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Last month, I sent the Arizona State University community a message outlining our COVID-19 strategy framework for the return to campus. Drawing directly from our university charter, the framework represents months of intensive assessment, planning and implementation by teams across the institution to provide ASU students and employees the information, tools and resources needed to make choices that support their academic success and personal health. In order to support virus management efforts at the state, local and university level, we also initiated twice weekly updates that offer a situational update of COVID-19 at ASU (including testing data and adjustments to learning and housing modalities), monitoring of statewide and neighborhood trends, and statistics about out ASU health check app.
We are also publishing timely, bi-monthly snapshots of the key ways we are working to provide seamless support on our Sun Devils and beyond. Below are just a few highlights
We are sharing these updates because it is our informed assumption that the virus will not be fully “under control” for the foreseeable future and we recognize the importance of keeping our university community aware of where we are and where we are headed.
I invite you to visit the site below regularly for timely details about COVID-19 at ASU and to follow me social media for bi-monthly “facts and figures” summaries, like the one below, of key ways that ASU is working to support the students, employees and communities we serve.
As we watch the impact of complex global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and this summer’s massive wildfires and hurricanes, it becomes apparent we need a new system for developing innovative and effective solutions to our
planetary crises. To help meet these needs, ASU has launched the Julie A. Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, a unique entity dedicated to protecting the future habitability of our planet and to expanding options for success for future generations. Designed on the scale of a national laboratory and led by world-renowned Earth scientist, Dr. Peter Schlosser, GFL comprises the new College of Global Futures. In addition to a major research institute, and a practice arm focused on developing solutions, all of which will advance their work through significant global engagement.
GFL is the outcome of a 16-year effort to establish schools (Sustainability, Future of Innovation in Society, Complex Adaptive Systems) that are capable of anchoring a multidisciplinary system that simultaneously supports ASU’s learning, discovery, and engagement priorities. The laboratory will be headquartered in the ISTB 7 building slated to open in December 2021 on the ASU Tempe campus, which will serve as the nucleus for more than 500 faculty members and more than 1,300 students within the College of Global Futures.
It’s important to note that this proactive endeavor to build a better future is advancing at a scale unparalleled by any other university or research entity. As we continue to move this groundbreaking ahead, I look forward sharing more of its work and the opportunities for interaction on all levels.
In a year that has required ASU to draw on every strength it has, it was great to hear that ASU had earned U.S. News & World Report’s designation as “#1 in innovation” in the United States for the sixth straight year. The top ranking was again based on the university’s culture of discovery. We also received recognition as one of the top 50 public schools in the nation, as well as for our first-year experience, undergraduate teaching, senior capstone projects, and undergraduate business program.
All of these accolades are points of pride for ASU and I am grateful to our ASU community, donors, partners and supporters who have made it possible for us to achieve them. At the same time, this news provides an important opportunity to remember that innovation is not just what we do at ASU, it is who we are. Our university is designed to inspire, foster and realize new ideas, new solutions and new kinds of thinkers. Innovation isn’t reserved to a laboratory. It exists in every action we take, every interaction, every resource and every plan we make.
Everything we do is developed in support of the success of our students and the communities we serve, and it would not be possible without our collective effort and focus on producing the best outcomes. As you will see in the next story, we have no plans to slow down.
In our latest announcement, I am very excited to share that ASU has partnered with Dreamscape Immersive, the world’s leading virtual reality company as conceptualized and developed by Walter Parkes and Steven Spielberg, to form Dreamscape Learn. This groundbreaking new alliance will pair the highest level of Hollywood-level storytelling with ASU’s expertise in online and digital learning to give learners the chance to experience an unparalleled VR educational experience. Through Dreamscape Learn, we will augment both on-campus and online courses with state-of-the art, avatar-driven VR technology to provide uniquely immersive and experiential learning opportunities.
These offerings will begin with introductory biology and expand to other subjects in the sciences and other subjects. We will also establish Dreamscape Learn Labs, where students will be able to work shoulder-to-shoulder with top faculty in diverse fields to explore new landscapes and solve complex problems. The image above is the “Alien Zoo,” a revolutionary lab that will allow learners to observe and collect specimens and solve challenges based on the core lessons taught in introductory biology.
This partnership is significant as a demonstration of ASU’s commitment to its Teaching and Learning Realms and specifically, our efforts related to education through exploration. As a technology-enabled university, the thoughtful integration of sophisticated VR as part of our learning tools will provide our students with experiences they can’t get anywhere else and enable ASU to meaningfully lead in the development of new learning platforms for Arizona and beyond.