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The College honors academic excellence with fall 2020 Dean’s Medalists

December 14, 2020

On Monday, Dec. 14, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University will recognize its highest-achieving students from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities at the fall 2020 virtual convocation ceremony.

Each semester, departments and schools within The College select outstanding students who have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to academic excellence during their time at ASU. These students will be awarded a prestigious Dean’s Medal in honor of their scholastic achievements.

Meet the outstanding fall 2020 Dean’s Medalist awardees from The College.

Madison Andrade 

Dean’s Medal: School of Politics and Global Studies
Major: Political science
Minor: Sociology

Andrade is a Barrett, The Honors College student, studying political science and sociology. While at ASU, she explored her passion for politics through independent research and impactful extracurricular endeavors.

She held several roles during her time in The College, including as an intern with ASU’s Undergraduate Student Government, as a project member on the McCain Institute’s Peer-to-Peer: Protective Project, and as a Senate page with the Arizona State Capitol. Within the campus community, she was also involved with Her Campus, a student organization and media site aiming to empower and encourage female students. 

She won the School of Politics and Global Studies’ Experimental Lab competition to conduct a study on how individuals may draw upon stereotypes about the relationship between perceived physical attractiveness and political leadership ability. In addition, her team placed second in the McCain Institute’s national competition, Peer-to-Peer: Protective Project, for their work on creating a campaign targeting hate-based violence.

Senior lecturer Gina Woodall nominated Andrade for the Dean's Medal and described her work in a 400-level class on women and politics as “impeccable” and “thought-provoking” and saluted her work ethic and pursuit of excellence throughout her time at ASU.

Sarah Braunisch

Dean’s Medal: School of Earth and Space Exploration
Major: Earth and space exploration (geological sciences)

Braunisch is a transfer student whose childhood passion for hiking and collecting quartz samples led her to study geological sciences at the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

She discovered her passion for planetary science when she joined the Christensen Research Group, led by Regents Professor Philip Christensen. There, she worked in his lab comparing mineral samples with observations from asteroid and Mars missions. She also conducted an individual research project in the lab focused on the Granite Wash Mountains of Arizona.  

“We congratulate Sarah on this well-deserved honor,” said School of Earth and Space Exploration Director and Professor Meenakshi Wadhwa. “We are incredibly proud of her achievements, especially given the challenging circumstances that we are in at the present time and look forward to all that she will achieve beyond ASU.”

Braunisch plans to start graduate school in the spring at ASU to work toward her PhD in geological sciences. 

Frank Cossio

Dean’s Medal: School of Life Sciences
Majors: Biological sciences (neurobiology, physiology and behavior), neuroscience

Cossio is a Barrett student with a passion for neurobiology and physiology. From 2018 until 2020, he volunteered in President’s Professor Jennifer Fewell’s sociobiology in insects lab, where he examined task differentiation and brain structure in stingless bees. Cossio played a major role developing this project and collecting data, and he contributed significantly to the final paper that is in review for publication.

For a presentation he gave on this work at the annual School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium, he won a best-presentation award. He also co-authored a paper examining colony diversity and heat tolerance in ants.

“Frank is a star. He is incredibly intelligent, and indeed is one of the most intellectually curious students I have had the pleasure to teach or mentor,” said Fewell. “His intellectual curiosity and work ethic are phenomenal. Beyond that, he is a generous and caring individual who is genuinely committed to shaping his career around giving back to the community.”

After graduation, Cossio aspiries to attend medical school.

Paul Espinoza

Dean’s Medal: T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
Major: Sociology
Minor: Family and human development

Throughout his time at ASU, Espinoza has taken advantage of a wide variety of opportunities outside the classroom including serving as an undergraduate teacher’s assistant and completing a summer research fellowship through the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. Along with his years of research experience, he was also involved with a number of student organizations including ASU Changemakers, ASU Hunger Coalition and ASU Rainbow Coalition.  

“Paul’s combination of hard work and a heart for service is what we in the School of Social and Family Dynamics respect and admire about him. He is a terrific human with a bright future and the capacity to make positive change in the world,” said Stacie Foster, a clinical assistant professor and the director of undergraduate programs in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

After graduation, Paul plans to pursue a PhD in family and human development.

Aaron Garcia

Dean’s Medal: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Majors: Religious studies (religion, culture and public life), political science

From a young age, Garcia knew he wanted to pursue higher education. When he joined the U.S. Air Force and was introduced to a chaplain during basic training, he realized he too wanted to become a chaplain. This led him to transfer to ASU to pursue a degree in religious studies with a concentration in religion, culture and public life as well as a degree in political science.

“Aaron has demonstrated that he is a strong student through his two years at ASU in addition to his work as with the United States Air Force,” said Jason Bruner, associate professor and head of undergraduate studies for religious studies. “He was able to maintain his grades and complete coursework all the while being deployed in Afghanistan. He is an exceptional student, and we have no doubt he will continue to impress in the future.”

As an active-duty military member and full-time student, Garcia successfully juggled his career with his academic responsibilities. In addition to serving in the military and working toward his degrees, he was also a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honors society, and Theta Alpha Kappa, the national religious studies honors society.

After graduation he plans on applying to the Master of Divinity program at Grand Canyon University and hopes to one day become an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Justin Gens


Dean’s Medal: Department of Physics
Majors: Mathematics, physics

Gens is a transfer student who will earn dual bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics this fall. Since fall 2020, he worked in Professor Richard Lebed’s lab as an undergraduate researcher where he is currently producing results in the study of elementary particles called exotic hadrons.

