image title

New ASU design aspiration emphasizes values in innovation

February 17, 2023

Principled Innovation advances ASU's commitment to human flourishing

Innovation is thriving at Arizona State University, not only in research labs but in course design, student support, sustainability and community partnerships.

All of that ground-breaking work is guided by the ASU Charter, with a mission to be inclusive and accountable, and also by eight design aspirations, which are institutional goals to help the university achieve excellence.

Now, ASU is adding a ninth design aspiration called Principled Innovation, which is the ability to create change guided by values and ethical understanding. It’s a way to integrate intentionality into all decisions to be as inclusive as possible. It means always considering, “Who will benefit?” and “Who needs to be included?”

This new design aspiration states: “ASU places character and values at the center of decisions and actions.”

ASU President Michael Crow said that Principled Innovation is important because innovation moves very fast at the university.

“The notion is, how do we be more intentional in our decision-making processes? How do we think about the impact we’re having as an institution?” he said in a video address to the university community.

“Because the things we are doing are creating waves of innovation, waves of change across society.

“We need to make sure that all of our practices, and all that we do, can help us to develop practical wisdom and practical outcomes. … The outcome here is to be more intentional, more equitable in our decisions and in the systems that are designed for societal flourishing.”

Crow said that the concept of Principled Innovation is not new at ASU.

“We’re already doing this, but we have not had the opportunity to lay this down as a formal design aspiration,” he said.

The original eight design aspirations are:

  1. Leverage Our Place: ASU embraces its cultural, socioeconomic and physical setting.
  2. Transform Society: ASU catalyzes social change by being connected to social needs.
  3. Value Entrepreneurship: ASU uses its knowledge and encourages innovation.
  4. Conduct Use-Inspired Research: ASU research has purpose and impact.
  5. Enable Student Success: ASU is committed to the success of each unique student.
  6. Fuse Intellectual Disciplines: ASU creates knowledge by transcending academic disciplines.
  7. Be Socially Embedded: ASU connects with communities through mutually beneficial partnerships.
  8. Engage Globally: ASU engages with people and issues locally, nationally and internationally.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU News

So why add the ninth design aspiration now?

Crow explained:

“We live in a very complex moment in time and space. We live in a moment where our democracy and all things about it have been put into dynamic stress in the last few years. We live in a moment where the rate of change is accelerating.

“We believe that all that we do can make certain that our democracy prevails, that the core aspects of our democracy prevail, that the core aspects of our charter are attained and that this design aspiration — practice principled innovation — is one way to do this.”

Principled Innovation will be rolled out across the ASU community this year and will likely look different in every unit. The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has spent the past six years doing the hard work of creating a practical roadmap for the entire college to embrace the mindset.

Principled Innovation has become a core value of the college, according to Carole Basile, dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“There are thousands of decisions made every day in school and many of them are made expeditiously,” she said.

“We wanted a way that educators as individuals could think differently about the decisions they make, with kids in particular. And that had to start with our faculty and the decisions we make with our students.”

One tangible change in the college was in student services, which previously operated as a group of advisors who each had a caseload of students. A more intentional consideration revealed that students needed a different kind of support system. Now, teams of advisors work with groups of students, along with staff who specialize in areas such as financial literacy, career services, mental health and academic support. An emergency fund was created for students who needed a few hundred dollars to keep them on track.

Cristy Guleserian, director of Principled Innovation for the Mary Lou Teachers College, said that paying attention to the entire student, not just academic progress, is vital for learning.

“If we don’t focus on meeting people where they’re at as humans and really making sure we understand their needs and perspective, the capacity to learn is blocked. They’ll be distracted.

“So (Principled Innovation) isn’t just a thing but who we are and how we approach our work.”

“This is about humanity and flourishing,” Basile said.

“How do we help build people up? All of that doesn’t happen without making judicious decisions to enable it.”

Building on the work of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Principled Innovation practices will start expanding across the university, starting with teams in the ASU Preparatory Academies, the Office of the Provost, Educational Outreach and Student Services, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Dreamscape Learn, W. P. Carey School of Business and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“All across campus, every unit is trying to impact some part of society. They’re trying to make some major difference,” Basile said.

“These principles and practices apply no matter what you’re trying to do and no matter who you’re trying to serve, but this is where we really start to think about, ‘We can but should we?’”

Ted Cross, executive director in the Office of University Affairs who will work to advance the new design aspiration across the university, added that “more than ever, it is important to highlight ASU’s culture of Principled Innovation. Doing so will advance our work in purposeful and thoughtful ways.”

