By the time Jacqueline Smith approached the stage, the auditorium was almost full. She glances around the room, looking at the diverse individuals before her. A vibrant community gazes back, identified by their name tags. By 6:00 p.m. more than a hundred people had crowded into the lecture hall, and there were dozens more still streaming through the doors.
Surprisingly many audience members are strangers. Even though they may work in the same town or are involved with Arizona State University, circumstances often prevent them from encountering one another. The dialogue increased the chances that individuals could connect with a resource or program or find a potential partner. Around me community members exchange business cards and contact information as they discuss business, sports, and summer weather. It was as though the initial sparks of collaboration were visible.
Tonight was the culminating event in a series of Communities Connect Dialogues, designed to encourage collaboration in the community. “A gap exists between our good intentions and our actions,” Smith says. “The world is full of good ideas that don’t spread quickly enough.” Together with our local and global partners, ASU plans to develop answers to the great Challenges Before Us, producing knowledge and discovery that inspire meaningful change.”
Have you ever googled “ASU and the community” or merely contemplated the university’s economic and social impact on the surrounding community?
Maybe you wondered what community means or thought about what community you belong to.
Do you want to know that your university is positively affecting its students as well as the community in which it is based?
Perhaps you inquired how you could get involved and create change.
If you’re like me, you may think about these questions on a daily basis. I find that these moments usually occur after someone inspires me, and yes, generally someone inspires me each day. Something always seems impossible until it is done. No matter how enlightened we become, we still face the realities of life. Challenges will never disappear. Fortunately, inspiration is everywhere. It doesn’t really matter how you find inspiration –it only matters that you do.
Each dialogue showcased collaboration in the community. ASU saw a need and an opportunity for change. The purpose was to ignite passion and launch new ideas. Presenters volunteered to share their stories in a rapid five minute presentation. As you might expect, one of the features of these dialogues was bringing together people that normally wouldn’t connect. For ASU, this is part of redefining who our community is. Communities have specific knowledge and resources that drive innovation and solutions. Narratives allow noteworthy opportunities and experiences to surface. Everyone has a story and a life experience that they can share to help someone that is struggling. Each dialogue demonstrated that the university was one step closer to creating the community it wished to see. A highly successful university establishes new relationships and improves existing partnerships with every event.
A passion burned deep within the hearts of the presenters. The flames could be seen throughout the desert, igniting those close to it. Passion is not something we can obtain instantly. Instead it is developed by tribulations, observations, situations, and failures we experience in life. We don’t find passion, passion finds us.
“What I found were people, people like you and me, people that needed help”
-Tim Huffman (Guerrilla Marketing: Reaching Out to Homeless Youth)
“Engage the world.”
-Odesma Dalrymple (Engineering in a Societal Context)
“Design is what you do, not what you’ve done.”
-Mark Dudlik & Andrew Coppola (The Burgeoning Phoenix Design Scene and How You Can Be Involved)
“Our role is to serve as a catalyst. Our goal is to make sure all the cities cooperate together.”
-Norris Nordvold (FRIENDS of the West Valley Recreation Corridor)
“We are the bridge that takes students into the community”
-Deborah Ball (ASU Service Learning)
“Our goal is to bring together Arizona’s brightest and innovative thinkers.”
-Tomas Carillo (Tedx Phoenix)
These quotes were taken from all four dialogues. I chose them because they demonstrate the positive direction our community is headed. At ASU there is an opportunity to do something great at a local and global level. A university is measured not by who it excludes, but by who it includes. Let’s generate hope. Let’s communicate and collaborate. Let’s embrace challenges and catalyze change. ASU cannot do it alone, but we can do it together.
Edgar Cayce once said, “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.” In 1931 Cayce founded a non-profit organization to research and explore transpersonal subjects such as holistic health and personal spirituality. Created with the desire to help people transform their lives for the better, the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment became a global community with members in more than 70 countries. Although Cayce died more than 60 years ago his insight and advice continues to help individuals today.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. There is an old truism that is almost cliché in education: the best learning often doesn’t happen in the classroom. I would have to agree. Connections between the corporate, academic and non-profit worlds foster an environment for improvement and success. A full understanding of these relationships cannot be obtained without real world experience. Fortunately, at Arizona State University an innovation ecosystem is developing, built to support entrepreneurship at every level.
What keeps you awake at night? Is it the state of the economy, or human rights? Maybe it’s poverty around the world, or obesity in America. It could be natural disasters, seen on the news, or concern about fair trade. Today, personal innovation is more important than ever. Through my research and involvement in the community I have realized that the spark for social, political, and economical activism really begins within oneself. Once you have a goal, a passion, or an interest –you need to develop a plan. You base your research, courses, and focus on solutions that society needs now. You bring communities into universities and universities into communities.
The Innovation Challenge, offered to undergraduate and graduate students who are dedicated to making a difference in local and global communities, is one opportunity to showcase revolutionary ideas and talent. There are four prospects for students to engage in the ASU Innovation Challenge: students may participate in the Challenges Innovator, Edson Student Venture Creator, Community Changemaker, and/or Innovation Explorer competitions. Details are available at http://innovationchallenge.asu.edu/.
It will be inspiring to see what other students have chosen for their projects. Hopefully this challenge will improve local and regional links with social and community development groups that may have been absent or broken. I would like the community to see ASU students in a new light. Instead of engaging in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life, we explore the endless possibilities around us.
“The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colors and textures that come alive in others. –Albert Schweitzer
This semester is my final semester at Arizona State University. It is also, of course, the same semester I managed to discover my passion for creative writing and higher education. Never one to follow, I always seem to take the long way around, so it only makes sense that after four years I would decide what I want to do with my life. I guess sometimes all it takes is an inspiring English course and an internship with ASU’s Office of University Initiatives, to point a student in the right direction. Thus, as I finish the semester at ASU I would like to reflect on my experiences and share what I have learned through this blog, in the hopes that I can help other students find themselves and their place in a university.
When I was reading The State Press the other morning I came across a comic strip that probably reflects the way most students view a research university. In the comic, a student is expressing his frustration that tuition increases as a result of the salary of high profile research professors that have come to work for ASU. I would not blame anyone for thinking this because a couple of months ago the same thoughts went through my mind. Unfortunately, we are just not presented with enough information about what a New American University is and the reasons it benefits our lives. A disconnect exists between the information students receive about research universities and the way in which they interpret that information. As a result, we pass through our education without taking the time to learn how a university works.
Tuition increases, programs and services are cut, furloughs occur, and student debt rises. While it’s easy to blame President Crow and others for our financial woes, perhaps we would do better to persuade multiple stakeholders, including our state legislature, to solve a complex financial puzzle: balancing our budget while remaining committed to higher education. Arizona’s general fund allocation on a per student basis has declined 25 percent. In 2009, the state cut $191.5 million from higher education funding. If that wasn’t bad enough the 2010 proposed cut to all Arizona universities totals $141.5 million.
Last month Jonathon R. Cole, sociologist, writer, and former Columbia provost, visited ASU to discuss his new book The Great American University, in which he explains the enormous impact of research universities on society. If you did not get a chance to attend his presentation I would suggest viewing the webcast online or picking up a copy of his book. “The American research university is arguably the world’s most powerful engine of innovation and discovery. Yet it is widely misunderstood and in danger of losing its capacity to drive economic progress and improve our lives,” writes Cole. Did you know that an electric toothbrush, Gatorade, the ATM, and a cervical pap smear all emerged from discoveries made in university research departments? Are you aware that simply by graduating from a top institution the value of your degree increases? While there is simply not enough space to share everything I have learned, I can tell you that above all else a high-quality undergraduate education is essential for individual social mobility and the advancement of social and economic welfare. Although this seems easy enough to understand, our current misinterpretation of tuition increases demonstrates that we do not see ASU as a mechanism for improving society and ourselves.
I urge you to pay attention to the phenomenal change taking place beneath the original framework of brick and mortar and to become an advocate for higher education. Voice your opinion in the community. Arizona State University is a force that creates meaningful change.
ASU’s vision begins with the idea that every student has the capacity to succeed. Rather than embracing the world as it should be, or how it was, it should be embraced for how it is. Transforming education requires innovation and a willingness to take risks. A great university must provide opportunities and access to talented students who may not have the means to attend without aid. A great university must have excellence in teaching and excellence in research. A great university will impact the world. I want to be a part of this university, do you?
ASU’s partnership with Teach for America has been addressing some of the most pressing educational needs of our time and now, with a five-year $18.85 million investment from entrepreneur and philanthropist, T. Denny Sanford, ASU and Teach for America will be majoring changing the way ASU recruits, selects and prepares future K-12 teachers.
“We intend to use this generous investment to help reach Mr. Sanford’s goal of elevating teaching to its rightful place as a preeminent profession in our society,” says ASU president Michael Crow. “We will upgrade the professionalism of teacher preparation, integrate other colleges at the university into teacher education programs, and work to make the teaching profession more attractive to high-quality students from fields including science, math, engineering, English and history.”
Read more about what this means for ASU, our students and our communities here.
A.E. England Building at Civic Space Park, 424 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85004
On Thursday, December 3 President Obama hosted a summit about job creation. As part of President Obama’s commitment to grassroots organizing, the White House is encouraging community groups across the nation to host their own community forums to discuss job creation in a more local context. Community leaders can upload the results of these meetings through WhiteHouse.gov. The information will be compiled into a report and sent to the Oval Office for review. We invite you to make your contribution to the report by participating in a job forum.
On December 10, 5:00-6:30PM, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) is hosting an Arizona Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth at the Biodesign Institute at ASU. In addition to GPEC, participants include members of the AZ Technology Council, Science Foundation Arizona, labor leaders and non-profit leaders. The focus is to listen to these leaders about what they believe the White House and Congress should do to help create jobs and restart Arizona’s economy.
Given ASU’s role as a socially embedded institution, it is fitting that it serves as the convener of a community jobs forum that highlights how social networks and local community building can lead to job creation in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The forum on December 11 will begin with brief presentations about existing community building efforts in the service and design sectors and the relationship between entrepreneurship and job creation. (read more)
An Arizona State University program that has helped nearly 8,700 parents across the Valley improve the education of their struggling children earned one of the nation’s most prestigious community engagement awards.
The American Dream Academy received the 2009 C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award from A۰P۰L۰U, the oldest higher education association in America.
The American Dream Academy has had a profound impact on Phoenix’s K-12 educational community. Parents of struggling K-12 students enter the nine-week program to gain knowledge and skills necessary to improve the educational development of their children, including methods to improve parent/child relationships, reduce dropout rates and ensure high school graduation…(read more)
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the award of more than $108.8 million in Early Reading First grants to 28 local education agencies and other public or private organizations in 18 states and Washington, D.C., to improve the school readiness of young children, especially those from low-income families.
Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Executive Director of ASU Gammage and MLK Committee Chair invites you to nominate a candidate for the 2010 ASU MLK Student Servant-Leadership Award. This year’s theme is PICTURE YOUR POTENTIAL.
The ASU MLK Committee will be presenting a Servant-Leadership Award to an ASU student at the MLK Breakfast Celebration in January 2010.
Servant-leadership is a practical philosophy, which supports people who choose to serve first, and then lead as a way of expanding service to individuals and institutions. Servant leaders may or may not hold formal leadership positions. Servant-leadership encourages collaboration, trust, foresight, listening and the ethical use of power and empowerment.
We are requesting your help in identifying a student servant-leadership awardee. The student must be currently enrolled full-time, exemplify the ideals of servant-leadership and have a track record of commitment through volunteer service. Self-nominations are encouraged.
The nominator must contact one member of the MLK Committee prior to submitting their nomination so that the committee member can review the form, make sure it is completed and speak on behalf of their nomination. A resume of the candidate is also requested. Attached is a committee roster.
Please submit this recommendation by close of business on October 7, 2009 through campus mail to Michelle Johnson at MC 0205, fax 480/965-7663 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the past two years, Prosumer Mujeres, a research group in the Center for Healthy Outcomes in Aging, has worked with local Latina women from Mountain Park Health Center to discuss the benefits and barriers to physical activity, as well as possible intervention programs. Through ASU’s partnership with this exceptional group of women, Prosumer Mujeres has created many effective recruitment and retention strategies for physical fitness programs throughout the Valley.
Prosumer Mujeres has now expanded to include local and national community leaders with diverse professional backgrounds. These leaders raise the visibility of the board’s mission and goals in promoting Latina health. The first inaugural dinner, held April 29th, was an exciting introduction to the board’s efforts, its accomplishments and our commitment to Latina health. Also discussed were the four areas of the Advisory Board’s focus:
1) monitoring research relevance for Latinas
2) resource development for Latina health
3) community integration for research and service-learning opportunities
4) participatory roles in forming research directions for Latina health
Adriana Perez, fellow with ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation recently spoke about Prosumer Mujeres’s ongoing efforts to promote Latina health at the 2nd Annual Invitational Geriatric Conference and the result of the group’s work has been showcased on NBC Nightly News, the local Channel 8 Horizonte, and through Radio Campesina, serving Hispanic communities of Yuma, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; Bakersfield, CA; Salinas, CA; Visalia, CA; and Tri Cites, WA.
Prosumer Mujeres looks forward to continuing its partnership with ASU and the Center for Health Outcomes in Aging in the interest of promoting and advancing best practices in Latina health.
Over the past 2,000 years, organized learning has evolved. Today, however, there are social, economic and cultural needs not being met. American society has undergone massive shifts over the past 50 years but our universities have hardly changed at all. The very identity of the university is at stake. So, ASU is changing that identity. ASU is reinventing higher education in America. By breaking the mold, ASU has created a place where local solutions have global impact. Join us. And pursue the work you believe in.