He has been a member of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) for several years, serving in the role of vice president. Through his work with the SPS, he organized volunteers for Department of Physics events, hosted career seminars and provided special-interest workshops for physics majors. In addition, he was involved in the creation of student guides for first-year physics majors, offering insight into the student experience. 

“Justin’s dedication to our broader pedagogical mission, in conjunction with his service in SPS to his fellow physics majors, reveals a student who truly cares about the work we do in the Department of Physics,” said Lebed, who nominated Gens for Dean’s Medalist.

After graduation, Gens plans to attend graduate school to further pursue the study of physics.

Jonah Ivy 

Dean’s Medal: School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership
Major: Civic and economic thought and leadership

ASU offers a wide variety of courses, and Ivy spent his first six semesters at ASU exploring the range of topics and programs. After participating in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Global Intensive Experience in India, he declared a major in civic and economic thought and leadership.

With a passion for creating positive change in the community and the world, he was involved in many campus activities including as officer and founder of Gardens at ASU, a student organization that aims to empower students with the skills to garden and live more sustainable lifestyles, and as a sexual assault student adviser in the Sun Devil Support Network.

Ivy can also be credited with the thriving garden on the perimeter of the Social Sciences Building on the Tempe campus. He instituted a student garden club called Food For Change with a mission to educate and empower students to engage in all aspects of the local food system. Food For Change supports and promotes food initiatives on and off campus with the goal to bring awareness to the local and national food movement. 

“Jonah Ivy is an exceptional student both academically and with his personal accomplishments,” said Adam Seagrave, an associate professor in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “He has been an outstanding student both scholastically and as someone who believes to make an impact on the community, people must get involved. Jonah has left an everlasting impact on those around him.”

After graduation, Ivy hopes to continue working to make positive changes in communities with other changemakers.

Janani Lakshmanan

Dean’s Medal: School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
Major: Mathematics

Lakshmanan, a Barrett student, will earn her degree in mathematics this fall. While at ASU she has been actively involved in a number of internships and extracurricular activities including NASA’s Psyche Inspired Internship program, the Association for Women in Mathematics, the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences Peer Mentoring program and ASU DataFest.

Lakshmanan also served as instructional assistant and grader and has been working with Matthias Kawski, President's Professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

A writer and dancer as well as a math major, Lakshmanan enjoys both the logical and creative aspects of all three areas.

“Ms. Lakshmanan’s all-around performances and contributions to the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences make her a role model to inspire future mathematicians,” said Associate Professor Wenbo Tang, chair of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences Awards Committee.

After graduation, she plans to continue her studies by pursuing a PhD in mathematics.

Daniel Laufer


Dean’s Medal: School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
Major: Urban planning

When Barrett student Laufer started out at ASU, he was an engineering management major. After stumbling upon the world of urban planning through a documentary and reading more on the subject, he knew he wanted to learn more and switched his major to urban planning.

During his time at ASU he took on several positions outside of school including as a medical scribe for Central Arizona Medical Associates, as an EMT supervisor for ASU Emergency Medical Services and in custodial guest services at the Disneyland Resort in Florida through the Disney College Program. For his honors thesis, he developed an evaluation tool to measure walkability in both suburban and urban areas in Arizona.

“Daniel is an excellent student. He actively participates in the classroom, whether it is in person or via Zoom, and can be counted on to consistently contribute to the discussion taking place. He excels at collaborative work with other students and is an excellent team player in group activities,” said Jason Kelley, lecturer in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

After graduation, Laufer hopes to pursue a career as a firefighter and will start in his role as an emergency medical technician with the Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department in February. Down the line, he hopes to work in city government or run for public office.

Anjali Mistry


Dean’s Medal: School of Social Transformation
Majors: Political science, women and gender studies

While pursuing dual degrees in political science and women and gender studies, Mistry worked to promote inclusion and awareness of critical social issues. Informed by intersectionality, much of her academic work examined domestic and sexual violence, gender-related issues and accessibility.

Mistry was a political reporter and opinion columnist for the State Press and a co-coordinator of the Clothesline Project, which seeks to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence. She also collaborated with other ASU students to develop a sex education curriculum that addresses the sexuality of the disabled community to provide a comprehensive and inclusive sex education course available to children of all ages.

In addition, she also worked at various government institutions, including as a page with the Arizona State Senate and as an intern at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office of Victim Services.

Mistry’s faculty nominator commended her excellence in the classroom and her exemplification of the School of Social Transformation’s goals of preparing real-world problem solvers and champions for equality. Her course instructors have been particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness and insightfulness of her contributions to class discussions.

Motivated by her dedication to advocate for marginalized populations and to work to address racial disparities in criminal sentencing, Mistry plans to attend law school and become a public defender.

Monica Orillo

Dean’s Medal: School of International Letters and Cultures
Majors: Political science, German

Over the course of her undergraduate career at ASU, Orillo has translated her engagement in German and political science into a keen interest in international affairs, migration and refugee studies, and diplomacy.

For the last three semesters, Orillo served as a junior research fellow at the Center on the Future of War, where she conducted research with an investigative journalist in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. She also studied abroad several times. During her time in Germany, she completed an internship with the State Department’s Foreign Service at the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt. 

