From London to NYC to ASU: Professor returns after a summer on center stage

Ayanna Thompson says her focus for the academic year will be continuing the growth of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

August 21, 2023

Ayanna Thompson, a Regents Professor in the Department of English at Arizona State University, is one of the world’s leading scholars on the works of Shakespeare.

This summer, while a rather busy one for Thompson, was one of extraordinary experiences and memories. Ayanna Thompson and King Charles III greet each other in a group of people. Regents Professor of English Ayanna Thompson speaks with King Charles III at the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's First Folio at Windsor Castle in London in July 2023. Photo courtesy Ian Jones Photography Download Full Image

In July she attended a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio at Windsor Castle in London.

The event was attended by King Charles III and Queen Camilla, along with top scholars, art organizations and teaching organizations whose work focuses on Shakespeare. Renowned British actors performed monologues and dialogues from Shakespeare’s work.

She also spoke at several conferences and festivals and, most recently, served as a dramaturg in New York City, providing feedback and resources to help improve the quality and accuracy of a play in production and set to hit the stage in 2025.

“I feel like I have the most amazing privileged life right now that I get to work with world-class artists and scholars,” Thompson said. “I feel incredibly lucky to be in those spaces with those cool people.”

A new model for premodern studies

Thompson’s focus now turns to the upcoming academic year and continuing the growth of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, which she has been the director of for five years.

The center, housed in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, promotes medieval and Renaissance studies, and serves a community of scholars worldwide by supporting research that engages the past and points to different, more inclusive futures.

“Over the last five years, we’ve been able to put the center at the forefront of premodern studies, everything from the classics to the 18th century,” she said. “Almost every other research center focusing on Shakespeare, early modern or even early classical, has copied our program.”

Thompson and her staff have been transforming education and breaking down barriers by focusing on values listed in ASU’s mission and goalssuch as inclusion, academic accessibility, local impact and social embeddedness.

They have made all their books, journals and other research materials publicly accessible through ACMRS Press at zero cost; provided academic scholarships to researchers, students and scholars; and developed projects exploring complex topics relating to race in premodern studies.

“It’s why I came to ASU — because the charter and mission align so fundamentally with the kind of work that I do and the kind of work that the center could do for the field as a whole,” she said.

One of the center’s most important initiatives is RaceB4Race.

RaceB4Race comprises an ongoing conference series and a professional network community by and for scholars of color across the country to engage on issues of race in premodern literature, history and culture.

“All of the work at the center is about diversifying the field," Thompson said. "The series is at the forefront of discussing premodern studies and race.” 

The symposium has grown significantly since its inaugural year in 2019, receiving a $3.5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation in 2021 to allow the center to sustain, build and innovate on the crucial work RaceB4Race does.

“It’s pretty exciting, and I know that we are doing something good when everyone wants to copy our lineups and we continue to get funding from various sources that see our work as important,” Thompson said.

As the center enters a new academic year, Thompson and her staff are thinking of how they can continue providing the best for students, scholars, educators and the community.

“We are hiring incredible people to be part of the center. Incredible playwrights and directors, bringing in artists, offering amazing internship and job opportunities for students,” she said. “Anything that can help us continue to innovate even more.”

Stephen Perez

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU study finds pairing up with other genders helps preschoolers get along

Research shows benefits of ‘buddy up’ technique

August 15, 2023

Researchers in Arizona State University's T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics found that pairing preschoolers with classmates of other genders — known as the “buddy up” technique — benefits social relations for the whole class. 

The study, published in Early Education and Development, tested how working in pairs improves interactions with classmates. The researchers worked with teachers in public preschool classrooms to integrate the buddy up technique with classroom activities. Preschoolers seated around a table with a teacher, playing with construction paper. Photo courtesy Adobe Stock

They found that not only did this method encourage more positive interactions among other-gender peers, but it improved relationships between children of the same gender (particularly girls) and between children who speak the same language (particularly English). 

The importance of early, diverse socializing

Social interactions in early childhood are foundational and predict positive outcomes later in life. Children, however, tend to restrict their interactions to classmates who are the most like them — particularly those of the same gender.

This creates a cycle in which children only feel comfortable interacting with children who are most like them and segregate themselves, which further secludes them from other classmates. When these group dynamics form, they also increasingly tend to take on behaviors considered typical of their gender. 

This is where teacher intervention comes into play. When teachers pair up students who are of different genders and give them a task to collaborate on, it helps them branch out from their social comfort zones. This intervention is based on intergroup contact theory, which says that when people have more contact with members of different groups, they’ll develop better relations. 

At the end of the day, intergroup contact isn’t just healthy, it’s critical for children’s social and relational development, the researchers say. 

“Helping children develop relationship skills early on is a priority,” said Laura Hanish, principal author of the paper and professor of family and human development at ASU. “Positive social interactions in early childhood not only help build relationships, but they predict successful academic and emotional outcomes later in life.”

Ultimately, the researchers found that the buddy up method is easy to implement and is an effective way to build diverse relationships early on. It also has the potential to create better, more inclusive classroom environments, which could have positive effects that last into adulthood.

