November 23, 2004
A $15 million donation is enabling Arizona State University to launch the International Institute for Sustainability to help the world deal with its pressing environmental challenges.
The institute will aim to bring ASU to the forefront of research exploring ways to balance the interests of ecological health, economic growth and social equality, said James Buizer, who will oversee the effort initiated by ASU President Michael Crow.
The funding comes from Julie Ann Wrigley, a member of the ASU Foundation board of directors and head of a private philanthropic foundation that supports environmental, health care and education programs.
She also is on the board of Stanford University’s Center for Environmental Science and Policy. She and her husband, William Wrigley Jr., supported foundation of the University of Southern California/ Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies.
Buizer said ASU’s new institute will bring it into the ranks of Stanford, Harvard and Columbia universities as one of several institutions taking the lead in the emerging field of sustainability.
The field is striving to develop viable "environmental economics’’ as a framework for how cities, regions and countries can use the planet’s natural resources to improve their economies and still protect or improve their environments, Buizer said.
The new institute will incorporate several ongoing ASU programs, including the Center for Environmental Studies and the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Project, said Jonathan Fink, vice president of research and economic affairs.
It also will work in collaboration with two other ASU projects started within recent months: The Decision Center for a Desert City and the Decision Theater for a New Arizona. Wrigley describes the ASU concepts for sustainability studies as "cutting-edge," and said she expects the institute’s work to have a wide-ranging impact.
"It’s critical that we start finding solutions to our quality-of-life problems, and (the Valley) can be a great living laboratory for coming up with some of the answers," she said. "It can be a model to the world."