Big Ideas Video Showcase

Short Films for Big Ideas: A Video ShowcaseA virtual video showcase event will take place during March. Five faculty-led research teams emerged from the College of Arts and Letters and are part of the 17 Big Ideas finalists selected to share their ideas via video presentations.

Big Ideas seeks to combine, leverage and promote San Diego State’s distinctive strengths for the betterment of the world.

Read more about Big Ideas.

Faculty-led research teams across SDSU were asked to develop proposals aligning with SDSU’s strategic plan in 2020. The four thematic areas are: health and well-being, climate change, social justice, and transborder scholarship.

From SDSU President Adela de la Torre, Ph.D., “The proposals embody our distinct strengths and also represent our five-year strategic plan. Within these proposals, you will find projects specifically designed to provide important and needed progress toward resolving ongoing disparities perpetuated by racial and economic inequities.”

“I thank all faculty and staff members who have persisted in their integrity and commitment to research, creative activities and service to communities, especially with an ongoing global pandemic and nationwide calls for action to address racial equity and justice. I am inspired, daily, by our scholarly community’s tireless persistence and resilience, and your efforts to address some of the very concerns evidenced by today’s social movements in Black, indigenous, and other communities. The diversity of thought, and the leadership and scholarship represented in these faculty proposals is true to who we are as San Diego State University, and I have deep pride in our faculty and staff.”

Please RSVP to attend.


Climate Change / Thursday, March 11 / 4 p.m.

“Metabolism of Cities Living Lab”

Featured CAL faculty: Gabriela Fernandez, HDMA, Geography

HDMA: Metabolism of Cities Living LabThe Metabolism of Cities Living Lab is a multi-actor partnership of interdisciplinary international professionals (universities, cities, individuals, and organizations) from across the world (USA, Mexico, Italy, France, and Ukraine) to pioneer new frontiers for better solutions by “Strengthening Diversity and Deliberation in Climate Adaptation Planning” using data-oriented solutions (analysis, process, data-sharing, and knowledge).

The international border is the playground of the Living Lab. Our big ideas vision leverages the integration of: (i) smart urban systems, (ii) citizen science (iii) big data analysis, and (iv) model forecasting, with an overarching goal of providing data-driven tracking and monitoring of sustainability. As part of our toolkit, the “SDSU Sustainable Development Goals Tracking Dashboard” can monitor, explore sustainability trends, indicators, and related targets. The Dashboard can enable us to visualize, analyze, and download data, and to help foster a strong community in the Baja California’s. Governments, academics, and others can use the Dashboard to perform easy analysis of sustainability, important to make the decisions that affect our underrepresented communities. Our research outputs can provide a resource to higher education institutions, through teaching, research, partnerships, dialogue, and organizational practices. 

We re-imagine SDSU as a leader in sustainable development, in Southern California and the Baja California Mexico region. 

“Community Climate Action Network (CCAN)”

Featured CAL faculty champion: Douglas Stow (and Rebecca Lewison and Megan Jennings, Biology; Jessica Barlow, Speech, Language, Hearing / Center for Regional Sustainability). CAL faculty team members: Erika Robb Larkins, Isaac Ullah, Amay Quandt, Arielle Levine and Piotr Jankowski.

CCANThe hallmarks of climate change - heat waves, rising sea levels, wildfires - are becoming more frequent and widespread, posing unique challenges to local communities. To meet these challenges together, we will establish the SDSU Community Climate Action Network, or CCAN, building on SDSU’s excellence in scholarship and outreach, and empowering San Diego communities to enact a just and sustainable climate future. 

CCAN will leverage SDSU’s programs in the arts, education, public health, sciences, and business in a three-phased approach.  In Phase I, we will identify a portfolio of interdisciplinary pilot projects to demonstrate the power of community partnerships in climate adaptation and resilience. In Phase II, we will launch the CCAN Knowledge Portal to build a community of practice and innovate SDSU courses and curriculum. In Phase III, we will expand to integrate new campus initiatives that link actionable research and scholarship with community-driven transformation. 

