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University Partners Deepen Collaboration and Ideation at Virtual Design Conference


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By Sophie Jones, Experience Center Customer Service Specialist

Remote teamwork opportunities have come to light in ASU’s new modality, transforming the way we collaborate. Virtual events, such as webinars and conferences, are some of the most ubiquitous examples; the Public Service Academy (PSA) Virtual Design Conference this month stands out among them.

The PSA assists undergraduate students in directing their field of study towards social change and community enhancement. Intended to be a two-day in-person Tempe event, the Virtual Design Conference would have brought together The Volcker Alliance, the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and the PSA to find new ways to provide that assistance. Gathering in an online setting to work with other university partners from around the nation, participants ideated public service academies at their respective campuses. This conference placed emphasis on sparking ideas for how these PSAs can improve and evolve, in hopes these ideas could eventually be expanded upon if an in-person follow up can gather in the late fall.

Twelve universities were in attendance, as well as representatives from the National Academy of Public Administration. Between them, the conference hosted a staggering 70 participants on the call at once. Jon Pratt, Senior Director at the Watts College, found the virtual experience fostered more connections than one might expect, commenting that he found the format to be much more personal than it would have been face-to-face. 

“Being able to see everyone's face in the gallery view and knowing that most everyone was participating from their homes," he says, was a sort of “coming together” as attendees joined one another in a unified effort. This Virtual Design Conference, then, was just another reminder that, even while apart, we are stronger together.

As ASU continues to monitor COVID-19, the university has transitioned from in-person teaching and learning to remote options. In this challenging time, however, the collective innovation of ASU faculty and staff has demonstrated remarkable adaptability. As a method of celebrating the good during uncertain developments, the University Technology Office is gathering success stories of “remote resilience” from the ASU community. The situation globally and across the country is changing daily, but we also plan to share these stories to keep pace.

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