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ASU celebrates launch of School of Earth and Space Exploration

April 11, 2007

“No small part of being human is having the urge to explore beyond the boundaries of the known and into the unknown,” says Kip Hodges, founding director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

A reception and ceremony April 10, marked the official launch of the school. A lecture by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt in Armstrong Hall and a daylong symposium at the Biodesign Institute were among other launch activities.

Schmitt received the inaugural Eugene Shoemaker Memorial Award, presented by BEYOND, ASU's Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. Shoemaker, was known for his pioneering research with his wife, Carolyn, in the field of asteroid and comet impacts.

ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration fuses earth and space sciences with engineering research and education to achieve a better understanding of the earth system and the frontiers of space.

"My hope is that this is a beginning point, that what we’ve been doing here at ASU over the last few decades is incubating great programs in geology and astronomy and astrophysics and systems engineering and so forth,” said ASU President Michael Crow at the launch. “This incubation process has brought us to the point where today; we are launching this new enterprise, this School of Earth and Space Exploration; and that this will be a place like no other where there’s freedom of thinking, freedom of movement, intellectual agility, the ability to take on the big questions, the ability to attract students and the ability to have the fun of exploration embedded in the act of science. ”

Adds Hodges: “One important emphasis of the school will be the development of a scientific context for enlightened stewardship of our home world – and other worlds to which we venture.”

As examples, the school’s researchers will develop transdisciplinary teams to address such grand challenges as the understanding of the co-evolution of Earth and human societies, or the understanding of the chemical, physical and biological process interactions that define the evolution of Earth and similar planets.

“The inauguration of the school is a major step toward building the capacity for 21st-century, scientifically motivated exploration of our universe,” Hodges says. “The educational programs provide an extraordinary opportunity for our undergraduates and graduate students to be a part of history.”

Among the academic programs offered are a bachelor’s degree in Earth and space exploration; bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in geological sciences; a bachelor’s of science in engineering in aerospace engineering (astronautics) in collaboration with the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering; a bachelor’s of arts in education in secondary education (Earth and space sciences) in collaboration with the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education; and master’s and doctoral degrees in astrophysics.

"Hopefully this school will not only set new examples for carrying out science and new ways of exploring Earth and exploring space, but new pedagogy, new ways of teaching, new ways of exciting, new ways of bringing people together," said Crow.

For more information about the school and launch activities, call (480) 965-5081 or visit