“Interacting with other-gender peers helps develop a more egalitarian classroom environment where students feel they belong,” Hanish said. “This foundation is important if we want to help children carry on effective, inclusive social skills throughout their lives.”

In the future, the researchers would like to conduct a longer study to see the effects of the buddy up method over time.

This study was funded by the T. Denny Sanford Foundation in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University.

Jennifer Moore

Communications Specialist Associate, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

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As hip-hop turns 50, ASU experts weigh in on art form's evolution

Reflecting on 50 years of hip-hop.
August 10, 2023

Global hip-hop culture embraces music, dance, fashion and identity

Hip-hop — that fresh, modern art form — is 50 years old.

The common origin story of hip-hop goes back to a house party in the Bronx on Aug. 11, 1973, when Kool Herc, a young DJ working the record player, played just the instrumental parts of the songs — the “breaks” — while his friend, Coke La Rock, talked on the microphone.

What started as a lively expression of 1970s house party music soon evolved into a reflection of life for Black Americans.

“I like to say that hip-hop is the ghetto CNN,” said Matt Kirkpatrick, a faculty associate in the popular music program at Arizona State University, who teaches about hip-hop.

“This was pre-social media. What avenue did we have other than going to parties and hearing stories and talking to one another?”

Hip-hop has grown to become an expansive culture of music, dance, fashion, art, language and identity that has been exported around the world and is now studied by scholars for political expression and gender construct.

RELATED: ASU Professor Mitchell Jackson weighs in on hip-hop style at 50 in Esquire

To mark the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, ASU News spoke with five experts at the university about different facets of the genre:

Jorge "House" Magana, a hip-hop performer and clinical assistant professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, teaches a hip-hop dance class at ASU. Photo by Chris Goulet/ASU News

The birth of hip-hop

While the Bronx house party generally gets the credit for inventing hip-hop, Ward says that current scholars are looking beyond the New York City borough.

“Because of how people moved around the country during the time when we name hip-hop's origin — the '70s — we need to think about how maybe it didn't just start in New York — that it started all over the country in different places,” she said.

Geographic dislocation also makes it hard to pinpoint where Indigenous hip-hop was created, Clark said.

“Indian peoples, through various federal policies, were actively moved by the federal government from reservations to urban centers,” he said.

Some research has pointed to the late 1980s on the West Coast as the birth of Indigenous hip-hop. One of the early groups was WithOut Rezervation, based in California and composed of three men with different tribal affiliations.

What makes hip-hop, hip-hop?

At its core, Kirkpatrick said, hip-hop is beats and rhymes.

“It’s something dope — beat-wise, rhythmic or a loop — and somebody rapping a rhyming pattern over it, whether it’s four- or six- or 24-bar structures over that beat,” he said.

The beats are mastered by the DJ, who selects and plays the music, while the emcee raps the words.

The breakdancers are called B-Boys and B-Girls.

“The thing that makes hip-hop so amazing is that it’s not just a musical genre,” Kirkpatrick said. “You have the importance of the DJ, the emcee, the graffiti, the B-Boying, the dancing — all creating what the culture is.”

Magana said that hip-hop wasn’t called hip-hop in the early years.

“It was called breakers, or just ‘going off.’ It didn't have a name because it was just life.”

While breakdancing was the first hip-hop dance, often highlighting an individual dancer, Barnes said that the culture also includes moves by people in the crowd.

“We also do make space to celebrate those who didn't get on the floor but also partied. We usually call those party dances, like the Snake for those who were in the '80s, and the Roger Rabbit,” she said.

Hip-hop's evolution

The Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" became the first rap song to become a Top 40 hit, in 1979. The 15-minute song, which was cut in half in order to be aired on the radio, had lyrics about friends, cars, girls and celebrities. But hip-hop artists used their music to reflect all aspects of life for Black people in America.

“Everyone knows ‘Rapper’s Delight.’ If you close your eyes and listen, you can hear them rapping that at a house party,” Kirkpatrick said.

“Besides rocking parties and having fun, you have Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and if you listen to their records, it rings true today. A lot of people like to brush under the rug what ‘gangsta rap’ evolved into, but they were referencing what they saw on the streets of Compton.

“It’s a clear evolution from that type of rap, very braggadocious about their sound system and DJ and crew, and fast-forward to drug use and overdoses and depression and gangs, very meaningful things that can be explored. There’s a lot of party, but hip-hop has always had, ‘Hey, look what’s going on in our neighborhood.’

“That’s the genius of Dr. Dre too. We want to have fun and chase girls, but there’s this other thing going on where our homies are getting killed and harassed by the police and we have to talk about it.”

Video by Josh Belveal and Alex Cabrera/ASU VisComm

Taking on colonialism

Indigenous hip-hop artists expressed what they were living with, too — colonialism and oppression, Clark said.

“They’re talking about what that looks like both in a national context and specifically what it looks like on the reservation,” he said.

For example, the songs of WithOut Rezervation address loss of tribal land, social injustice, cultural erasure and portrayals of Native Americans as violent or a mascot.

But there’s a wide range of hip-hop created by Native artists, he said.

“You also have songs talking about what it looks like to be a young Indigenous person in an urban context and hanging out with friends, and writing about love and lost love,” he said.

Indigenous hip-hop is a modern cultural act, Clark said.

