ASU’s CSPO ranked among top science and technology think tanks

February 11, 2016

The Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) at Arizona State University has been ranked 10th worldwide among science and technology think tanks in the recently issued 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report. In the ranking, CSPO is the top university-based science and technology think tank in the U.S.

CSPO is a research unit dedicated to developing knowledge and tools that can more effectively connect progress in science and technology to desired societal outcomes. Originally founded in 1999 and moved to ASU in 2004, CSPO is co-directed by Dan Sarewitz and David Guston. The consortium brings together researchers, policy makers, practitioners and members of the public to develop the knowledge and tools needed to better understand and assess the linkages between scientific activities, policy decisions and effective outcomes. CSPO logo

In 2015, ASU created the new School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS), which provides an academic home for many CSPO faculty and delivers graduate degree programs that CSPO helped nurture. SFIS is in the planning phase of an undergraduate major, minor and undergraduate certificate, and it will develop additional graduate programs in the future.

“CSPO has consistently ranked highly in the index because of the great creativity and hard work of its faculty, staff and students,” said co-director Guston, “as well as the generative environment at ASU and the generous nature of our support here. Through its association with SFIS, CSPO is poised for even more substantial and far-reaching contributions to connecting science and technology to societal outcomes.”

A comprehensive ranking of think tanks throughout the world, the report is published by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. The 2015 report was released at the end of January with a launch that involved hundreds of think tanks and other civil society actors representing approximately 60 countries. This year’s launch theme was: "Why Think Tanks Matter to Policy Makers and the Public."

Some CSPO initiatives in the past year include:

  • Launch of ASU’s new School for the Future of Innovation in Society directed by David Guston, which included the addition of new faculty: Andrew Maynard, Diana Bowman, Michael Bennett, Lekelia Jenkins and Emma Frow.
  • Launch of new research centers including: Risk Innovation Lab directed by Andrew Maynard, Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society co-directed by Ira Bennett and Jameson Wetmore, and the Center for Energy and Society led by Clark Miller.
  • A $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to use the interactive, engaging nature of digital narrative to invite deeper conversations about questions of scientific creativity and responsibility, an award of over $800,000 from the John Templeton Foundation to develop creative nonfiction narratives exploring the relationship between science and religion, and a $300,000 NSF award for STIR Cities—a project of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, a CSPO initiative.
  • Expansion of the popular Science Outside the Lab (SoTL) immersion program in Washington D.C. to include a new unit on Science Diplomacy & Leadership.
  • Partnership in World Wide Views 2015, the largest ever citizen deliberation on climate and energy. Organized by Netra Chhetri, CSPO led one of 96 daylong debates across the globe that compiled views of approximately 10,000 “ordinary” people.
  • Publication of the newest volume in CSPO's “The Rightful Place of Science” book series: “Creative Nonfiction” edited by Lee Gutkind, Michael Zirulnik and David Guston.
Marissa Huth

communications specialist, School for the Future of Innovation in Society


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There's got to be more than 'love'

Searching for words this Valentine's Day? Good luck; our language is limited.
More than "love": When our English language fails our feelings.
February 11, 2016

ASU professor explains why our language has only one word for romantic affection, and how to ensure you can relate your feelings

Declarations of love will be everywhere this Valentine’s Day weekend, from sappy cards to bombastic displays of affection. But if you’re finding it difficult to express your romantic feelings, don’t despair — just blame the English language. 

Whether it’s entrenched stoicism or a plain ol’ lack of creativity, our culture has a rather limited vocabulary to describe the most discussed aspect of our emotional spectrum.

In contrast, Sanskrit has nearly 100 words to characterize love. The ancient Persians had 80. Heck, the Eskimos have 50 words just for snow.

And we’re left with that one four-letter term to describe our heart’s reactions. L-O-V-E.

Making matters worse, “love” has become a catch-all term to describe romantic feelings, familial bonds, platonic attraction and just being infatuated with something. It’s enough to make you wonder how all these Valentine’s Day messages are so successful.

“People do often have trouble being specific about their positive emotions. We can talk about love and pride; other languages have different words for these emotions, and they’re often about our relationships with others,” said Michelle Shiota, an associate professor of social psychology in Arizona State University's Department of PsychologyThe Department of Psychology is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. and director of the SPLAT LabSPLAT stands for Shiota Psychophysiology Lab for Affective Testing. The lab is innovative because it explores the effects of positive emotions on our ancestors and how they continue to affect us in our day-to-day lives, physiological responses and relationships..

Shiota, who researches the complexities of cognition and emotion in relation to our personal relationships, explained that, historically, negative emotions like disgust, fear and anger are more recognizable, more identifiable with a term, because researchers have linked them to basic survival instincts. She said we are able to use terms to differentiate between these emotions because of the extensive research conducted to define them.

Also, the specificity of how we describe love varies throughout cultures, depending on whether they are more individualistic, like in the United States, or more collectivistic, like in Asia.

“Some cultures have more specific words for these crucial relationships,” Shiota said. “Less individualistic cultures have more variations which are specific to types of relationships.”

For instance, the Norwegian word “Forelsket,” which describes the euphoria felt while first falling in love.

It’s not just our language holding us back. Our cultural habits might also be preventing us from fully feeling — or at least expressing — our emotions and letting love in.

According to Shiota, a competitive nature and need for independence is part of the American mind-set, different from collectivist groups that are more open to intimacy and dependence.

“We have emotions that help structure society, and cultures have different ground rules,” she said. “In the U.S. we have different cultures that change how emotional traditions vary. It can become complicated to figure out how people emote things in general.”

In order to better understand our loved ones, we should follow the cues our emotions provide, Shiota said. Trusting positive and negative emotions as well as instinct allows us to make the judgments that help us form relationships.

“Our emotions can give us a lot of cues about who is going to be a long-term parenting partner, versus a long- or short-term partner. Our emotions can help us identify alliances and friends,” Shiota said. “People form judgments based on their subtle actions, and our emotions help us make those judgment calls.”

So even if you’re having difficulties composing a flowery love letter for your valentine, you can show him or her the depth of your feeling through body language or emotional display.

“Physiological changes are associated with emotions, facial expressions, posture, the way we touch people,” Shiota said. “People can tell based on touch, and voice is effective too.”

It’s better than relying on that one word to do it all.

Reporter , ASU Now