Center for Science and the Imagination launches at ASU

September 24, 2012

New center collaborates with Intel and Society for Science & the Public to drive broad public engagement by combining humanities, arts and sciences

A new center that brings together writers, artists, scientists, engineers and others to cultivate a network of imaginative thinkers to reignite humanity’s grand ambitions for innovation and discovery has opened at Arizona State University. Download Full Image

The goal of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination is to leverage the talent of ASU’s faculty and encourage researchers across disciplinary and institutional boundaries to take creative approaches and create broad public engagement around scientific challenges.

Ed Finn has been appointed director of the center. He joined the ASU faculty as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English.

“This center seizes a unique opportunity in higher education to bring great minds together,” Finn said. “We will encourage writers, scholars, designers, artists, engineers and researchers from many disciplines to ask challenging questions and collaborate radically to re-imagine technologies and discoveries just visible over the horizon.”

The Center for Science and the Imagination has two flagship projects, Hieroglyph and Tomorrow Project USA.


Building on a partnership with a group of science fiction writers led by Hugo Award winner Neal Stephenson, Hieroglyph is a collaboration between writers and scientific researchers. Its goal is to create techno-optimistic visions of the near future based on technologies and concepts that already are or will soon be realized.

Co-editors Finn and Kathryn Cramer, an award-winning science fiction anthologist, writer and critic, will produce an anthology of near-future narratives from Stephenson and other high-profile authors under contract with HarperCollins. Writers will work with scientists, engineers and others to advance their visions, sharing work in progress and ongoing conversations on This website will invite researchers, students and the general public to engage with the narratives and one another, as well as to contribute their own responses.

Tomorrow Project USA

The goal of Intel’s Tomorrow Project is to have conversations about the future so that we can make that future better. To further this goal and share productive, science-based conversations with new audiences, Intel is collaborating with the Center for Science and the Imagination. ASU’s new center will host Tomorrow Project USA, a platform for globe-spanning, science-based discussions fueled by a writing competition open to college students everywhere.

“To imagine a better future and then build it, we need to change the story we are telling ourselves about the future we want to live in,” Brian David Johnson said. “Together with the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Society for Science & the Public, we will explore the kind of futures we want to work toward.”

Working in collaboration with Intel and the Society for Science & the Public, ASU will run an innovative writing competition geared at college students worldwide, asking them to contribute science fiction stories and essays on the theme of green dreams and sustainable futures.

“The Society has provided some of the world’s leading science resources and competitions since its launch in 1921, including the Science News family of publications and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, to be held in Phoenix in 2013,” Marincola said. “These programs provide a tremendous reach to students and the general public and a unique platform to help meet the goal of the Tomorrow Project to foster productive, science-based conversations about the future.”

The Tomorrow Project anthology will be distributed free in print and online through the new website that also will feature interviews and video conversations among scientists, engineers, writers and members of the public. Submissions will be accepted on the site until Dec. 1, 2012 with the winners announced in early spring and a finished anthology distributed at Emerge, Feb. 28 through March 2, 2013.

Additional information about the Center for Science and the Imagination, Hieroglyph and Tomorrow Project USA is available online.

About the Center for Science and Imagination:

Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination brings writers, artists and other creative thinkers into collaboration with scientists, engineers and technologists to reignite humanity’s grand ambitions for innovation and discovery. The center serves as a network hub for audacious moonshot ideas and a cultural engine for thoughtful optimism. We provide a space for productive collaboration between the humanities and the sciences, bring human narratives to scientific questions, and explore the full social implications of cutting-edge research. For more information please visit or follow the center on Facebook ( and Twitter (

About Intel’s Tomorrow Project:

The Tomorrow Project explores our possible futures through fact-based, science-based fiction and video conversations with scientists and science fiction authors, legends and world renowned experts, passionate advocates and everyday people. Science fiction gives all of us all a language so that we can have a conversation about the future, and these conversations make dramatic changes. For more information please visit  or follow @intelfuturist or join the conversation with #tomorrowproject.

About Society for Science & the Public:

Society for Science & the Public is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, its vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its acclaimed education competitions, including the Intel Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning publications, Science News and Science News for Kids, as well as a weekly e-publication for the iPad, Science News Prime, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate and inspire. For more information, please visit or follow SSP on Facebook: and through Twitter:

Sharon Keeler

Award-winning geographer, social change agents headline Ethnic Studies Week

September 24, 2012

Socially embedded, use-inspired research that fuses intellectual disciplines, leverages place, and can move society forward has always defined the scholarship of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, who will be at Arizona State University on Monday, Oct. 1, to present the keynote lecture as part of the university’s third annual Ethnic Studies Week events.

