ASU students seek meaningful change in Africa

November 18, 2009

The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact.
- British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, Feb. 3, 1960, in remarks to Parliament of South Africa 

The wind of change British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan spoke of nearly 50 years ago in an address to the Parliament of South Africa is still in the air, and half-way around the world, three Arizona State University students are feeling it, thanks to a recent weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., and the Ron H. Brown African Affairs Series. Download Full Image

The series is focused on the role and responsibility of today’s youth in Africa’s future. The students, all enrolled in African and African American Studies program in ASU’s School of Social Transformation, have returned with a greater focus on the roles they might play in effecting meaningful change across Africa and an enthusiasm to match. 

Senior Lafayette Newsome, junior Tabitha Sarabo, and sophomore Briana Tyson participated in a wide range of leadership forums, roundtables, panel discussions and one-on-one meetings with members of the Congressional Black Caucus; African political, NGO and civic leaders; and other series participants. 

The students were joined on the trip by Lisa Aubrey, a political scientist and associate professor who teaches courses on politics, foreign policy, democracy and development, Africa and its Diaspora, race, and gender in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Aubrey, a former Fulbright Scholar doing work at the University of Ghana, has led students to the Brown Series the past two years.

“This was again a wonderful opportunity for a select group of students to see on-the-ground manifestations of the theoretical debates they read about, while also helping them realize they are empowered to learn and act,” she says.

“By being able to participate in the discussions and deliberations allows them to not only utilize their knowledge and skills, but also realize that someday they can be local, national and global leaders in their own right.”

Upon their return from the nation’s capital, Newsome, Sarabo and Tyson presented a forum on their experience to faculty, students and community members at the Tempe campus. Newsome, a first-generation student from Elizabeth, N.J., who also majors in political science, says the trip was both re-energizing and important.

“The trip, for me, was life-changing and has continued to add gasoline to a fire already lit,” he says. “I have a strong desire to see humanity live up to its potential, as well as a strong desire to improve the current conditions in Africa and the conditions here in America and beyond. The RHB Series was a way for me to build bridges with people committed to improving conditions.”

At the forum, Newsome presented an argument against the corporate and private intervention in Africa he believes is self-serving and destructive rather than beneficial.  He notes that oppressive conditions half a globe away should be of interest to people in the Valley community and that, without the proper commitment and the right strategy, the wind of change is little more than a 50-year-old promise.

“Challenges in Africa impact me because I have a conscience. I care about people not only in my community, my state and my country, but everywhere. It is important that we are informed about issues in Africa because it is up to us to put pressure on officials and decision makers to improve the conditions. Without that pressure on officials and corporations, it is ridiculous to think they are going to change their behavior.”

Sarabo left her native Guyana, South America, in 2007 to attend ASU where her father, David Hinds, is an assistant professor in the School of Social Transformation. 

A member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and a mentor to freshman recipients of financial aid through the university’s President Barack Obama Scholars Program, attended last year’s conference, which she was an “appetizer” to this year’s meeting.

“Last year’s conference encouraged me to pursue my current goals, which are study, study, study, and go to graduate school,” she says. “I am passionate about Africa and the African Diaspora political and economic progress. This conference opened my eyes to past and current issues faced by both Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora, and the various strategies being used to combat those challenges.”

The two conferences have helped her identify the continent’s challenges and how they might be resolved.

“I think the greatest challenge of most African countries is holding onto and asserting their rights as sovereign nations. Countries need to ensure that their leaders are not self serving, but are there to help progress the development of their countries. Also, these leaders must assert their rights and ensure that the profits gained from their countries’ natural resources are predominantly going to further develop their countries, and not leaving the country.

“Endogenous and exogenous forces have to be set in place to effectively address the challenges. On the continent, civil society has to demand that its leaders end the corruption, and govern in the best interests of the people. Everyone has to challenge the U.S. president and Congress, the international financial institutions and the corporations to ensure that their engagement with African countries is one that would lead to sustainable development in Africa.”

For Goodyear, Ariz., resident Briana Tyson, the series represented a chance to learn more about Africa and the African Diaspora, as well as meet people intimately involved in the discussion. A National Honors Society graduate of Agua Fria High School in 2008, Fria High School in 2008, and a member of the of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, Tyson liked the learning experience of the week in Washington, D.C.

“The trip has helped me grow by informing me of the issues in Africa, as well as hearing different perspectives on how to solve the different problems.  It has helped me to refocus my career aspirations by making me want to be more active on issues in Africa and possibly join some NGOs (non-governmental organization) to help make a difference.

“I believe I have grown a lot for the series; I am more informed.”

She sees the challenges in Africa as a matter of control.

“The continent’s biggest challenge moving forward is other countries trying to control Africa, as well as the huge amount of debt Africa carries.  This is a problem because African countries cannot support their citizens properly because of the influence of other countries and the massive amount of debt they are faced with.”

While Aubrey’s students consider Africa’s past, present and future, and the role they and Africa’s Diaspora may someday play in finding solutions, the former research associate at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, says the Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series moves students from classroom experiences to real-world applications.

“This series represents a unique and educational experience for our students,” says Aubrey, who received her doctoral degree from Ohio State University. “The fact that students are learning more about a place, a people, and its progeny helps them to better understand African peoples in a historical context, as well as in contemporary world systems.

“It sharpens their perspectives and inspires them to bridge what they are learning in the classroom to the real world.  It feeds into their scholarly experience here.”

Aubrey and students Newsome, Sarabo and Tyson are currently working on an African Diaspora summit through which they will stay connected to colleagues and cohorts they met while in Washington, D.C.

Steve Des Georges

ASU undergrads display research work at symposium

November 16, 2009

Arizona State University undergraduate students will again showcase their research in biotechnology, alternative energy sources, robotics, and a wide range of engineering and science fields at the 10th semi-annual Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI) Symposium from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 20.

More than 80 students will exhibit posters detailing their FURI program research projects on the west patio of the Engineering Center, G-Wing, at ASU's Tempe campus. FURI is one of the few university programs in the country that enables undergraduates to get valuable hands-on experience in significant research.

A program of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, FURI has grown since its inception in 2005 to become one of the largest of such programs.  To participate, students must go through an extensive application process during which their qualifications are reviewed by a school-wide committee.

 “Our goal is for each student to walk away from the program having had a great research experience that will help with their transition into graduate school, into the work force, or to any other career path they may choose,” says Christine MacLeod, the program’s director.

FURI Symposiums, presented once each Fall and Spring semester, is open to the public. More than 200 people, including Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Dean Deirdre Meldrum and other ASU engineering research leaders, are expected to attend.

The Spring semester symposium is scheduled for April 23, 2010.

For more on the FURI program, visit">"> A video on FURI can be viewed at">"> or Download Full Image

class="Apple-style-span" style="font-style: italic">Writer: Chelsea Brown Media contact: 

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU leads country in AIEF scholarship students

November 13, 2009

Arizona State University is the country’s higher education destination of choice for undergraduate Native Americans attending college on an American Indian Education Foundation (AIEF) scholarship, according to numbers recently released by the foundation.

Of 176 undergraduate scholarships awarded this year by AIEF, 41 of the recipients are attending Arizona colleges and universities. Eighteen of those students are enrolled at ASU for the 2009-10 academic year. Northern Arizona University and the University of Alaska-Anchorage are second, with eight students each. Download Full Image

“We are just elated to see so many American Indian students seek and apply for scholarships at ASU, and particularly these from AIEF,” says Michael Begaye, executive director of ASU’s American Indian Student Support Services. 

“We work very closely with 25 different reservations in Arizona and New Mexico alone, two states that AIEF and the NRC (National Relief Charities) recognize as the most impoverished or to have the least access to outside resources. This is an issue of access, and we are proud of making the programs and resources of this university available to so many students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education.”

