ASU’s Origins Project to move under Interplanetary Initiative

The Origins Project will no longer exist as such following Krauss's removal

ASU announced Thursday that the Origins Project, formerly headed by Lawrence Krauss, will move underneath the University’s Interplanetary Initiative and lose its name. 

The Interplanetary Initiative is led by ASU President Michael Crow and Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of School of Earth Exploration. The initiative brings together faculty to work on the science, public policy, education and technology of humanity’s future in space. 

"This week, Arizona State University began the process of transitioning the Origins Project into the University’s Interplanetary Initiative, a transdisciplinary effort to improve society and humanity through exploration," according to a University spokesperson. 

Elkins-Tanton was thought to be Krauss's replacement as director of the Origins Project after the University concluded in July that he violated its sexual misconduct policy. Krauss himself announced via Twitter on Aug. 2 that Elkins-Tanton would be moving into his former role. 

Following the University's official announcement that the Origins Project would be moving under the Interplanetary Initiative, Krauss tweeted Friday, "The ASU Origins Project, created to help build a bolder and better society here on Earth, ended yesterday."

The University has not put out an official statement claiming the Origins Project has ended, but sources point to a very different future for the project. Talk of Elkins-Tanton leading the project led some to believe she would assume a director role not too different from the one Krauss held. 

During a meeting with The State Press on Sept. 19, Crow said that projects are sometimes distinctive to individual faculty members and sometimes not, adding that the Origins Project was Krauss's personal project.

"What we're hoping under Interplanetary (Initiative) is that the idea of Origins, the idea of interplanetary exploration, the idea of all kinds of things will still be a part of what Professor Elkins-Tanton advances as part of her idea," Crow said.

Currently, it remains unclear as to what the former Origins Project will be under the Interplanetary Initiative or if it will continue to host public forums like the "Dialogues" series, which became a prominent form of public outreach for ASU. 

The series brought celebrities and public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Johnny Depp to share a stage with Krauss, often at ASU Gammage. 

Elkins-Tanton said that moving the staff from the Origins Project under the Interplanetary Initiative will enable the latter to do more in the way of public outreach. 

"We did not really have the staff and the budget to do big events and now we'll be able to do that," Elkins-Tanton said. "We've got the fantastic people who worked at Origins who know how to do these things. There's a draw to marquee names, but I don't know if we'll really be recreating that aspect of it."

Shortly after the announcement, the ASU Origins Project official Twitter page was taken down


Reach the reporter at parker.shea@asu.edu or follow @laconicshamanic on Twitter.

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