ASU students recognized for achievement in studying religion, conflict

June 11, 2014

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict recently hosted its annual student awards program to celebrate the incredible work of Arizona State University students who are investigating the complex dynamics between religion and conflict.

Students have opportunities to explore these issues through involvement in the center’s undergraduate research fellows program and certificate in religion and conflict. The undergraduate research fellows program pairs students with a faculty member working directly on current research projects involving religion and conflict. Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict Student Awards Download Full Image

Fellows also have the opportunity to take a special class with the center's director, professor Linell Cady, as well as meet with visiting scholars and attend special lectures. Many of the 2013-14 fellows’ reflected on what it was like to have an opportunity to read something for the seminar and then discuss the text with the author.

Some of the visiting scholars the fellows met with included Najeeba Syeed-Miller, Ira Chernus and Dennis Dalton. “When the authors of the books came in, I gained a newfound appreciation of their texts, and it was able to make a deeper impact,” said Marzia Shah, a 2013-14 fellow and biochemistry major.

The students who completed the 2013-14 fellows program are:

• Annika Cline, journalism
• Alysha Green, global studies
• Linda Haddad, political science
• James Macdonald, public service and public policy
• Sishir Mohan, computer science
• Alexander Petrusek, history
• Marzia Shah, biochemistry
• Mariha Syed, biochemistry

“The undergraduate fellows and religion and conflict certificate programs attract students from a wide range of disciplines,” says John Carlson, associate director of the center and head of the certificate program.

“We’re always so impressed to learn about the exciting pursuits and vocations of students who have completed center programs. The far-reaching diversity of the careers these students are entering is really quite amazing.”

The undergraduate certificate in religion and conflict is open to all students enrolled at ASU, in any major. Some of the students in attendance at the awards ceremony who received their certificates shared their post-graduation plans.

Carmel Dooling, a Dean’s medalist and double major in history and political science, has been accepted into the law school at the University of Chicago. John Barton, a religious studies major, has been accepted into three different seminaries, but he hasn’t decided where he’s headed yet.

“The certificate program helped broaden my perspectives,” says Barton. “If it wasn’t for the certificate, I never would have taken a justice studies course on Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights.”

The full list of students earning certificates in the 2013-14 academic year includes:

• Sarah Anders, religious studies and history
• Derek Bakke, global studies
• John Barton, religious studies
• Ashley Doering, marketing and religious studies
• Carmel Dooling, history and political science
• Tracy Encizo, integrative studies
• Grant Griffin, non-degree grad student
• Alana Newman, global studies
• Melanie North, global studies
• Isaac Ortega, religious studies and political science
• Sally Swinney, global studies
• Mauro Whiteman, journalism

The certificate may be of particular interest to students pursuing careers in journalism, law, policy work, diplomacy, the military, public advocacy, publishing, education, ministry or other fields in which an enhanced understanding of religion and conflict is crucial.

To learn more about the certificate, visit:

In addition to recognizing students who completed the undergraduate research fellows program and earned certificates in religion and conflict, the center also announced the winners of the 2014 Friends of the Center research scholarships.

Story by Matt Correa and Emily Fritcke

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is a research unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs.

Big price increases unlikely in Phoenix housing market for rest of year

June 11, 2014

The Phoenix-area housing market has officially rebounded from artificially low recession levels, and we’re unlikely to see any more big price increases this year. That’s according to a new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Here are the latest details about Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of April:

• The median single-family-home sales price stabilized at just under $205,000. Mike Orr Download Full Image

• Demand and sales activity were low for the normally strong spring selling season.

• Rental homes continue to be extremely popular, since many people are ineligible for home loans and/or uninterested in home ownership.

Phoenix-area home prices rose fast from September 2011 to last summer before slowing down, and then even dropping a little bit earlier this year. This April, for the second month in a row, the median single-family-home price was just under $205,000. That’s up 13 percent – from $181,399 last April to $204,900 this April. Realtors will note the average price per square foot was up 12 percent. The median townhouse/condo price went up 4 percent.

Low demand is largely putting the brakes on more significant upward price movement. The amount of single-family-home sales activity was down 16 percent this April from last April. Sales of homes in the range below $150,000 alone fell 37 percent. New-home sales went down 12 percent. All of this, even though the period from March to May is almost always the strongest part of the year for demand.

“The market has completed its rebound from the artificially low prices that prevailed between 2009 and 2011, and further significant increases are unlikely without some growth in demand,” says the report’s author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School. “It’s also likely that the recent advance in pricing will fade during the summer months when the luxury, snowbird and active-adult markets go relatively quiet.”

Investors continue to show disinterest in the Phoenix housing market now that better bargains can be found in other areas of the country with more foreclosures. The percentage of residential properties purchased by investors was down to just 16.3 percent in April from the peak of 39.7 percent in July 2012. Completed foreclosures on single-family homes and condos were down 54 percent from April 2013 to April 2014.

In contrast, the supply of homes available for sale is way up, with 73 percent more active listings on May 1 of this year than May 1 of last year. As a result, buyers have far more choices. However, Orr believes that may change if demand and prices don’t pick up. Potential home sellers may stay out of the market, deciding to wait for better times.

“The underlying key problem for entry-level and mid-range housing demand is a lack of household formation due to many factors, including unemployment, falling birth rates, lower net migration and greater home-sharing, especially among millennials,” explains Orr. “However, if household creation were to return to the normal long-term average, we would quickly have a housing shortage here in Greater Phoenix.”

Meantime, the demand for rental homes is very high, and Orr says the availability of those homes is dropping to unusually low levels. He estimates there’s only a 29-day supply of single-family rentals, and therefore, rent is starting to rise in the most popular locations. As a result of this demand, the Phoenix area is seeing a strong upward trend in multi-family construction permits.

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed and downloaded at A podcast with more analysis from Orr is also available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at