Sustainability (and such)

Big News for Student Research!

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on November 24, 2013

Students in the Fall AIS 230A course at the University of Washington are studying American Indian tribes and casinos, relying on a research framework from the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming at San Diego State University.  Including ideas from cultural theorists such as American Indian author/activist Vine Deloria, Jr., each student researched one unique tribe and also created team projects about casino-related economic development, culture, and politics.  (Individual papers will be posted here after the quarter ends.)

BIG NEWS!  This research will be part of larger presentations at the American Indian Workshop at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands from May 21-25, 2014.  Here are the shortened descriptions.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Big News for Student Research!

Infographics! Let’s Do This!

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on October 29, 2013

Amidst the round of student questions coming mid-quarter/semester, this one’s especially forceful:  How do we bring strong visual content into our presentations?  While I’ll cover this in class over the next few weeks, I really want to pass along this great resource:  HubSpot’s “5 Infographics to Teach You How To Easily Create Infographics in PowerPoint.”  AWESOME — how long has it been since you’ve thought of Power Point as your BFF? Here are five infographic templates you can download to dazzle folks right now!

(Thanks, Frank Walton, for the continuing stream of great info!)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Infographics! Let’s Do This!

Seattle Asian American Film Festival CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on September 4, 2013

Less than a month left to enter your film for consideration for the 2014 Seattle Asian American Film Festival!

Deadline is 9/15. Get that submission in soon! Seattle Asian American Film Festival CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Seattle Asian American Film Festival CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

Follow-Up: Food Sovereignty Summit

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on May 1, 2013

This was a conference about how dialogues and communities are creating tribal food sovereignty.  We found new ways to work together:  Check out the debuts of (a new online resource) and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (an organized food movement).  And we told stories, most of which left us shaking our heads with the undeniable proof of devastating CLIMATE CHANGE.

On one hand, tribes are adapting.   Traditional rice farmers harvesting only 30% of usual yields are returning to old, less-invasive ways of canoes, sticks, and weeding out water lilies and other pervasive early adapters.  When tons of chum didn’t show up for Washington’s Nisqually tribe– who have restored their river from its mouth to Mount Rainier – they called the neighboring Muckleshoots and discovered they had an overload of other fish that needed processing.  And several groups noted that Mother Earth is adapting traditional foods, such as corn that is growing on much shorter stalks to survive new, harsh winds.

But on the other, some are facing extreme threats.  The Grand Bayou Tribes of the Louisiana Coast have been hit by hurricane and the BP oil spill, not only ripping apart their homes from wind and erosion but also bringing salt water into their freshwater marshes.  And they can’t receive government funding because “they don’t believe there are enough of us to warrant resources.”  Traditional plants are dying and they worry about how the oil spill is affecting their livelihoods and food supplies of oysters, shrimp, and other sea food.  And a Midwestern tribe notes that moon cycles are shifting, seeing an inversion of strawberry and blueberry moons that used to signal planting cycles.

Many say it’s time people stop relying on forms of colonialism, such as public band-aids, to help us navigate our desperate need for food sovereignty amidst wild, game-changing climate shifts.  (“We must return to a calendar based on food; after all, no native moons are named after Roman emperors,” says Winona LaDuke.)

Food sovereignty is, of course, much more than a health and culture boost.  Tribal economists are finding that budgets are “hemorrhaging” up to half of revenues into two categories:  Energy and food.  And only a tiny sliver of that food money stays on the reservation.

So, seed banks are sprouting up as archaeological digs are unearthing 800-year old hard-shelled squashes with fertile seeds.  The Pueblo of Nambe is reclaiming idle land for community gardens, the Taos Food Center is open 24/7 with equipment for people wanting to start a new food business, and the Ute Mountain enterprises are sending sunflower seeds to the Ukraine.

And they’re sharing.  And this is a trending topic; for instance, Dr. Charlotte Cote and others in the American Indian Studies department at the University of Washington are currently sponsoring a “The Living Breath of Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ”, a symposium about indigenous ways of knowing cultural food practices and ecological knowledge.

Come join us!



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Follow-Up: Food Sovereignty Summit

Food Sovereignty: Talking About Health and Hope

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on April 11, 2013

Food.  Tradition.  Culture.  Health.  For American Indians, traditional diets of “First Foods” are being restored through food sovereignty programs.  Simply, when people take control of their own food supplies, they gain better nutrition and food security.  In the case of indigenous populations, they’re also reclaiming cultural practices that were disrupted by colonial interventions such as boarding schools and relocations.

The Food Sovereignty Summit's logo = Three Sisters philosophy.

The Food Sovereignty Summit’s logo = Three Sisters philosophy.

As always, one key to success is COMMUNICATION. 

So here’s my hope:  If you, or somebody you know, have any words of wisdom about community outreach and food security, please email:  I’m part of next week’s  Food Sovereignty Summit , a sustainability collaboration headed by the Oneida Nation.

My goal:  To create a toolbox of communication materials for any grassroots food group redefining their own local food systems. How can we better work together for access to fresh and healthy foods, branding and marketing local products, and collaborating to buy Indian/”stuff from HERE”. Have any suggestions?  Want to partner?

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Food Sovereignty: Talking About Health and Hope

For my students: Stand out in the job market!

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on March 5, 2013

As we move toward your graduation, I hear that you’re excited yet also a bit nervous about facing an increasingly competitive job market. Job application materials are our first business cards, and a student must be able to express his or her skills  to a potential employer in an articulate, professional manner from the first cover letter through the final interview. As an example, this post outlines the ways in which I communicate my professional and teaching life with blurbs pulled from my resume.
FORMATTING:  First, although Google is still your business card –which is why you should check your name often– your resume/CV must be attractive as both a hard copy and virtual document.
Here’s a copy of my Traditional CV.
And now for some tips about different sections of your resume.
EDUCATION:  Most recent/highest degree first.  If you are just finishing your Bachelor’s, think about including some courses that align with the job specifications.  For instance, I have:
2007 – Ph.D. in Communication, University of Washington.  Dissertation:  “Hard News, Soft News, and Tough Issues:  The Symbiotic Relationships between NGOs, News Agencies, and International Development.  Additional certificates:  Women’s Studies and International Management and Development.
WEB PRESENCE:  Example:  My website is  Write your Twitter ID as @NancyVanLeuven.  Include your Gmail address (it’s more professional than your college student address) e.g.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES:  Omit this outdated line because it’s obvious you’re applying for a specific job with a purpose; instead, you can add a section about skills if relevant. Most employers will want to know about your hard and soft skills to make sure you have the practical experience plus social abilities to work well with others.  Use active words/voice as opposed to passive!  For example of hard skills:
Skills:  Marketing and branding, social media, technology, organizational management, groupware, etc.
TEACHING PHILOSOPHY:  If you’re applying for teaching jobs, you’re often asked to submit thoughts about how you approach teaching and learning, as well as how you anticipate meeting the needs of your department and/or school.  Here’s an example.
TEACHING EXPERIENCE:  Again, if you’re applying for a job in education, you’ll want to briefly describe the courses you’ve taught.  Maybe you were the primary instructor, or teaching assistant — specify your role and also details that illustrate your skills.  For instance:
2009-2012:  Core Faculty, Presidio Graduate School, San Francisco, CA.  Courses: Managerial Marketing (MBA in Sustainable Development) and Sustainable Development:  Local and Global Institutions and Information Management, Technology, and Policy (MPA in Sustainable Development.
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:  Remember that your resume is a marketing/branding tool!  Don’t include every single job back to babysitting; instead, focus on the most relevant skill builders and label volunteer positions that also give you credibility.
PUBLICATIONS:  Since you’re coming from a Communication background, use APA style.  For instance:

2012 – Book chapter in Citizen 2.0:  Public and Governmental Interaction through Web 2.0 Technologies.  “Citizen 2.0: How Government Uses Social Media to Reframe Public Messages.”  IGI Global.

AWARDS:  Keep these short and sweet, but make sure your audience knows you’ve been recognized.  My example:  2011-now – One of the “Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter”


REFERENCES:  “References available upon request” used to be a standard line at the bottom of each resume; now, everybody knows you’ll give them upon advancing, so leave this off.
FINALLY,  if you’ve applied to the right job and emphasize the requested skills, you’ll be called for an interview.  Here are tips about the most common interview questions and ways to think about replying.  And don’t forget to send a professional thank-you note about the experience!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

CALL FOR CHAPTERS: Global Spark’s First Edited Volume!

