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Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management


A collection of scholarly work published by and supporting the Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management (CESEM) at Arizona State University.

CESEM focuses on "earth systems engineering and management," providing a basis for understanding, designing, and managing the complex integrated built/human/natural systems that increasingly characterize our planet.

Works in this collection are particularly important in linking engineering, technology, and sustainability, and are increasingly intertwined with the work of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS).


Providers of systems engineering services and their employees are not always able to be the masters of their own destiny. When working in staff augmentation roles under the auspices of another company, they are typically forced to operate within the corporate culture from which they derive their livelihood, following “foreign” processes and procedures, responding to orders and directives. This situation calls for an alternative maturity model for those that provide systems engineering services. While a client organization might be maturing according to any of several proposed models (SEI 1993, SEI 1995, EPIC 1995, ISO 1990, IEEE 1994), the services contractor …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom
Created Date
2010

While the definition of sustainability remains open for all to contribute to and participate in, there do seem to be some notions it has come to embody that should not be neglected as the definition coalesces. Among these are the ethical and social dimensions of sustainability. Whether or not it is appropriate, required, or even desirable, concepts like social equity, human rights, ethical sharing of commons, etc. have increasingly come under the umbrella of the sustainability discourse. Even if “sustainability” as a bare word doesn’t imply those things, the concept of sustainable development certainly has taken on those dimensions. That …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

Most would agree that telecommunications systems are socially constructed. Since “communication” tends to involve people, it seems obvious that people should impact the creation of such systems. But it is far less obvious that the specifications for such systems should be noted for their social construction. As marvelous and technical as the system is, we must not forget the important technological artifact known as the specification that came before it. This paper tells the story of the social construction of the IRIDIUM system specification as viewed through the eyes of a popular socio-technical systems (STS) analysis tool. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

After a brief introduction to Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), this paper presents some common misunderstandings and problems that are frequently overlooked in the application of the technology. Then, in three progressively more involved examples, the paper demonstrates (a) how use of fMRI in pre-surgical mapping shows promise, (b) how its use in lie detection seems questionable, and (c) how employing it in defining personhood is useless and pointless. Finally, in making a case for emergentism, the paper concludes that fMRI cannot really tell us as much about ourselves as we had hoped. Since we are more than our brains, …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

Earth Systems Engineering and Management (ESEM) is a framework for both discussing and addressing the adaptive management of complex socio-ecological systems (SES). Governance of emerging technologies is an SES challenge that demonstrates all the classic symptoms of a wicked problem. This paper surveys governance literature in light of the ESEM principles and explores the potential for using the principles of ESEM as a mechanism for governance, addressing particularly ESEM’s overlap with the recently promulgated anticipatory governance as defined by its three pillars of foresight, engagement, and integration. This paper demonstrates that the intersection of these concepts is significant and concludes …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

Essay scoring is a difficult and contentious business. The problem is exacerbated when there are no “right” answers for the essay prompts. This research developed a simple toolset for essay analysis by integrating a freely available Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) implementation into a homegrown assessment assistant. The complexity of the essay assessment problem is demonstrated and illustrated with a representative collection of open-ended essays. This research also explores the use of “expert vectors” or “keyword essays” for maximizing the utility of LDA with small corpora. While, by itself, LDA appears insufficient for adequately scoring essays, it is quite capable of …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom

In his writings over the past decade, Brad Allenby has proposed (at least) 16 principles of sustainable engineering (see references) that are collectively known as the Earth Systems Engineering and Management (ESEM) principles. These principles have merit and applicability in many disciplines and domains of discourse, but are sometimes awkward to use due to the quantity of words required to accurately express their meaning. In light of this, it has become necessary to formulate a simplified list of “abbreviated tags” for ease of reference in conversation and concise writing. This list of tags also makes the principles immediately accessible to …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom
Created Date
2011-05-20

While the scientific study of religion is not new, the topic has yet to be approached by Lifecycle Assessment (LCA). This work demonstrates a method for assessing the personal “cost” of “manufacturing” a mature religious adherent, or, a believer committed to a particular faith. By measuring such inputs as personal importance of faith, prayer, religious service attendance, religious experiences, and scripture reading, an assessment can be made of the quantity of such inputs required to engender enduring religious devotion. Ultimately, this study has demonstrated that the data typically collected in longitudinal surveys are insufficient to adequately support any firm quantitative …

Contributors
Roberts, Tom
Created Date
2012-05