“The way Indian people are thought about politically and culturally and the ideas of how they should look and act is based on Indian people of the past,” he said.

“And if you don’t resemble that image or that ideal, you are somehow less Indigenous. But we are very much modern and very much still here, and we exist culturally and politically.

“Hip-hop is an act of asserting life. This is one way we can say, ‘We’re here and alive, and we have something to say.’”

'Rollling around on the floor'

Breaking, or breakdancing, is considered the original hip-hop dance and originated in the Bronx, according to Magana.

Breaking consisted of “top rocks” — moving the top of the body — and then transitioning to the floor.

“That’s the DNA of breaking – footwork or downrocking some legwork,” he said.

Breakingdancing is not random, he said.

“My mom would say, ‘You're just rolling around on the floor.’ But it's very intricate patterns, very thought out, you know?”

Breaking includes influences from other forms, such as martial arts and tap.

Popping and locking — two separate dance forms — originated on the West Coast, Magana said. Dancer Don Campbell invented the “Campbellock” move, which was shortened to “locking.”

“It stems from dances like the Funky Chicken and the Funky Robot,” Magana said.

Popping came out of influences including miming and animatronics.

“When these forms are created, it's a reaction to the music and a reaction to what's going on in the world,” he said.

“And it's a reaction to what these kids have access to, to be able to watch.”

Before the internet and even before music videos were on TV, breakdancers hungered to see new moves, he said.

“So you could literally be at home and somebody would give you a phone call and be like, ‘Yo, there's somebody breaking at Dairy Queen.’ And you would run out there and be like, ‘You break, cool, let's battle!’” Magana said.

“And that was because we wanted that exchange. We wanted to learn. And so even the people that are your rivals or your competition, we were really just elevating each other.”

Two students performing hip hop dance in classroom

Students dance in Jorge Magana's hip-hop class. Photo by Chris Goulet/ASU

Connecting to hip-hop's roots

Barnes sees hip-hop on a full continuum of dance.

“By the continuum, I mean the cyclical evolution of these art forms. So not just the linear historiography of jazz to hip-hop, but how one continues to influence and inform new manifestations of it.

“So that would be, from my perspective, focusing on jazz first and then looking to funk, rhythm and blues, and that evolved into disco, house and hip-hop,” she said.

The jazz impact is seen in the structure and stylization of hip-hop.

“One of my favorites is the playing style of Charlie Parker and the rhyming signature of Busta Rhymes. It was just unmistakable to me. That’s an embedded influence that Busta Rhymes carries. It’s really powerful,” she said.

Common to the different dance forms is “the bounce.”

“Because they are African in their origin, they are earth-sourced, and the basic, fundamental or foundational aspect that sometimes gets overlooked when people are learning these forms is the bounce,” she said.

“And your application of the bounce is what denotes which particular form you're engaging in.

“The triple bounce gives us a specific jazz-swing feel. And then that four-on-the-floor bounce gives us that pulse for house. And then that grounded but also very breath-influenced deep bounce gives us our hip-hop groove.”

Both jazz and hip-hop were created in the Black community, became celebrated in the white community and then were exported globally as “the best of American culture,” she said.

“And are still, sadly, not celebrating the people that created it here at home. So it's a fascinating juxtaposition in their similarities.”

A different scene in every city

“With any art form that directly speaks to youth, like grunge or punk, it evolves in the underground of each city. In every city there’s a hip-hop scene, and every scene is going to be different,” said Kirkpatrick, who is from San Diego.

“Living on the West Coast, it was about palm trees and gang culture and parties because that’s what we saw.

“East Coast is about hustling and drug dealing and sitting in tall buildings — very dark, menacing and ominous.

“Down South it’s very upbeat and clubby because the club was the driver of a lot of music. If you listen to JID or Kris Kross, it’s very much party music, in the club, on the radio.

“In Memphis you have Three 6 Mafia, very soul-stack driven. Detroit was very gritty and dark. Houston is very much car culture — slow-and-roll, trunk-rattle music.”

New York was an epicenter for hip-hop dance as well, Barnes said.

“But as I always say when I'm teaching — people in the South weren't waiting for someone from New York to come down to teach them how to dance to the music. They were coming up with their own ways.”

Students learn hip-hop dance moves in a class taught by Jorge "House" Magana at ASU. Photo by Chris Goulet/ASU

Women in hip-hop

Ward said that she argues in her upcoming book that women have always been central to the development of hip-hop music and the culture. In fact, Sylvia Robinson, a Black woman who founded Sugar Hill Records, produced “Rapper’s Delight,” which sold millions of records.

“We talk about women emcees like Roxanne Shanté or Queen Latifah or Monie Love,” she said.

“And then moving through the '90s, the 2000s, we look at artists like Lil' Kim and Rah Digga, and the place of women across different subgenres of hip-hop music.”

Ward said there has always been tension between how corporate rap music presented women and how independent female artists presented themselves.

“So independent women artists, like Bahamadia or Medusa, are either not part of a record label by choice or want to maintain a particular distance to the corporate music industry,” she said.

Native women in hip-hop have addressed patriarchy and how colonialism is gendered, Clark said, citing the First Nation artist Eekwol as a favorite.

“These songs talk about what gendered violence looks like and specifically violence against Indigenous women,” he said.

“Hip-hop is one of the places they can talk about what’s happening in their communities. They’re writing from a position of reclaiming their matriarchal position in society.”

While women in hip-hop music are celebrated, according to Barnes, "Women in hip-hop with regard to the dance, not so much."

“Fortunately, icons like Big Lez (Leslie Segar), TweetBoogie and a few others are still actively present and — as we say — will still actively throw down and show you why they are who they are.”

“I most readily credit the full empowerment of women in hip-hop, particularly on the dance side of things, to Michele Byrd-McPhee and the efforts that she's pioneered with the Ladies of Hip-Hop organization,” she said.

“It’s not just the battles, not just the showcases, but her efforts to educate and to ensure that women and girls have a space to celebrate themselves in hip-hop culture."

Students dancing in hip hop class

Students practice in an ASU hip-hop class taught by Jorge "House" Magana. Photo by Chris Goulet/ASU

New business models

“In the 1970s and '80s, the record labels were the gatekeepers, and it was, ‘Only the people we allow through the gate will be here.’ There was a time and a place for that, and it created phenomenal music,” Kirkpatrick said.

“But now there is a more even and level playing field for anybody who is interested in sharing any type of music they do. You can record yourself and put it on social media within an hour and get people to comment on it. That’s the upside to the technology we have now.”

Kirkpatrick sees the erosion of big record labels.

“I think hip-hop has not been afraid to embrace new technology and new ways of doing things faster than other genres of music. I think you’ll see more brand partnerships and brand cooperative releases versus the traditional record labels,” he said.

“In the past, there was always this conversation in the culture about, ‘Oh, am I selling out? Am I selling my music to sell other products?’" Ward said.

“That conversation isn't as robust as it used to be, in the ‘90s and 2000s, because now that's really one of the only ways that artists who aren’t heavily engaged in the corporate industry make their money. They have to diversify their streams of income.”

Ward writes about the impact of streaming in her upcoming book.

“The restructuring of the music industry has created opportunities for certain artists to really have agency over what they choose to write about, what they choose to produce and then how their music gets out to a global audience.”

Why does hip-hop resonate globally?

Ward said her answer, as a fan, is: “There's something that is hyper modern about rap music. The process of remixing is a heightened postmodern exercise. It's a very modern way of engaging with the past, through sampling and remixing.

“It’s also about nostalgia. It's about homage. It’s about this kind of holding onto a lineage through sound to Black music specifically.

At the same time, hip-hop is individualistic, she said.

“There is this ethic, this kind of adage of not only keeping it real, but this desire to always put front and center the absolute freedom of the individual.

“I liken the contemporary movement of hip-hop music to the Harlem Renaissance, and artists like Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen, and others who were making arguments about art as sites for absolute freedom, and how artists, particularly Black artists and artists of color, have to have the freedom to produce and express themselves without the constraints of respectability, politics, racism, sexism, etc.

“And I think that there's something very appealing worldwide about that message.”

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


Thunderbird alum paves way for Arizona's global growth

August 8, 2023

Luca Moldovan, a recent graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, is making remarkable strides in the world of international trade and diplomacy.

Originally from Bistrița, Romania, a historic Saxon town nestled in the picturesque region of Transylvania, Moldovan now calls Phoenix his home. There, he serves as a legislative research analyst for the Arizona House of Representatives House Committee on International Trade while concurrently serving as point person for international trade and affairs for Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma. Portrait of Luca Moldova, a 2022 Master of Global Management graduate from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Luca Moldovan, a 2022 Master of Global Management graduate from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Photo courtesy Luca Moldovan Download Full Image

Moldovan's multifaceted career journey began after completing his Master of Global Management with a concentration in global business (STEM) and global affairs from Thunderbird in May 2022.  

"As soon as I graduated, I began working for the Arizona House of Representatives, where I initially supported research analysts during the interim session of 2022. This involved an array of tasks, including conducting extensive research and data gathering for committees on education, commerce, and transportation and infrastructure," Moldovan said.

In December 2022, Moldovan assumed the role of assistant to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as the Committee on Commerce. By February, he was quickly promoted to a research analyst and primary point of contact for the Committee on International Trade and Affairs. In this capacity, he represented both the committee’s house speaker and chairman.

"As a research analyst, a significant undertaking was drafting the AZ International Trade Plan for fiscal year 2023 on behalf of Speaker of the House Ben Toma and the House Committee on International Trade Chairman David Cook," Moldovan said. 

After gathering and analyzing data for the AZ International Trade Plan, Moldovan presented it to committee members during the inaugural committee hearing on international trade. His research and compelling data presentation played a pivotal role in the unanimous adoption of the plan. A recording of the hearing is available to watch here.

"The AZ International Trade Plan plays a vital role, as it enacts trade and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) missions to targeted countries, including Canada, UK, Romania and Mexico. The AZ House Legislature leads the initiative with the ultimate goal of establishing Arizonian region trade and FDI offices in these respective countries, fostering stronger bilateral partnerships and expanding Arizona's international reach in the rapidly changing geopolitical and economic landscape," Moldovan explained. 

Moldovan's journey from Thunderbird to his current role as a champion of global trade and diplomacy is a remarkable achievement. As an international scholar, he is dedicated to promoting Arizona's growth and prosperity on the global stage. Contributing to the state's international outreach and fostering trade relationships with allies and partners reflects the true spirit of Thunderbird's legacy to shape leaders who drive positive change in a rapidly evolving global landscape. 

Thunderbird Media Relations spoke with Moldovan about his time at Thunderbird, as well as his recent personal and professional achievements. 

Question: What was the most valuable aspect of your Thunderbird degree program?

Answer: Networking is the most crucial aspect of the graduate-level academic journey. Staying engaged with fellow classmates, faculty and staff is important. The reason is that you may never know who will help you in the future, especially when job hunting. 

Q: Did the education/training you received at Thunderbird help you in your career? If so, how?

A: Yes, it helped a lot, thanks to my transdisciplinary focus on global business (STEM) and global affairs. It is important today in Industry 4.0 to read data and translate data analysis for the public eye. As a research analyst, this is exactly my job: to translate complicated datasets and gather and cure them before explaining them to someone who doesn't read data. Data interpretation is very important in today's business standards. Diplomacy is another important ingredient that Thunderbird teaches in an indirect approach, as the program is tailored to make students get out of their comfort zone, often allowing people to adapt to new environments.

Q: What's something you learned while at Thunderbird in the classroom or otherwise — that has helped you excel in your career?

A: Networking has enabled me to interact with many high-profile individuals routinely on the job. As a student, there were many events for my cohort and other T-birds. Having informal meetings at the Pub enabled me to engage with alumni and current students at that time. During class, asking questions in front of peers and challenging the professors' thinking was important. This would allow you to elaborate your thinking and adapt your arguments in a specified context.

Q: What's your favorite story from your time at Thunderbird?

A: During Thunderbird's grand opening and 75th anniversary global reunion, I was president of the band Global Sounds. My band and I performed during the event for Europe and Latin America regional nights. During those nights, we practiced our songs, studied for exams, submitted papers and, just as intensely, networked with T-bird alumni from all generations. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to be an international student witnessing Thunderbird's grand opening and, at the same, a participant in the organization. I will never forget it. And those fireworks in front of the campus — that was beyond memorable. Congratulations to all the organizers, Dean Khagram and his team! 

Q: How do you feel about graduating from what has been rated the world's No. 1 program for international trade?

A: I feel deeply honored and humbled to represent Thunderbird globally. As an international student, I was proud to carry the flag of Romania during our graduation ceremony. I am even more proud to work for such an amazing and unique state like Arizona, where I am starting my new life. Being in the middle of this process and helping promote Arizona internationally and expanding trade with our allies and partners is a dream come true for a T-bird.

Dasi Styles

Senior Media Relations Officer, Thunderbird School of Global Management


ASU center receives grant to amplify voices of Muslim youth

August 3, 2023

The Center of Muslim Experience in the United States, housed in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, is working to advance public understanding of Muslims and Islam in the U.S. with a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, or ACLS.

The center’s new program, “Muslims in the Media: Empowering Youth Engagement through Global Perspectives," aims to help journalists overcome gaps in their knowledge of Muslim lived experiences and amplify the voices of Muslim youth. The program is a collaboration between ASU students and students from two universities in India and Sweden. Sign with the letters "ASU" on a campus, surrounded by a tree in bloom. Download Full Image

“Our center’s mission is to document the history of this minority community in the United States. This program and help from the ACLS is another way of contributing to that mission,” said Yasmin Saikia, the center’s co-director. “It’s helping shift the narrative to where they are no longer just the subject of the story but the creators of the story as well.”

According to a 2017 research study by the Pew Research Center, there are an estimated 3.45 million American Muslims in the U.S.

The U.S. Muslim population has grown exponentially, with three in 10 Muslims having arrived in the country from 2010 to when the study was conducted in 2017. Islam is projected to be the second-largest religious minority by 2030.

ASU has a population of over 8,000 Muslim faculty, staff and students. 

The center is one of two programs at universities across the country that received funding from the Luce/ACLS program in religion, journalism and international affairs.

Students at ASU will produce toolkits for responsible reporting that will be shared with journalists as a resource when covering stories about the growing number of Muslim Americans and Islam in the U.S. 

The toolkits will provide resources to challenge Islamophobic narratives, share stories from Muslim youth and highlight Muslims' social and cultural contributions in the U.S., India and Sweden.

When the center launched in 2022, co-directors Chad Haines and Saikia envisioned it as a way to highlight the diversity and creativity of Muslim Americans and showcase their contributions to American society and culture. 

“One of our goals as a center is student success and youth. Youth in the world, and particularly in the Muslim world, but also youth as a student in the United States wanted to define their place in this country,” Haines said. “Giving voices to the students as the makers and creators of these toolkits is extremely important.”

Stephen Perez

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

ASU Art Museum to present first solo museum exhibition of Puerto Rican multidisciplinary artist

'Luis Rivera Jimenez: A Brief Proposal on Race and Cultural Cosplay' showcases ASU, CALA Alliance partnership

August 3, 2023

Beginning Aug. 19, the ASU Art Museum will be presenting the first solo museum exhibition of Puerto Rican multidisciplinary artist Luis Rivera Jimenez.

"Luis Rivera Jiménez: A Brief Proposal on Race and Cultural Cosplay" features newly created works completed in 2023 while the artist was in residence with CALA Alliance, a Latino arts organization based in Phoenix that partnered with the ASU Art Museum to achieve their common mission of incubating and accelerating the presence of Latino art in the United States.
Words on a wall as part of an art exhibit that read "Do I really have to be brown forever?" Luis Rivera Jimenez, prototype for “Phatic Function #2,” 2023. Laserjet printed paper, glue, water, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and CALA Alliance, photo by Shaunté Glover Download Full Image

The works in the exhibit, ranging from sculpture and installation to authored texts and audio, offer space for discussion around race, identity and power, expanding upon the artist’s practice, which uses the intricacies of language, political thought and daily experience in the Caribbean to create intentional spaces of learning, conversation and care.

Rivera Jimenez’s sculptural objects and installations pose questions about the dynamics of race and representation. His practice reflects upon and explores the underpinning of what he describes as a “global digital society,” where a relationship between memory, images and symbols can be traced, mapped and proliferated. 

The interactive exhibition is informed by communications, encounters and materials found by Rivera Jimenez during his time in Phoenix. The objects and texts found within the show build on the artist’s accumulation and processing of various tools: discussions, found objects, experiences in contact with communities, digital content, and physical and ephemeral materials.

The exhibition is curated by Alana Hernandez, CALA Alliance curator of Latino art at the ASU Art Museum, with Sade Moore, curatorial assistant at CALA Alliance. It will be on view from Aug. 19 through Dec. 31 at the ASU Art Museum at Nelson Fine Arts Center.

This exhibition showcases, in part, how CALA Alliance and the ASU Art Museum promote the exchange of new ideas, perspectives and experiences among artists, students and the public through various programs, especially those that educate and inspire the public about the richness of the Latinx cultural heritage.

A series of three free in-person programs are offered in conjunction with “Luis Rivera Jimenez: A Brief Proposal on Race and Cultural Cosplay”:

Aug. 19: Opening reception

Aug. 20: Translation and Language Justice in the Borderlands

Sept. 7: Performance

Dec. 1: Karaoke night

More information about these programs and how to register will be available on the museum’s website as details are confirmed.

"Luis Rivera Jimenez: A Brief Proposal on Race and Cultural Cosplay” is made possible by gifts to CALA Alliance’s general operating fund and a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Communications program coordinator, ASU Art Museum

ASU professor establishes annual disability awareness lecture through Lincoln Center

July 28, 2023

The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, housed in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is establishing a new lecture series to raise awareness of disability and promote a positive disability culture at Arizona State University.

The series is named the Lawrence J. and Virginia Devlin Bolmarcich Memorial Lecture, after the parents of Sarah Bolmarcich, an associate teaching professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures. A man and a woman pose together on a bridge. Lawrence J. and Virginia Devlin Bolmarcich. Photo courtesy Sarah Bolmarcich Download Full Image

When her mother passed away in 2022, Bolmarcich began envisioning a way to memorialize how her parents lived and promote their core principles of fairness for women, minorities and those with disabilities.

For at least six generations, their family members, including Sarah herself, were diagnosed with inherited hearing loss. 

“It goes back to at least my great-great-great-grandfather in Scotland, and my mom had it and passed it to my sister and me. It was this thing that marked our lives,” said Bolmarcich. “And although my dad was not hard of hearing, he was the most supportive person I’ve ever met about disability.”

Lawrence was a second-generation American and first-generation college student, earning his bachelor’s degree from Drexel University in 1967 and a master’s degree from St. Joseph’s University in 1974. He served as a civil engineer for the United States Army and then the U.S. Navy. He passed away in 1997. 

Virginia was from generations of Irish Americans in Philadelphia and was the first to attend college at the University of Pennsylvania College for Women. She later attended medical school and held a successful career as a diagnostic radiologist.

“Neither of them were activists as we think of them today, but they both tried to live by these principles of equality, respect and fairness,” Bolmarcich said.

The annual series will feature a lecture and workshops that actively promote a disability-inclusive culture at ASU, which is embedded in the institutional fabric of the university’s charter.

“The Lincoln Center is honored to play such a key role in helping facilitate Dr. Bolmarcich’s generous gift to the university. It is hard to overstate the value of what Dr. Bolmarcich has offered to all of us: Questions of disability and disability justice matter profoundly and should be front of mind at ASU,” said Gaymon Bennett, director of the Lincoln Center.

“We live so much of our lives in built environments. Because of that, as our friends in disability scholarship remind us, we can experience a misfit between who we are and who our environments demand that we be. By promoting awareness of disability and positive disability culture, this memorial lecture will allow us to take significant steps forward in the lived experience of disability at ASU.”

Stephen Perez

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Thunderbird School to collaborate on propelling semiconductor, technology sectors in Taiwan

Taiwan Going Global Initiative launched in partnership with StanShih Foundation, Soochow University

July 27, 2023

Taiwan is going global across a number of industries led by its world-leading semiconductor industry ecosystem, which is expanding into Japan, Europe and the United States, specifically Arizona.

However, the future shortage of global professional talent in Taiwan poses a significant challenge. Three men holding a banner with Mandarin writing on it. On Wednesday, July 26, in Taipei City, Taiwan, (from left) Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU, Stan Shih, founder of Acer Group and chairman of the StanShih Foundation, and Wei-Ta Pan, president of Soochow University, jointly signed a letter of agreement to proactively address the demand for global management and professional talent in Taiwan's semiconductor and technology industries as they expand around the world. Photo courtesy Thunderbird School of Global Management/ASU Download Full Image

To address this issue, Stan Shih, founder of Acer Group and chairman of the StanShih Foundation, has selected Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University and Soochow University to launch the Taiwan Going Global Initiative.

The aim is to contribute to Taiwan's enterprise globalization efforts and create value not only for Taiwan, but the world.

On July 26, Shih, along with Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird at ASU, and Wei-Ta Pan, president of Soochow University, jointly signed a letter of agreement to proactively address the demand for global management and professional talent in Taiwan's semiconductor and technology industries as they expand around the world.

Shih stated that due to geopolitical considerations, Taiwan's semiconductor and broader technology industry ecosystem has further extended its reach to the United States, Europe and Japan. While this enhances Taiwan's national strength, it also brings forth the imminent problem of insufficient global management talent and capabilities.

Shih said that when Acer was promoting the internationalization of its operations, the company collaborated with Thunderbird through the Acer Foundation in the early 2000s to cultivate multinational management talent in Taiwan. Many senior executives from the Acer Group and other enterprises participated in the program, resulting in the development of numerous international management talents.

Thunderbird, which is ranked No. 1 in the world for international trade by QS International Trade Rankings 2023, will contribute by providing executive educational programs on global leadership and management topics, which are among its internationally recognized core strengths.

To promote this collaborative project, Khagram visited Taiwan with the intention of deepening the cooperation between Taiwanese enterprises and the academic community.

“With the launch of this initiative, we envision a transformative path forward for Taiwan's semiconductor and technology companies and Taiwan as a country," Khagram said. "This collaboration between the StanShih Foundation, Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU and Soochow University is more than just an initiative; it's a commitment to empowering Taiwanese leaders, managers and employees to thrive on the global stage.

“Our tailored executive education offerings will not only cultivate high-level international management talent but also bridge the cultural gap, facilitating foreign employees' seamless adaptation to the Taiwanese context.”

Previous Thunderbird executive education programming has provided organizations and individuals around the world with a wide range of custom learning experiences. These custom programs have helped sharpen performance and improve organizational capacity at global institutions that require executive programming tailored to their employees or constituent group.

Recently, the Financial Times Executive Education rankings for 2023 recognized Thunderbird for its exceptional delivery of custom programs, placing the school at No. 20 in the world

Thunderbird custom programs have been delivered to government officials in Oman, chemical companies in Saudi Arabia, global health care organizations in the United States and Germany, public and commercial entities in Indonesia, and now, most recently, in Taiwan’s semiconductor and technology industry.

During the signing event, Shih emphasized that Taiwan's domestic market is limited, and therefore, to increase the value it can create, Taiwan must internationalize to make greater contributions.

“The key to internationalization lies in talent, which is essential for effectively implementing Taiwan's values. However, the ability to internationalize requires long-term planning, and currently, Taiwan's talent pool is insufficient,” Shih said.

For this reason, Shih called for enterprises to deploy early and train more international management talent, especially for Taiwanese businesses expanding their manufacturing bases overseas or targeting foreign markets.

“(Companies) should adopt a mindset of cooperation and establish mechanisms for value creation and balanced interests with local partners," Shih said "Furthermore, they should fulfill the responsibility of being global citizens, believing that this approach will undoubtedly help Taiwanese enterprises become the best possible partners abroad."

Interested enterprises are encouraged to contact Helen Wu, senior director of global partnerships and operations at Thunderbird School of Global Management, at to learn more and get involved. For more information about Thunderbird’s executive education programs, visit

Dasi Styles

Senior Media Relations Officer, Thunderbird School of Global Management


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Study looks at sharing stigmatized identities in academic STEM settings

July 20, 2023

Female faculty more likely to share concealable identities even if they feel more stigma

When Sara Brownell meets her new students each semester, she explains the curriculum, office hours and her grading system. The Arizona State University professor may mention that she is a trained neuroscientist with a degree from Stanford University. Oh, and at some point in the conversation, Brownell will slip in the fact that she is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

"I don't do it for myself," said Brownell, who has a passion for making science classes more inclusive. "I do it for the students." 

The School of Life Sciences researcher concedes that by revealing her identity, she can serve as a role model and inspiration for students in the STEM field, an area that has traditionally kept personal information outside of the classroom.

The subject of faculty revealing concealable stigmatized identities in science and engineering classes led to Brownell having some questions. Why don't more instructors reveal their concealed identity to students? Are those that do then stigmatized? And how beneficial is this practice?

All of this and more is the subject of Brownell’s latest study on stigmatized concealable identities, which was published this month in PLOS ONE. Assistant Professor Katelyn Cooper and PhD student Carly Busch were also researchers on the study, which was funded by a National Science Foundation IUSE grant.

ASU News spoke with Brownell about her study and its implications in academic settings.

Question: Can you start by explaining the study?

Answer: Yes, essentially, we're really interested in identities that instructors have, that are not visible — that are potentially concealable. We're interested in who has these identities and whether they share them with students. 

Right now, students basically just get role models from instructors with visible identities. So, typically gender — such as men, women — and maybe race or ethnicity. 

But there are all kinds of other identities: LGBTQ+ status, whether they struggle with mental health, academics in college or as first-generation college students. Students wouldn't know these things unless teachers reveal it to them.

Q: How was the study conducted?

A: We did a national study where we found every single email (55,000) for science and engineering faculty at research institutions. We emailed everyone and asked if they were willing to do a survey to help improve STEM education. It was very vague. We didn't say anything about identities because we didn't want to sway them in any way. Then, we asked them questions about what demographic groups they identify with and whether they share that information with students.

We probed into the reasons why or why not they would share. We also tried to find out if they thought these identities are stigmatized. People are often scared of revealing these identities because they're worried about someone judging or thinking negatively about them. 

Q: What were the findings?

A: About 2,000 faculty responded, so we were able to say that a specific percentage of faculty identify as first-generation and this percentage of faculty identify as LGBTQ+.

This is a totally novel result. No one collects this data. But then specifically what this paper did was look at gender, men and women instructors, and whether gender accounted for differences in revealing these identities.

What we found, which was not surprising, was that women perceive greater stigma associated with a lot of these identities. What was surprising, was that despite the stigma, women were significantly more likely to reveal their identities to students — in small group settings, in office hours and right before or after class.

Q: How did you interpret that? 

A: It could be that women are just good at making relationships with students; and that aligns with what we know. There tends to be gendered patterns in terms of relationship-building and women.

Or women know what it's like to be marginalized in the context of science and engineering and they want to present themselves as role models.They want to normalize the sharing of identities in the context of being an instructor. 

Our pitch on this is that women are taking the burden of presenting themselves as role models to students and potentially getting some of the negative kickback on that.

Q: Do you think that sharing this kind of information in classroom settings can be considered inappropriate? 

A: I would say that historically, in most science and engineering classes, there is the assumption that you don't bring your identity in, right? The norm has been that it is implicitly inappropriate.

But what we're starting to see with some of the data is that students don't feel the same way. They think it is appropriate. It depends on how you do it, right? The way we're advocating doing it, is on the very first day of class. 

I like to talk about my academic background. I say, "I'm a neuroscientist and I like to hike. I also love small fluffy dogs and I'm a member of the LGBTQ+ community." And that's it; I don't mention it again. But because it's a concealable identity; unless you say it, students are not going to necessarily know. 

I think the large part of this work is to start to change that narrative in science and engineering classrooms. That's the goal of this study. 

Q: Why are your findings significant?

A: Basically, the only data that the National Science Foundation collects about identity in the context of science and engineering is gender, but that's typically binary, or race, ethnicity and disability status.

A lot of my work has been focused on other identities — LGBTQ+ identity, or people with depression or anxiety, for example. We often assume that these individuals are underrepresented in science and engineering, but we have no idea because no one's collected the data.

We have evidence that they're marginalized. We have evidence that they experience discrimination or challenges, but we've never been able to say that they're underrepresented. So this work is powerful and that’s why I wanted to do it. 

Now we're able to say this percentage of faculty have these identities and whether they reveal these identities or not. That's novel, interesting and exciting. We couldn’t do that before. 

Top photo: Sara Brownell interacts with students in her special topics class on research methodology. Photo by Deanna Dent/Arizona State University

Dolores Tropiano

Reporter , ASU News

ASU Indigenous TV affiliate broadcasts interview with Vice President Kamala Harris

July 11, 2023

ICT, the independent, Indigenous-serving news enterprise housed at Arizona State University, is serving up a history-making moment with another history maker — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

On July 7, Harris, the nation’s first female vice president, visited the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, marking the first visit from a sitting president or vice president for the Indigenous nation. And ICT News was there.   ICT Logo Download Full Image

In collaboration with Arizona PBS, ICT broadcasted its historic interview with the vice president on the “ICT Newscast with Aliyah Chavez” on July 10. The interview delves into various topics, including the Biden administration's commitment to Indian Country, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW) epidemic, and the significance of tribal sovereignty.

ICT's exclusive interview with Harris can be watched on ICT's website and social media channels. The episode is available for viewing here.

Formerly known as Indian Country Today, ICT is a daily digital news platform that covers news, entertainment and opinions relevant to Indigenous communities. ICT opened its newsroom at Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus in 2019 and maintains bureaus in Washington, D.C., and Alaska. As a non-profit, member-supported outlet, ICT has been instrumental in expanding coverage of Native American communities through public TV stations. It has provided weekday news through Arizona PBS since 2020.

ICT and Arizona PBS are both enterprise affiliates of ASU Media Enterprise, a collection of broadcast, digital, podcast and project formats that focus on science, technology, innovation, the arts and social change.

Suzanne Wilson

Sr. Media Relations Officer, ASU Media Enterprise