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12 for ’23: A Dozen Things to Look Forward to This Year at AU

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The new year brings with it special events, notable anniversaries, and opportunities to build community, share knowledge, and relish the AU experience. Mark your calendar for 12 things we’re looking forward to at AU and keep an eye out for more throughout the year in This Week at AU, on social media, and elsewhere.

Spring 2023 

Gamechangers in Sustainability Launches

In February the Kogod School of Business, in partnership with AU’s Sine Institute of Policy and Politics, will kick off its yearlong speaker series exploring how the most innovative leaders work to create a more sustainable world. Seth Goldman, cofounder and chief change agent of Eat the Change, a planet-friendly snack brand, will join Dean David Marchick for the inaugural event at 2:30 p.m. on February 22 at the Don Myers Technology and Innovation Building. The next event on March 3 features Anthony Capuano, CEO of Marriott International.

Sine fellows

Sine Institute for Policy and Politics Celebrates Five Years

The institute—among the leading nonpartisan centers for policy innovation and collaborative problem-solving—will kick off its fifth year by convening the 2023 fellows at 1 p.m. on February 1 in Constitution Hall. “This year’s fun and engaging events will showcase AU and the Sine Institute’s commitment to bringing diverse perspectives together in pursuit of solutions to the nation’s most pressing challenges,” says executive director Amy Dacey, SPA/MA ’95. The institute was established with a $10 million gift to the Change Can’t Wait campaign from trustee Jeff Sine, SIS/BA ’76, and his wife, Samira.


AU Arboretum Marks 20th Anniversary

Featuring more than 4,000 trees and 385 different species and varieties of woody plants, the arboretum, enjoyed by the AU community and neighbors alike, underscores AU’s commitment to sustainability. It “attracts and supports students, expands AU’s educational offerings, and [serves as] a resource for our surrounding community,” arboretum manager Mike Mastrota says. Stay tuned for more information on Campus Beautification Day, April 11–12.


Anacostia Youth Film and Media Festival Debuts 

The School of Communication’s Community Voice Lab, the Humanities Council of DC, and the Go-Go Museum are collaborating on the inaugural Anacostia Youth Film and Media Festival, May 19–20 in the Anacostia neighborhood. The festival will feature films and media by DC youth ages 12–18 from Wards 7 and 8, as well as workshops and other events. Festival planning is being led by SOC professor Brigid Maher and AU film and communication graduate students.

Madison logo

The Madison Prize for Constitutional Excellence Spotlights Congressional Cooperation

Recipients of the Madison Prize—awarded after each two-year congressional session to one member from each major political party who has demonstrated a willingness to dialogue and compromise and respect for the institutional values of Congress—will be announced in February. “A lot of attention goes to the grandstanders and the partisan bombthrowers on Capitol Hill,” says David Barker, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. “This prize celebrates the others—the devoted public servants who cross the aisle instead of crossing their arms, and who pursue the common good instead of cable news attention.” 

Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge Comes to AU

Fifty teams of students from across the US and around the globe will gather on campus in April for this annual competition, which presents contestants with a realistic, evolving scenario of an international cyber crisis. “AU was an early participant and supporter of the Cyber 9/12 competition—and last year, we won it,” SIS dean Shannon Hader says. “Partnering with the Atlantic Council and serving as a cohost [with AU’s Washington College of Law] of this prestigious event is an exciting next step of a multiyear commitment to make SIS the place to train for a career in cyber policy and security.”

Sudama Unveiling

After a flurry of construction, the AU community will soon enjoy the rock-and-water sculptural art installation Sudama. Previously known as Marabar, the sculpture was gifted to the university by the National Geographic Society as part of the Change Can’t Wait campaign, and was moved from the organization’s downtown headquarters to the grassy ellipse behind the Kay Spiritual Life Center last fall. Elyn Zimmerman reimagined her work—which consists of 12 boulders, each weighing 125 tons—for “a setting selected by the artist for quiet contemplation,” says AU Museum director and curator Jack Rasmussen, a triple Eagle.

Credit:Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Summer 2023

AU Marks 60th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s “A Strategy of Peace” Speech 

Kennedy’s speech—delivered at AU’s 49th commencement on June 10, 1963, just eight months after the world narrowly escaped nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis—laid out his bold plan for a nuclear test ban treaty and, he hoped, the end of the Cold War. “The speech’s soaring vision of a peaceful and prosperous world . . . made it the most remarkable presidential speech of the twentieth century,” says AU history professor Peter Kuznick. AU Library’s Archives and Special Collections has photographs from the historic day, along with memorabilia such as commemorative programs and invitations. A plaque commemorating the speech is located on the athletic field where Kennedy addressed graduating Eagles.

SOE Hosts Conference on Equity and Inclusion in Education 

While the mental health of America’s schoolchildren was concerning before the pandemic, it is now a crisis, according to many health providers and educators. In 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10–14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why this year’s Summer Institute on Education, Equity and Justice, hosted by the School of Education, will focus on helping educators and students of education address youth mental health through the essential lens of equity and inclusion. Get a sneak peak of this year’s sessions on mental health as the SOE team builds out the program.   

Members of ITP

Fall 2023 and Ongoing

AU’s Inclusive Tech Policy (ITP) Promotes Diversity, Representation

Each year the ITP initiative presents its Inclusive Technology Policy Changemaker Award to a leader who has demonstrated throughout their career a commitment to advancing inclusivity. Last year, AU honored Pamela Wright, the National Archives and Records Administration’s chief innovation officer, and nominations for the 2023 prize open in April. “ITP is excited to [build on] the tremendous momentum [we’ve] achieved, and we look forward to great research, programming, and even more community building opportunities [for students] in early 2023,” says Fiona Alexander, distinguished policy strategist in the School of International Service.

Addressing Health Disparities in DC

Health happens where people work, live, play—and worship, says Profesor Stacey Snelling, chair of the health studies department in the College of Arts and Sciences. Since 2018, Snelling has partnered with churches and ministries in DC’s underserved Wards 7 and 8 to help them develop obesity prevention programs focused on healthy eating and fitness, among other strategies. These wards experience the highest health disparities in the District, with 72 percent of residents considered obese. Across AU, programs like Snelling’s, which exemplify our community’s commitment to addressing health inequities, are poised to make a difference in 2023.  

AU Compass Launches

A living-learning community for sophomores that launches in fall 2023, AU Compass helps students engage, explore, and embark on their academic pathway. Students will participate in guest lectures, off-campus trips, self-inventories, and more to helping guide their journey as Eagles and beyond. “AU Compass provides sophomore students a space so they know it is okay to not know and that they can take more time nailing down their academic interests,” says Kyle Johnson, assistant director of University College and sophomore living-learning communities. “You do not need to have everything figured out by the end of your first year of college.” Follow the program on Instagram (@aucompass) for all the latest news.