Top photo by Chloe Merriweather/Arizona State University

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


image title

CHIPS and changemakers

February 17, 2023

ASU scholars weigh in on STEM and inclusion advocate Eddie Bernice Johnson in honor of Black History Month

Katherine Johnson, the "human computer" whose mathematical prowess helped launch humans into space.

Frank Greene, a tech innovator who developed high-speed computer systems in the 1960s.

Alan Emtage, the inventor behind ARCHIE — the world's first Internet search engine implemented nearly a decade before Google. 

These names are not heard as often as other notable changemakers during Black History Month but their contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics remain incalculable.

It’s why, at a time when the pace of innovation appears to be moving second only to the velocity of the high-speed semiconductors innovation is producing, Black History Month continues to hold space to reflect and celebrate changemakers; past changemakers like the aforementioned STEM pioneers and present ones, like just-retired U.S Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a champion of science and underserved communities who, in one of her final acts as a lawmaker, helped to craft the landmark CHIPS and Science Act.

In January 2023, Issues in Science and Technology, a policy journal published by Arizona State University, introduced an interview with Johnson this way:

"It’s hard to name a single person who has had a greater impact on U.S. science legislation in the 21st century than U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who recently retired after more than 50 years in public service. … Johnson is the outgoing chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. …. In her leadership roles in crafting not just the recent CHIPS and Science Act but many other pieces of legislation, big and small — such as the America COMPETES Act of 2010 — she has worked to make science more inclusive, expanding opportunities for women, people of color, and Americans from every part of the country."

Today is the first day since 1993 that Eddie Bernice Johnson hasn’t been on @HouseScience.

For the Winter ISSUES, @RepEBJ sat down with us to share stories from her 50 years of public service and her hopes for the future of science. 1/

— Issues in Science and Technology (@ISSUESinST) January 3, 2023

Brooke Coley and Michel Kinsy, both scholars in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, say they owe a debt of gratitude to Johnson for opening doors for other underrepresented and hidden figures in STEM. The two recently shared their thoughts on the pioneering policymaker and the impact of her work in separate interviews with ASU News.

Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: Why is it important to recognize someone like Eddie Bernice Johnson during Black History Month?

 - Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Brooke Coley

Coley: As a nurse, as a mother, as someone who was economically disadvantaged at some points in her life, Eddie Bernice Johnson saw a need and had the determination to step in and become one of the first Black women politicians in the state of Texas. I also think there is significance in (Johnson) being one of the only women and people of color to be on a science committee and forge a legacy in moving bills through Congress. … That created equity and the distribution of resources for those marginalized in STEM — even up to the present with the CHIPS and Science Act. I think that shows how her life has in fact been a legacy.

My only caveat would be that perhaps while it's important to recognize such achievements and contributions to the greater landscape of the country, I don't think it should just be during Black History Month. I think these celebrations and recognition should be all year, every day, and as pervasive as the accomplishments and contributions of others. 

Kinsy: To fully understand the history of this country is to understand the role that access to education opportunities has played in it. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson has been one of the strongest advocates of creating and expanding access to education to all Americans. She has consistently championed investing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and has made it her core legislative pursuit.

In her remarkable public service that spans more than four decades, Rep. Johnson had many firsts. She was the first Black woman to serve as chief psychiatric nurse at Dallas VA Hospital; be elected a Texas state senator since Reconstruction; lead a major Texas House committee; serve as regional director for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; and serve as chair of the U.S. House science committee. It was under her leadership that the historic CHIPS and Science Act was passed in 2022. We owe her a sincere debt of gratitude for her tireless efforts to make the country more inclusive, educated and prosperous. It is important and befitting that we recognize and celebrate her.   

Q: How have Johnson’s contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics as a policymaker empowered and informed your work as a STEM educator?

Coley: In my work I push to elevate the lived experience and the purpose of elevating the lived experience because the demographics associated with the people whose stories I amplify in my work — these are people that have been marginalized in engineering specifically. So I think it's good to have these reminders of people like Eddie Bernice Johnson, who have exemplified the sacrifice in their own lives to be committed and what that commitment looks like. Having these types of role models for me as a Black faculty in engineering — that in 2023 would still be amongst the first in my own achievements — serve as examples of what is possible, examples of what can be done. That's real grit to have the cards stacked against you from your identity and still persist in being able to accomplish major deliverables such as the CHIPS Act and other things that she has accomplished in her lifetime. It's an inspiration to keep at it.

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Michel Kinsy

Kinsy: My own research lies in the general area of microelectronics security. I conduct my research through the Secure, Trusted, and Assured Microelectronics (STAM) Center that I direct. A central component of the STAM Center's mission is to develop measurable impactful outreach and education in hardware and microelectronics security programs targeting domestic students, traditionally underserved communities, underrepresented minorities and U.S. veterans.

Eddie Bernice Johnson’s legacy is one of working tirelessly to increase the number of women and underrepresented/underserved students seeking STEM degrees and careers. Her impact on the advancement of science and technology is best demonstrated by the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act — a once-in-a-generation investment in America.

Q: What gains are we seeing in getting more students engaged with STEM, especially those who, historically, have been underrepresented in STEM education and careers? And to what or who should we attribute these gains?

Coley: Anecdotally, I would say that we are probably in the worst position in terms of diversifying STEM that we have been in a long time. My research in the last two years has primarily involved Black students in engineering, and I'm talking to Black graduate students and learning that they are having similar experiences that I had in my PhD in 2010.

There are some people who still adopt the grin-and-bear-it philosophy. But what I would say is the students that are current and up-and-coming students — they are not about to grin and bear it. They are very much agentic and advocates for their own right, and they are not going to continue to accept navigating in these spaces with racism going unaddressed. (For these reasons) it's going to be harder to convince people to pursue STEM interests, and for those that do pursue it, it's going to be harder to keep people in an environment that doesn't change to accommodate what should be basic rights for everyone. So I would say the numbers are stagnant and dwindling rapidly or stagnant, and on a potential decline if change doesn't happen, quickly.

Kinsy: Sadly, we are seeing very little gains. The picture is actually fairly bleak. Despite all the hard work done by Rep. Johnson and others, over many decades, the actual numbers are heartbreaking. Per this year's NSF report on Diversity and STEM (NSF 23-315), bachelor's degrees awarded to Black or African American students in the science and engineering fields went from 4.5% in 2011 to 4.6% in 2020, a decade later.

For example, the 2017 National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF 19-301) report shows that, out of 419 doctorate degrees awarded in computer engineering, only four went to students identified as Black or African American, six as Hispanic or Latino and one as American Indian or Alaska Native. In all, less than 27% of these degrees went to domestic students. The ramifications are multigenerational and impair our long-term national security and prosperity.

Q: There has been some discussion about the CHIPS and Science Act’s potential to address issues of diversity and inclusion. Can you expand on this?

Coley: I think the importance of the legislation (the CHIPS and Science Act) may not be as visible to people removed from STEM, but in fact it is extremely impactful because ultimately one of the things that it's targeted to do is to bring more perspectives, more representation, more lived experiences to give weight in deciding the future of STEM and science and these technologies that impact our everyday lives.

This type of legislation has potential, through the establishment of such a large source of funds, to think about what institutions are currently active in the semiconductor industry and what institutions aren't. So when we think about representation, we think about how these new funds can be intentionally distributed so that minority-serving institutions — historically Black colleges and universities, or even Hispanic-Serving Institutions — can be positioned as leaders in these industries where large numbers of underrepresented students are being trained at the undergraduate level, perhaps as a pathway for research pursuit at the graduate level. So if used for good, I see this being an opportunity to balance the playing field and bring other leaders into the realm that have the potential to train future leaders with greater diversity.

Kinsy: The CHIPS and Science Act has the potential to address some of the issues related to diversity and inclusion in STEM and the associated workforce. The concrete long-term effects will be based on how well it gets implemented.

The most succinct way I can put it comes from a recent World Economic Forum report: “Increasing the diversity in science opens up the possibility of stable, high-paying jobs in STEM fields to more Americans. Pulling from the entire population, including traditionally underrepresented communities, provides a more robust base for economic innovation and the knowledge-intensive jobs of the future.”

Our country's strength is our diversity. Let us take full advantage of it for our collective prosperity. Am I hopeful that the CHIPS and Science Act implementation will foster a concerted effort to pull in all sections of our country both at the local and regional levels, including underserved technological areas, rural entrepreneurs, historically black colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, community and tribal colleges? I choose to be hopeful, especially during this month, where many of us tend to reflect a bit deeper on our place and participation in this American experience.

Brooke Coley is the founding executive director of the Center for Research Advancing Racial Equity, Justice and Sociotechnical Innovation Centered in Engineering and an assistant professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Michel Kinsy is the director of Secure, Trusted, and Assured Microelectronics (STAM) Center and associate professor in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence (SCAI) in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Top photo courtesy NASA/Carla Cioffi via Flickr

Suzanne Wilson

Sr. Media Relations Officer , ASU Media Enterprise