Responding to global challenges with research-based solutions

At Arizona State University, we continue to think of ways to transform the role that higher education plays on a local, regional, national and international level. What challenges can we identify and respond to around the world through effective and meaningful learning opportunities, discoveries and partnerships? ASU International Development seeks to draw upon ASU’s wealth of academic expertise to design and implement research-based solutions across the world, both as the primary implementer and partner for top international development implementers.

We recently hosted a Leadership Residency at our Tempe and Washington, D.C., campuses for the vice chancellors and distance learning directors of four universities from Malawi. Part of the Strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi (SHEAMA) activity that ASU is implementing for The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the residency enabled Malawian and ASU faculty to exchange ideas on how distance learning can open access to college for millions of youth in developing countries. The four-year project puts special emphasis on serving young Malawian women, students with disabilities and youth living in rural locations far from any physical college campus.

SHEAMA is the latest collaboration of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the ASU International Development team, which has supported ASU in securing funded projects in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South and Central America. A business development unit, ASU International Development leverages staff in Washington, D.C., and Tempe to connect funding opportunities in international aid with the substantial capabilities of the university’s interdisciplinary research and teaching faculty.

ASU International Development also engages our students in international development work through the Student Development Corps. Firms implementing projects for international aid donors can use the Corps to source teams of students in disciplines from engineering to anthropology to invent poverty-relieving technologies, mentor peers and conduct research. ASU’s team of students has developed a mobile education game, Shipshape, that teaches basic supply chain skills to health care workers managing medical supply inventories. The game was one of only two winners of the Grand Challenge competition sponsored by USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Other students have developed an end-to-end cloud database for healthcare supply chains being used in Africa; improved safety, sanitation and quality in a soybean factory in Myanmar; and reduced by half the manufacturing cost of a solar-powered digital library, invented by ASU engineering faculty, to provide learning solutions in low-resource settings.

Engaging in international development efforts is yet another way in which our New American University aligns with key goals of our charter — advancing research and knowledge of public value through global partnerships.

Dr. Sethuraman (Panch) Panchanathan

Written by

EVP, Knowledge Enterprise Development & Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Arizona State University. #FutureOfWork