Helen Oliff, NRC public relations manager, echoes Begaye’s emphasis on providing greater opportunities to Native American students. 

“Many Americans believe that college is free for Native Americans. U.S.-Tribal treaties mention schools and teachers, but do not mention college," she says. “Today, when more Native American students hope to go to college, the competition for available scholarships is fierce. Native American students are half as likely as non-Natives to have a college degree in this country. AIEF and NRC want them to have more of an opportunity.”

For Angela Matus, her AIEF scholarship is the realization of an unreachable dream. A member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Matus graduated early from Tempe Marcos de Niza High School in 2008 as a member of the dean’s list. The 20-year-old biological sciences major in ASU’s School of Life Sciences is following in the footsteps of her mother, who graduated from the Tempe campus with a B.A. in education and is currently working on her master’s in American Indian education. The younger Matus says the scholarship to ASU not only provides her with a university education, but also will allow her to pursue a dream.

“In this economic crisis, I needed to help myself – education was important to me,” she says.

“My mom brings me strength and courage to do what she did, to surpass the limits and come back home to help our people, and to receive this scholarship brings me great joy. Now, AIEF has given me the empowerment and passion to live proudly and work harder.”

She says she has found her calling at ASU.

“This year, as a college student, I have been able to do what I want to do, which is to help educate the Native American students in the ASU community the value of fitness.”

Matus has pursued her interest in fitness through her leadership of the Native American Wellness Society (NAWS) at ASU, where she serves the club as president.

“While at ASU, I am gaining knowledge, leadership and friends," she says. "Being president of NAWS is one thing that was not in my plans while attending ASU, but I am very proud to have the opportunity.

“If I didn’t have the friends I have met at ASU, native or not, I wouldn’t have been able to be where I am now – at the top of the world with an aspiration to change it.”

Laine Evans Nelson, whose tribal heritage is Navajo, Mojave and Papago, graduated with honors from River Valley High School in Mohave Valley, Ariz. The AIEF scholarship will allow the junior theater major to pursue his acting aspirations.

“Simply put, the AIEF scholarship removed my financial worry," he says. "This year in particular, my career and my life almost hinges around being able to afford the things my craft requires. From a computer to communicate, design and research; to papers, books, workshops and seminars; to acquire new skills in acting.

“I have a concentration in acting for the theater program here, but I will either stay here for a while doing theater or move directly on to graduate school.I am honing my skills as an actor to be a voice for those who want to speak but oftentimes are never heard,” says Laine, 20, who notes the large Native American student population at ASU played a part in his selection of the university.

AIEF is one of the country’s largest grantors of scholarships to Native Americans, funding about $450,000 for more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students annually. Of these recipients, nearly half are first-generation students. AIEF awards look beyond grade point averages and standardized test scores for students who exhibit passion, resiliency and leadership skills.

AIEF scholarships are awarded by a selection committee that includes enrolled tribal members from around the country. “Many American Indian students are in need of financial assistance, but do not meet the criteria that other scholarships require,” says Lyn Tysdal, program manager of AIEF’s six educational services. “ASU has a strong commitment to American Indian students, as evidenced by its American Indian Support Services office and the great support it provides.”

Steve Des Georges

Professors receive awards for Hispanic cultural contribution

November 10, 2009

Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez and Paul Espinosa, professors in ASU's Department">">Department of Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies in the College">">College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are recipients of awards from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. The awards recognize energy, expertise and remarkable contributions to the Hispanic community.

Vélez-Ibáñez is the recipient of the Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education Award. The award distinguishes someone who demonstrates exceptional accomplishment in the academic community and support of Hispanic issues. Download Full Image

Vélez-Ibáñez, who chairs the Department of Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies, conducts transnational field research in two rural valleys in California and New Mexico and their sending communities in Mexico. His area of study focuses on applied anthropology, complex social organizations, culture and education, ethno-class relations in complex social systems, migration and adaptation of human populations, political ecology, qualitative methodology and urban anthropology. Vélez-Ibáñez has written five books, three of which are based in original field research.

