In 2014, 40.7 million people visited Arizona and spent $20.9 billion. That generated $2.8 billion in tax revenue. Arizona Tourism executive director Debbie Johnson will give us an update on the status of Arizona’s tourism sector.
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona sustainability looks at ASU's school of sustainability, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. We recently spoke with the dean of the school, Christopher Boone.
Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us on "Arizona Horizon." Good to have you here.
Christopher Boone: Happy to be here.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about the school of sustainability. How did it get started? What was the idea?
Christopher Boone: School of sustainability started 10 years ago this year so we're celebrating our 10th anniversary and it was really driven by a vision of trying to bring together all of the disciplines that are necessary to understand our relationship with the planet and Michael crow who came here as president in 2002 envisioned a university where sustainability would pervade all that we do, not just be linked with engineering or economics or policy but really something that would be infused throughout the entire institution.
Ted Simons: When we talk about sustainability, I always want to define terms here because everyone thinks they know what it is but it's very difficult to pin it down. What is sustainability?
Christopher Boone: Sustainability is improving human wellbeing for future and present generations, while safe guarding earth's life supporting ecosystems.
Ted Simons: That sounds pretty good. The original mission was to do what?
Christopher Boone: To create degree programs in sustainability and there are no other degree programs at that time. We had to invent it. It was all brand-new. But Michael crow, if you know him and I know you've interviewed him, no baby steps, we had to create these brand-new degrees, B.A. through Ph.D. from the beginning.
Ted Simons: And talk about the difficulty in trying to figure out how that works.
Christopher Boone: It was very difficult because we had to not only think about what would be new but drawing on existing forms of knowledge whether it was engineering or economics or the arts or humanities and integrate all of those ways of thinking so we could understand present day circumstances but how to build a better future because a big part of sustainability is thinking about how do we get to a better future?
Ted Simons: It's putting thought into action.
Christopher Boone: Indeed.
Ted Simons: Now, the original mission in general, has that changed over the 10 years?
Christopher Boone: It has changed, and it's changed largely in response to what we're hearing from outside stakeholders and constituencies. So, for instance, one of the things that we did was to create an executive master's of sustainability and leadership and this came in part from signals we were getting from the business community who people found themselves suddenly as the new chief sustainability officer and they weren't sure what sustainability meant so we created a degree program, mostly online but trains executives how to be sustainability officers. We also created another program, not a research oriented master's degree but an applied master's degree for people who wanted to get out there and get their hands dirty right away so we've responded to what the market has asked for.
Ted Simons: Interesting so we talked about the mission, original mission and maybe that changing over the years. I asked you for a definition of sustainability. Has that changed over the years?
Christopher Boone: The definitions have changed for some individuals, some people come at sustainability from an environmental perspective. Others come at it from a business perspective. Others come at it from a technology perspective. I think one of the things that we've seen as emerging of those ideas and ASU has been a big part in making sure that that integrated approach is the common definition.
Ted Simons: When I read about transdisciplinary approaches is that what you're talking about here?
Christopher Boone: That's exactly it. Not only bringing people together who might be able to understand each other's languages but really trying to think when we integrate these, where are the synergies? To create new ways of knowing that no one had even thought about before.
Ted Simons: And the new ways of knowing, we're talking again about solution-based knowledge. Talk to us how that differs from regular old-fashioned knowledge.
Christopher Boone: Sure. Universities play a really important role in generating knowledge, new knowledge and educating students and that's certainly part of our mission, as well. But we've always from the very beginning had a very strong commitment to the notion that we want this knowledge to be translated into immediate action so we want solutions to be part of the way that students learn so that changes everything from how we design our courses to the kind of internships we set up, the career opportunities that we work towards, everything that we're working towards in the class is driven by this notion that we need to make things better, we need to be thinking about solutions and not just problems.
Ted Simons: What are some of those career opportunities? That's out there for a graduate of sustainability?
Christopher Boone: One of the wonderful things we've seen is our students have been very entrepreneurial in where they take their sustainability skills. When we created the school, we expected the students would end up working for the utilities or energy companies, renewable energy, working in waste management and one of the areas that we didn't anticipate is the apparel industry. So a lot of our students have ended up working in the apparel industry so they've made the case to employers that a sustainability perspective is really important and adds value.
Ted Simons: What is the sustainability perspective in the apparel industry?
Christopher Boone: The apparel industry is an interesting industry because it takes not only materials that have ecological consequences, our choices, that we need to consider also some of the labor practices that are used in order to create clothes so people don't want to buy clothes that were made by children, children should have the opportunity to go to school and they also need to look at also the bottom line, the economics of the apparel. So integrating all of those perspectives at the same time can provide consumers as well as the supply chain better knowledge and better ideas about how to do things in a way that is more sustainable and looks after customers, livelihoods and also, the planet.
Ted Simons: That brings up an interesting point. Most people think of the greener side of things, nature, we want to preserve the planet, don't do this, don't do that and yet there are others who want to see a more business-centric model of sustainability. How do you get the twain to meet?
Christopher Boone: The two have to meet otherwise it's not sustainability. I have a good friend who's a geologist who tells me and reminds me that the planet will go on without us. So sustainability is really foremost looking after human wellbeing but doing so in such a way, making the business case, doing so in such a way that we're not depleting resources, we're not polluting our environment, to allow our children and grandchildren to enjoy the same kinds of benefits. You don't include all three of the economic, the environmental and the social together, and that's not sustainability, it's something else.
Ted Simons: Is it difficult getting those three together?
Christopher Boone: Of course, it is. It's a challenge but it's a challenge that we believe is necessary and urgent.
Ted Simons: Last question. Celebrating 10 years. In 10 years from now, what are you seeing?
Christopher Boone: I want to see three times the number of graduates that we have presently. I want to see us having a global impact. I want us to be known as the center for sustainability education and research across the planet. We're already nationally known and 10 years from now, I'm hoping that we have a global impact in terms of what our students do, the research that we conduct but also that we are globally known as the leader in sustainability.
Ted Simons: I would imagine online presence would be big there wouldn't it?
Christopher Boone: It already is.
Ted Simons: All right, good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Video: We want to hear from you. Submit your questions, comments and concerns via e-mail at [email protected]
Ted Simons: Friday on "Arizona Horizon," it's the Journalists' Roundtable. The latest on the budget and the final days of the legislative session.
Ted Simons: And a legal opinion says that a corporation commissioner can force APS to disclose its spending on political campaigns. That's the Journalists' Roundtable. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.
Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.
Video: The Julianne Wrigley global institute of sustainability is the heart of sustainability at ASU, advancing research, education and business practices for an urbanizing world. You can learn more at sustainability.ASU.edu/TV.
Debbie Johnson: Arizona Tourism Executive Director