By establishing SDSU as a community partner on climate issues, CCAN will serve as a national model for how universities and communities can work together to support a climate-ready, equitable, and sustainable future. 

Social Justice / Thursday, March 18 / 4 p.m.

“Comics & Social Justice”

Featured CAL faculty: Elizabeth Pollard, History (and Pamela Jackson, SCUA, Library)

Comics@SDSU: Comic Studies CollaborativeThe goal of the Comics & Social Justice proposal is to secure SDSU’s place on the map as an internationally-recognized center for the academic study of comics by fostering critical research that explores and energizes the transformative potential of comics to grapple with social justice issues.
The initiative explores how comic — scholarship on them, creation of them, teaching about them, and the community around them — can shine a spotlight on social injustice (with respect to such issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, ability, nationality, and immigration status, to name just a few) and help to bring about meaningful change

Comics & Social Justice grew out of work of Comics @ SDSU (Comics Studies Collaborative), which brings together faculty from CAL, Library, PSFA, Education, and Engineering.

This proposal supports critical research and publication by scholars (at SDSU and elsewhere) in the Comics Arts Collection at SDSU and beyond; provides opportunities for students (in classes and in their own research) to learn how comics address social justice issues; and, fosters collaboration between SDSU and the thriving San Diego comics community to explore the transformative power of the comics medium.

Finally, the endeavor links to SDSU’s strategic plan in that it: advances diversity and equity in terms of the social justice issues that comic arts, and their academic study, bring to the fore; places students at the core; envisions a potential expansion into the Mission Valley campus; and builds on expertise and resources that SDSU is uniquely situated to expand on in the pursuit of its premier public research goals.


“Center for K-12 Ethnic Studies and Indigenous Education Research and Teacher Development”

Featured CAL faculty: Michael Domínguez, Chicana/o Studies

SDSU Center for K-12 Ethnic StudiesThe SDSU Center for K-12 Ethnic Studies and Indigenous Education Research and Teacher Development is an interdisciplinary, cross-campus collaborative focused on advancing educational equity, racial and social justice, and decolonization through the support of Ethnic Studies at the K-12 level. We are committed to advancing knowledge about the efficacy and intricacies of implementing Ethnic Studies at the K-12 level, exploring questions of educational justice for historically marginalized and indigenous communities, and actively cultivating a diverse cadre of educators prepared to teach Ethnic studies with fidelity, and have transformative, far-reaching impacts in local, regional, and national communities. As a team of researchers, teacher educators, and scholar-activists representing many communities, we understand that accomplishing these tasks, and building a more humanizing, anti-racist world through education, requires intentional work, collaboration, and meaningful community partnerships. Our Big Ideas driven center makes these things possible; facilitating communication and the sharing of expertise across campus, and into the community, to support local teachers, schools, school districts, organizations, and collaboratives to advance Ethnic Studies research and learning in K-12 schools.

Transborder Scholarship / Thursday, March 25 / 4 p.m.

“Re-imagining Transboundary Water”

Featured CAL faculty: Trent Biggs, Geography (and Natalie Mladenov, Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering)

Water Across BordersWater in the California-Mexico transboundary region is in high demand, but we are also facing a pressing water crisis. From water shortages to sewage contamination, water-related problems directly impact human health, ecosystems, and livelihoods of  >7million people in the border region. Solving these challenges requires innovative solutions and a multidisciplinary, cross-border community of experts and stakeholders. Our Water Across Borders Big Idea will promote win-win approaches for solving critical water-related challenges in the San Diego-Tijuana and Imperial-Mexicali Valleys and engage in dialogue with underserved communities on both sides of the border. Our network of SDSU and cross-border scholars and collaborators will take on new initiatives, such as community-based water management, early warning sensors and prediction of water-related health risks, modeling of water availability, and water reuse systems for greening and revitalizing urban landscapes. With community engagement and the right approaches and technologies, communities will be better able to cope with water scarcity and uncertainty… and polluted waters can be treated for irrigation, greening and. These are the types of solutions we need for creating a sustainable and just water future for our region.