Law school to offer nanotech course

December 19, 2007

The science of the small is on the cusp of something big, says professor Doug Sylvester, who’s offering a nanotechnology course next semester that will be of interest to ASU students across many disciplines.

Despite its name – “Nanotechnology and the Law” – the two-credit course is geared toward graduate students in public policy, bioengineering, biomedicine, justice studies and political science, as well as in law. The course, which also is open to all students in Barrett, the Honors College, will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. on Thursdays in Armstrong Hall at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Download Full Image

“It’s not just about the law, it’s about our lives,” says Sylvester, a College of Law professor and faculty fellow in the College’s Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology. “For the first time in history, we know something is coming that carries great potential and possible grave danger. The technology will revolutionize much of how we live in the world. The question becomes, how, as a society, can we prepare ourselves to best promote the benefits and prevent the risks?”

Nanotechnology, a growing science with huge implications for health, safety, quality of life and the environment, is the science of the small. It has the ability to manipulate and use materials at the “nanoscale” level, where they display unique and beneficial characteristics.

Already, nanotechnology is a $50 billion industry, with more than 500 nanotechnology products on the market, from stain-free pants and suntan lotion to slow-churned ice cream.

Scientists are working quickly to develop other products, including building materials that are lightweight, strong and inexpensive, and produced with something called carbon nanotubes.

“The mere manufacturing of these particles creates the possibility of environmental danger,” Sylvester says.

And therein lies the quandary, as with other emerging technologies of the past such as information technology and biotechnology: should society allow science to speed ahead, without identifying the precise risks and dealing with them, or put a halt to science while the consequences are determined?

Sylvester believes there is a middle ground that, with help from people in a wide variety of disciplines, can produce workable solutions. His course is designed to get students thinking and talking about a balance that protects health and safety, while not penalizing science.

“I want to get into all the different ways society can respond to this technology, from law and ethics to social movements and collaborations,” Sylvester says.

He plans to bring in guest lecturers from other colleges, including:

• David Guston, director of ASU’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society.

• Cynthia Selin, a researcher in the Center for Nanotechnology in Society.

• Mike Kozicki, director of the ASU Center for Applied Nanoionics and a professor in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

• Jason Robert, an assistant professor in the College of Life Sciences.

To register for the course, visit the Web site

Dance program garners 2nd NEA grant

December 19, 2007

ASU’s Herberger College Dance has received its second dance masterpieces grant this year from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.

The annual award is given to select dance programs across the nation to pair professional dance artists with college students to reconstruct dances by notable choreographers and to share the work with the community beyond mere performance. Download Full Image

As one of just 25 dance programs to receive the grant, ASU Herberger College Dance will use the $10,000 award to support the restaging of Doug Varone’s Cantata next fall. Community programs will include performances in regional arts centers, conferences, workshops, and lectures and demonstrations for schools.

“It is such an honor to be chosen from so many worthy organizations around the country to receive this prestigious award,” says Simon Dove, ASU Herberger College Dance’s chair.

Dove left his position as director of the international contemporary dance festival, Springdance, in Utrecht, Netherlands, to become chair of ASU Herberger College Dance in August.

“To receive it for a second year truly is a testament to our program’s commitment to contemporary dance,” he says.

ASU Herberger College Dance received its first dance masterpiece grant in 2006 to reconstruct José Limón’s masterpiece, “Missa Brevis,” on the 50th anniversary of its creation. The award allowed Herberger College dance students to work with renowned Limón dancer Nina Watt on the piece, which was performed in April.

The project developed into a lasting partnership. Watt, recognized as “a perfect Limón dancer” by the New York Times and a 30-year veteran of the Limón Dance Co., continues to serve as an ASU Herberger College Dance visiting faculty member.

“José lived through his art,” Watt says. “He said, ‘To me, the theater is a temple.’ For that reason, I want to continue to do ‘Missa.’ It is gift to me, and I know what a wonderful experience it has been for the students. I want to help them find their gift, as José helped me.”

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group