ASU to spotlight humanities-driven research at international sustainability congress

Cable-stayed bridge with a blue sky and clouds behind it.

A new Arizona State University hub will lead two humanities-driven sessions at an international sustainability conference taking place in South Africa June 20–24.

The BRIDGES Flagship Hub at ASU will join global research leaders, experts, industries and innovators at the second annual Sustainability Research & Innovation (SRI2022) Congress to advocate for sustainability scholarship and innovation, as well as transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration and action.

The BRIDGES Flagship Hub at ASU launched earlier this year as part of a broader UNESCO-driven program established in 2021. Five hubs are launching in 2022, including the hub at ASU, which opened within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.

The humanities offer a variety of knowledge and perspectives that reach beyond theoretical analytics. Placing the humanities in the foreground of sustainability science allows researchers to consider human behaviors of the past and present while trying to create a more sustainable future, said Steven Hartman, executive director of the BRIDGES Coalition.

“BRIDGES serves as a focal point for humanities-anchored knowledge, learning, policy and action in UNESCO — and the U.N. system more generally — in the sustainability science domain,” Hartman said. The BRIDGES Flagship Hub at ASU has co-created two sessions with partners from other BRIDGES global hubs that will engage a wide circle of participants in sustainability science.

The first session, “Bridging Systems of Knowledge and Modalities of Action,” will showcase initiatives in the UNESCO-based BRIDGES Coalition to revitalize the sustainability domain. By better integrating the humanities, qualitative social sciences, arts and educational sciences, in partnership with Indigenous people and other local communities of knowledge and action, BRIDGES promotes a more inclusive and complete approach to sustainability science.

Highlighting contributions from four BRIDGES international hubs, the session will be chaired by Hartman and co-facilitated by Joni Adamson, director of the ASU BRIDGES Flagship Hub, and will feature contributions from Carlos Alvarez Pereira, vice president of The Club of Rome; Nolita Mvunelo, program manager affiliated with the BRIDGES Hub of The Club of Rome; Melanie Murcott, researcher at the BRIDGES Hub, University of Pretoria; Alan Ereira, filmmaker and professor of practice at BRIDGES Hub, University of Wales Trinity Saint David; and Hsinya Huang, distinguished professor of American and comparative literature at National Sun Yat-sen University.

The second session, “Restoring the Promise of the World by Embracing Human Diversity,” exemplifies the BRIDGES approach in action by embracing different ways of knowing. For example, African values and wisdom encapsulated in “Ubuntu” (meaning "humanity" or "I am because we are" / “I am because you are”) and the sacred land connections at the foundation of Indigenous knowledge systems can advance the integrative healing of people and planet. Session facilitators seek to create space for interventions examining the rebalancing of sustainability power dynamics in knowledge generation/ownership, decision making and action.

Session two will be chaired by Julianna Gwiszcz, program manager in the BRIDGES ASU Flagship Hub and senior global futures scientist at the Global Futures Laboratory, and will feature contributions from Mvunelo and James Ogude, director of the BRIDGES HUB, University of Pretoria. 

SRI2022 will be the first of many high profile international events throughout 2022 serving as opportunities for BRIDGES to introduce itself to the transdisciplinary, global community of humanists, sustainability scholars and community leaders. This year’s congress is hosted by Future Africa at the University of Pretoria and is being organized both on site in Pretoria and online.

To learn more about these featured BRIDGES sessions, see the full program or register, visit

Email with questions or comments about upcoming BRIDGES events or ongoing projects.

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