Her address, titled “The Birth of Ethnic Studies,” will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m., in the Memorial Union, Turquoise Room 220, on ASU’s Tempe campus. Ruth Wilson Gilmore speaking at podium Download Full Image

Gilmore is professor of geography in the Earth and Environmental Studies doctoral program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a visiting professor at Maumaus School of Visual Arts in Lisbon. She works regularly with community groups and grassroots organizations and is known as a scholar whose research is broadly accessible.

Her wide-ranging research interests include race and gender, labor and social movements, uneven development, and the African diaspora.

Gilmore’s prize-winning 2007 book, “Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California,” examined how political and economic forces produced California’s prison boom. In its review, the San Francisco Chronicle said: "Now, if you want to understand why progressive California leads the Western world with its regressive system of punishment, Gilmore's ‘Golden Gulag’ is the first must-read book of the 21st century.”

Her work has been highly influential to social justice organizations that have successfully pressured the state of California to reduce its prison population, incarceration rates, and corrections costs while improving public safety.

Gilmore’s honors and awards reflect the impact she has had in the academy and in the greater community. They include a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Soros Justice Senior Fellowship, the James Blaut Award for Critical Geography, the Ralph Santiago Abascal Award for Economic and Environmental Justice, and the Lora Romero Best Book Prize, as well as honors from many community justice organizations, the California State Senate, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, and the State of Connecticut. Gilmore was president of the American Studies Association in 2010-2011.

Before joining the Graduate Center at CUNY, Gilmore was at the University of Southern California, where she taught courses in race and ethnicity, economic geography, and political geography, and was the founding chair of the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity.

“Ruth Wilson Gilmore is one of the most important theorists writing about racism, state violence, and organizing for social justice today,” observes Wendy Cheng, assistant professor of Asian Pacific American Studies and Justice and Social Inquiry, and an organizer of the week’s events. “Her work resonates not only with a wide range of scholars who are trying to puzzle out the ‘big’ questions – about power, politics, economics – but also with people who are living the hard realities of these questions in their everyday lives. Her lecture should be highly relevant and illuminating to the struggles we are currently facing in Arizona.”

ASU’s Ethnic Studies Week events will kick off earlier on Oct.1, with a screening and discussion of the film "Chunky: The Making of a Social Activist," from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Memorial Union Alumni Room, on ASU’s Tempe campus. The documentary is a work in progress by Paul Espinosa, award-winning filmmaker and ASU professor of Transborder Studies. The film tells the story of Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez – a southern California musician, composer, and son of farm-working parents. The documentary examines how Sanchez’s personal development as an activist is interwoven with the broader history of the Chicana/o community in the United States and the unique cultural dynamics of the U.S.-Mexican border.

The film will be preceded by a presentation by Estevan César Azcona, adjunct assistant professor of Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston. It will be followed by a lunch and panel discussion in which Espinosa and Azcona will be joined by Luis Alvarez, associate professor of history at the University of California, San Diego, and Michelle Téllez, assistant professor, ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 5 p.m., professor of English Lee Bebout will lead a screening of the 2006 HBO film “Walkout” in Bateman Physical Sciences Center H Wing, room 152. The film depicts the efforts by students and community members to achieve educational equality in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. In many ways, this film illustrates one of the key origin points for ethnic studies as a field today.

The Ethnic Studies Week events close on Thursday, Oct. 4, with a panel discussion titled “The Struggle for Educational Equality,” to take place at 5 p.m., in Coor Hall, room L1-20. Discussion will focus on the role of ethnic studies in public schools, strategies for its incorporation, and lessons and differences from past efforts. Panelists will be former teacher Sal Castro, who helped organize the efforts for educational reform depicted in the film "Walkout" (to be viewed on Oct. 2, as noted above), Sean Arce, an educator who is engaged in the struggle to reinstate Mexican American studies in Tucson Unified School District, and Kim Dominguez, a member of UNIDOS – a youth organization from Tucson working to protect educational human rights.

ASU’s Ethnic Studies Week events are co-sponsored by the School of Social Transformation, the School of Transborder Studies, the Department of English, and the Institute for Humanities Research – all units of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – as well as the School of Letters and Sciences and the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

All of the week's events are free, but admission to the “Chunky” film screening requires registration and RSVP.

Maureen Roen

Director of Communications, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts