ASU president delivers keynote at center launch in Washington, D.C.

President Crow talks about foresight as a way to grow institutions, organizations


December 17, 2019

The growing intersection of technology and politics, the implications for personal privacy and national security, and the increasing complexity of public policy problems of all kinds were the focus of “From Deep Fakes to Deep Space: Policy Challenges for the Future,” a conference sponsored by the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Center for Strategic Foresight.

In his remarks keynoting the conference, Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow focused on how the U.S. can use foresight as a way to help public institutions and organizations grow and evolve to meet pressing social challenges. Using ASU as a case study for thinking more broadly about “organizational technology,” he explained how public institutions can become more effective by aligning their mission and core work with the broadly shared values of the publics these institutions serve. ASU president is keynote speaker at GAO event ASU President Michael Crow talks about the advantages of foresight — and design-driven focus — for growing U.S. institutions and organizations at a conference launching the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Center for Strategic Foresight in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10. Download Full Image

“We don’t spend enough time thinking about design in the public sector,” Crow said. “We think about implementation. We think about design here and there. But this notion of core values, these public values, and the world outside and everything that’s going on: This is the object of design.”

Crow also emphasized that the way that universities and other public institutions are designed to work should be considered a kind of technology. Large public organizations can use design and foresight to discover innovative solutions to complex challenges. Indeed, Crow explained that orienting ASU toward this kind of design has been the focus of his tenure as ASU president.

“We embrace complexity. We embrace the speed of change,” Crow said. “It's undeniable, unavoidable, can never be done away with. … But the design of the institution is anything other than just following some set of instructions.”

The convening served as the formal launch for the center, which is charged with enhancing the nonpartisan watchdog agency’s ability to identify, monitor and analyze emerging issues. The center is a unique entity in the federal government, one that reflects the GAO’s broad mandate to provide Congress with reliable, fact-based information for overseeing federal agencies and programs.

During his remarks opening the conference, U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro emphasized the GAO’s priorities in the coming years. According to Dodaro, these priorities include examining the most important trends in the world and developing a list of areas that will require attention from Congress and the presidential administration. He also discussed the need for GAO to use foresight instead of hindsight to predict the issues that will require the country’s focus in the future to help government adapt to these challenges.

The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, examining how taxpayer dollars are spent and providing Congress and federal agencies with information to help save money and work efficiently. The Center for Strategic Foresight, part of the GAO’s Office of Strategic Planning and External Liaison, will focus on using future planning to anticipate and identify our country’s challenges to government leadership. 

Jolene Johnson reaches graduation due to Starbucks College Achievement Plan


December 17, 2019

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

With a degree in organizational leadership and a minor in film and media studies, Jolene Johnson plans to climb the corporate ladder at Starbucks. Right now, she enjoys working in their human resources department as a recruiter.  ASU Online student Jolene Johnson Jolene Johnson Download Full Image

When it comes to college classes, Johnson says slow and steady wins the race.

“It is not a race to get it done, but it is about the journey along the way," Johnson said. "Allow yourself the bandwidth to absorb what you are learning.”

Throughout her degree program, and especially leading up to her December 2019 graduation from Arizona State University, Johnson kept herself level-headed by jumping into a yoga class several times a week and loves to teach her family about the sustainability practices she has learned from class. She credits ASU and Starbucks with her ability to become a college graduate while also working full time in a career she loves.   

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

Answer: My "aha" moment was when I started in my first major classes for organizational leadership. When I learned about all the different styles in leadership theory, it really helped me connect to my current career and how to better interact with different leaders. I am a mature student that started a career in retail management, so this class helped me to solidify what I already knew with my experience, but also expanded my understanding of different leadership styles.

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

A: My minor was film studies and it changed my perspective of gender and race representations in the media. While we were studying over the course of this minor, I learned how film and television has provided social instruction and construction of race and gender. It has helped me understand how this has evolved overtime. I have historical context of why these representations are still an issue in the media today. This minor is more of a history lesson of how film has represented the social and historical context over the decades.  

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: To be honest, being a Starbucks partner, it was an amazing opportunity to fulfill a dream of becoming a college graduate. The online platform was also attractive with working full time in my current career. Being able to do my homework anytime and anywhere was a plus.

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

A: Dr. Susannah Sandrin taught me a valuable lesson in my own impact on the environment. Her lectures were engaging and really enjoyable to watch. I felt compelled to be a better steward of the Earth after this class — it was literally life changing. It was small things like to stop running water when you are brushing your teeth, ensuring recycled containers are clean, bringing your own bag and containers to the store, and limiting your power use. I even involved my family in the small changes and we no longer buy bottled water to reduce the amount of plastic being used. This class opened my eyes to all the little things we can do to impact the bigger picture one person at a time.

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

A: I would say it is okay to only take one to two classes at a time online because of the accelerated pace. Give yourself permission to adjust your course load to balance with your current life situation. It is not a race to get it done, but it is about the journey along the way. Allow yourself the bandwidth to absorb what you are learning. It is okay to do one class at a time, just keep going.

Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot to study or to just think about life?

A: My favorite spot to study was on my couch, curled up with my favorite blanket, reading my handouts or books for class. I also spent a lot of time thinking and clearing my mind at yoga a few times a week to recharge and refresh myself.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan is to continue working in human resources as a recruiter at Starbucks. I continue to grow with the company and work towards a leadership role within the next five years.

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

A: After taking my environmental science class, I was enlightened by the damage we are doing to our planet by taxing our energy sources and pollution. I would invest in ways to find sustainable energy and ways to enforce recycling and rewarding companies to come up with ways to have sustainable products to limit waste. There is only one planet Earth and we must do everything we can to be good stewards.