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on December 12, 2012

Exciting, really, that we have a contract with a leading university press about something so close to the Global Spark mission. Please pass along to any colleagues and others who might contribute!

CALL FOR BOOK CHAPTER PROPOSALS:  Short abstracts due March 1, 2013

Working Title — Screams from the Battered Frontier: Violence and the 21st Century American Indian Woman

Contributors/Editors: Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D., Danielle Newton, M.F.A.,  Deniz Zeynep Leuenberger, Ph.D

An interdisciplinary, edited anthology that examines the cultural, religious, economic, and legal aspects and ramifications of violence against American Indian women.


American Indian women face the highest rate of violence (sexual and domestic abuse) of any group in America, three and a half times greater than the national average.  In addition, women in a reservation community face institutionalized sexism and discrimination, including from Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officials on reservations. While traditional studies link violence against American Indian women to drug and alcohol abuse among American Indian men and women, researchers increasingly point to deeper issues of identity and forced assimilation, lack of formal education, limited access to resources, both financial and legal, and scant protection under the Violence Against Women Act (2012), which acknowledges domestic and sexual violence against women as a public health issue and a human rights issue.

Key Words: Regardless of the topic or disciplinary approach, special emphasis should be placed on topics of culture, economics, law enforcement, the legal system, social services, social justice, and religion within American Indian lives. Proposal may take a variety of empirical or theoretical perspectives.

Submissions: Proposals should be between 300-500 words and the deadline for abstract submissions with a timely CV is March 1, 2012. Please submit all submissions and queries to This will be a competitive selection process. After selection of proposals, full chapters (each approximately 20-25 pages in length) will be due by July 1, 2013. Authors who would like to discuss chapter ideas are encouraged to contact the editor. The estimated publication date of the volume is Spring 2014.

Here are three sample abstracts to guide your submissions:


This chapter examines the death of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, and the timeline of events from 1973 to 1975 that led to Aquash’s murder. Connecting to research on violence against women that suggests women are most often physically abused and murdered by those closest to them, this chapter hypothesizes that the ‘hit’ put on Aquash by AIM leadership was the final act in many that terrorized and brutalized Anna Mae Aquash from 1973 to her death in 1975.

BAD BLOOD or REAL? Claiming “Indian-ness” As Legal Identity

This chapter explores today’s stories, such as matriarchy and the Massachusetts “blood feud” about who can operate a tribal casino, as well as the BEAR (Blackfeet Enrollment Amendment Reform) women who seek to eliminate the tribe’s blood quantum requirements.  The same laws that once devalued indigenous heritage now dilute the status of women who have already been conquered, assimilated, and are now warring amongst themselves in order to conform to colonial mandates for family security


The purpose of this paper is to recognize the need for support for female governance in tribal colleges, the necessity for creating safe spaces for females in tribal college leadership, the recognition that violence and bullying come in many forms even at the highest level in academia, and the eroding function of decision-making that takes into account the values intrinsic to Native cultures, and thus, to tribal colleges.

Posted in American Indian issues, Women's issues | Leave a Comment »

CSR is dead.

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on December 6, 2012

Admit it:  We’ve been hearing the “CSR” death knoll for awhile now, that bleak march of an outdated effort.  And, according to a bevy of global experts at today’s Global Washington conference, it’s being replaced by PERSONAL Social Responsibility to better recognize our individual and collective interest in human rights and values.

I love this rebranding. (After all, corporations aren’t people, yeah?) We should be thinking of the actual faces attached to supply chains and such. Plus, increased corporate transparency is extinguishing smarmy greenwashing and other token efforts. Simply, the movement has expanded beyond slick reports to actual narratives, ranging from Northern consumers to the poorest of the poor who must survive beyond foreign aid.

Free of the corporate framing, we can more easily get to the nitty-gritty discussions of socially-oriented cultural, social and environmental business impacts.  Today, some of the best CSR insights came from a panel featuring Amir Dossal (Founder and Chairman of the Global Partnerships Forum), Raymond Offenheiser (President of Oxfam America), and my newest hero, Joe Whinney (Founder and CEO, Theo Chocolate).

“Companies aren’t just asking ‘How can we make profits?’,” says Dossal, but also, “How can we do good at the same time?” For Oxfam, it means a philosophical shift to trade show discussions and “quiet dialogues” with companies eager to move forward but not ready to go public with new social practices in “Globalization 2.0.”

Educate your consumers, argues Whinney, and they’ll pay higher prices for higher quality.  (In fact, he goes so far as to suggest USAID budget should be partially used to educate the global north in terms of responsible consumerism to pull future investment.)

For a great example of the new corporate leadership in terms of individual social responsibility, check out Theo’s Eastern Congo Initiative for organic and fair trade chocolate and vanilla.   It’s a daring business model for the private sector; that is, transparency and consumer engagement reigns supreme. And next time you hear about the latest CSR campaigns, smile just a little bit, because you’re already part of the cultural shift toward real change.

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, Development, Public Relations, Sustainability | Leave a Comment »

Conferences, meh.

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on October 1, 2012

Today I’m polishing a presentation for the upcoming AASHE conference and I’m wondering why, this time, I’m dreading it.  Do I fervently believe in the mission of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education?  Yes.  Have I benefited from previous AASHE conferences?  Yes, again.  Don’t I want to share my research, which is about food sovereignty and sustainability in American Indian tribes?  Oh, yes.  So why aren’t I looking forward to the upcoming get-together in Los Angeles, exactly?

I’m conferenced-out, especially with national/global meetings, especially about sustainability.  In this era of Google circles and hang-outs, plus the question about whether big conferences are becoming obsolete, why are so many of us still spending thousands of dollars and tromping with huge carbon footprints into far-flung cities like Godzilla tourists, albeit well-meaning?  (Plus, a POSTER SESSION?  Seriously, hundreds of paper posters, at a sustainability conference? Really?)

A few years back I studied how the World Social Forum was creating smaller, regional events so that more people could afford to network and make incremental progress about common issues.  While the Seattle version fell flat and is an excellent case study in organizational communication, the idea still burns bright:  Short of the comfort of face-to-face interactions and the excitement of new venues and reunions, why aren’t we relying more on virtual sharing rather than continuing this practice of photo ops and per diem elitism?

If I’m gonna stick with AASHE, I’ll need something different next time. What if some of our $200-$600 registration fees went toward actual college projects rather than vendor booths with swag?  How about holding several smaller meetings on college campuses rather than “North America’s largest campus sustainability conference” at the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center?  And maybe we academics could suck it up and stay in college dorms off-season rather than at the gorgeous Westin Bonaventure?

Yes, I’m dragging my feet because it seems hypocritical to travel the planet on other people’s dimes in the name of sustainability.  HOWEVER, I must confess that this whining is selective, because I’m also  winging my way to Orlando next month to the upcoming National Communication Association conference.  Yes, I’ll pay my own way to learn stuff I either already know or can easily access, given the convention’s archive.  But I pinky-swear to do a knowledge transfer when I get back, okay, just as soon as I take off my mouse ears.

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, Food sovereignty, Sustainability | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Conferences, meh.

Stand for Girls 2012

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on September 7, 2012

I love Global Washington for framing Washington as a global state; in fact, I’m not aware of an equally successful portal that convenes all the players — from the Gates Foundation to our little nonprofit, Global Spark — in one state’s global development sector.  Their newest initiative, Stand for Girls 2012, is a terrific example of an effective campaign that isn’t glitzy and demanding high energy/donations, yet builds a new audience.  Simply, $12 donations go to 10 recipient organizations that focus on economic empowerment, health, and education for women and girls.  There are also information-sharing strategies, such as a Seattle event on September 22, as well as  tips to network within our own communities on October 11, the Day of the Girl.  Click here for more information and FREE unique toolkits to use with house parties, religious groups, and education.

Why this important:  With traditional platforms and social media leverage, Stand for Girls is gathering steam as a best practices model of cause-related marketing and communication.  And the reasons are clear:

  • 800 women a day die in pregnancy or childbirth from complications that are often preventable
  • Women constitute about 70 percent of the world’s ultra poor, and women still earn less than 75 cents for every dollar men earn
  • Almost three-quarters of the 72 million children not enrolled in primary school are girls

Global Washington describes this as a way to help “women rewrite their story and change the world.”  Personally, I think this is one of the best values-led marketing efforts currently playing out.  Does it inspire you to donate $12 or think more about global women’s issues?

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, Development, Marketing, Social media | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Stand for Girls 2012