Center for Environmental Science Applications (CESA)

Finding solutions to sustainability challenges by linking ideas, people and resources

The Center for Environmental Science Applications (CESA) promotes research that reconciles the needs of society and nature through projects involving urban systems, climate change, and sustainable technologies.

CESA leverages collaborations between faculty of Arizona State University and global partners. Our programs combine a systems approach with new technologies relevant to arid cities, such as solar power and water conservation. We aim to enhance conflict resolution, decision-making, scenario exploration, and stakeholder engagement. We are affiliated with ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) and School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning (SGSUP).

CESA helps attract resources from federal and international agencies, foundations, and companies. We organize workshops and host visits by leading sustainability practitioners and thinkers from diverse sectors. We link the parts of our portfolio to cultivate new, richer synergies.


Friday, November 26, 2010 - 09:38

 I first arrived in Phoenix in December 1979, driving a Toyota pickup down I-17 into a brown cloud of air pollution. I planned to work at Arizona State University for six months or less, until I could find a "real job". Three decades later, I had spent more than half my life in the geologic wonderland that's inspired some of the country's most innovative entrepreneurs and most peculiar politics. Despite growing up in the leafy suburbs of New York City, I soon felt claustrophobic if I couldn't see 50 miles cycling in to work.

My story could be multiplied millions of times throughout the Valley of the Sun. People came for economic opportunity, and stayed for lifestyle. Yet both are under threat. Phoenix is a canary in the global coal mine, an urbanization laboratory where new technologies to reduce the heat island effect and make algae-based jet fuel vie for attention with rising crime rates, traffic congestion, and shrinking water supplies, all driven by too many people chasing too few resources.

The Center for Environmental Science Applications aims to leverage ASU's faculty expertise to address some of society's most acute environmental challenges, both in Arizona and around the world. We help build novel partnerships with companies, governments, other universities and NGOs. We seek funding to support projects that cut across disciplines, rely on new technologies, take a systems perspective, and engage stakeholders. Please look through our website to see our portfolio, return often to gauge our progress, and send us your comments.

Jonathan Fink, Director (Link to Jonathan Fink's personal page and presentations)


Friday, November 26, 2010 - 09:00

Last August, the Center for Environmental Science Applications (CESA) relocated from Phoenix to Portland Oregon. This was less complicated than it sounds, as the Center is primarily me, with assorted collaborations and partners, most of which remain at Arizona State University. I took on the position of Vice President for Research and Strategic Partnerships at Portland State University (PSU), while still retaining an affiliation with ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration. This move was in many ways an outgrowth of projects started under the auspices of CESA, especially those dealing with cities.

While smaller than ASU, Portland State is a large, urban, public research university with nearly 30,000 students. PSU's research profile today is comparable to ASU's around 1997, which coincidentally was when I took on a similar position as ASU's Vice Provost for Research. Like ASU, PSU was for much of its life primarily a teachers' college, training mostly local students. PSU's motto is "Let Knowledge Serve the City," and the school has a strong emphasis on most things urban. Its campus blends imperceptibly into downtown Portland. The region's vaunted transportation network crisscrosses the campus, with the university's main plaza being diagonally bisected by streetcar tracks and framed on either side by north- and southbound light rail lines. PSU is also becoming a major player in the cultural life of the city. Its lectures, concerts, farmer's market and sports events are all well attended by the public.

Historically, the strongest...