She participated in a number of extracurricular activities on and off campus including as secretary for the Make Your Impact club, Peace Corps campus ambassador and as a change agent at Changemaker Central on the Tempe campus. 

“Monica brings a clear commitment to furthering her education, an intellectual motivation unmatched by her peers at the undergraduate level, and a pride in purpose that will serve her well as she moves forward with her plans to continue her education beyond ASU,” said Daniel Gilfillan, an associate professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures.

After graduation, Orillo will complete an internship at Phoenix Sister Cities and will return to Germany as part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program. After that, she hopes to stay in Germany to pursue a graduate degree in peace and conflict studies, with the goal of someday working in the field of international education or public diplomacy.

Annaliese Pickett


Dean’s Medal: School of Human Evolution and Social Change (also a student in the Department of Economics)
Majors: Economics, global health 
Minors: Spanish, French

This fall, Pickett will graduate with dual degrees in economics and global health and dual minors in Spanish and French. She has her sights on a career that focuses on alleviating poverty among low-income groups both locally and in developing nations.

Pickett, a Barrett student, participated in a number of extracurricular activities, research opportunities and study abroad trips during her time at ASU. Her study abroad projects took her to Dakar, Senegal, where she worked with a nonprofit that provided business workshops for female entrepreneurs, and to Arica, Chile, where she worked in a rural health clinic helping design interview protocols for Indigenous women whose children received health services. She also studied abroad in Spain with the School of International Letters and Cultures. Locally, she worked with the International Rescue Committee of Phoenix on projects designed to assist refugees and immigrants. 

She participated in research in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change’s Global Impact Collaboratory and the Global Ethnohydrology Lab, collecting and analyzing interview data on perceptions of water quality and access throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area and leading a field team in Apache Junction.

“Annaliese is not only outstanding academically and has inspiring professional goals, but on a personal level she comports herself in line with her inspiring ideals of being kind and helpful as an individual. I feel privileged to have had her in my class and to have interacted with her,” said Professor Jose Mendez, chair of the Department of Economics Awards Committee.

Pickett plans to apply for the master’s degree program in data, economics and development policy offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her long-term goal is to pursue a PhD in economics so that she can work in developing nations assisting governments with their poverty-alleviation strategies.

Elinor Sauer


Dean’s Medal: School of Molecular Sciences
Majors: Chemistry (environmental chemistry), biological sciences 
Minor: Sustainability, philosophy

Sauer, a Barrett student, will earn dual degrees in chemistry and biological sciences as well as two minors in sustainability and philosophy this fall. Throughout her academic journey, Sauer found many female mentors who helped shape her path.

She is a Moeur Award winner for 2020 and received two prestigious scholarships from the School of Molecular Sciences, the Therald Moeller Scholarship and the John Holloway Undergraduate Scholarship. She was also the recipient of a NASA space grant fellowship for three consecutive years. 

Sauer was a part of ASU faculty John Nagy’s research team focusing on the North American pika and worked in Professor Hilairy Hartnett’s Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics lab. She also worked as a teaching assistant for general chemistry.

"Elinor has been my go-to person for the monitoring project in Tempe Town Lake for the last two years, and she’s done some fantastic new work as part of her honor’s thesis to model ecosystem productivity in the lake using our high-resolution in situ data,” Hartnett said. “She’s always willing to lend a hand when there’s something that needs to be done and has become a first-rate young scientist."

After graduation, Sauer hopes to continue acquiring hands-on experience and exploring different career paths that interest her.

Karishma Singh


Dean’s Medal: Department of Psychology
Majors: Psychology, family and human development

Throughout her time at ASU, Singh pursued global research internships at the Institute of Physiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague; Asha Hospital in Hyderabad, India; and Dulwich College in Singapore. She earned many accolades including the New American University Scholarship, the Psychology Scholar Award and the Dariel Overby Memorial Scholarship Award.

Singh worked in the Department of Psychology as both a teaching and research assistant. Outside of class and research, she served as vice president of philanthropy and as scholarship chair for Phi Sigma Pi, a national honor fraternity, as a first-year success coach and as a global peer mentor for the ASU International Students and Scholars Center.

“Since her first year at ASU, I've been struck by how genuinely curious Karishma is. She is continually looking for ways to learn, whether it is from her own experiences or others,” said Carolyn Cavanaugh Toft, principal lecturer in the Department of Psychology. “She is such an absolute delight to work with. She won't be the loudest voice in the room, but if you give her the space, she will often have the wisest, most thoughtful observations.”

After graduation, Singh plans on pursuing a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling and hopes to start a career as a professional therapist or counselor. 

Sisko Stargazer

Dean’s Medal: Department of English
Major: Film and media studies
Certificates: International cinema, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies

Stargazer, a Barrett student, has had a particular interest in queer, gender and disability theories during his time at ASU. As a facilitator of media relations for the ASU Rainbow Coalition, he was able to connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Sun Devils with resources and their community. 

As a transfer student, Stargazer worked to empower future Sun Devils and help them discover a home in ASU. Through his role as a project specialist in Public Allies Arizona for the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, Stargazer connected students and members of the community with this AmeriCorps program that mobilizes community assets to develop solutions to local challenges. Stargazer also worked as a grader and provided support for students alongside professors to help make learning at ASU a more inclusive and accessible experience.

After graduation, Stargazer plans to take some time off and possibly pursue graduate school in the future.