Espinosa is the recipient of the Outstanding Latino/a Cultural Award in Fine or Performing Arts Award. The award recognizes Latinos/as who have contributed significantly to understanding of the Hispanic community and culture through a medium in the arts.

Espinosa is the winner of seven Emmy awards. He has written, directed and produced numerous dramatic and documentary films focused on the U.S.-Mexico border region. His work includes "Taco Shop Poets" (2002), "The Border" (1999), "... And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him" (1996) and "The Hunt for Pancho Villa" (1993).

Vélez-Ibáñez and Espinosa will be honored in March at the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education National Conference, "Raíces y Alas/Roots and Wings: A Mal Tiempo/Buena Cara."

The association each year honors people in six categories concerning the improvement of the conditions of Latinos/as pursuing a degree in higher education. The recipients are selected from open nominations by a subcommittee of the association.


Written by Danielle Kuffler (" target="_blank">

Carol Hughes," target="_blank">
(480) 965-6375

Camp Darfur exhibit to focus on humanitarian crisis

November 5, 2009

An interactive exhibit that brings attention to the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan will make an appearance at Arizona State University’s West campus, Wednesday, Nov. 18, and Thursday, Nov. 19. The Camp Darfur exhibit is free and open to the public. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day on the Fletcher Library Lawn at the West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.

Camp Darfur is designed to educate attendees about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and give individuals the opportunity to discover their own power to make a difference. The mock refugee camp puts the Darfur situation into context with other historical examples of genocide including the Holocaust, Armenia, Cambodia and Rwanda. Download Full Image

The West campus is hosting Camp Darfur as part of ASU’s Four Realms of Discovery initiative, which presents events on all four ASU campuses to provoke intellectual discourse and empower citizens to make a difference. “Camp Darfur will help to educate the ASU and Valley communities about the critical situation in Darfur and give them opportunities to take action,” says Katie Fischer, coordinator in the Office of Student Engagement on the West campus.

The traveling Camp Darfur exhibit is a project of Stop Genocide Now and i-ACT (interactive-activism), a grassroots team that seeks to change the way the world responds to genocide. Stop Genocide Now also sends teams to the refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border. Visit">"> or">"> for more information.

For details about Camp Darfur’s upcoming visit to ASU’s West campus, contact Student Engagement on the West campus at (602) 543-8200 or campdarfur">">

Day of the Dead celebration set for Oct. 28

October 22, 2009

Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus will celebrate life by honoring the dead at an annual festival that dates to pre-colonial times.

ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences has teamed up with the Spanish Language and Cultures Club to host a El Día de Los Muertos festival on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at Civic Space Park, 444 N. Central Avenue, in Phoenix. The three-hour festival, which will include artists, decorations and music, starts at 5 p.m. Download Full Image

“El Día de Los Muertos is a beautiful way to celebrate one’s deceased relatives. This holiday that mixes indigenous and Spanish traditions is especially celebrated throughout Mexico where special foods and decorations are made,” says Carmen King, a Spanish lecturer with the School of Letters and Sciences, and Spanish Language and Cultures Club faculty advisor. “The ASU Downtown Phoenix campus holds an annual Day of the Dead festival to recognize and honor our community’s cultural diversity and the Hispanic roots of Arizona and the U.S. Southwest.”

El Día de Los Muertos, otherwise known as “Day of the Dead,” is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and Latin America as well as by many Hispanics living in the United States. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember those who have died. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased that display marigolds, photos, memorabilia, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.

Similar holidays and themed-celebrations are observed in many parts of the world, including Brazil, Spain, New Zealand, Europe, the Philippines, and various Asian and African cultures.

Renowned Valley storyteller/mask-maker Zarco Guerrero will be the evening’s featured entertainment. He will combine storytelling techniques from exotic places with street theater. 

Fair Trade Café will be on hand to provide drinks and snacks for the festival.

Reporter , ASU News


ASU engineering student goes international

October 21, 2009

Arizona State University environmental engineering major Nathan Dunkin spent 13 weeks this past summer working in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

As an intern for Stanley Consultants, an international engineering, environmental and construction services company, Dunkin worked on an expansion project for the Abu Dhabi International Airport, helping design the water and electrical utility systems for a new terminal, and was a civil inspector and assistant to the project manager for a cooling plant for the city of Abu Dhabi. Download Full Image

In Doha, Qatar, he spent eight weeks working on a $1.5 billion water and wastewater treatment facility and pipe works project, serving as a civil inspector during installation of the wastewater mainlines – a process that involved tunneling a 9-foot-diameter pipe 12 stories underground across a distance of more than 20 miles.

The opportunity to work in the Middle East arose in 2008 when Dunkin was awarded a scholarship from Stanley Consultants.

Charles Silver, associate director of development and alumni relations for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, who works with scholarship donors such as Stanley Consultants, had helped connect Dunkin with company leaders.

Dunkin discovered he shared an interest in water resources and water quality with Dick Mettee, a senior vice president and national and regional project manager for the company. Eventually, Mettee helped arrange for Dunkin to work on the projects in the Middle East.

It was the first time the company sent an intern overseas. 

Dunkin is “worldly, hungry to learn and wants to make a positive impact in other’s lives,” Silver says. “He’s been a great representative for ASU engineering students.”

The internship experience “gave me a lot of insight into how engineering works in the real world, especially on the international side of things,” Dunkin says. In particular, it enabled him to work on much larger engineering-related projects than student interns typically do in the United States.

It also was “a great way to meet and interact with people in a very multicultural and cosmopolitan atmosphere,” he says. “For example, at one point I found myself playing a pickup basketball game with seven other people – a Frenchman, a Spaniard, an Egyptian, a Korean, a Canadian, a Filipino and a Lebanese man.”

Besides interacting with people from various cultures, he traveled throughout the region, visiting Dubai many times and camping in the mountains of Oman.

The Middle East internship is just one of Dunkin’s international experiences. He spent the three previous summers coordinating community development work for an international non-government organization in Mexico and Nicaragua. Last fall, he completed work for a minor in Spanish while studying in Spain.

Closer to home, Dunkin worked on a research project with Morteza Abbaszadegan, a professor in ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, using DNA molecular techniques to monitor microbial contamination in source water for the city of Phoenix.

He currently is doing research in the National Science Foundation Water and Environmental Technology Center at ASU through the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI).

His accomplishments have earned him several scholarships in the water quality field, including an Arizona Water Association Scholarship, an Arizona Water Reuse Scholarship, the Salt River Project Rod J. McMullin Water Resources Scholarship, an Arizona Hydrological Society Scholarship and the Stanley Consultants Foundation scholarship.

Dunkin, who is a student in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, plans to attend graduate school.

Writer: Chelsea Brown

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


West campus observes Disability Awareness Week with variety of events

October 19, 2009

Arizona State University’s West campus will observe Disability Awareness Week with a calendar of events designed to increase awareness that individuals with disabilities are as competent and capable as those without.

Disability Awareness Week is Oct. 19-22. Download Full Image

“This is an important week, because it is an opportunity to inform and to reach out,” says Adele Darr, director of the West campus Disability Resource Center. “The events we have scheduled, we hope, will bring the campus community together in recognition of the accomplishments and the success stories that have been achieved by students with disabilities.”

The schedule begins Monday, Oct. 19, with a noon showing of “Two Worlds – One Planet,” a powerful and poignant documentary tracing the struggles and triumphs of students and their families at Gateway Academy, a K-12 private day school in Scottsdale, Ariz., specializing in students with Asperger’s Syndrome, high-functioning autism and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified). 

The Award of Excellence for the Accolade Award at the 2008 Hot Springs Film festival, “Two Worlds” will be shown in the University Center Building (UCB), Room 302. Following the film, O. Robin Sweet, executive director of the Gateway Academy, will speak about the Spectrum College Transition Program that helps students with disabilities make the transition to college and how to work with students with Asperger’s Syndrome.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Ability Counts Club will host a “Corridor of Discovery” in the Sands Classroom Building Breezeway from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Disability Awareness Week comes to a close on Thursday when ASU alum Geoff Rubin, creator of an adaptive physical education program called “Get Fit Mind and Body,” will speak from 2:15-3 p.m., in UCB 302.

For more information about the above events, e-mail to"> or call (602) 543-8171.

Steve Des Georges

ASU's Ostrom wins Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

October 12, 2009

Arizona State University Research Professor Elinor Ostrom has won this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a prize she shares with Oliver E. Williamson of the University of California at Berkeley.

Ostrom, who holds research positions at Arizona State University and Indiana University, is one of three faculty members at ASU to be a Nobel Prize recipient and the second in economics. Edward C. Prescott won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and Leland “Lee” Hartwell won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine before joining the ASU faculty this fall. Download Full Image

At ASU, Ostrom is the founding director of the university’s Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity. The center, established in 2008, is nestled in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Ostrom is widely known for her study of institutions — conceptualized as sets of rules — and how they affect the incentives of individuals interacting in repetitive and structured situations.

At Indiana University, Ostrom and her colleagues at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis developed the institutional analysis and development framework that provided a common structure for research on both urban and environmental policy issues over many decades. The framework enables the researchers to analyze diversely structured markets, hierarchies, common-property regimes, and local public economies using a common set of universal components.

“This is a wonderful honor for Elinor, for ASU and for the State of Arizona,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “It is another example of how ASU faculty are working to solve real world problems, and how that work is receiving national and international recognition.”

“Elinor Ostrom is not only a brilliant and innovative scientist who, by combining in an original way approaches in economics, anthropology, political science and decision-making has opened up many new perspectives in the study of institutions and decision-making, but also an extremely modest and generous scientist who has consistently invested great effort in sharing her insights with those most in need, in the U.S. and worldwide,” says ASU colleague Sander van der Leeuw, director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU.

“Through her ‘workshop’ in Indiana, and more recently also the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University, she has built a worldwide community of scholars in many different countries who apply her insights to the management of such common-pool resources as forests, water and the like. In my mind she exemplifies the kind of scientist we currently need most: transdisciplinary, and totally committed to the major issues our societies have to deal with,” van der Leeuw says.

Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons,” according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. “Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by user associations,” the announcement read. “Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized.

“She observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successful outcomes,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted.

In the July 24 issue of Science, Ostrom presents an updated version of a multilevel, nested framework for analyzing outcomes achieved in social-ecological systems.

Ostrom, a California native, received doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in political science from UCLA. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at ASU, which is focused on empirical and theoretical analyses of institutions — or sets of rules — melds laboratory research, field work, archival activities and mathematical and agent-based modeling in ways that are meant to guide policy-making and decision-making toward sustainable development. Linked social-ecological systems related to water, forests, pastures and other resource systems are of prime importance.


Sharon Keeler, <> />480-965-4012 (office), 602-540-8453 (mobile)>>Carol Hughes,
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Grant expands innovative teacher preparation program

September 30, 2009

An Arizona State University program that immerses future teachers in school settings to maximize their readiness for successful careers as educators has been awarded a $33.8 million federal grant to expand across metropolitan Phoenix and the state of Arizona, spanning rural American Indian communities and the Tucson area.

ASU’s Professional Development School (PDS) program, developed by the College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL), gives students three times the amount of hands-on, practical classroom experience as traditional teacher education programs. In rural communities, the program enables local residents to earn a university degree and Arizona teacher certification without having to relocate to an urban area of the state. Download Full Image

The five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program will establish “PDS NEXT,” a program involving 15 urban and rural partner school districts in Arizona. Simultaneously, the grant makes possible a number of enhancements to the existing PDS program to produce graduates who are even more well-prepared for success in the classroom, while expanding PDS to implement comprehensive school reform and full-range professional development including a two-year induction program for new teachers.

“These new facets of PDS are designed to produce highly skilled new teachers who understand the content they are teaching and how best to teach it, and to foster measureable gains in effective school functioning, teacher retention, teaching effectiveness and student achievement,” says Scott Ridley, assistant dean of CTEL and principal investigator for the PDS NEXT grant. Ridley has guided the PDS program since it began in 1999 with one school, Longview Elementary, in central Phoenix’s Osborn Elementary School District.

“As a part of its effort to help solve the great challenges facing humanity, ASU has taken on the responsibility of improving public education,” says ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This grant will enable us to make great strides in preparing outstanding teachers. It is our commitment to measure our success in educating teachers by the success our graduates have in educating their students.”

To date, PDS has produced hundreds of elementary and junior high school teachers. Through the NEXT grant, the program will expand to include students wishing to teach at the high school level. CTEL will work in partnership with ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to provide high-quality content area instruction to future high school teachers as well as those planning to teach younger pupils.

Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members collaborated with CTEL leadership to create a pilot for a discipline-based Master of Arts in Teaching, says Laura Turchi, clinical professor of English education and a co-principal investigator for the PDS NEXT grant. The project will train students in pedagogies designed to develop literacy in English, history, and languages.

“Our faculty will lead a series of consortia linking secondary schools, community colleges, and ASU,” Turchi says. “Each consortium will develop and support high-quality freshman and sophomore courses in reading, writing, critical inquiry, mathematics, and technologies at community colleges and the university. These courses will be available statewide through distance learning and provide models of rigorous and accessible curriculum for future teachers.”

New partner school districts participating through PDS NEXT are Mesa Public Schools; the Glendale, Roosevelt, and Phoenix Elementary School Districts; Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson; the Window Rock, Ganado, and Kayenta districts in the Navajo Nation; University Public Schools; and the Phoenix Union High School District. Existing PDS partners including the Osborn, Chinle, Douglas, Indian Oasis-Baboquivari, and Gadsden districts also will participate in NEXT.

PDS targets high-need schools and communities, aiming to improve both the preparation of future teachers and the achievement of students. Mesa Public Schools (MPS), the state’s largest school district, plans to involve four of its elementary schools in the initiative, each serving low-income families.

“The principals at Adams, Lincoln, Guerrero and Whitman schools requested to participate because of the proposal’s focus on individual student growth, shared leadership structure and site-specific professional development opportunities,” says Michael B. Cowen, MPS superintendent of schools.

“We have been investigating ways to support teachers at lower-income schools through professional development, and the opportunity to partner with ASU’s PDS NEXT proposal couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Receipt of the grant will enable Ridley and his colleagues to incorporate TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement into the PDS curriculum. TAP is an initiative of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

“We are committed to reinventing the definition of teacher education at a major research university,” says Mari Koerner, CTEL’s dean. “Without abandoning the role of theory, CTEL is radically reforming its teacher education programs around TAP, which represents a unified model of clinical excellence.

“We also have learned that an investment in our partner school districts is an investment in our own teacher education enterprise,” Koerner says. “Through genuine partnerships with 15 high-need urban and rural school districts, we will work to simultaneously reform struggling K-12 schools and our district-based teacher education programs.”

An additional partner in the NEXT project is the Rodel Foundation of Arizona, which will provide training to student teachers and mentor teachers that specifically addresses the challenges of teaching in high-poverty schools and focuses on research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. The PDS NEXT partnership also includes the ASU Vice President’s Office for Educational Partnerships, ASU’s original home for the TAP program within the university.

The award to CTEL is the largest among 28 Teacher Quality Partnership grants across the country announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“The Obama Administration is committed to giving teachers the support they need to succeed in the classroom,” Duncan says. “The Teacher Quality Partnership grants will improve student academic achievement by strengthening teacher preparation, training and effectiveness and help school districts attract potential educators from a wide range of professional backgrounds into the teaching profession.”