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Julianna Gwiszcz

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Grad Research Assistant
Graduate Assistant/Associate, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 2701
Student Information:
Graduate Student
Liberal Arts & Sciences


I am a scholar activist and Sociocultural Anthropology Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC). I entered my Ph.D. program with a Masters of Science in Social Work (MSSW) from Columbia University. Committed to serving as a global change agent, I was driven to pursue my Ph.D. out of a strong desire to better understand and help address the complex challenges at the intersections of social and ecological justice, particularly in the context of sustainable development and wellbeing. My research and practice has focused on local and global capacity building mechanisms for sustainability/sustainable development and human rights realization with a special emphasis on transformative experiential learning. I am especially interested in how youth around the world are engaged in (or excluded from) processes of sustainability/sustainable development and how, if at all, youth are being prepared to serve as facilitators of transformation pathways for sustainable wellbeing.  

What I have appreciated most about my time at ASU has been the opportunities it has afforded me to work across disciplines, schools, geographical, and sectorial boundaries. I have had the privilege of collaborating with faculty, staff and students from several different programs at ASU, including the School of Social Transformation, the School of Sustainability, and the Julie Anne Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. ASU's emphasis on interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary collaboration and global engagement are what first brought me to continue my graduate studies here. Beyond ASU, my work has involved collaborative partnerships in diverse contexts such as Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Guatemala, Brazil, Haiti, the United Kingdom, and various regions in the USA. 

I intend to pursue an applied anthropology career in the area of capacity building for international sustainable development and sustainable wellbeing upon completion of my degree program.  My goal is to facilitate this through unique partnerships linking the field of higher education with local and international community-driven sustainability initiatives. In this way, I would have the ability to teach and develop engaged learning programs that foster formal and informal learning communities in the United States and abroad. These critically engaged transformative learning opportunities would embed youth from different cultures and contexts in the co-creation of knowledge and action. In turn, these engaged learning programs would challenge youth to work in partnership with diverse communities, applying their knowledge and skills in support of efforts to overcome some of the most pressing social and ecological justice concerns facing our global communities today.


Research Interests

My research and practice engages with transdisciplinary topics such as the intersections between human rights and sustainable development, critical pedagogy and education for sustainability, and capacity building mechanisms for sustainability transformations. My current work explores how sustainability-focused experiential learning can build youth capacity to facilitate transformation pathways to sustainable wellbeing.

Broader Scope of Research/Practice Areas of Interest:

Applied anthropology; ecological anthropology; development anthropology; anthropology of education; capacity building; sustainable development and sustainable wellbeing; socioecological justice studies; critical theory; decision-making and action responses to global environmental change (e.g. global ecological citizenship, pathways approach to sustainability transformations); experiential learning; production and consumption of knowledge and global ecological consciousness; critical place-based and ecojustice pedagogies; intersections between human rights and sustainability; Sustainable Livelihoods Approach; disaster studies; urban political ecology; social change theory; ecosystems analysis; environmental displacement and climate refugees; power, identity and race dynamics; transnational social movements; youth development; indigenous people and indigenous rights; new media technology; NGOs and Civil Society