3 countries, 3 universities, 1 unforgettable experience

ASU student travels to China for study-abroad course on sustainable development

September 14, 2017

For ASU sustainability senior Hailey Baker, three countries plus three universities plus three weeks adds up to one unforgettable experience.

Baker and 31 other students – representing Arizona State University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and National Taipei University – traveled to three cities in Southern China for their summer studies, part of a program supported by the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and the ASU Study Abroad Office. Four students give presentation ASU sustainability senior Hailey Baker and her student team present their work to the class. Download Full Image

During the three-week course on sustainable urban development, students experienced field trips and lectures in three cities: Guangzhou, China; Taipei, Taiwan; and Hong Kong. Then, working in teams with peers from each participating university, each group of students completed a final solutions-focused project, including development of sustainability plans for a new district in Hong Kong.

Living a comparative analysis

“The students lived a comparative analysis,” said Rob Melnick, presidential professor of practice in ASU’s School of Sustainability. Melnick, along with instructor and sustainability doctoral candidate Joe Knott, co-taught the course with faculty from the two partner universities.

“I thought Hong Kong and Taipei were more western — Hong Kong had more of a British influence, while Taipei was more U.S.-influenced,” Baker noted. “Guangzhou definitely felt more like what I expected from an Asian city.”

Guangzhou was less developed than Hong Kong or Taipei, Baker said, and she found it interesting to see first-hand how the city is developing.

Fellow ASU participant Eric Trinh, a sophomore chemical engineering major, was surprised by the transportation systems in the different cities. “Such an amazing and effective strategy for mass transit exists,” Trinh said. “I know it’s difficult to incorporate this into America because of urban sprawl, but I think we can make an effort to make a denser and more efficient city.”

We’re all in this together

This course, which builds upon a course that Melnick previously developed and taught at City University of Hong Kong, is listed at HKUST as a course on Global Citizenship — the idea that “we’re all in this together” as residents of the same planet. Students learn to think globally and act locally — while working together across cultural and disciplinary divides.

“During this unique, multi-cultural, educational experience, it was personally rewarding for me to see our ASU students grasp the significance of sustainability concepts and stakeholder engagement as well as a growing understanding among all of the students regarding their shared future and responsibility as global citizens to ensure that it is sustainable,” Knott said.

“I had one economics major, one finance major and one architecture major on my team; none of them had ever dealt with sustainability before,” Baker said. “Once they began to understand the sustainability aspects, they were able to ask questions to poke holes in my ideas. They brought local background knowledge to improve our plan for their local cities.”

Baker said needing a translator to get everyone on the same page was stressful, especially under deadline. But her group had a lot of passion, everyone contributed ideas, and people got really excited.

Trinh agreed. “I think the best part of the program was the students from other cultures. The lectures and field trips were amazing, but the classmates are the ones that breathe life into the course,” he said. “Studying abroad really opens up your perspective so much and gives you meaningful connections and networks around the world.”

“Learning what it means to be a global citizen – to work with people from other cultures to find solutions to shared social, economic and environmental problems — should be central to an education in sustainability,” Melnick said. “This course enabled our students to do just that.”

This program is one of more than 250 in more than 65 countries organized by the ASU Study Abroad Office. Students can participate in programs as short as a week, as long as a year and everything in between for academic credit.

2 ASU undergrads among 10 American students attending youth conference in Canada

September 14, 2017

As Canada turns 150 this year, our northern neighbors have extended invitations to Americans to help develop a vision for Canada’s place in the world. On Sept. 23, Fulbright Canada will begin its week long Youth Institute on Canada in the World, bringing 10 American and 10 Canadian undergraduate and graduate students to Ottawa, Ontario and Quebec City, Quebec. From a pool of applicants competing for the limited number of American spots available, two Barrett students were awarded the opportunity to participate: junior Anirudh Koka and senior Mikkaela Salamatin.

Salamatin, a finance major with minors in French and sustainability, has long been interested in international relations. Mikkaela Salamatin Mikkaela Salamatin is one of two ASU students who will attend the Youth Institute on Canada in the World beginning Sept. 23. Download Full Image

“I was extremely involved in high school speech and debate, which initially sparked my interest in international issues,” Salamatin said. “Since coming to college, however, I hadn’t been able to do very much in relation to that interest. This opportunity seemed like an interesting way I could explore it while actively using my education to help other people.”

Koka, majoring in economics and global politics, also saw the Youth Institute as a way to explore his interests.

“I was inspired to apply because I’m really interested in foreign relations and international economies,” Koka said.

As Koka and Salamatin prepare for a week of policy formulation, debates, cultural activities and more, they look forward to learning more about Canadian-American relations. For Koka, the weeklong Youth Institute promises to provide insight into Canada’s role within multilateral organizations and economic unions.

“I’m particularly interested in how Canadian-U.S. bilateral relations manifest themselves in the multilateral organizations like NATO,” Koka said. “Why does Canada want the U.S. to assert itself internationally? I’m also fascinated in economic unions such as NAFTA, and I want to learn more about how the trade deal affects Canadians.”

As for Salamatin, the Youth Institute will give her an opportunity to learn about Canadian sustainability issues.

“I am particularly interested in how Canada can choose to react to different decisions made by the U.S.,” said Salamatin. “Issues regarding climate change and sustainable energies are really interesting to look at, and I hope to have the opportunity to discuss them during the program.”

Koka and Salamatin both expect the Youth Institute to be instrumental in achieving their future goals.

“One day I hope to be in a career that allows me to work with foreign relations in terms of international development and international law,” Salamatin said. “I am passionate about being an agent of change and promoting more inclusive perspectives on global citizenship, and through this program I hope to not only develop meaningful relationships with some of Canada and America's greatest young minds, but to also develop the skills necessary to pursue and effect impactful change in my future career.”

Anirudh Koka

Koka also feels the skills he will develop through the Youth Institute will help his career.

“I want to use my background in economics and international affairs to work with governments and non-profit organizations in developing nations to enact fiscal and social policy that expands access to education,” Koka said. “I think the Youth Institute will give me practical experience debating and designing policy that will be invaluable for me later in life.”

Koka and Salamatin are looking forward to the opportunity to discuss Canadian foreign policy with fellow participants, diplomats and government officials. As the Youth Institute takes place in both Ottawa — the capital of Canada — and Quebec City, within French-speaking province Quebec, students also have a variety of cultural experiences to take advantage of.

Salamatin hopes to put her French knowledge to work in Quebec. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to learn a bit about Quebecois French and utilize my French language skills to further develop my relationships with the people I meet in Canada,” she said.

And Koka, a self-proclaimed history nerd, is looking forward to spending a week in two historical hubs of Canada.

“I’m really excited to visit all the historic places in Ottawa and Quebec City, and getting a better understanding of the Canadian experience.Most of all, I’m ready to absorb everything. I know I’m going to learn so much,” Koka said.

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College