Victoria Vandekop


Dean’s Medal: Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Major: Communication
Certificate: Cross-sector leadership

Vandekop, a Barrett student, will graduate this fall earning a bachelor’s degree in communication with a certificate in cross-sector leadership. During her time at ASU, she was awarded a scholarship from ASU's Next Generation Service Corps. Through the four-year leadership development program, she completed three internships in three different sectors: nonprofit, private and public.

For her nonprofit internship, she worked with Defend Our Future, a nonpartisan activist group centered on climate change. In addition to her studies and internships, Vandekop also worked at ASU in three positions: front-desk worker for the Barrett student center, digital communications intern for the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, and a research aide for the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Vandekop also studied American Sign Language during her time as an undergraduate student.

“Victoria is very conscientious and always came prepared. She has been very involved in many organizations that she cares about, and she is very energetic as is seen through both her volunteer activities and her thesis,” said Carol Comito, an academic success adviser in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. “She gives all of her attention and enthusiasm to everything she does.”

After graduation, Vandekop plans to work in digital communications in Texas.

Carlos Yanez Navarro


Dean’s Medal: School of Transborder Studies
Majors: Justice studies, political science, transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o studies (U.S. and Mexican regional immigration policy and economy)
Certificates: Human rights, socio-legal studies, Brazilian studies, international studies

Yanez Navarro will earn three degrees and four certificates this fall. During his time as an undergraduate student, he engaged in independent research projects with several faculty members in the School of Transborder Studies, including a project with Associate Professor María Luz Cruz-Torres exploring how Brazilians in Miami asserted, negotiated and re-accommodated their cultural identity. 

His sister, Nicole Yanez Navarro, who is receiving her bachelor's in nursing, took on extra classes each semester so that they could graduate together this December. And although there won’t be an in-person commemoration at Desert Financial Arena like usual, the Yanez Navarros plan on creating their own in their backyard on commencement day. 

In fall 2018, Carlos Yanez Navarro was recognized as a student leader in The College for going above and beyond in his courses. Outside the classroom, he stood out as an advocate in the Latino community. He served as a political intern for the Mexican consulate in Phoenix and traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the California-Mexico Studies Center’s national campaign to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“Carlos is undeniably an exceptional student, who will continue to be successful and will have a positive impact in our community,” said School of Transborder Studies Director and Professor Irasema Coronado.

In the future, Yanez Navarro hopes to pursue a career in law.

Emily Balli

Multimedia specialist , New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

ASU In the News

Arizona recognized for leading in boards and commissions reform


Arizona was recognized for its work to limit the overburdensome power of licensing boards and expand opportunities for workers in a report released last month by the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University.

Part of the state’s efforts include being the first state to implement universal licensing recognition, which recognizes occupation licenses for new residents. Since August 2019, more than 2,400 universal recognition licenses have been granted — helping more Arizonans who are new to the state get to work without having to jump through unnecessary hoops.

The report analyzes the extent to which an industry’s licensing board is represented by incumbent license holders and schools related to the respective industry, with a focus on cosmetology boards. Arizona was recognized for its public representation and efforts to reform boards and commissions.

Article Source: Prescott eNews

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Dean’s Medalist is planting seeds for change in the Arizona community


December 3, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

Born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, Jonah Ivy spent his first six semesters intentionally exploring different courses that Arizona State University had to offer. It wasn’t until he participated in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Global Intensive Experience in India that he declared a major in civic and economic thought and leadership. Jonah Ivy in the Social Science building garden. Download Full Image

“I had already traveled quite a bit, and I hadn’t seen any other study abroad opportunities that were like (the school's) India trip,” Ivy said. ”They immersed you in a new culture.” 

As for the “aha moment” that helped Ivy realize what he wanted to major in, it came down to one thing: “(The faculty) believed in me. When I said I wanted to create change in this world they didn’t say ‘Well, how are you going to do that?’ they said ‘Alright. If you’re going to do it, let’s figure it out.'” 

During his time at ASU, Ivy did create positive change, both on campus and in the community. 

Ivy can be credited with the thriving garden on the perimeter of the Social Sciences building on the Tempe campus. He instituted a student garden club called Food For Change with a mission to educate and empower students to engage in all aspects of the local food system. Food For Change supports and promotes food initiatives on and off campus with the goal to bring awareness to the local and national food movement. 

“I’m really using this food system change as a multidimensional approach to the complex solutions of the world like climate change, food insecurity and population growth,” said Ivy. 

But Ivy’s passion doesn’t stop there — he also worked an internship and continues to volunteer with the TigerMountain Foundation in south Phoenix.

Ivy was drawn to the TigerMountain Foundation because of its mission to empower communities to better themselves from within by beautifying vacant lots, planting community gardens and selling and marketing what they grow at farmers markets. According to TigerMountain Foundation’s website, south Phoenix has one of the highest recidivism (return to jail) rates in the nation. They are working to reverse this problem through their community gardens and landscaping initiatives.

“It’s so much more than just planting gardens but physically that’s what it looks like,” Ivy said. “Building community gardens on a small scale … but what it’s really doing, what I think I’m really doing, is building a community — that’s what it’s about.”

As for his plans after graduation, Ivy wants to continue working to make positive changes in communities with other changemakers. 

Ivy will be graduating with his bachelor's degree in civic and economic thought and leadership and is The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalist for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. The school caught up with him to ask about his time at Arizona State University.

Question: What is your favorite spot on campus?

Answer: (The Social Science garden) is the first place I realized the true power of community. I realized that when we pursue things we should use them as a means to create community rather than using the community to accomplish something. That’s what this space taught me.

Q: What professor taught you the most important lesson at ASU?

A: Susan Carrese is one of the most influential professors, not because she taught me something, but she taught me how to teach myself something. Not because she had a lesson, but because she made my life a lesson.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: The advice I’d give to students still pursuing a degree is to have faith in community, have faith in love, have faith in truth and knowledge because those are the things that you’ll need to succeed in life.

Jacey West

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

480-727-4167

ASU In the News

Don’t hold back ex-prisoners with occupational-license rules


If 2020 has been defined by anything other than the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been the discussion of reforming the judicial system and the disproportionate impact it can have on minority communities. What shouldn’t be lost in that discussion is the need to help those who have served their time in prison find job opportunities and become self-sufficient.

In Washington state, lawmakers have imposed barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from finding good jobs. The state legislature took a half-step toward ending these discriminatory restrictions earlier this year when the House voted unanimously to allow convicted felons to apply for occupational licenses as long as their conviction wasn’t related to the job they were applying for. The bipartisan bill, however, died in the Senate, where the leadership didn’t even give it a committee hearing. William Brown / Op-Art

Next year, Washington lawmakers need to take the next step and pass the proposal. If passed, the bill would provide opportunities for those who want to overcome their past and build a stable career they can be proud of.

Research by Arizona State University demonstrates why cutting licensing barriers is so important. ASU researcher Stephen Slivinski found that occupational licenses make it difficult for prisoners to find jobs when they are released and starting the process of being a contributing part of local communities. He noted that, “Successful entry into the labor force has been shown to greatly increase the chances that a (former) prisoner will not recidivate. Yet government-imposed barriers to reintegration into the labor force — particularly occupational licensing requirements — can be among the most pernicious barriers faced by ex-prisoners seeking to enter the workforce.” He calls removing occupational license barriers the “missing piece of criminal justice reform.”

Article Source: The Seattle Times

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Former US Sen. Jeff Flake appointed distinguished dean fellow in The College


December 2, 2020

This fall, former United States Sen. Jeff Flake joined Arizona State University as a distinguished dean fellow with The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a role that will see Flake conduct seminars, visit classrooms, give public lectures, meet with students one-on-one and more. 

Flake was a guest lecturer in a number of classes this fall, including Discovery Seminar: Election 2020, instructed by Patrick Kenney, dean of The College; Philosophy, Politics and Economics, instructed by Ross Emmett; Just War, instructed by Luke Perez; Campaigns and Elections, instructed by Matthew Dempsey; and Speaking Politically, instructed by Tara Lennon. He also joined the ASU chapter of the national political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha for a virtual question-and-answer session Former United States Sen. Jeff Flake Download Full Image

“Sen. Flake’s years of experience on Capitol Hill allow him to pass along invaluable lessons in public service and policy to our students and faculty,” Kenney said. “We are grateful to have him join us in The College and are eager to learn from him.”

Flake, an Arizona native, has held similar roles and given guest lectures at several universities around the country, including Princeton, Yale, Stanford and his alma mater, Brigham Young University.

From 2013 to 2019, Flake served as one of Arizona’s two senators in the U.S. Senate. While in the Senate, he chaired the subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, as well as the Africa subcommittee of the Foreign Relations committee. Prior to that, he served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as executive director of the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. In addition, he directed the Foundation for Democracy in Namibia during that nation’s transition to independence. He is currently a contributor to CBS News.

Flake said he hopes sharing his firsthand experiences as a politician will help ASU students gain a deeper understanding of public service.

“Having been on the stage or with a front row seat for some of the significant public policy battles of the past two decades, I hope, has given me a useful perspective about contemporary politics — and more than a few interesting stories,” Flake said. “ASU students have already learned a lot in class and their assigned reading, and some already have some experiences with the political process. But I think my time in Washington allows me to peel back the curtain just a bit and let them know what it's like to be an elected official.”

Drawn to ASU and The College because of the work being done in the public policy and service arena, Flake said he most looks forward to engaging with students and helping them explore possible fields of study and career choices.

“ASU students are eager to learn and, gratefully, have a less jaded view than many in my generation,” he said. “I hope to encourage and inspire students to consider public service at some point in their careers.”

Emily Balli

Multimedia specialist, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

ASU In the News

From wage taxes to red tape, here’s why Philadelphia is one of the hardest cities in which to do business


Why would a company moving into a century-old building that has never flooded need to cut a drain flap into its metal front door?

It’s the extra cost of doing business in Philadelphia. Andrew Halladay, owner of Imperial Yeast, inside his production facility. Halladay is in the process of opening up his second location in Philadelphia and hopes to have it up and running next year around February or March.

Philadelphia ranks among the worst U.S. cities in which to do business, with high taxes and burdensome regulations. Most major cities face similar complaints. But according to academics, business owners and public policy experts, Philadelphia is particularly unwelcoming to new and transplanted businesses, helping to ossify Philly as the nation’s poorest big city.

“If you’ve got barriers to entry for new businesses or make it difficult to expand existing businesses, you’re by definition also restricting the employment prospects,” said Stephen Slivinski, an economist at Arizona State University and a senior research fellow at the school’s free enterprise-focused Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. Slivinski heads a project launched last year ranking major North American cities by how hard or easy it is to run a business. Philadelphia was among the lowest-ranked U.S. cities.

The barriers in Philadelphia begin before a business opens. The city slowly processes paperwork needed to open an establishment, taking 10 days when other U.S. cities need just two to five days, Slivinski said.

The extra steps might matter less for firms that can hire lawyers, said Ross Emmett, the research center’s director. But for small shops, it’s often the business owners themselves who must stand in line or wait in limbo for the next step.

“A week of waiting when you are not receiving any income and are incurring startup costs can set many businesses back,” Emmett said.

Article Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Project Coordinator, Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

 
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ASU students gather — socially distanced — on campus to discuss the election

November 6, 2020

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership holds its first in-person event of semester to give students a space to talk

Students from Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership donned their masks and gathered physically distanced on Thursday outside Coor Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus for a discussion about the historic 2020 presidential election.

Led by school Director Paul Carrese and faculty members Adam Seagrave, Aaron Kushner, Luke Perez and Carol McNamara, students raised questions and searched for insight on the uncertainties of the election. 

“Elections are a great democratic, republican, constitutional event — we should talk about them,” Carrese said. 

Students raised a broad range of topics, including the nature of the narrow race between candidates, the future of voting and confidence in polling.

“I was interested in the idea of party identity and the ramifications of this election and how much faith people have in the candidates,” student Ian McCutcheon said.

“Our idea was that a particularly contentious election needs an opportunity, a space for students to talk,” Carrese said. 

Students communicated the uneasiness that they felt surrounding the election as they anticipated results two days after polling stations closed.

“I just turned 18, this is my first election to be a part of, and because I don’t know any other way an election runs, it has been very interesting and a lot of fun being a part of something like this, but it’s also stressful and nerve-wracking to be on day three with no sign of who is going to win,” student Flannery Sloan said.

Students asked questions that demonstrated the underlying anxiety many Americans are feeling about this contentious election, Carrese said. Despite the general unrest, students conveyed a sense of optimism about the future of the nation. 

“I think it’s an important election for Americans to see just how polarized we are and maybe wake up and see this is not the way we should live; it’s not healthy for anyone. It’s time we start looking at resolutions,” Sloan said.

“It has been really discouraging to see everything this polarized, but I think the one encouraging sign has been high voter turnout. I hope that’s something that we see going forward,” student Jacob Salas said.

Video by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

Together again

This was the first in-person event the school held for the fall 2020 semester, and it garnered an overall positive response from the students.

“It’s a lot more natural (to have the event in-person). You could see the four professors were a lot more natural in how they could interchange in the conversation and add something versus online,” student Stephen Matter said.

The staff at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership followed careful guidelines to ensure physical distancing procedures were followed and students were kept as safe as possible, such as carefully distancing chairs and sanitizing them before use, mandating face coverings for all panelists and attendees, and required attendees to register and check in to the event in order to monitor the number of people present. 

“It was the first in-person event since March,” Carrese said. “I’m glad we did it, and we will try to do some more. We have to do it within the health and safety guidelines, and I think we’ll keep trying to figure out how to do that. I hope the students will continue to respond to those invitations.”

This article was written by Alyssa Marksz.

Top photo: Students from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership gathered to discuss the election Nov. 5 at ASU's Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

 
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Why your voice matters

October 28, 2020

ASU faculty share Election Day history, importance of exercising right to vote

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, early voting in the 2020 election in Arizona has surged nearly 100% in the state's three most-populous counties. Voters are turning out in record-shattering numbers to ensure their voices are heard. With early voting locations on or near all four Arizona State University campuses, students, employees and members of the public have ample opportunity to cast their ballots. 

In advance of the election, faculty from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences shared their thoughts on the importance of exercising the right to vote, interesting facts about Election Day and personal anecdotes about their voting experiences.

Question: Why should ASU students participate in the election?

Karen Adams, professor, Department of English: Your voices are important, as are your views and concerns. Don’t think that things will go your way every time or that if your candidate didn’t win the primary that sitting out the election is OK. When you vote for most offices and candidates, what you are voting for is a group of people who will have access and even make government appointments. Think about who is likely to move into positions because of party affiliation or the skills they demonstrated during the primary. Often, they can still make known the issues that matter to you. 

Lisa M. Anderson, associate professor, School of Social TransformationStudents should participate in the election because it is an essential part of our democracy. Elections help us to determine the direction of the country, and students — who will live with the consequences of any election for longer — should be investing in having their voices heard. As a Black person, I know that people died in order for me to have the right to vote, and voting is honoring their sacrifice.

Paul Carrese, director and professor, School of Civic and Economic Thought and LeadershipSchools and higher education now tend to emphasize the right to vote and don’t equally discuss it as a civic duty – but from America’s founding principles onward, this fundamental civic act was understood as a responsibility of all citizens who were eligible, partly to show gratitude for the ordered liberty and the relative security and prosperity Americans enjoy compared to many other places in the world; and some Americans believe that gratitude extends to the creator who endows us with inalienable rights, as the Declaration puts it.

Vera Lopez, professor, School of Social Transformation:  Students should absolutely participate in this election because their future depends on it. Climate change, racial injustices, economic inequalities … these are just a few of the issues our world is currently facing. As a longtime faculty member in ASU’s School of Social Transformation, I know our students care deeply about these issues. Now is the time for them to use their voices, now is the time for them to roar. The world is listening.

Deirdre Pfeiffer, associate professor and associate director of planning, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningStudents should keep in mind that the November 2020 election promises to be historic. The candidates we elect at the federal level will determine the fate of our democracy, environment and race relations for decades to come. The candidates we elect at the state and local level will shape how our communities weather and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Policies made at both levels will directly influence students’ ability to find and keep decent jobs in the fields that they’re training for after graduation, afford housing and live in places where they can grow their families and thrive. By voting, students accept the challenge of being active builders of their own futures rather than passive recipients of a future created by others.

Q: What is something interesting about the U.S. election process and Election Day that people might not know?

Fabian Neuner, assistant professor, School of Politics and Global StudiesSomething that I think people might not know and that might be good to know this year concerns when early ballots are counted. As elections are administered by the states, the procedures for when mail ballots can be processed differ by state. With some being able to process weeks before the election and others only starting on Election Day. This means that mail-in ballots contribute to the overall results differentially by state, which might lead to lots of confusion among the pundits on election night. In some states we’ll see results early in the night being heavily skewed by early ballots, whereas in some states the bulk of early ballots will only be counted in the days after the election. Just something to be aware of as you watch election returns.

H.L.T. Quan, associate professor, School of Social Transformation: The 15th Amendment, extending the right to vote to African American men, was ratified in 1870. As early as 1868, states developed various techniques meant to systematically disenfranchise Black people — from vigilante mob violence and state-sponsored massive fraudulent schemes to writing a whole new Constitution. Until the voting Rights Act of 1965, poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses and all-white primaries were employed to suppress votes by Black people and other people of color. In recent years, 25 of 50 states have implemented various voting restrictions that disproportionately affect Black and other voters of color. According to one report, as of 2016, over 20% of Black adults in Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia are disenfranchised.

Krista Ratcliffe, chair and professor, Department of English: Women in New Jersey were able to vote between 1776-1807; then the right went away until the 19th Amendment became law in August of 1920, giving women across the nation the right to vote even though women mostly meant white women, and it took four decades for African American and Indigenous women to be able to vote in the U.S. election system.

Sujey Vega, associate professor, School of Social Transformation: In the 1960s, James Meredith was wounded by a sniper for trying to register African Americans to vote. Suffragettes in the early 20th century were jailed, tortured and force-fed for advocating for a woman's right to vote. Citizens with Asian descent were denied the right to vote from the 1920s to 1952. Native Americans were denied the right to vote, even in Arizona, until 1947. Intimidation, literacy tests and poll taxes kept people from voting as late as 1982. In 2013, parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were chipped away making voter suppression once again rampant throughout the United States. People literally died for this right. Brave individuals continue, to this day, to fight for the rights that so many of us take for granted. We owe it to them to proudly submit our ballots and not let those who would deny us this right to win out.

Q: What is a personal memory you have associated with Election Day?

Jonathan Barth, assistant professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious StudiesAt the beginning of fall semester 2016, I had accidentally scheduled a History of Money exam for the day after the presidential election. I later discovered this error but didn't want to confuse students by suddenly changing the syllabus halfway through the semester. The students came in the morning after the election and the very last thing they had on their mind, of course, was the Free Silver Movement in the 1890s. I regretted not postponing the exam and made up for it by offering a generous curve. Needless to say, I was careful this semester to not time an exam for the day after the election.

Carrese: I now have lived for two decades in states that conduct elections largely by mail, Colorado and Arizona, but I grew up in New York state and studied in New England when almost all voting occurred in person, and often churches and schools were polling places; so I now miss seeing fellow citizens on Election Day, and I recall my parents bringing me to the polling place as a boy so that I could see fellow citizens participating in one of the great rituals of self-government.

Kim Fridkin, foundation professor, School of Politics and Global Studies: When I was 18 years old, I became very interested in the presidential election being waged and I worked to elect one of the presidential candidates as a high school senior and then as a freshman in college. The candidate that I worked for ended up losing dramatically in the general election. Because of that election, I became fascinated with the factors that drive people to vote a certain way. I’ve been interested in that question throughout my entire career, although I know a lot more now than I did then.

Lopez: I vividly remember the first presidential election I ever voted in. I had been too young to vote in the 1988 election, but I was ready in 1992. I was a 21-year-old junior at the University of Texas at Austin. When the polls opened at the local elementary school on Nov. 3, I was one of the first in line to cast my ballot. I remember feeling goosebumps as I marched down the school hallway with my head held high to cast my vote for Bill Clinton. Early on, I recognized the struggles of the brave folks before me who fought for my right to vote. When I vote, I honor their legacy.

Neuner: I want to share a lesson to always check your voter registration to make sure you’re properly registered. I remember one election in which there was an administrative mix-up that prevented me from voting and I will never forget the frustration I felt that day.

Vega: I take my son with me to drop off my ballot and together we honor the lives of those fellow citizens who fought so hard for us to be able to do so. This civic familial bond carries forward to my mother who was not born in this country but became a citizen later in life. I can distinctly remember calling her on election night in 2008 and just screaming and crying since we were both so incredibly moved to tears at the election of President Barack Obama. We knew that there was still a lot of work to do in this country, but we felt ecstatic that this was a move that meant this country was finally in a place to move forward together.

Learn more about voting resourcesvoting locations and elections throughout American history.

Emily Balli

Multimedia specialist , New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl teaching new ASU course in the spring 2021


October 27, 2020

Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl will co-teach an undergraduate course at Arizona State University this spring on American civic and public affairs with the hope of demonstrating how good government can function despite an increasingly polarized political climate.

The course, CEL 394: Debates in American Civic and Public Affairs, is being offered by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and is being led by Professor Sean Beienburg. Kyl will participate in lectures and discussions regularly throughout the semester, offering his insight based on his more than 25 years as a state representative and U.S. senator.  Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl. Download Full Image

“We hope to show students who are frustrated with the way their federal government operates these days that the existing structures, including the Constitution and the traditions and precedents that have allowed it to function, provide all that is needed to enable debate, negotiation, protection of minority rights and compromise necessary for good government in the United States,” Kyl said.  

Students who participate in the course will receive an introduction to key American debates in American politics, focusing specifically on how our institutions and political ideas have developed and how they connect to current events. Students will read famous works in American political thought including the Federalist Papers, "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville, original documents in American history, modern works in political science, and more. 

Cameron Decker, a second-year student double-majoring in global agribusiness and civic and economic thought and leadership, signed up for the course after a recommendation from a faculty member. 

“I am interested in hearing about Sen. Kyl’s philosophy on compromise,” Decker said. “Being that we are so divided in the public sphere, Sen. Kyl must certainly have experience in compromise. I am interested to see if his experience in compromising on positions ever made him compromise his principles and if so, was it worth it?” 

"Sen. Kyl is that rare figure who is both an expert in contemporary public policy as well as the deeper issues underlying American constitutionalism and history,” Beienburg said.  “I am thrilled to be able to learn from him and get as much out of the class as the students will."

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

New ASU mobile app designed to promote civic education


October 26, 2020

A new mobile app from Arizona State University aims to bring comprehensive civic education resources to the hands of thousands of students and teachers across the state and country. 

CivEd launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play store this week. Developed by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, CivEd offers a number of resources for students, teachers and citizens interested in learning more about the democratic process and U.S. history. The app’s initial features include the Civic Literacy Curriculum and the Civic Classics Collection Virtual Guide. New ASU app CivEd launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play store this week. Download Full Image

The Civic Literacy Curriculum is a seven-section civics curriculum based on the naturalization test from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is given to everyone going through the U.S. naturalized citizen process. Each section focuses on a specific subject matter, ranging from rights and responsibilities as citizens to colonial period and independence history. They include study guides, a plethora of free videos and flash cards. The app also includes the full, 100-question test used by the USCIS. 

The Civic Classics Collection Virtual Guide is a new way to view and study famous American works of political thought and original writings from iconic moments in U.S. history. Housed at ASU Library, the Civic Classics Collection contains more than 20 works ranging from a first edition copy of the Federalist Papers to a signed copy of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Stride Toward Freedom." The virtual guide brings these great works to the fingertips of thousands of students, who can now watch in-depth videos, read about the works and participate in offline learning activities. 

“The next generation of Americans need to be informed voters, yes — but they also need to be active and informed participants in politics beyond and between elections,” said Adam Seagrave, associate director for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “CivEd provides the accessible resources necessary for all Americans across the country to grow in the civic knowledge necessary to fulfill their high calling as participants in American constitutional democracy.”

Designed to fix a larger problem

CivEd and the efforts behind it stem from the school and its centers’ efforts to bring civic education back to the top of the priority list for American education systems. According to Marketplace, the U.S. now spends roughly only $4 million on civics education across the country, or what equates to roughly $54 per student annually. That’s compared to almost $3 billion for STEM spending. 

“This persistent civics gap undermines all citizens, but disproportionally affects civics engagement and empowerment for underrepresented communities, impacting everything from voter turnout to trust in our institutions,” said Lucian Spataro, interim director of the Center for Political Thought and Leadership. “With this in mind, it should come as no surprise, when people do not understand the system by which they are governed, including how to effect change in that system, they are naturally frustrated and this often leads to protests, disengagement from the political process, and in some cases even violence. So from a student's perspective, we want them leaning forward and learning so they graduate as informed, engaged, and responsible citizens.”

Spataro previously led the Joe Foss Institute, a Scottsdale-based nonprofit that joined the Center for Political Thought and Leadership in November 2019. The Joe Foss Institute led efforts in more than 30 states — including Arizona — to require a civic education exam for students before they graduate high school. The CivEd app acts as a study preparation and tool for teachers to measure their students before they take the actual test. 

“Teachers and students in states who passed (civic education legislation) are driven to our site in an effort to fulfill that requirement,” Spataro added. “In other cases, teachers will use this assessment and this course content as baseline knowledge that is a ‘must’ that students need and they then teach up and in more depth from here.”

Continuing to grow 

The school will continue to add features to CivEd in the coming months, including several of its civic education initiatives and outreach programs. It’s currently working on adding an essential version of the Arizona state constitution to the mobile app, as part of the school’s Arizona Constitution Project. The Arizona Constitution Project aims to make the state’s founding document and the story of its creation more accessible to the state’s citizens. It will also incorporate the Race and American Story course taught by Seagrave, which helps college students confront difficult conversations around race in America. 

The school is also planning to add access to its public programs through the mobile app. As ASU has continued to prioritize virtual events in the time of the pandemic, the school has produced two speaker series since March, including one that focused on conversations around the pandemic and another to address recent racial events across America. 

Manager, Marketing and Communications, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

480-965-5130

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