Recalling the sweet moments from bitter times: peanut butter cups and 9/11

What is the connection between peanut butter cups and 9/11?

As we reflect on the tragic events that occurred on this day 17 years ago, we remember the influential stories of heroism and selflessness that sweetened the heartbreaking experiences undergone by individuals, families, communities, and nations.

At the 2018 Fulton Conference, BYU Sociology professor Mikaela Dufur shared a touching story of one such hero who gave his life at the Twin Towers as he held a door open so that his coworkers could make it to safety. His family anxiously waited to hear news of him, promising him his favorite candies–peanut butter cups.

Click here for the full article.

Professor Dufur’s story is just one of many inspirational and compelling articles shared in the 2018 edition of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences’ Connections magazine.

For an interactive copy of the 2018 Connection magazine, click here.

Constitution Day 2018: “The Constitution in the Age of Trump”

President Donald Trump is known for several things:

  1. His infamous tweets
  2. His hair, and
  3. His sometimes controversial policies and presidential actions.

At the 2018 Constitution Day panel event “Hanging by a Thread?: The Constitution in the Age of Trump,” scholars will discuss debates brought up by both sides of the political aisle concerning the health of the U.S. Constitution during the Trump Administration.

Faculty members including Justin Collings and Carolina Nunez from the BYU College of law, Neil York from the BYU Department of History, and Adam Dynes from the BYU Department of Political Science will delve into the Constitution in regard to current political forces and the value of the Constitution in current times.

The event will take place September 17, 2018 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. in the Harold B. Library Auditorium. The event is free and open to students and faculty from all disciplines and the public.

Panel participants expect the discussion to be not only lively, but illuminating as scholars discuss the document that defines the many rights and liberties American citizens all too often take for granted.

 

Candidates and campaigns to visit BYU campus for Political Involvement Fair

It’s the beginning of the school year, and BYU will be bustling with more than just the new student class of 2018.

On Monday, September 10, the Political Involvement Fair will welcome more than six U.S. Senate and House of Representatives campaigns—including campaigns for Senate candidates Jenny Wilson and Mitt Romney—to BYU campus to interact with students and faculty. Individuals will not only get an up-close look at some of their potential national leaders, but they will also learn about political campaigns and how they can volunteer in the political movement.

The Political Involvement fair will be held from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in the Wilkinson Student Center Garden Court and is sponsored by the BYU Public Affairs Society and the BYU Office of Civic Engagement. The Office of Civic Engagement is a campus organization that provides students and faculty with the skills and meaningful opportunities to become engaged in their communities.

Connect with political campaigns and learn about local civic engagement opportunities and BYU Washington Seminar happenings and internships at the 2018 Political Involvement Fair. The event is free and open to students and faculty from all disciplines, and refreshments will be provided.

 

A message from Dean Ogles: Finding our semester swing—together

Getting in the swing of a new semester can be hard.

There’s the inevitable homework assignment that catches you off guard, friends have graduated and moved on, and the changing-of-building acronyms leave you searching for 10 minutes, trying to find the KMBL and wondering what happened to the SWKT.

But you’re not alone in your quest to successfully make it through the semester and your college career.

In a recent address given by College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Dean Benjamin Ogles to faculty and staff, Dean Ogles refers to the story of nine young men who overcome tremendous hardships during the Great Depression to attend the University of Washington and later go on to win the gold medal in men’s rowing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Just like each student on campus wants to be successful, each boy in the boat wanted to find success in their own endeavors. Only by working together, however, were each of the individual young men able to overcome trials and succeed.

Rowers, such as those in the 1936 Olympic boat, only succeed when they come together in a unique harmony and rhythm, when they come together in a perfectly synchronized “swing.”

Sometimes to feel like we’re in the “swing” with a situation or with those around us, we think that we should all be the same (or at least very very similar).We wear similar clothing, we say similar phrases, we try to look like others and we try to act like others.

But in rowing, coaches and rowers suggest that it is better for oarsmen to have differences. They are different in their physique, in their personality, and in their backgrounds.

Quoting the story itself, “In physical terms, for instance, one rower’s arms might be longer than another’s but the latter might have a stronger back than the former. Neither is necessarily a better or more valuable oarsman than the other; both the long arms and the strong back are assets to the boat. But if they are to row well together, each of these oarsmen must adjust to the needs and capabilities of the other. Each must be prepared to compromise something in the way of optimizing his stroke for the overall benefit of the boat.”

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As George Pockock, the builder of the boat that won Olympic gold, shared as inspiration to one of the oarsmen, “A man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew.”

When we open our hearts to those around us and when we care about our BYU “crew” is when we will—together—get in the swing of the semester and succeed.

This story of young Olympians applies to us: our college (and university) benefits from our different strengths. We need faculty, staff, and students with various characteristics, backgrounds, and personalities.  As each individual willingly adjusts to, compromises and harmonizes with, and opens us their hearts to their peers, our efforts will be strengthened and benefit the whole campus and college community.

When we are unified in our goals and actions, that feeling of joy and unity is never forgotten.

Printing with purpose: 3D printing enhancing knowledge, research and learning

Archaeology doesn’t always live up to its Hollywood fame—you don’t always bring the cool artifacts home like Indiana Jones.

But with new technology, we can do the next best thing.

Robert Bischoff is a recently graduated BYU master’s student who focuses on this technology.

Focusing his studies on the people of the Southwestern United States, Bischoff has been able to take Fremont and Ancestral Pueblo artifacts away from archaeology sites and into the hands of research colleagues and Museum of Peoples and Cultures visitors through 3D printing and modeling.

The first 3D printer was used in the 1980s by Charles W. Hull to make mechanical part prototypes.

Today, the uses of 3D printers have expanded to replicating artifacts, documenting historic landscapes, and building archaeological models.

In the past, students and researchers were limited to studying artifacts at excavation sites and presenting and teaching the public with 2D photographs. But with 3D printing, archeologists can tangibly share their knowledge as they bring copies of artifacts to conferences, campuses and museums.

When Bischoff and his peers excavated a site in Goshen, Utah where all the artifacts legally belonged to the landowner, they were able to make 3D models of basketry impressions to continue studying their findings. Other students are reconstructing clay lamps and figurines from Petra, Jordan.

Bischoff’s favorite project (so far) was doing 3D modeling of Pilling Figurines.

 

The benefits of this technology expand to students and community residents as they visit the Museum of Peoples and Cultures. Individuals get to handle replicas of artifacts from around the world without risking any harm to the artifacts themselves. Allowing people to touch, handle (and sometimes drop), and see demonstrations with these printed replicas elevates off-site archaeological learning to the next level.

While 3D printing has already expanded the archaeological world, Bischoff notes that archaeologists are always adapting new technology to do even more.

BYU research archaeologist Scott Ure was an early adopter of using drones to take aerial photographs and then processing these photographs into 3D models. This inventive approach provides opportunities for documenting large landscapes and identifying features that cannot be seen from the ground. Ure has created a number of 3D replications of archaeology sites that allow researchers to better understand what is on the ground. As this specific approach evolves, archaeologists will be able to more easily record the exact shapes, dimensions, and appearance of archaeology sites and preserve and share these sites and artifacts digitally.

Another perk to 3D modeling: instead of carefully planning and packing for the transportation of models and artifacts around the world, models can be shared digitally to be shared with the public and archaeologists conducting research across the world.

“Communicating our results to the public is one of the most important things we do, and new technology allows us to do so more effectively,” shares Bischoff.  “New technology [allows] us to discover more sites and to better document and preserve them so we can share what we find with the public.”

Step into models of actual archaeological sites and handle the printed replicas of artifacts that create our history at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures.

New faculty spotlight: Sherina Saasa

Dr. Sherina Saasa, the newest Social Work faculty member, has spent her life improving the lives of others.

A social worker from the start

Growing up, Saasa looked up to her father and the work he did as an international social worker. Little did she know at the time that her own work and research as a social worker would bring her across the globe to Provo, UT.

Dr. Saasa’s practice and research interests branch from her experiences observing the poverty, oppression and social injustices that vulnerable populations and individuals experience, as well as from her own background as an African emigrant living in the United States.

More specifically, Saasa’s work focuses on inequality, poverty and mental health of underprivileged and vulnerable children in sub-Saharan Africa and that of African immigrant populations in the United States. The fact that there is so little research on African immigrants combined with her own experiences as an immigrant from Zambia only add to the purpose and importance of Saasa’s research.

Sharing goodness

In a time when issues of power and powerlessness are so apparent in politics, standing up for human rights and promoting societal change is needed everywhere.

Saasa promotes and implements these necessary societal changes through her nonprofit, the Crispin Mwakamui Memorial Foundation (CMMF), named after her father. The organization focuses on helping orphaned children living with relatives in impoverished conditions not only have better access to education but also succeed academically.

“My parents always emphasized the value of education,” shares Saasa. “I believe education has the power to change lives and countries for the better. With the non-profit, we do our part to improve the socio-economic and health trajectories of these children who are the future of Africa.”

Teaching with the Lord in mind

Saasa graduated from BYU with a master’s in social work in 2013, but she is very excited to return and teach social work practices with gospel principles.

“God is the greatest scientist, greatest engineer, and greatest social worker that ever lived; to leave him out of the classroom where these subjects are being taught would be such a disservice,” says Saasa. “I always thought that if I ever was to teach and be effective, it had to be in a place where the spirit was a big part of the learning process.”

Through her teaching, Saasa hopes to teach students to believe in themselves and to see and embrace their potential to be a force for good in the world.

 

New College Controller: Being part of the BYU student experience

Mike B 20 Year PhotoMike Bridenbaugh, FHSS’s new College Controller and Assistant Dean, is quite the big cheese.

As the College Controller, Bridenbaugh oversees how university funds are spent throughout the college. But Bridenbaugh has been a part of the BYU student experience for years.

Bridenbaugh began his career at BYU 30 years ago making cheese and ice cream at the BYU Dairy. After working in the Student Auxiliary Services controller office, he moved to the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences in 2014.

In his current position, Bridenbaugh plays a role in FHSS human resources, endowments, and the hundreds of scholarships that students in the social sciences receive each year to attend conferences and intern around the country and world.

“I love how we all work together towards a common goal of student success and achievement,” says Bridenbaugh. “Being even the smallest part of the BYU experience for our students is my favorite part about working at BYU.”

When he’s not helping the college and its students find academic opportunities, Bridenbaugh is busy with his own adventures. Not only does he enjoy keeping up with his garden–his “Summer Sanctuary”–he also loves to mountain bike, bake bread, read, and dabble in outdoor photography, woodworking, and blacksmithing.

Bridenbaugh replaced Mike Nelson as the College Controller. Nelson retired after an established career at BYU in July 2018.

Spring/Summer Valedictorians: Changing the world a cap and gown at a time

With the end of the spring/summer terms comes another inspiring graduating class of Cougars.

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences boasts some of the best and brightest of the more than 30,000 students who walk across campus each year. This graduation, we celebrate the almost 400 FHSS graduates and their studies, efforts and experiences that are helping families, individuals and communities thrive. From Orem, Utah, to Tokyo, Japan, our graduates act as forces for good across the county and world.

Check out these adventurous, ambitious, and world-changing valedictorians:

Alexander Baxter PictureAlexander Baxter, a psychology major, loves studying monkeys. As a sophomore, Alexander started working in Dr. Dee Higley’s nonhuman primate research lab. In conjunction with Dr. Daniel Kay, he studied mother-infant attachment and infant sleep development. Alexander went on a summer internship to the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California, Davis. While there, he collected data for his own project of studying prenatal testosterone exposure. He loved the experience so much that he spent the rest of his time at BYU in Dr. Higley’s lab, and went on the internship two more times to collect data. Alexander presented his research with Dr. Higley at four professional conferences, six undergraduate research conferences, and published two first-authored research papers in peer-reviewed journals. In addition to studying attachment and social relationships in monkeys, Alexander also studied similar topics regarding humans, under the mentorship of Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Through the connections he made on his internship, Alexander was accepted into the biological psychology PhD program at UC Davis, and will continue doing research at the Primate Center. He is grateful for Elizabeth Wood, his lab manager and friend, and for Dr. Higley, his mentor. He will always remember Dr. Higley’s most important lesson: the people you work with are more important than the data they help you collect.

Berklee Baum PictureBerklee Annell Baum is a teaching social science major with minors in both history and teaching English as a second language. She grew up in Orem, Utah, and served a mission in Los Angeles, California. Berklee has always had a passion for learning about history and culture. During her education at BYU, she participated in a social work internship in Italy and was able to do historical research in Germany, Poland, and Austria. She was a member of Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society, which gave her

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Dr. Jay H. Buckley to wrangle western history as new Charles Redd Center director

BYU History professor Dr. Jay H. Buckley has been selected as the new director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies. Buckley will serve in this position for a three-year term that begins September 1, 2018.

Buckley will be replacing current director Dr. Brian Cannon who has served as the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies director for 15 years. Cannon has “fundamentally shaped (the center’s) direction” according to Assistant Director Dr. Brenden Rensink. In addition to overseeing countless initiatives and programs, Cannon helped grow the Redd Center’s influence across multiple academic fields and with the general public. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is deeply appreciative of Cannon’s many years of dedicated service and is excited to have him continue teaching full-time in the history department.

Buckley is an associate professor in the history department and the director of the American Indian Studies academic minor. Buckley’s research and publication interests include the American West, exploration, fur trade, and American Indians. He is the author of the award-winning William Clark: Indian Diplomat, and co-author of six other books. Buckley has served on the Redd Center Board of Directors since 2011. He has received multiple Redd Center research grants, worked extensively with students on the Intermountain Histories public history project, and received the Mollie & Karl G. Butler Young Scholar Award in Western Studies. He is also the past President of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.

Image result for byu redd centerThe Charles Redd Center for Western Studies was founded in 1972 by Charley and Annaley Naegle Redd. It promotes the study of the Intermountain West (defined as the states of Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona) through its sponsorship of research, publication, teaching and public programs. The Redd Center is an interdisciplinary center in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and the College of Humanities.

For more information on the Redd Center and its events, visit reddcenter.byu.edu.

Want to stop corruption? Text voters

A new study shows texting information about political corruption can improve democratic election outcomes.

BYU political science professor Daniel Nielson teamed up with three other professors to look at elections in Uganda, which suffers a range of challenges due to economic, political and social corruption. This study was done as part of a broader project, Metaketa I, which funded six studies in five countries to investigate how disseminating information about corruption impacted voting patterns.

“I am always looking for ways to understand how corruption might be addressed,” said Nielson, whose study was recently published in top-ranked journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Helping voters to hold politicians more accountable seems a promising part of the answer to that puzzle.”

In Uganda, Nielson noted, citizens struggle to vote out corrupt politicians due to state control of media, low civic education, untrustworthy institutions and uncompetitive elections.

During the 2016 Ugandan district elections, Nielson and his co-authors worked with Twaweza, a Ugandan-based organization that promotes good governance, to send mobile phone text messages to inform 16,000 voters about suspected budget fraud by local government councils.

The team was able to contact 16,000 citizens, significantly more than is typical in such studies. They found that the impact of the text messages changed citizens’ votes between 2 and 6 percent. This data would have been difficult to detect had the team only surveyed a few thousand participants, but their wide reach provided them the statistical power to detect small changes in the population’s voting behavior.

Voters who learned that suspected fraud in the political candidates was greater than they expected were 6 percent less likely to vote for incumbents. Those that learned that fraud was less than expected were 5 percent more likely to vote for incumbents.

“We see this as a bright spot that might suggest some ways forward for other non-governmental organizations when they design public-information campaigns,” said Nielson. “Our job as researchers is to point in promising directions.”