ASU project combats online threats toward women, girls

March 11, 2015

A project led by Arizona State University researchers aiming to tackle issues of online safety is one of 13 funded in the $1.2 million “Trust Challenge,” run by the Digital Media and Learning Competition.

According to a recent Pew study, one in four young women were subjects of online stalking or sexual harassment, including threats of physical violence. Some of those victimized report that the harassment changed their online behavior or made them more afraid to engage online. Jacqueline Wernimont Download Full Image

The ASU project, titled “Resilience Network: Addressing Anti-Feminist Violence Online,” was submitted by Jacqueline Wernimont on behalf of FemTechNet, a feminist collaborative network which will provide core support.

“We’ve raised the alarms about the on- and offline violence that women, girls and feminists of all genders are experiencing,” said Wernimont. “This award is an opportunity to join others in combating a culture of sexism and abuse that is driving women offline and out of tech industries.”

The ASU project responds by creating an open, accessible set of tools for combating harassment. Additionally, the group will connect industry, policymakers, academics and community activists to facilitate communal response to abuse. The group will publish tools and tips in a digital format, and will host in-person and virtual events to produce and share the resources.

According to the Resilience Network project proposal: “Women, girls and feminists of all ages face specific risks online. The Resilience Network will foster trust, reduce harm and support those who combat harassment by developing a digital space that bundles open access resources, best practices and virtual events designed to maintain safe access to 21st-century skills and information.”

Alice Daer is also a part of the cooperative team that authored the grant. Wernimont and Daer are both assistant professors in the Department of English within ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Other collaborators are Elaine Zundl from Douglass Residential College at Rutgers University; Rebecca Richards from St. Olaf College; Elizabeth Losh from the University of California, San Diego; Seda Guerses from the Information Law Institute at New York University; and Moya Bailey from Northeastern University.

Wernimont traveled to Austin, Texas to attend the South by Southwest EDU Conference, where the awards were announced on March 10.

The Trust Challenge is a response to a call to action issued in the 2014 Aspen Task Force Report "Learner at the Center of a Networked World," which sought innovations and solutions that enable people to pursue learning experiences online in an environment that is safe and private.

"The Internet and social media represent incredible opportunities to learn, but solutions to ensure youth feel safe in online spaces and are confident their online data are used in their best interest have not kept pace," said Connie Yowell, director of education at the MacArthur Foundation.

"This competition was designed to surface the most promising approaches to help foster trust amongst youth, their parents, mentors and teachers in using the online world for learning. Winning projects include tools to provide greater transparency – in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way – into who can see young people's data, [as well as] programs that foster greater civility and respect amongst users in online spaces. Trust, privacy and safety are critical to learning in an open, online world, and the winners of the Trust Challenge will help us reach this vision."

The Trust Challenge, which intends to “foster trust in online learning environments” is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and administered by HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) through a grant to the University of California, Irvine.

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

senior marking & communications specialist, Department of English


ASU engineering programs continue rise in national grad school rankings

March 11, 2015

A steady rise in prominence among the nation’s leading engineering graduate education institutions continues for Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings.

The rankings released on March 10 continue to place the Fulton Schools of Engineering Schools in the top 20 percent of all engineering graduate programs in the United States. Gifford in Westerhoff Lab Download Full Image

Among more than 200 engineering schools surveyed by U.S. News & World Report, the Fulton Schools of Engineering are the third largest graduate engineering program and are ranked at 42 overall – up one place from the last year’s rankings and up eight places from only several years ago.

“Our upward trajectory reflects the leadership and impact of our faculty in their fields, the quality of our students and graduates, and the increasing external recognition of the ongoing transformation of the Fulton Schools of Engineering to a world-class engineering school” said Paul Johnson, dean of the Fulton Schools of Engineering. “It is especially exciting to see that the schools’ rankings rose in almost every category in 'specialty rankings' of individual graduate engineering programs.”

The bioengineering program moved up eight places to 41, while the environmental engineering program moved up seven places to number 20, and materials science and engineering jumped six places to 33.

Aerospace engineering leaped five spots to number 23, while civil engineering also went up five places to 31. Mechanical engineering is up four spots to 39, and chemical engineering also went up four places to 45.

Industrial engineering, the highest-ranking engineering graduate education program, moved up to 19 in this year’s rankings.

Electrical engineering remained at 27, and computer engineering – which is not ranked every year – came in at 31.

More than 17,000 students, including more than 3,600 graduate students, are enrolled in in the Fulton Schools of Engineering.  Engineering graduate school enrollment has increased at ASU by more then 70 percent in the last five years.

The Fulton Schools of Engineering’s online graduate engineering program is also among the best in the nation, ranking 14th out of more than 75 leading online programs listed in by U.S. News & World Report rankings in January.

The Fulton Schools of Engineering offer 14 online engineering master’s degree programs, two in partnership with ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering