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ASU, diverse team of collaborators release 'Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy'

March 2, 2021

The instructional framework aims to build excellence in civic, history education for K–12 students

After one of the most tumultuous years – politically, socially and economically – in recent history, many Americans are finding themselves in a state of disenchantment. “How did we get here?” is a question asked often, and “How can we fix this?” even more.

According to some of the nation’s most esteemed educators, the answer to the latter question starts in the classroom.

On March 2, Arizona State University, along with a diverse team of collaborators from iCivics, Harvard and Tufts University, released the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy, a framework that reflects the work of more than 300 scholars, educators and practitioners with the goal to build excellence in civic and history education for all of America’s K–12 students.

Funded by a $1.1 million grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education, it includes comprehensive guidance to states and local school districts for the creation of the standards, curricula and instructional materials necessary for excellence in civic learning for 21st-century students.

“America, we think, is in this bad place in part because the American education system, not only in schools, but in higher education, has neglected the teaching of civics and of American history,” said Paul Carrese, director of ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and one of the project leads.

Carrese attributed that neglect to a lack of sufficient investment, in terms of funding, time and priority, citing the fact that the U.S. spends approximately $50 dollars per student per year of federal money on investments in STEM fields while spending approximately 5 cents per student per year on civics and history education.

“Another reason we are not set up for excellence in history and civics teaching in schools … is that scholars and teachers and others have not done the hard work of deliberating with each other to reach a consensus about what and how we should teach.

"We think we've done that hard, deliberative work,” Carrese said of his fellow collaborators.

The work he referred to was conducted over 18 months, with the goal of creating a framework that would support the civic development of the country’s diverse student population into prepared, informed and engaged citizens.

Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard, said the road map was designed with the entire country in mind, calling the group of scholars who contributed “unprecedented in its scale” in terms of its demographic ideological diversity.

“The road map presents a new vision for history and civics that shifts from breadth to depth,” Allen said. “We focus on inquiry, asking questions and doing sustained investigation, drawing on evidence to answer those questions. … The work is not a mandate or a curriculum. It is instead a series of themes with questions that have the job of inspiring students to want to become involved in our constitutional democracy and help sustain our republic.”

Along with those themes and questions are instructional strategies for every grade level, as well as a website of curated examples of resources and lessons that align with the instructional principles of the road map. In addition, the road map provides implementation recommendations targeted to local, state and federal officials, as well as to national civil society organizations.

“Rebuilding excellence in history and civic learning is a whole society endeavor and project,” Allen said.

Peter Levine, associate dean of academic affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life explained that the road map begins with a list of facts and pulls from them a set of important questions.

For example, Levine said, discussion of a historical event like the Boston Tea Party or Shays’ Rebellion would be guided by what the project team calls “driving questions,” such as: What was the experience of the British government? Of British colonies? Of Indigenous Americans? Of enslaved Americans and indentured Americans?

“So the road map is organized around themes … and for each of these themes, we pose thematic questions that come from history and from civics. And the two are integrated and complementary and they both need to be addressed,” Levine said. “So a history question would be, ‘Who are we, the people of the United States, and how has that nation's population changed over time?’ But a civic thematic question would be, ‘Why is constitutional democracy dependent on the idea of the people?’”

The seven themes of the road map are: civic participation, our changing landscapes, we the people, a new government and constitution, institutional and social transformation, a people in the world, and a people with contemporary debates and possibilities.

Another major element of the road map is a set of five design challenges that reflect its learning goals and inform instructional strategy: motivating agency and sustaining the republic, America’s plural yet shared story, simultaneously celebrating and critiquing compromise, civic honesty and reflective patriotism, and balancing the concrete and the abstract.

Now that the road map is published, the team’s next step is to continue curation of the project website with examples of instructional resources and working with state governments and civil society partners to create advocates for its implementation.

“This is a long-term project to rebuild the heart of excellence in history and civic learning,” Allen said. “… It is about marshaling the troops all over our country to pull in the same direction toward rebuilding a process and effort to educate for American democracy.”

Top photo courtesy of Pixabay

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New ASU student engagement initiative hopes for a better tomorrow

February 23, 2021

TomorrowTalks brings the thought leaders of today in conversation with the changemakers of tomorrow

Anybody who has had the opportunity to hear Michael Eric Dyson speak will tell you how powerful an experience it can be. That includes former President Barack Obama, who once said that anyone unlucky enough to follow him was sure to “pale in comparison.”

Fortunately for students at Arizona State University, where the famed author and one of America’s foremost public intellectuals will be paying a virtual visit to discuss his latest book, “Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America,” they will only have to ask him questions.

Dyson’s visit on Feb. 25 is part of a new student engagement initiativeTomorrowTalks is led by the Division of Humanities in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU and hosted by ASU's Department of English and Center for the Study of Race and Democracy in partnership with Macmillan Publishers. Additional assistance is provided by ASU's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. at the university called TomorrowTalks, which aims to place the thought leaders of today in conversation with the changemakers of tomorrow.

“Our access mission is the heartbeat of what we do at ASU,” said Kyle Jensen, director of writing programs in ASU’s Department of English. “We want to give students opportunities to engage with some of the most influential people about some of the most pressing issues of the day so that they can shape a future we all want to be a part of.”

Following Dyson, Melinda Gates will engage students on Thursday, March 18, in a discussion about her book “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” and the semester will close with ASU’s own Ayanna Thompson, Regents Professor of English and director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, who will be discussing her latest book “Blackface (Object Lessons)” on Thursday, April 15.

All events are free and open to the public.

flyer for ASU student engagement initiative TomorrowTalks

Graphic courtesy of ASU Department of English

As a facet of the TomorrowTalks initiative, students have been meeting ahead of Dyson’s visit to discuss his book, related current events and possible topics of conversation. Sophomore Bailey Shaw said she has felt energized by their preparations and is excited to be able to participate in an event that really values students’ input.

Dyson’s book in particular was a “tough read,” said Shaw, who is white. “It was very humbling and sad to read, but important at same time.”

As for the author himself, who serves as Distinguished University Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University, he is looking forward to sharing with students how they can find power and create change with their own words.

“… I hope to engage them in a serious conversation that permits them, encourages them and inspires them to reflect on their own lives and what role they can play in thinking about race; how they can challenge themselves to elevate their consciousness and respond to these issues, and also to think a bit about how writing and reading … can also have political and social impact,” he said.

Here he answers some questions for ASU News, ahead of his talk.

Michael Eric Dyson

Question: The goal of Tomorrow Talks is to put college students in conversation with thought leaders, particularly those who have used writing as a tool to address pressing societal challenges. At what point in your own life did you realize there was power in writing?

Answer: I certainly admired writers as I came up in Detroit, Michigan. I was deeply informed by James Baldwin, whose first book, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” I read as a young person. Later on, I read the great speeches of Black people including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. And later, I read Ralph Ellison and the American transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. All of that sparked my interest in and curiosity about writing and the effect it could have and what it could do to change people’s lives.

Q: At ASU, you’ll be discussing your most recent book “Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America,” which just came out in December, and it couldn’t be timelier. What was your inspiration for this book?

A: I’d been thinking about ideas for a while but the occasion for the writing of the book was the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and how they profoundly impacted me. Then I started to write about others – Elijah McClain, Sandra Bland, etc. – and all of that came together into this book that was inspired by their horrendous deaths.

Q: What do you hope students get out of reading your book and the upcoming discussion?

A: I hope they get a sense of who I am and what these issues are. Why race is so important to speak about and talk about, and I hope to engage them in a serious conversation that permits them, encourages them and inspires them to reflect on their own lives and what role they can play in thinking about race; how they can challenge themselves to elevate their consciousness and respond to these issues, and also to think a bit about how writing and reading — fundamental practices of any educated person — can also have political and social impact.

Q: Do you have any messages or advice in particular for non-Black folks about how to deal with racism and/or what they can do to make change?

A: You’ve got to acknowledge the problem. And sometimes family members are part of problem, or your peers, and there’s no way around that. We can’t get to racial healing and reconciliation if we can’t get to the truth first. That means we have to address these issues. They must be grappled with if we are to have the possibility of a better future for our nation, and that means white people have to own up to their responsibility to engage in these issues. Race is not a Black problem or a brown problem; it’s a white problem, and what our white brothers and sisters need to do is acknowledge that and be willing to take it on.

Q: What are your thoughts on this moment in time and the potential to accomplish that? Do you believe America is capable of finally reckoning with race?

A: We’re certainly capable. Whether or not we do depends on whether or not we’re reminded to. We have to be on top of our game. We have to constantly be willing to renegotiate the terms of the racial contract in light of the noble ideas and grand aspirations we put forth as we continue to grapple with what race means in this country. The global pandemic has revealed issues of systemic racism that make Black people more vulnerable to die from this disease. Why is that? It’s not just a physiological phenomenon; it’s interacting with larger social forces. So how do we address that and deal with that? Reckoning doesn’t have to be a colossal change all at once. There is everyday stuff that needs to be dealt with. Health care, the prison system, the justice system — everything that ends in the word “system” has to be reexamined. We have to be constantly and religiously revising and reviewing in order for us to make progress.

Top photo by Jarod Opperman/ASU

ASU In the News

Where to open shop: New report ranks the best places to do business in the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the global economy, and employers are increasingly considering which are the most and least employer-friendly places to open new offices, distribution centers and operational locations, both during the pandemic and after emerging from it. The Arizona State University Center for the Study of Economic Liberty recently released "Doing Business North America 2020" (DBNA), a report analyzing and comparing data indicative of the regulatory context for business activity in a number of metropolitan areas.

Although some of the DBNA project’s analytical factors were outside an employment lawyer’s normal space, employment laws significantly impacted the rankings. Specifically, the DBNA project analyzed variables such as the ratio of annual minimum wage to income per capita, the length of paid or unpaid maternity leave, the number of paid and unpaid sick leave days, average severance pay, and the average amount of paid annual leave. Nonnie L. Shivers
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Little doubt can exist that a wide variety of state and local laws not only impact the ease of doing business, but also the costs and risks of doing business. Employers may wish to consider the following types of laws when determining the best place for a new office, distribution center or other location.

Article Source: The National Law Review

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

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New universitywide conference aims to facilitate open dialogue on issues of religion, ethics and science

February 5, 2021

In a time when issues of religion, ethics and science are often challenged inside and outside the academic world, a new conference put on by five academic units at Arizona State University is aiming to facilitate meaningful dialogue and address these topics in a respectful, productive way.

The first-ever Conversations on Religion, Ethics, and Science conference will be held virtually on Feb. 11–12 and is open to international participation.

“We are living in a unique moment in which the future of humanity is challenged by new technological advances and ecological transformations,” said Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Regents Professor of history, director of Jewish studies and a member of the conference organizing committee. “These profound changes compel us to address big questions. What does it mean to be human? What is the task of humanity? What are humans responsible for? This conference is most relevant today because it insists that we need both science and religion to help us navigate the ethical challenges of our day.” 

The major organizing units involved in the project include the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. Faculty from each of the five units will lead discussions with speakers from eight additional units across the university as well as other leading experts. 

The topics discussed will range from humane technology and the origin of the universe to spirituality, sustainability and theology.

“We have tried to tackle some of the really big questions of science and society, questions that thinking people wrestle with all the time,” said Paul Davies, Regents Professor with the Beyond Center and the Department of Physics and a member of the conference organizing committee. “In the subject of my own session, dealing with cosmology, there have been dramatic discoveries in recent years that are transforming our understanding of cosmic origins, and the origin of life — both hot topics in science that have sweeping implications for religion.”

The free conference was made possible by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation that was awarded to Barry Ritchie, professor in the Department of Physics, and Ben Sanders of the Arizona Center for Christian Studies.

Several members of the conference’s organizing committee shared their thoughts on the importance of these discussions, what they’re most looking forward to at the event and more.

Question: Why is it important we have these kinds of conversations right now?

Paul Davies

Paul Davies: Over the past 20 years there has been a tendency for the media to stress the disputes, often in strident terms, between religion and science. Scholarly theology has always been open to questioning, reexamining concepts and agreements to differ. It is good for the wider public to know that most religious scholars have come to accept the key ideas of modern science, such as the Big Bang origin of the universe and the evolution of life over billions of years. Conversely, it is good for the public to know that many scientists, even those not conventionally religious, find conversations with theologians both rewarding and enjoyable.

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson: Our society is deeply divided politically and culturally. In this divided context, science is pitted against religion and the perception that they are necessarily in conflict with each other has become more prevalent than before. This perception fuels some of the debates about biotechnology but it also fuels the current feuds about the right response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To navigate and resolve these challenging debates, we need to listen to both science and religion. We need to ask different kinds of questions that are informed by history, philosophy and theology as well as by scientific knowledge. This conference seeks to engage in conversations rather than in polemics. The conversations are meant to provide information, pose novel questions and inspire all of us to become more conversant with the academic field of science and religion.

Q: What discussions or presentations are you most looking forward to and why?

Davies: My own session: “What Does God Actually Do?” Two of the other panelists, cosmologist George Ellis and theologian Keith Ward, are old friends and very open to knockabout discussions. I don’t know Sarah Coakley, and I am eager to learn her thinking about God’s action in the world. So often people use the word "God" in vague ways. I want to know whether God is an abstract timeless sustainer of existence or a being who intervenes in the actual running of the universe. As a scientist, I don’t like the latter idea. But what does a modern theologian think? Can God really make a difference on a day-to-day basis? Can a being outside of time act within time? It seems like a contradiction, but maybe that’s naive.

Barry Ritchie: As an organizer, I am excited and interested in every conversation we’ve put together. Each includes scholars and experts with different perspectives, beliefs and ideas and all those speakers will marvelously model what respectful discussions can be even with passionately held differences.

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

Tirosh-Samuelson: I am looking forward to the two sessions I am participating in — "Science, Wisdom and Common Good" and "Theology, Technology and the Post-Secular World.” Since I write about theology, I am also looking forward to "What Does God Actually Do?” These three sessions will feature theologians, philosophers and scientists who are at the forefront of the discourse on science and religion as well as ASU faculty who are engaged in the field. One of the goals of the conference is to showcase the richness and diversity of science and religion work at ASU, and it will certainly feature the richness of universitywide offerings in the past as well as its contribution for the future of this academic field that impacts the public sphere.   

Q: What makes this conference special? 

Tirosh-Samuelson: The conference is uniquely interdisciplinary, involving scholars from the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, law, engineering and the arts. ASU has promoted interdisciplinarity as the right approach to tackling the challenges of our time. The various sessions illustrate that commitment to interdisciplinarity. The conference features people of diverse intellectual training, cultural habits and religious convictions. Despite their differences, the leadership team of the conference has been able to interact with mutual respect, and we hope that the conference's session will exemplify the same commitment to mutual respect. Therefore, the conference offers a model for collaboration and cooperation among academic units, religious communities and intellectual traditions.  

Q: What do you hope folks who attend the conference take away from the experience?

Davies: First, that religion is not a “done deal.” It can be evolving, accommodating and open. No religion that turns away from scientific facts can expect a long shelf life. Second, I feel that Islam is often sidelined in debates between science and religion in the U.S. I am delighted that we have organized a session for Muslim students and scholars.

Barry Ritchie

Ritchie: My sincere hope is that folks will be emboldened to reject the current cultural expectation and predilection that we must mock, hate and destroy those with whom we do not agree. Though perhaps individuals might change their minds about one or more of the topics to be discussed, my goal is much more modest — let us above all seek to listen humbly to these diverse opinions to see that people of goodwill may disagree deeply about important questions yet still be able to respectfully dialogue about those differences.

Tirosh-Samuelson: I would hope that people who attend the conference will take away from it the following lessons: There is no necessary conflict between religion and science, we need both religion and science to address the technological and ecological challenges of our time, and both science and religion have ethical dimensions and ramifications. In addition to these three substantive points, I hope that attendees of the conference will learn how people who hold different views can engage in a respectful and informed conversation. We will be able to overcome our divided public sphere if we learn to listen to each other patiently, if we seek to probe difficult questions rather than generate superficial slogans, and if we are committed to knowledge and wisdom rather than fame and notoriety.    

Learn more about the Conversations on Religion, Ethics, and Science conference or register.

Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications , New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership receives award to support new graduate program

February 3, 2021

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership is the recipient of an exciting new award from the Thomas W. Smith Foundation and the establishment of the Thomas W. Smith Scholars in Residence program.

The Thomas W. Smith Foundation was established to promote and strengthen the institutions of personal liberty and limited government that have given the American people unprecedented prosperity and personal freedom.  woman seated at table smiling Catherine Zuckert, one of the program’s first Thomas W. Smith Distinguished Scholars in Residence. Download Full Image

The $450,000 award will be distributed over the next three years to bring in leading scholars to support the mission and to teach in the new graduate program in classical liberal education and leadership. 

The school’s newly launched master’s degree program is committed to providing a classical education in politics, philosophy, history, economics and literature, and to developing a new kind of leader who thinks rigorously, is humble about human imperfection and is ready to take on the formidable challenges of our time.

Students who graduate from this program will be prepared for careers in teaching — in both basic and higher education — public service and political leadership. The interdisciplinary and classical character of the program provides students an educational foundation for careers in which a knowledge of human rights and responsibilities and of the common good is highly prized, such as political office, law, nonprofit philanthropy, public policy and civic discourse.

“I am deeply grateful to the Thomas W. Smith Foundation for their generous support of our programming in classical and civic education and civic responsibility,” said Colleen Sheehan, director of the school’s graduate program. 

“The Thomas W. Smith Distinguished Scholars in Residence initiative is a fabulous component of the school’s new graduate program,” Sheehan said. “It enables us to bring in two visiting renowned teacher-scholars of the highest abilities, thereby providing our graduate students with the best advanced education possible. By supporting visiting scholars to teach America’s next generation of teachers and leaders, the TWS Foundation is contributing to the future and strength of the nation.”

The program’s first Thomas W. Smith Distinguished Scholars in Residence at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership for the spring 2021 semester are Catherine Zuckert and Michael Zuckert. 

Catherine Zuckert is an American political philosopher and Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, at the University of Notre Dame. Author of many books and scholarly articles, Zuckert’s book "Natural Right and the American Imagination: Political Philosophy in Novel Form" won the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award for the best book written in philosophy and religion by the American Association of Publishers in 1990. Zuckert is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and of the Templeton Honor Role (1998).

Michael Zuckert is Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, at the University of Notre Dame and former editor of American Political Thought. He has published extensively in the areas of the American founding, constitutional studies and political philosophy. His books include "Natural Rights and the New Republicanism," "The Natural Rights Republic," "Launching Liberalism" and (with Catherine Zuckert) "The Truth About Leo Strauss" and "Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy." Zuckert is the recipient of many grants and awards, including from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Earhart Foundation and the NSF. 

“With great gratitude to Mr. Tom Smith and Dr. Jim Piereson of the TWS Foundation, the new ASU master’s program is off to a great start,” Sheehan said. “We expect it to be one of the top-notch programs in classical education and leadership in the country, and thanks to the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, we’re on our way.”

Jacey West

Communications program coordinator, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership


ASU In the News

Center for the Study of Economic Liberty report guides policymakers' decisions

Policymakers and the business community are beginning to look to toward a postpandemic future and ASU research is helping to guide their decisions.

The Center for the Study of Economic Liberty report "Doing Business North America 2020" was recently cited by John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C., in a guest column in the Triangle Business Journal, "Time to build on North Carolina's economic strengths." John Hood is the chairman of the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.

"As North Carolina policymakers focus on the tasks for which they are best suited, I’d urge them — and all of us, really — to be grateful for the blessings we have, even as we strive to grow and improve," Hood wrote. "We live in a beautiful state full of natural resources and strong institutions. As Americans rethink where they want to live, work and retire in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina will be a net importer, not exporter, of the ultimate resource: human beings."

Article Source: Triangle Business Journal

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

ASU In the News

How the concepts of risk, uncertainty and profit affect the economy

The pandemic has upended our daily lives and put millions of people out of work, emphasizing how much uncertainty exists when it comes to planning of any sort. And that can be especially impactful as it relates to markets.

Not knowing what’s around the corner can present unique opportunities, but those opportunities can just as easily end up as problems. Download Full Image

A century ago, economist Frank Knight made public the concepts of risk, uncertainty and profit in a book of the same name and helped explain how those three words together impact markets.

Arizona State University's Center for the Study of Economic Liberty is presenting an event on "Risk, Uncertainty and Profit" to mark the 100th anniversary Jan. 29.

Article Source: KJZZ

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

ASU In the News

Antitrust policy should target government monopolies

Recent headlines involving antitrust law have focused on government investigations into “big tech” companies, like Facebook and Google. That’s amusing, given that it’s the government that is the biggest perpetrator of monopolistic behavior. It’s now widely recognized that state licensing boards, often dominated by industry players, weaponize regulations to keep would-be competitors out of business.

A good example of anti-competitive conduct by state regulators is “licensure creep,” the phenomenon by which regulators interpret their authority as encompassing more and more ancillary services in order to create a monopoly over those services.

Take the attempt of dental boards requiring licensure as a dentist to offer teeth whitening with LED lights — lights that are no more powerful than a household flashlight. The only reason for requiring somebody to obtain a full-blown dentist’s license to set up a mall kiosk for whitening teeth is to keep out fair competition.

The FTC recently investigated the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners for enforcing teledentistry restrictions against web-based teeth-straightening business SmileDirectClub. But, just like the North Carolina Board, the Alabama Board is arguing that as a state regulator, its attempt to squeeze out competition is immune from antitrust law.

Alabama’s actions should come as no surprise. Research from Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty demonstrates that when more market insiders sit on boards, license requirements become more restrictive (and therefore anti-competitive). Alabama’s seven-person dental board is composed of six dentists and one dental hygienist.

Article Source:

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

4 ASU students win prestigious U.S. Department of State fellowships

It's the first time ASU has produced multiple winners in either the Rangel or Pickering programs in the same year

January 27, 2021

Three recent graduates and a senior at Arizona State University have won prestigious fellowships offered by the U.S. Department of State.

Tatum James and Jacqueline White Menchaca, both 2020 ASU graduates, have been awarded the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program Fellowship. Additionally, senior Cameron Vega and May 2020 graduate Claudia Rivera Garcia have been awarded the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. portrait of ASU graduate Jacqueline White Menchaca Jacqueline White Menchaca is one of two 2020 ASU graduates who have won the prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program Fellowship. Download Full Image

Both programs provide high-level internships with the Department of State and substantial financial support for graduate study leading to a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

This marks the first time that ASU has produced multiple winners of either fellowship in the same year, according to Kyle Mox, director of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement, which assisted James, Menchaca, Vega and Garcia with their fellowship applications.

