campus, he completed a short story collection entitled, “Paraprosdokian” for his honors thesis project, assisted on several research projects through his philosophy focus and received funding through the President’s Scholarship for academic excellence.

Fritz was also active outside the classroom. A study abroad program sent him to Haiti, where he planned and taught English courses to local children displaced or orphaned by the country’s devastating earthquake in 2010. In Arizona, he worked as a teaching assistant in a juvenile prison through ASU’s prison education program, which aims to give youth inmates bolstered access to educational opportunities upon their release.

Department of English chair and Professor Krista Ratcliffe said it is that blend of academic and practical aspirations that earned Fritz the Dean’s Medal.

“While he aspires to a PhD, Chandler Fritz remains committed to taking his academic knowledge and making it work in the real world,” she said. 

School of International Letters and Cultures spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Rachel Hill.

Rachel Hill
Dean’s Medal:  School of International Letters and Cultures
Major: Spanish literature

Faculty members in the School of International Letters and Cultures describe Hill as being a natural leader capable of breaking down complex discussions with classmates and navigating controversial topics with ease.

Melding literature studies with a passion for social justice, she aims to create nuanced solutions to pressing social issues in Latin America by viewing classic texts through a modern lens.  

Hill is currently enrolled in The College’s 4+1 program, an initiative allowing students to accelerate certain master’s programs by taking on graduate courses as undergraduates. Emil Volek, a Spanish professor at the School of International Letters and Cultures, said Hill’s ability to juggle the heavy course load and family commitments is another aspect that sets her apart.

“Rachel did an outstanding job in my class in 2016, but her classmates and I were truly amazed when she returned to present the summary of her final paper with her 4-day-old baby,” she said. “Indeed, as the mother of three young children, her undergraduate GPA is amazing and she has done extremely well so far in her 4+1 graduate courses.”

Hugh Downs School of Human Communication spring 3019 Dean's Medalist Robert Tovar.

Robert Tovar
Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Majors: Communication, family and human development

Faculty members describe Tovar as being highly proficient in both academic pursuits and professional development endeavors.

In addition to coursework involved in his dual majors, he completed a communication internship with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, where he tracked news coverage of the group, researched funding opportunities and produced communication materials showcasing the California professional group’s efforts.

He worked as a research assistant in ASU’s Between Two Worlds lab, a facility exploring how people from mixed backgrounds navigate cultural identities in the U.S.

As a teaching assistant, he assisted younger students in the development of their own research projects, and helped new students get settled on campus as a customer service representative for University Housing.

Barbara DeDecker, an academic success coordinator with the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, said Tovar’s mix of community engagement and personal growth is what earned him the Dean’s Medal for the school.

“Robert is an exceptional student and has maintained a strong focus on academics during his time at ASU,” he said. “Because of that, and all the ways he has given back to ASU, we’re proud for him to receive the Dean’s Medal.” 

T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Shanna Passey.

Shanna Passey
Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
Major: Family and human development

For as long as Passey can remember, she’s wanted to find ways to help families and young people.

After transferring to ASU from Chandler-Gilbert Community College, she put her passion to use by immersing herself in coursework and working directly with communities.

As a behavioral health technician with Arizona Youth and Family Services, Passey spent two years counseling at-risk youth and helping to support families working to build resilient homes and relationships.

Bolstered by the tools she gathered in the field and in her classes, Passey hopes to continue within a similar role after graduation.

“Shanna truly exemplifies the type of student we are proud to call our Dean’s Medalist and alumna,” said Stacie Foster, the undergraduate director of programs for the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamic. “We are certain she will make a difference in the lives of children and families who are in need.”

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Elana Quint.

Elana Quint
Dean’s Medal: School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership
Majors: Civic and economic thought and leadership, philosophy

As the first Dean’s Medalist chosen by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, faculty members say Quint is an exemplary student who has excelled under the demands of concurrent majors and as a student in Barrett, The Honors College.

“Elana has never stopped challenging herself to seek new opportunities in both traditional academic coursework and exceptional learning experiences,” said Paul Carrese, a professor and the founding director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

In addition to her coursework, Quint held research assistantships spanning several ASU units, including the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society’s Global Security Initiative and the Biodesign Institute, among others. She is also a recipient of ASU’s President’s Scholarship and Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law’s Project Excellence Scholarship.

School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Rosemary Huck.

Rosemary Huck
Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Major: Geography
Minors: History, sustainability
Certificates: Geographical information science

From analyzing desert plants to managing a full course load as a student-athlete, Huck is praised by faculty members for being a multifaceted student who transcends traditional boundaries.

Outside the classroom, she assists with environmental data and engages with fellow students as an intern for the climate-focused initiative, Defend our Future.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Huck came to ASU as an athlete playing for the ASU women’s water polo team and has been an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee throughout her time in Arizona.

Ronald Dorn, a professor in the School of Geographic Sciences and Urban Planning, said Huck’s ability to grasp difficult geographic concepts quickly while managing a packed schedule as both an athlete and a student played a key role in her nomination.

“We all know the amount of time and dedication it takes to perform as an athlete at the highest levels,” said Dorn, who is also the associate director of the school’s undergraduate programs. “Thus (all of her contributions) speak mountains about her character.” 

School of Human Evolution and Social Change spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Dean Blumenfeld.

Dean Blumenfeld
Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Majors: Anthropology, geography

Pursuing concurrent degrees in anthropology and geography, Blumenfeld’s accomplishments at The College have been far-reaching and diverse.

As an investigator with the Northern Basin of Mexico Historic Ecological Project, he led excavations and cataloged artifacts at the Los Mogotes archaeological site in central Mexico. In Arizona, he studied ancient plant samples from Mesoamerica and the Carribean, and compiled geographical data as a research consultant for NASA DEVELOP.

In spring 2017, Blumenfeld bolstered his Spanish language skills and cultural knowledge during a study abroad program in Spain. He is also the current president of the Undergraduate Anthropology Association and is completing an honors thesis focused on archeology as a student in Barrett, The Honors College.

“Dean is an excellent student who has developed critical skills as an independent researcher,” said Carita Harrell, assistant director of academic services for the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. “He is an anthropology rock star and has really made the most of his time here at ASU.” 

School of Social Transformation spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Emily Morris.

Emily Morris
Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation
Majors: Justice studies, women and gender studies
Minor: Media analysis
Certificate: Socio-legal studies

Morris became interested in social justice early in her career at ASU, and used the next few years of study to drive her passion forward and empower others.

At the School of Social Transformation, she assisted faculty members in creating a two-week justice-studies course for The College’s Early Start program, which helps new students transition to college life with short-term classes ahead of their first semester. She also helped organize the Clothesline Project, an annual showcase bringing awareness to sexual violence and completed a sexual violence prevention training to become a peer educator.

Outside ASU, she helped prepare incarcerated people for reintegrating into society as an intern for Reinventing Reentry, and served as a Planned Parenthood intern with the Latino-focused Raíz program.

“Emily has been an extremely active member of the Sun Devil community,” said Bryan Brayboy, the interim director of the School of Social Transformation. “She plans to continue to make a difference through her activism with Planned Parenthood and would like to assist students as an academic adviser in the future.”

School of Transborder Studies spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Erika Galindo.

Erika Galindo
Dean’s Medal: School of Transborder Studies
Majors: Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o studies, justice studies
Certificate: Socio-legal studies

Galindo is a passionate student whose activities on and off campus are in preparation for a future career in law. 

A former CLAS Student Leader, Galindo traveled to Washington, D.C., to represent the School of Transborder Studies in a national conference through the nonprofit organization UnidosUS.

Galindo’s most recent venture is a research associateship for a project examining migrant asylum processes with Angela Arzubiaga, an associate professor in the School of Social Transformation.

A dedicated student inside and outside the classroom, faculty members across the school praised Galindo’s commitment to her studies and far-reaching potential.

“Erika excelled in class,” said Maria Cruz-Torres, an associate professor in the School of Transborder Studies. “She is smart, thoughtful and hard-working, and deserves the high recognition (of the Dean’s Medal).” 

Department of Economics spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Brian Sweeney.

Brian Sweeney
Dean’s Medal: Department of Economics
Majors: Economics, applied mathematics

Serving as a research assistant in faculty-led projects and as a mentor to fellow undergraduate students, Sweeney is recognized by faculty for his ability to navigate a complex course load as a student in Barrett, The Honors College.

His research has earned him a wide range of accolades, including the Mathematics Undergraduate Research Award from ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. His work within that realm included a mathematical modeling project exploring how nutritional changes among honeybees impact colony survival and the division of tasks and a similar project looking at how the insects are affected by the use of pesticides.

Faculty members praised his handling of the rigorous combination of high-level math and economic courses throughout his time on campus.

“Brian’s academic record is outstanding and all the more noteworthy since he has taken some of the university’s most challenging courses,” said Jose Mendez, the chair of the awards committee in the Department of Economics. 

School of Life Sciences spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Sierra Murphy.

Sierra Murphy
Dean’s Medal: School of Life Sciences
Majors: Mathematics, chemistry, biological sciences

Murphy is described by her instructors as being an outstanding, insightful student whose passion for science landed her in a triple major — by accident.

“Sierra is one of the most exceptional students I’ve ever known,” said Benjamin Hurlbut, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences. “Loading up semester after semester with things she loves, she found she had something very close to a triple major, so she went ahead and finished out the last few remaining requirements (for a triple major in math, chemistry and biology).”

As an undergraduate research assistant, she worked in the lab of professor Stephen Johnson, where she played a large role in the facility’s tests to to find a cancer vaccine. Two forthcoming research papers will have her name attached.

Murphy has also made contributions outside the classroom. She is currently giving back to ASU by mentoring her fellow students as a residential assistant at Barrett, The Honors College, and as a peer mentor for the ASU Disability Resource Center.

Upon graduation, Murphy is eyeing medical school. 

School of Molecular Sciences spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Zoe Liberman-Martin

Zoe Liberman-Martin
Dean’ Medal: School of Molecular Sciences
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Mathematics

Liberman-Martin exited high school planning to become a professional musician. But after earning her associate degree in music and working as an EMT, she landed at ASU.

With graduation around the corner, faculty members praise Liberman-Martin’s natural curiosity, analytical ability and enthusiasm.

“Zoe has demonstrated uncommon initiative for a student at her level by pursuing a range of internal and extracurricular research activities,” said Anne Jones, an associate professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the school’s associate director of academic affairs.

In 2018, she spent the summer as a research fellow at the University of Georgia’s Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry. Working toward an honors thesis as a student at Barrett, The Honors College, she also worked in the Levitus Lab under School of Molecular Sciences associate professor Andrew Chizmeshya.

Upon graduation, she plans to use her varied research, music and medical background to pursue a career in materials manufacturing. 

 School of Earth and Space Exploration spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Gabriela Huckabee.

Gabriela Huckabee
Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration
Major: Astrophysics

Huckabee is a National Merit Scholar, Sundial Physics Scholar and the recipient of a joint ASU-NASA space grant fellowship supporting undergraduate students working with research faculty mentors.

She has also helped usher younger students into science disciplines as a learning assistant with The College’s physics department, and as a high school tutor with Akari Tutoring.

She is currently a research assistant in ASU’s Cosmology Initiative, which aims to bring the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Department of Physics together to produce groundbreaking planetary and space research.

“Compounding the impressive nature of Gabby’s academic performance is the fact that she completed her degree in only three years, took more classes than required and always sought out opportunities to expand her knowledge,” said Jennifer Patience, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. “She is highly motivated to apply her keen intellect to a range of research projects.”

Department of Physics spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Weiqing Xu.

Weiqing Xu
Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics
Majors: Physics, mathematics

Xu is described by faculty as an engaged student with an exceptional aptitude for physics theory.

“Weiqing is among the top three undergraduate students I can remember between the time I myself was a physics undergraduate at UC Berkeley,” said Richard Kirian, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics.

Kirian said Xu would frequently come to his office with new ideas about the topics discussed in his lectures.

“He would write out an alternative mathematical derivation of a lecture topic that may be compared to that of PhD students,” he said. “Only in cases of extreme talent does a student develop such thoughts during the course of an hour-long undergraduate-level lecture.”

A fluent Chinese and English speaker, Xu was also an enthusiastic teaching assistant who was happy to break down complex topics for other students.

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences spring 2019 Dean's Medalist David Ackerman.

David Ackerman
Dean’s Medal: School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Major: Computational mathematical sciences
Minor: Astronomy

Ackerman participated in a range of research projects spanning biochemistry, astronomy and scientific modeling during his time at ASU.

School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences President’s Professor Matthias Kawski, who also serves as the chair of the school’s awards committee, said Ackerman’s combination of research, contributions to the program and impressive academic record are what earned him the Dean’s Medal honor.

“David’s cumulative, math and minor GPA are astronomical,” he said. “In addition to his outstanding classwork, he has participated in research projects … and community service projects.”

During an internship with aerospace technology firm Orbital ATK/Northrop Grumman, Ackerman collected data for the firm and helped develop community projects including elementary school robotics competitions and playground renovations. He plans to accept a full-time position with the company after graduation.

Department of Psychology spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Edit "Libby" Villalobos.

Edit “Libby” Villalobos
Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology
Major: Psychology

While at ASU, Villalobos engaged in projects addressing mental health issues among homeless populations, helping local youth find healthy outlets for trauma and assisting refugee populations in the Phoenix area.

She is the recipient of the department’s Smith Marshall Scholar award and ASU’s Polly Harsh Stone Memorial Scholarship, among others.

After transferring to ASU from a community college, Villalobos spent two years working on research teams including the Arizona Twin Project, Refugee Women’s Health Clinic and resiliency lab of Suniya Luthar, a Foundation Professor in the Department of Psychology.

Mary Davis, the associate chair of the Department of Psychology and a professor in the school, said Villalobos has made major contributions to a project examining how culture impacts parenting styles and child development.

Faculty members across the department praised Villalobos, a first-generation college student, for her commitment to developing research with the ability to help children and adolescents overcome trauma.

With a passion for law and psychology, she hopes to go into a clinical position in which her research has a real-world impact by informing court proceedings.

School of Politics and Global Studies spring 2019 Dean's Medalist Mia Armstrong.

Mia Armstrong
Dean's Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies
Majors: Global studies, journalism and mass communication

Armstrong is a Flinn Foundation Scholar and a student in Barrett, The Honors College who is known for her drive and willingness to explore new arenas.

“Demonstrating initiative is one of Mia’s trademarks, particularly in the areas of leadership and public service,” said Richard Herrera, an associate professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies and the associate director of undergraduate.

Amstrong made headlines at ASU even before becoming a student, when she and her father embarked on a 235-mile bike ride from their Flagstaff home to the Tempe campus the summer before her freshman year.

The momentum continued into the spring semester of that year, when she was nominated for the School of Politics and Global Studies Junior Fellows research program. Within that role, she worked with Professor Carolyn Warner, also the school’s associate director of graduate, on a study that examined the handling of sexual assault allegations in the military and Catholic church.

Armstrong has spent the last four years creating her own headlines as a student journalist. Most recently, she won a journalism competition to cover global poverty and social justice issues alongside New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff.

Writer , The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

480-965-5870

 
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License to thrive: Arizona bill would allow reciprocity for regulated professions

April 9, 2019

HB 2569 will recognize out-of-state occupational licenses, opening up ability to work in Arizona for many

The Arizona Legislature recently passed HB 2569, a bill that would loosen occupational licensing laws in the state by recognizing out-of-state licenses as valid. Gov. Doug Ducey has been a vocal supporter of universal licensing recognition, suggesting that a person’s skills don’t diminish when they cross state lines, and the change will allow those who have moved from other states to “work faster and without all the red tape.”

To better understand the role of occupational licensing and what this change would mean for Arizona’s businesses and residents, ASU Now spoke with Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University.

Question: What is occupational licensing? What kinds of jobs in Arizona require a license?


Stephen Slivinski

Answer: Occupational licensing laws — which are state-specific laws that vary by state — require workers in certain occupations to first obtain a license from a government licensing board before they can hold a job in that field. Not all occupations in Arizona require a license, but many do.

The requirements to obtain a license vary by occupation and state, and generally consist of meeting a minimum number of training hours and paying a fee. Some licenses may require a specific degree, like a high school diploma or a college degree, or an apprentice period with an existing license holder. All states license doctors and lawyers, for instance, but not all states require a license for occupations like interior designer or animal breeder (and yes, some states do).

Currently, Arizona ranks as having one of the top five most burdensome licensing requirements in the nation overall, both in the number of occupations that are licensed and the number of training hours required. These burdens hit low-income workers the hardest: Over 65% of low-income occupations in Arizona require a license, and those jobs have some of the heaviest financial and training-based requirements when compared to other states.

Q: What would this bill do?

A: This bill would allow anyone with an existing license from another state — in good standing — to have instant reciprocity with Arizona. In other words, they would receive a “seal of approval” from the state of Arizona once they establish residency in the state, without having to take an Arizona licensing exam or logging the prescribed hours of training.

The bill does allow the state to decline this right of reciprocity for a disqualifying criminal history. Certain occupations would not be granted instant reciprocity, including those that require a security clearance.

Q: Will granting reciprocity weaken the ability of the state to protect consumers?

A: These laws are often justified on the basis that the state has a compelling interest in protecting consumers and citizens from “bad actors” or safeguarding public health. However, there is a consensus among economists and scholars that these requirements often do not line up with the actual risk to public health and safety. Barbers in Arizona, for instance, are required to log over 1,000 hours of training before they receive a license, while emergency medical technicians have to log 110 hours.

Academic studies have also found no significant difference in public health and safety outcomes in states that have higher licensing burdens when compared to those that are closer to the national average.

Q: What are the advantages to reciprocity?

A: The main advantage of license reciprocity is increased competition in licensed service sectors and, therefore, more choices and lower prices for consumers. It also makes Arizona instantly more attractive to workers and entrepreneurs already looking to relocate to Arizona to take advantage of our other competitive advantages, like climate and cost of living.

Studies indicate that interstate mobility — the likelihood that someone will relocate to another state to find work — is greatly reduced when licensing processes are perceived to be burdensome. Moreover, current Arizona residents who have avoided working in a particular field because their license is from another state can now work in a field that previously seemed off-limits. This sort of reform will have benefits to workers and employers as well as consumers.

Q: Do you expect this bill will encourage other states to grant licensing reciprocity? Will this become a trend?

A: I think this change will make Arizona instantly more attractive for workers and employers looking to relocate out of their current state. If this proves to be a compelling reason for people to relocate, it is very likely that other states will follow suit to try to gain a competitive edge. The Arizona reform is the first-of-its-kind in the nation so we will need to wait and see how this all plays out.

Views expressed in this interview belong solely to the professor, and not necessarily to the university.

Katherine Reedy

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications

480-965-3779

 
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Rebuilding civic education key to keeping democracy running, professor says

America needs civic education as 'owner's manual' for democracy, expert says.
April 4, 2019

Skills to analyze and repair government have nearly been lost, Harvard political theorist says at talk capping yearlong ASU series

America has lost the “owner’s manual” to democracy and must focus on restoring civics education to the next generation to reclaim it, according to a Harvard University professor and theorist.

Polarization has not only afflicted the current state of governance, it’s also the reason that civic education has faded away in schools, said Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard.

She spoke at the final event of the yearlong series “Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis,” held by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

“We don’t have civics because we fight over history,” Allen said, adding that when education leaders from different states tried to establish the K-12 Common Core standards for testing in 2010, they skipped social studies because of conflicts over how to teach history. Some thought there should be a focus on the successes of democracy, and others thought that slavery and the genocide of Native Americans should have more emphasis.

“They couldn’t come to an agreement on how we should narrate the basic tale of American history,” she said. “So now there are no accountability mechanisms for social studies, and that’s why it’s not emphasized.”

Young people need to know the basic skills of how to keep democracy flourishing, such as voting, but they also must learn subjects such as economics, psychology and social sciences to critically judge whether government is working and how to come up with solutions if it’s not, she said.

It’s hard work, said Allen, who also is the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project, a lab at Harvard that seeks to identify and teach the skills that citizens need.

“We do this work of listening and coordinating and synthesizing a shared vision every time we serve on a committee,” she said. “Democracies have more committees than any other political form because it’s how you do the work to articulate people’s vision of happiness.

“I think we can reclaim that owner’s manual.”

Allen said that civics education can be summed up in the second paragraph"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." of the Declaration of Independence, which — within the paragraph — moves from a vision of the individual to a sense of community.

“To move from ‘I’ to ‘we,’ you need the nitty-gritty skills of getting a group of people around a table to talk about a hard problem,” she said.

That knowledge has almost been lost.

“We did build up such a deep expertise as a society in it, that we actually forgot to name it as a thing that needs to be cultivated from one generation to the next,” she said. “We took it for granted that democratic institutions run on their own.

“But that’s not the case. A healthy democracy depends on a virtuous circle: political institutions that are effective and functioning well and a political culture that supports them with the knowledge and skills that understand how to operate them.”

Allen said that in her own work, she takes an approach that appreciates the founders but is not deifying, and is honest about their errors but not cynical.

“Those are my guardrails about how to think about a fair history for this country,” she said.

“Our shared history is not one thing. It’s many things, good and bad, all the way through, and we need to be honest about all aspects of it and not need to turn it to one thing or another.”

Educational policy in the last quarter-century has been driven by an economic conception of what America needs as a country, she said.

“And we have a lot of truth of what we need, with regard to the dissemination of STEM skills, for example, and the notion of the kind of education that secures a competitive economy,” Allen said.

“We want to have a competitive economy, but we also want to maintain a system of self-government and that requires direct educational attention itself.”

Allen said there are many examples in government that show how norms have eroded, with politicians from both parties.

“(Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell made the comment that ‘Winners make policy and losers go home.’ You can’t sustain a democracy on that principle because democracy depends on the losers wanting to stay attached.”

She said the correct view is that winners lead the process and incorporate the losers.

“You’re seeking leadership, not total obliteration of your adversary.”

Top photo: Harvard University Professor Danielle Allen talks about the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." both individually and communally, to define "Democratic Knowledge: A Roadmap for Rebuilding Civic Education" at ASU's Memorial Union on Thursday. Her talk, before more than 160 people, was the final lecture in the "Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis" series, put on by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

 
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Students discover how solar power empowers

February 17, 2019

ASU trio study socioeconomic and health effects of introducing solar technology to rural communities in Belize

Tucked away somewhere, in the annals of many a university’s research archives, are the theses of the students of yesteryear. Grand ideas, curious inquiries and profound realizations — true products of blood, sweat and tears — collecting dust.

Not so at ASU.

The honors thesis being developed by a group of interdisciplinary Barrett, The Honors College students, detailing the socioeconomic effects of the introduction of solar technology to rural communities in Belize, is already having real-world impact.

