Two hands hold a tiny globe of the Earth

ASU units celebrate our planet Earth

By

Marshall Terrill

Average annual greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history throughout 2010–19. Drastic action is needed, warned an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate report last week: Emissions reductions are needed in all sectors, and countries should seek to wean themselves off fossil fuels — including industry and transportation.

In the face of these recent challenges, Arizona State University prepares to showcase its efforts — and a new $192 million research building — during the upcoming Earth Week to celebrate what people can do to develop solutions and drive impactful change for a planet where all of its inhabitants may thrive.

There are two main conferences happening in concert: the Democracy and Climate Change Conference on April 19–20, hosted by The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and the full Earth Week schedule of events on April 18–23, organized by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and centered on the new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 7 on the Tempe campus.

Woman in white blazer and blue shirt

Miki Kittilson

“With Earth Week, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory has the opportunity to bring together students, faculty and staff in our new building — ASU’s newest and largest research and learning facility — which is the center for our engagement, collaboration and innovation,” said Miki KittilsonCollege of Global Futures associate dean and chair of the Global Futures Laboratory’s Earth Week planning committee.

“We are excited to present a week full of activities that are representative of what Global Futures has to offer, and we encourage the entire ASU community to participate.”

ISTB7 will host a dedication ceremony on Tuesday, April 19. Come this fall, the new facility will house more than 750 Global Futures scientists and scholars and 1,300 College of Global Futures students. It also features 70,000 square feet of lab space, classrooms and a 320-seat auditorium.

Earth Week events range from the future of our oceans, to Indigenous ways of knowing, to a sustainable retail and sports industry. Another highlight is a keynote address Tuesday night by former Vice President Al Gore, as part of the Democracy and Climate Change Conference.

There are also several showcases where ASU students will present their research and projects.

An interactive village in the atrium of ISTB7 will be a focal point Wednesday–Friday, where event goers can gather to celebrate Earth Week, learn more about Global Futures programs through interactive exhibits and enjoy food trucks providing local tastes. 

Earth Week event highlights

For more information and to see the full schedule of events, go to globalfutures.asu.edu/earthweek and thecollege.asu.edu/climate-conference.

Monday, April 18

9–10 a.m. — Earth Week Welcome by Peter Schlosser, and Firestarter Chat: Can we fix the future by fixing energy?
This discussion explores how we think about and approach energy in the context of building better futures at a global scale.

12:30–1:30 p.m. — Just and Resilient Global Futures: WE Empower UN SDG Challenge — Business for Profit and for Purpose
The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is a first-of-its-kind global competition for women entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This panel discussion on sustainable business practices features opening comments from WE Empower Co-chair, high-level judge and ASU Global Futures Laboratory founding benefactor Julie Ann Wrigley.

2:30–4:15 p.m. — Scaling Innovation: How the MechanicalTree exemplifies innovation at scale
Learn about the first ever MechanicalTree, produced in partnership with Carbon Collect and the ASU Center for Negative Carbon Emissions. A tour will immediately follow the talk inside the ISTB7 auditorium with a short walk to the testing pad.

4:30–6 p.m. — Arizona’s Energy Journey
A special panel examines what the recent Arizona legislative rule changes mean for our state’s energy future.

Tuesday, April 19

10:30–11:30 a.m. — ISTB7 Building Dedication Celebration
Join us in the center atrium for a special celebration of ASU’s newest flagship research and teaching facility. Tours of the building will follow.

10:45 a.m. — Constitutional and Practical Reforms to Enable Effective Responses to Climate Change
Expert panelists will discuss possible reforms to the constitutional system that can enable a better response to climate change. How can reforms accommodate stressors on democracy imposed by climate change? What can we learn from other democracies’ approaches to these issues? Part of the Democracy and Climate Change Conference; taking place on the Downtown Phoenix campus. 

2:30–4 p.m. — The Future of Conservation
This three-part session will begin with a keynote by Peter Seligmann, chairman of the board for Conservation International, followed by a photographic journey of global conservation “hot spots” guided by National Geographic photojournalist Keith Ladzinski. It will conclude with a panel, moderated by Susan Goldberg, with conservationist and author Enric Sala, ocean conservation expert Aulani Wilhelm and ASU professor Haunani Kane.

6 p.m. — Democracy and Climate Change Conference Keynote Address by Former Vice President Al Gore
As Democracy and Climate Change Conference keynote speaker, Gore will offer a live virtual address on how the threats to democracy impact climate activism and policy reform. 

Wednesday, April 20

8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. — 2022 Democracy and Climate Change Conference
This conference will discuss how to meet the challenges to democracy and climate stability and contribute to the transition to a post-fossil fuel world that is fair, democratic, resilient and durable. Sessions range from mobilizing for climate justice to why climate change isn't fake news. All sessions will be in the Pima Ballroom at the ASU Memorial Union.

10–11:30 a.m. — The Power of Global Partnerships and Youth Action
To date, only 53% of the world’s national education curricula make any reference to climate change. This panel focuses on empowering youth voices and climate experts on the global partnerships needed to avert the climate crisis.

4:30–5:30 p.m. — Cooking in Two Worlds
A food sovereignty journey with celebrated Diné chef Brian Yazzie.

Thursday, April 21

11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. — The Future of Our Oceans
This "State of Our Oceans" conversation led by Bill Curry, president and CEO of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, showcases the latest research and learning center to join the Global Futures Laboratory. In addition to Curry’s keynote, this session will include videos on current oceans research and a panel of experts discussing what are the opportunities and needs in ensuring the health of the planet’s oceans. 

1:30–4 p.m. — Indigenous Ways of Knowing Water, Land and Sky
For this in-depth presentation, three Indigenous female sustainability scientists explore the "Deep Blue" of oceans, waves and water; the "Deep Green" of plants, seeds and land; and the "Deep Space" of stars, galaxies and planets. From Indigenous languages, stories and practices to scientific instruments and data, these interconnected presentations will provide a coherent and comprehensive perspective of Indigenous sciences of water, land and sky. They will emphasize the importance of “two-eyed seeing” to weave together Indigenous and Western knowledge systems and understandings of the natural world to create greater resilience.

4:30–9 p.m. — College of Global Futures Student Showcase
Each semester, the College of Global Futures invites students to highlight their research, internships and projects at a celebratory Student Showcase. The showcase is open to undergraduate and graduate student work affiliated with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the School of Sustainability and the School of Complex Adaptive Systems.

6:30–7:30 p.m. — The Future in 2052: Teetering on the Edge of Tomorrow
A moderated panel discussion between future thinkers at ASU on the unique challenges and opportunities global society will face over the next few decades in the light of emerging technological and social trends, and how to successfully navigate them.

Friday, April 22 (Earth Day)

8:30–10:30 a.m. — Ecologies and Infrastructures Cultural Techniques of Environmental Management
The first symposium on ecologies and infrastructures between Kings College London and ASU, a comprehensive panel will explore questions like what future contributions can human, or even posthuman, sciences make to help drive sustainability.

10–11 a.m. — Welcome and Firestarter Chat: How Do We Foster Hope in a World That Sometimes Seems Hopeless?
An inspiring discussion around the importance of hope and how we find it through vision, aspirations, collaboration, discovery, our humanity, etc., and the roles of the Global Futures Laboratory and ISTB7 in fostering hope.

11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. — Hope, Alarm and Climate Change: The Climate Narratives Prize
Three nationally renowned writers will receive the inaugural Climate Narratives Prize, nominated by leaders in the field including Katherine Hayhoe, Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, Frank Sesno, Vann Newkirk and Lacy M. Johnson. The winners will be featured live and others will join virtually to discuss the work and the kinds of narratives that resonate with audiences and can drive change. This event will be moderated by Steven Beschloss and Sarah Viren and is the result of their graduate course, “Climate Narratives, Apocalypse, and Social Change.”

Saturday, April 23

8:30–10:30 a.m. — Earth Day Cleanup Event

Calling all environmental heroes … celebrate Earth Day with ASU, Rio Reimagined and a group of partners and help clean up the Salt River! Meet on the west side of 91st Avenue, 1 mile south of Broadway; more information on the volunteer sign-up form.

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU News