ASU Alumni — Founders’ Day

Ariel D. Anbar, PhD — Faculty Teaching Achievement Award

Founders’ Day is Arizona State University’s signature event in recognition of the university founders, leaders of the effort to create an institution that has become the nation’s largest public research university and holds the unique distinction of being ranked №1 in innovation for three consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report. Founders’ Day showcases ASU faculty, alumni and philanthropists who embody the pioneering spirit of those who helped establish the university, and exemplify how the university continues to evolve into a New American University, an educational institution that advances research, champions discovery of public value and assumes fundamental responsibility for the communities it serves.

Arizona State University annually celebrates the vision and contributions of the founders of the institution. This signature event has taken place since 1964 and is a tradition known as Founders’ Day. ASU faculty, staff, alumni and advocates who exemplify the pioneering and innovative spirit of ASU’s founders are honored with excellence-in-achievement awards at Founders’ Day.

Founders’ Day is celebrated each year in February or March to coincide with the first day of classroom instruction at the original Territorial Normal School at Tempe on Feb. 8, 1886.

Ariel D. Anbar, PhD

ASU President’s Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration and School of Molecular Sciences | Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability | Director, ASU Center for Education Through eXploration | Co-director, ASU PlanetWorks.

ASU President’s Professor Ariel Anbar, an ASU scientist and educator interested in Earth’s past and future as an inhabited world, and the possibility of life beyond, is the 2018 recipient of the Founders’ Day Faculty Teaching Achievement Award.

Professor Anbar’s leadership is manifest in his diverse and dedicated teaching efforts in the online education space, which have earned him accolades from educators and learners alike.

His innovative contributions revolve around the development of next-generation adaptive digital learning experiences. Included in these are interactive virtual field trips to scientifically important locations around the world, simulation-based learning experiences in Earth and space sciences, and online courses such as “Habitable Worlds” and “BioBeyond.” These learning experiences are created by Anbar and his partners working with the diverse and dedicated team of learning designers, technologists, students and staff in ASU’s Center for Education through eXploration, which he directs.

These experiences enable students to learn by using logic and reasoning to solve problems and navigate uncertainties at the frontier of knowledge. The goal is not just to teach facts and concepts, but for tomorrow’s decision-makers to understand the power, processes, and limitations of science.

Professor Anbar leads the development of a new theory of digital-learning design to advance online learning beyond the mastery of what is known to the exploration of the unknown — embracing higher-order skills of question-asking, problem-solving, and persistence. ETX theory is emerging as a centerpiece of ASU’s next-generation vision of online education.

Says one of Professor Anbar’s nominators, “His vision, inspiration and encouragement of those around him — both students and faculty — make him a leader in the future of science education both at ASU and across the nation.”

Learn more about Founders’ Day here.

Official Medium account of ASU. № 1 in innovation. Top 10 of all universities worldwide for U.S. patents awarded. Find more ASU news at

Official Medium account of ASU. № 1 in innovation. Top 10 of all universities worldwide for U.S. patents awarded. Find more ASU news at