Julianna Gwiszcz, MSSW, PhD has dedicated her career and lifelong learning in service of social and ecological justice. Adopting an applied anthropological approach, her research and practice focuses on local and global capacity building mechanisms for sustainability/sustainable development aimed at addressing socioecological justice, global environmental change, and human rights concerns. She is especially interested in how youth and diverse communities around the world are engaged in (or excluded from) processes of sustainable development, and how best to foster a global community of change agents to serve as facilitators of transformation pathways to sustainability. As such, her most recent work seeks to build capacity for global ecological citizenship through transformative experiential learning grounded in critical pedagogy, cross-cultural engagement, transdisciplinary collaboration, and the co-creation of knowledge and action pathways. Julianna has taken up these efforts in her new role with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. She is now working in collaboration with Director Gary Dirks and colleagues within the Wrigley Institute and across the university on strategic visioning for and development of several new initiatives and programs in partnership with the Global Futures Initiative. Julianna envisions this work contributing to the formation of an evolving, globally-engaged learning community at ASU aimed at facilitating transformation pathways for sustainability.
Julianna completed her PhD in Anthropology (Sociocultural Approach) in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) at Arizona State University (ASU). Her dissertation research was entitled “Opening Up” Transformation Pathways for Sustainable Wellbeing: Exploring the Role of Sustainability Experiential Learning as a Capacity Building Mechanism for Global Ecological Citizenship. During her time at ASU she has collaborated with Senior Sustainability Scientists and Scholars from across the university on a host of initiatives, conferences and workshops, applied research projects, and experiential learning programs in the areas of water/resource security, international sustainability and human rights, urban sustainability and resilience, vulnerability to extremes, youth entrepreneurship, food systems transformation, community development, interventions for sustainability transitions/transformations (spanning local to global, and across systems), engagement philosophies & praxis, and transformative sustainability learning.
Julianna earned her Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) from Columbia University in Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming with a concentration on Family, Youth and Children Services. She used her time at CUSSW to further deepen her knowledge and experience in sustainable development by pursuing a joint focus on youth development and international social development. Upon completion of her degree Julianna was awarded the NASW-NYC Georgia L. McMurray Award for outstanding achievement in services to children, youth and families.
Prior to returning to graduate school to pursue a PhD, Julianna worked in higher education as Founding Director of an inter/transdisciplinary, engaged learning academic program called The Explorer Connection at La Salle University. During her tenure at La Salle she collaborated with faculty, staff, students and external partners alike to develop, implement and support programmatic initiatives that fostered engaged learning across disciplinary and institutional boundaries, including the Sustainable Development Initiative (the first of its kind at the university), Science in Society Initiative, Hunger and Ethics Series, and Women and International Development Series. Over the course of her professional and academic career, she has had the honor and privilege of engaging in collaborative and humbling partnerships in diverse contexts such as Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Guatemala, Brazil, Haiti, the United Kingdom, and various regions in the USA.