ASU is a force that creates meaningful change.
ASU has changed the objectives for the university as a whole and for individuals within the institution. ASU seeks to create meaningful change by producing knowledge that translates to action. On the individual level, that means listening to the needs that communities express and working together on solutions
ASU embraces complexity
It’s all about networks. As a big university, ASU can offer a network of approaches to a network of problems. ASU tackles large challenges with multiple, coordinated solutions.
ASU recognizes sustainability as one of the most important issues facing society today. In fact, sustainability involves a host of problems, solutions, stakeholders, values, policies, geographies and people. It’s an enormous topic.
And that’s our objective: deal with the difficult issue. Create multiple, differentiated solutions to a thorny, multifaceted problem.
ASU confronts sustainability questions through a global interdisciplinary institute, a school (the first school of sustainability in the United States) and a wide variety of initiatives undertaken by individuals across the university. Among these is an array of approaches to producing renewable energy sources.
One of ASU’s biofuel projects uses algae to produce kerosene-based jet fuel in collaboration with Boeing. Algal oil is surprisingly similar to vegetable oils, but algae produce a significantly higher oil yield, making the bacteria a perfect potential fuel source.
Creating jet fuel out of algae has major implications for human consumption of fossil fuels, but its potential won’t be fully realized without simultaneous social changes. So other teams of ASU researchers and entrepreneurs are figuring out how to address the policy, ethics and social intricacies that go along with this new technology. One group looks at how science and technology policy might be improved. Another team has started a nonprofit organization that advocates for biofuels in the region.
These new objectives help us help others
ASU not only deals with the difficult issues, it produces knowledge that leads to action. And to effect massive change, ASU finds ways to bring these solutions to as many people as possible.
Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. Therapy is almost always needed after a stroke, but, for many patients, traditional therapy methods are not effective enough.
ASU researchers are developing tools to better address stroke patients’ needs. One of these efforts brings together artists, bioengineers, musicians, psychologists, electrical engineers and computer scientists in the Arts, Media and Engineering program. Working collaboratively, these researchers have created Mixed Reality Rehabilitation, a new system of rehabilitation that allows patients to relearn movements.
Patients drive their own therapy, as opposed to traditional methods where a therapist facilitates each session. Using multimedia technology, patients become more engaged as they recreate pictures or songs based on movements.
A scaled-down version of the interactive lab will be implemented at the John J. Rhodes Rehabilitation Institute at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona. In 2008, a pilot system was used in some patients’ homes. It is expected to be widely available for home use and hospitals by 2012.
With a little creativity, ASU researchers have shifted their objectives, pursuing knowledge based on societal needs and immediately applying that research. The result is a new connectivity between society and knowledge, and an entirely new rehabilitation philosophy and practice that has the potential to impact the daily lives of millions of people.