“This remarkable achievement illustrates the outcome of ASU’s commitment to inclusion and student success. Much like the university, both the Rangel and Pickering programs measure their success by whom they include and how they help them succeed,” Mox said.

The most recent ASU student to receive the Rangel Fellowship was Paula Crawford in 2018. A 2014 graduate of ASU and an alumna of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Crawford is currently completing a Master of Public Administration degree with an emphasis in international security policy at Columbia University in New York. The most recent ASU recipients of the Pickering Fellowship are Matthew Jernstedt in 2019 and Monet Niesluchowski in 2017. Jernstedt is pursuing a master’s degree at Georgetown University, while Niesluchowski attends Indiana University.

“Our continued output in these prestigious programs underscores how prized the educational experience we provide our students really is. Many students don’t think of ASU this way, but we truly are a ‘global university,'" Mox added.

The Rangel and Pickering programs are administered by Howard University and are intended to attract and prepare young people for careers in international service and to promote greater diversity and excellence in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Every year, each program awards up to 45 fellowships for graduate study through a highly competitive nationwide process. In addition to up to $42,000 over two years to support the completion of a master’s degree, the programs also provide federal internships, mentoring and professional development activities. Fellows who successfully complete either program receive appointments as Foreign Service officers, in accordance with applicable law and State Department policy. Fellows agree to serve five years in the Foreign Service.

The fellowship programs are highly competitive and seek applicants with a strong academic background, a commitment to service and an interest in making a difference in the world around them.

Rangel and Pickering fellows are currently representing the U.S. in 60 countries around the world, in areas as diverse as Africa, East Asia, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, Eurasia and Canada. They are promoting human rights, helping American citizens in trouble overseas, enhancing prosperity and development, deepening ties between the United States and people in different countries and supporting U.S. global values and interests in many different ways.

Brianna Miloz, ONSA program coordinator, worked closely with the students throughout the application process, which included drafting personal statements, completing a writing exercise and an official interview with representatives of the fellowship programs.

“Having a total of two Rangel fellows and two Pickering fellows with only 45 fellows being selected per fellowship program each year speaks highly to the quality of the students at ASU,” Miloz said.

“The students have been heavily involved in various organizations, internships and work experiences throughout their undergraduate careers. Our fellows have certainly demonstrated unique skills and characteristics, such as integrity, compassion and leadership, which make them excellent individuals to participate in these fellowships.”

2021 Rangel fellows

Jacqueline White Menchaca

Jacqueline White Menchaca describes herself as “a proud non-traditional, first-generation transfer student from Mesa Community College.”

Menchaca transferred from MCC to ASU through the Public Service Academy’s Next Generation Service Corps in 2018 with a full-tuition scholarship. She graduated from ASU last December with a bachelor’s degree in public service and public policy with an emphasis on homeland security and emergency management. She has applied to several graduate programs and plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy and international relations.

“Receiving such a prestigious fellowship that is committed to promoting diversity in the Foreign Service is a great honor,” Menchaca said.

“As a Mexican American woman, a historically underrepresented population in the Department of State, I am beyond proud of this accomplishment. As a future Foreign Service officer, I look forward to advocating for American interests abroad and bridging the gap in representation that distinguishes the Latino community in the Foreign Service while doing so,” she said.

Menchaca grew up in Arizona, near the U.S.-Mexico border. Her mother emigrated from Mexico at the age of 17, and her father worked in the Foreign Operations Branch of the U.S. Border Patrol. She believes this family history and her multicultural background gives her a unique perspective on foreign relations.

In 2013-14, she was a Rotary International Youth Exchange ambassador in Ecuador. As an undergraduate, Menchaca received a Boren Scholarship to study abroad in Tanzania. She worked as a staff assistant for U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego, participated in the McCain Institute’s Policy Design Studio and completed internships with the German Marshall Fund and Search for Common Ground-Tanzania.

“This fellowship provides me a pathway into the Foreign Service as well as financial support for a graduate degree from the school of my choice. After completing the required five years of service through the fellowship agreement, I plan to stay in the Foreign Service and dedicate my career to promoting narratives of peace, championing human rights and working to create equitable opportunities for women and marginalized groups globally,” she said.

Tatum James

Tatum James graduated ASU last May with a bachelor’s degree in global studies and Spanish with a concentration in linguistics and honors from Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.

“I spent the last couple of years trying to prepare myself to be a good candidate, and much to my delight, I won. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime! I still can’t quite believe it and I feel so grateful,” she said. 

“I always knew I wanted to work in the field of international relations, but it wasn’t until I learned about this fellowship that I realized I could live out my dreams in the Foreign Service: serving my country, traveling the world and learning languages — it just fit.”

As an undergraduate, James studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, with the Benjamin J. Gilman International Scholarship, a State Department program funded by the U.S. government.

She also interned with the Department of State Virtual Student Federal Service Program, in which she mentored Albanian high school students. She recently was awarded a U.S. Department of State Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to North Macedonia. She speaks Spanish and Albanian and has studied Portuguese and Catalan. 

James has the next few years mapped out. In May, she will begin a congressional internship in Washington, D.C., as a Rangel fellow. In July, she will go to Tetovo, North Macedonia, as a Fulbright teaching assistant to teach English to university students for a year. In June 2022, she will begin a second internship as a Rangel fellow at a U.S. embassy abroad.

She is interested in pursuing a Master of Public Diplomacy degree at the University of Southern California and hopes to be admitted there and begin coursework in the fall of 2022. In May 2024 she expects to be sworn into the U.S. Foreign Service.

2021 Pickering fellows

Cameron Vega

“I am honestly still in disbelief,” Cameron Vega said about being selected for the Pickering Fellowship.

“It is hard to imagine that my life plans became solidified overnight after being selected for the Pickering. I also feel extremely proud to represent the state of Arizona and Arizona State University within the fellowship cohort.”

Vega, a student in Barrett, The Honors College, is double majoring in civic and economic thought and leadership and political science with a minor in history and certificates in human rights, political economy, religion and conflict, and Russian and East European studies.

He is hoping to attend Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies this fall to pursue a Master of Arts in international relations with a focus on security, strategy and statecraft.

“My future goal is to enter into the Foreign Service and work in international organization affairs,” he said. “Fortunately, the Pickering Fellowship provides a direct pathway into the Foreign Service upon completion of graduate school, so my goal is within reach.”

Vega said that as an undergraduate at ASU, he has made the most of every opportunity he could. He has been involved with several student organizations, serving as president of the Alexander Hamilton Society and a participant in Model United Nations. He also was a research fellow at the Center on the Future of War and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict.

His extracurricular work included interning for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and U.S. Department of State Office of UN Political Affairs, both in Washington, D.C.

Vega believes his involvement in student organizations, research experience and internships were critical to his application. In addition to that, the classical liberal education that he received from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership helped him stand out among other candidates, Vega said.

“I am thankful that ASU has put such an emphasis on fostering a positive environment for student organizations on campus,” he said.

Claudia Rivera Garcia

“I am beyond excited about receiving the Pickering Fellowship. I am a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, and went through college with only the support of my single mother, both of us having to learn English on the way. Considering I've gone from being unable to imagine myself in college because of my family's background and financial circumstances, to a college grad and Pickering fellow, it's truly an honor,” Claudia Rivera Garcia said.

Garcia graduated ASU in May with a bachelor’s degree in global studies with a minor in Chinese and a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate. 

She hopes to enter George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs this fall to work on a master’s degree in international affairs with a specialization in international development and a regional specialization in Asia. 

Rivera said she aspires to be a Foreign Service public diplomacy officer and hopes to one day become the first female and Mexican American U.S. ambassador to China.

“The Pickering Fellowship will financially support me in pursuing a master’s (degree) in Washington, D.C., and additionally provide me with the mentorship network and professional advancement opportunity I will need in order to be successful in this future position,” she said.

Rivera amassed experience at ASU that helped her stand out as a Pickering Fellowship candidate.

She worked with underrepresented high school students from throughout Arizona in the Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program and participated in the McCain Institute's Policy Design Studio, where she interacted with former U.S. ambassadors and representatives of EMILY’s List, a national resource for women in politics. She also studied abroad in China as an ASU Obama Scholar.

“Seeing other women in strong leadership positions, as well as working as a United States Agency for International Development mission director in a simulated U.S. embassy really solidified my decision to apply for the Pickering Fellowship and work toward becoming a Foreign Service officer,” she said.

Ranjani Venkatakrishnan, a May 2020 Barrett, The Honors College graduate who is currently pursuing a master’s degree at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, contributed to this article.

Nicole Greason

Director of Marketing and Public Relations , Barrett, The Honors College


Reflecting on 'Risk, Uncertainty and Profit' on the book's 100th anniversary

ASU's Center for the Study of Economic Liberty hosts symposium on what political theorists could learn from author Frank Knight

January 27, 2021

The actual world of economic competition does not match the model of perfect competition that is the starting point for most economic analysis. Today, that is hardly a brash statement. Yet, one hundred years ago, when Frank Knight wrote the now-famous “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit,” it was rather novel.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the classic book, Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty, led by center Director and Professor Ross Emmett, is hosting a symposium Friday, Jan. 29. Five invited participants will discuss their contributed essays drawing on their work on the political economy of risk and uncertainty, or what political theorists could learn from Knight. portrait of author Frank Knight American economist Frank Knight published “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit” in 1921. In it, he argues that the most important difference between the actual world of competition and the economist’s model was that individuals in economic models were granted knowledge of events and prices far beyond what individuals in the actual world of competition could ever possess.

In “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit,” Knight argues that the most important difference between the actual world of competition and the economist’s model was that individuals in economic models were granted knowledge of events and prices far beyond what individuals in the actual world of competition could ever possess. In actual markets, competition was imperfect because participants could not know what the model of perfect competition required them to know. Other factors were also important, but uncertainty, for Knight, was the most important reason why competition in the real world was imperfect.

His goal was to nudge economic theory toward a focus on imperfect competition. But first, he believed he had to clarify what role perfect competition played in economic theory, and why imperfect knowledge was the most important limitation that economists’ faced in applying the insights of economic theory to the real economic world.

One hundred years ago, in 1921, Knight published his first attempt at a clarification — “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit.” The publication was a revised version of his dissertation on the theory of profit, titled “A Theory of Business Profit,” which had won second place in the general category of the Hart, Schaffner and Marx economic essay competition in 1916. Second place was good enough to get him a contract for publication with Houghton Mifflin, who expected publication quickly and was a bit annoyed when Knight took five years to complete his “minor revisions.”

No wonder. The title was changed, to the now-famous “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit,” and the chapters were reorganized into three sections and expanded from 10 to 12. The final two chapters were entirely new material, none of which appeared in the dissertation. Knight’s supervisors — John Maurice Clark and Allyn Abbott Young — attested to the publisher that little had been changed, but they must have known better. In the end, the book was a success. It has never been out of press, despite the original publisher’s unwillingness to reprint or republish it themselves.

In 1933, Lionel Robbins arranged for the London School of Economics (LSE) to reprint the book so that his students would have access to it. While he was alive, Knight provided a sequence of prefaces to the LSE reprints that updated students on changes in his own economic ideas. Following World War II and the rapid expansion of higher education in America, both Harper & Row and “Gus” Kelley (eventually Kelley Reprints of Economic Classics) arranged for republication in the American market. Fifty years after the publication of Knight’s classic, his employer, the University of Chicago, arranged for a new republication of the work, with a preface by Knight’s student George Stigler.

Two main appropriations of Knight’s work have sustained its success. The first is of course the notion of uncertainty, which was quickly picked up and attached to entrepreneurial action. More recent popular works, such as Nassim Taleb’s “The Black Swan” and “Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers” by John Kay and Mervyn King, reflect this appropriation of Knight, even while disagreeing with him on some things. In the Austrian tradition, Knight’s notion found resonance with the emphasis on entrepreneurial judgment and Hayek’s knowledge problem — that we must make use of knowledge without ever having it completely integrated with the rest of our knowledge. Economic planning, in particular, feels afoul of this problem, because the knowledge needed to plan was dispersed across individuals in “bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge,” Hayek claimed in quite a Knightian fashion. And a new approach to management theory puts uncertainty to use: Nicolai Foss and Peter Klein’s “Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment.”

The second appropriation of Knight’s work actually took place in economics classrooms, when the second section of “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit” was used frequently as a means of teaching price theory — the theory of perfect competition — to graduate students. At the LSE, in classes at the University of Chicago and elsewhere, students encountered Knight’s evolving understanding of economic theory.

Indeed, it is remarkable that we end up celebrating today a book whose core ideas its author moved beyond through his continued grappling with the implications of imperfect competition. After his adoption of the historical methodology of Max Weber in the late 1920s, Knight moved to an economic theory that sought relevance to underlying issues in the competitive world, without requiring it to predict the outcomes of individual decisions, or even policy decisions.

One of Knight’s last economics essays, published in 1944, was titled “Realism and Relevance in the Theory of Demand.” Another implication of the Weberian outlook was his turn toward thinking about how competition functioned in different social and political institutional contexts — fascism, socialism, communism and democracy. In that context, he authored a lecture whose title is best captured by the journalistic version he published shortly after the 1932 election: “Can We Vote Ourselves Out of the Fix We’re In?”

The “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit” 100th Anniversary Symposium is free and open to the public. Online registration is required.

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty