The ASU Global Institute of Sustainability announced a $27.5 million investment Thursday from the Walton Family Foundation.
The investment is a five-year initiative expected to help the Institute of Sustainability market and grow into a globally known entity.
Global Institute of Sustainability Executive Dean Rob Melnick said the donation would be used to establish a global network of educators.
“This gives students in sustainability the opportunity to be exposed to the best and brightest in the field,” Melnick said.
Benefactors S. Robson and Melani Walton of the Walton Family Foundation wanted to raise revenue to help fund sustainability efforts, he said.
Melnick said the investment gives the Institute the freedom to decide how the initiative is allocated, but he anticipates the investment will fund programs to educate students on ways to help developing countries in Asia and Central America with sustainability problems.
“The money from the Walton (Foundation) will enable us to set up shop on these different continents and be good partners with the people there,” Melnick said.
He said the investment would not provide funds for solar panel or wind power programs at the University, but create new programs for students to learn from educators worldwide.
“It will help bring world leading scholars to teach students,” Melnick said.
Sustainability doctoral student Michael Bernstein said he came to ASU because of its institute.
“I think it’s always important to have the diversity the school of sustainability draws from,” he said.
Bernstein said he hopes the investment will build an international network to help students be marketable to potential employers.
Susan Spierre, a sustainability graduate student, said she wants the investment to inspire students to find worldwide sustainable solutions.
“I don’t care about the marketing, but I care about the impact,” Spierre said.
Spierre said she hopes the investment will allow students to study abroad to learn about sustainable problems.
“If the marketing aspect of the grant is to increase a broader community then it’s really a positive thing,” she said.
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