New classes in the School of International Letters and Cultures shine light on sustainability

October 26, 2020

Principles of sustainability are the focus of four courses that will be offered this spring through the Italian program in Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures.  

Most of the classes are new to ASU and they arose independently of one another, reflecting a broadening prioritization of sustainability across multiple academic disciplines. Though the courses are taught by faculty from the school's Italian program, they are open to students from a variety of majors and can satisfy undergraduate general studies requirements, such as global awareness and humanities, arts and design.  
 Principal Lecturer Chiara Dal Martello, left, stands with undergraduate student Bianca Navia at the top of Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy, in June 2018. Principal Lecturer Chiara Dal Martello, left, stands with undergraduate student Bianca Navia at the top of Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy, in June 2018. Download Full Image

For example, students in “Natural Disasters: Environmental and Cultural Resilience” taught by Principal Lecturer Chiara Dal Martello will identify and analyze examples of Italian cultural resilience in the face of natural disasters. Students will learn from experts in numerous fields, from volcanology and disaster management to history and art, and examine a variety of texts, including scientific studies, personal narratives, films and newspaper articles. 

“Currently, there is a lack of science and culture courses that highlight the connections between science and humanities,” said Dal Martello, noting that these two areas have overlapped to form new fields, such as environmental humanities. “Students need to observe and study these connections in a real-world context.” 

The “Natural Disasters” course is the product of an innovative partnership between Dal Martello and Bianca Navia, a senior majoring in political science and global studies. Navia helped develop the course as part of her thesis project for Barrett, The Honors College. Navia and Dal Martello even spent two weeks conducting field work in Sicily in 2018. 

In-depth student involvement is crucial to the planning and success of each of these classes. Another course titled “The Mediterranean Lifestyle in Italy” taught by Associate Professor Juliann Vitullo offers students the opportunity to study abroad in Sicily for a week after the conclusion of the spring semester as part of a “Global Intensive Experience.” 

Vitullo said her course, which has previously been offered in several formats, caters to students studying food and health issues, as well as those who just want to appreciate the delicious cuisine of other cultures. 

“Many students in our course also want to investigate the connections between healthier food practices, questions of social justice, and a sustainable future for our planet,” said Vitullo, who is also the interim director of the Humanities Lab. “A more sustainable future requires us to protect both bio- and cultural diversity. We need to protect not only the flora and fauna of different ecosystems, but also the place-based knowledge, practices, and languages of the peoples who have deep roots in those territories.” 

The other two courses, “Italian Ecocinema,” taught by Assistant Professor Serena Ferrando, and “Sustainable Fashion,” co-taught by Senior Lecturer Enrico Minardi and Professor of Practice Dennita Sewell (who is based in the School of Art), are open to both undergraduate and graduate students. 

In Minardi and Sewell’s Humanities Lab course, they take a step back as instructors to allow the students to tailor their learning experience to their individual interests, in what they call a nontraditional approach to the learning process. 

Students become active learners and their goal is to imagine solutions to the problems the class is set to tackle — in this case, asking the question of how fashion can be sustainable, the two instructors said. Students research, create and propose new scenarios for a sustainable evolution of the fashion system.

This pedagogical sentiment is echoed by Ferrando, who invites students in all her classes to be enthusiastic and open to collaboration and creativity through experiential learning activities. 

“I very much enjoy collaborating with my students and involving them in creative research projects,” she said. “In fact, one of my main objectives as an educator is to help them transition from students to independent learners and young scholars who can contribute to communities on campus and beyond.” 

The School of International Letters and Cultures is excited to offer these innovative courses, which are part of a larger push to ecologize the school’s curriculum and to prepare students for the environmental and social challenges that lie ahead.

Kimberly Koerth

Content Writer, School of International Letters and Cultures

ASU collaborates with ABA, other law schools on legal issues in policing, public safety

October 26, 2020

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is joining the American Bar Association and dozens of law schools across the country in the formation of a Legal Education Police Practices Consortium to contribute to the national effort to examine and address legal issues in policing and public safety, including conduct, oversight and the evolving nature of police work.

The consortium will leverage the ABA’s expertise in developing model police practices and that of participating ABA-accredited law schools to collaborate on projects to develop and implement better police practices throughout the U.S. Fifty-two law schools so far have agreed to participate in the consortium for the next five years. Photo of Beus Center for Law and Society (BCLS) ASU Law's Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix. Download Full Image

“The ABA has the ability to bring together diverse groups to address these problems and the duty to act to help bring racial equality to our criminal justice system,” said ABA President Patricia Lee Refo. “The consortium will engage law students and legal experts from around the country in studying and forming solutions to help improve policing practices in our communities.”

ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester said, “The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is delighted to participate in this important endeavor. Not only does it advance important societal goals, consistent with ASU’s charter and design imperatives, but it also creates great opportunities for our students.”

Drawing on the geographic diversity of the ABA, the participating law schools and their networks, the consortium will advance the widespread adoption of model police practices and initiate other projects designed to support effective policing, promote racial equity in the criminal justice system and eliminate tactics that are racially motivated or have a disparate impact based on race.

The consortium will be organized and housed within the ABA Criminal Justice Section and will have input from and access to the full range of the ABA's expertise and programs. Each participating law school will develop opportunities for one or more of its law students to engage in consortium activities. Law student participant assignments may include:

  • Promoting existing ABA policies at the local, state and national levels.
  • Developing new policy for potential consideration by the ABA House of Delegates.
  • Engaging with police departments and local, state and national leaders on police practices.
  • Conducting research to support scholarship related to consortium goals.
  • Providing support to public commentary and advocacy (research for op-eds, blogs and articles).
  • Developing model curricula for law schools related to consortium goals.

 View the ABA press release.

Julie Tenney

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law