Later this month, Ivan Bascon, Olivia Gonzalez and Grant Laufer will present their initial findings at the Human Development Conference in Indiana, and they’ve also invited a representative from the organization that supplied the solar technology to sit in when they defend their thesis this spring.

It’s the difference between research for the sake of knowledge and research for the public good.

“Now there's a possibility of them actually implementing positive changes based on the research that we did as opposed to just letting it sit in the Barrett repository forever,” said Gonzalez, a global health senior.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The idea for their thesis came about after participating in The Global Intensive Experience, a unique study abroad program sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership designed to expose students to liberal democracy in different contexts around the world.

Currently, GIE offers programs in north India, Israel and the West Bank, with another in development in South Africa.

Bascon, a molecular biosciences and biotechnology senior; Laufer, an economics and business senior; and Gonzalez participated in the spring 2018 program in India, where they witnessed the work being done at Barefoot College, a volunteer organization founded in 1986 that trains poor, rural women — called Solar Mamas — from all over the world to become entrepreneurs and produce solar-energy technology to take back to their communities.

What they saw blew them away.

“It almost just seemed too amazing to be true,” Laufer said. “Just all these foreign people coming together, different languages, different backgrounds, and they're all learning to be solar engineers. You can't walk away from that without wanting to know more.”

As individuals who share an interest in international development, they were also impressed with the nonprofit’s focus on sustainable empowerment.

So the trio hatched a plan to travel to one of the rural communities in Belize where Solar Mamas had brought solar technology and see for themselves how it affected the community.

For 17 days over winter break, they observed and interviewed the residents of Santa Elena, where solar technology had recently been introduced, and Jalacte, another rural village that did not have electricity.

Despite a couple of hiccups at the beginning of the trip (trouble finding their contact upon arrival and a brief bout of illness), the students found they were able to ease into a good workflow, thanks in large part to the warmth and hospitality of the communities.

For the most part, they spent nights at a hostel in Punta Gorda, a fishing town on the Caribbean coast of southern Belize, and took a bus each day to the rural villages. But one night, the councilman of Santa Elena — whose wife is a Solar Mama — invited them to stay overnight at his home.

“We got to — in a brief little way — live a little Mayan life,” Bascon said. That night, they ate a traditional meal and slept in a hammock.

“Everyone was so accommodating and excited to talk to us,” Laufer added.

Susan Carrese, the group’s thesis director and GIE facilitator, said the program is not only a great way for students to learn what “leadership” and “service” mean in another culture, but a great way to stimulate future research.

“As part of our first GIE cohort in March 2018, Olivia, Grant and Ivan were forced to assess their own skill sets, seek help from others, reflect on failures and dig deep into who they are and who they want to be on the GIE,” she said. “When they came back to Barrett Honors College, they were primed for an ambitious project.” 

Since returning from Belize, the group has been analyzing mountains of notes and hours of interviews. It’ll be some time before they have anything conclusive to report, but they have been able to make some preliminary assessments of the data and have found both health and economic benefits to having solar energy.

Health-wise, solar technology eliminates the need for kerosene lamps and the harmful fumes that accompany them. Economically, the more efficient lighting allows women to stay up later making crafts and jewelry, a major source of income for the village.

While the group is eager to see the immediate impact of their research on the communities involved, they’re also cognizant of the lasting effects it will have on each of them personally.

“Having a nonprofit come in and just making the change themselves is the easy way, but the harder way is empowering others so they have the tools and the resources to make the changes they want to. That nuance is so important,” Bascon said. “As a future doctor, there's nothing more fulfilling than empowering others so they can live their full lives.”

The ASU Study Abroad Office offers 250-plus programs in more than 65 different countries. Learn more at the Study Abroad website.

Top photo: (From left) Grant Laufer, Olivia Gonzalez and Glenn "Ivan" Bascon (photographed Feb. 1 on the Tempe campus) traveled to Belize to conduct research on the effects of solar power panel use in rural communities. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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