Alumni Spotlight: Neil Flinders

joseph-smith-art-lds-37715-galleryEducation is one of the most instrumental facets of society, and nobody knows that better than Neil Flinders. An alumnus and former faculty member of Brigham Young University, Flinders’ expertise involves education’s role in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. He has spent much of his retirement continuing to develop new ideas in the field, but one has become his principal focus. “After eight decades on this earth, you have a different perspective,” he says. “I think we need to pay more attention to Joseph Smith [as an educator].”

Flinders, in fact, published a book, entitled: Joseph Smith: America’s Greatest Educator, and delivered four lectures on the subject at BYU’s recent Education Week. “I am convinced,” he says, “that people living today can learn more about true education by studying the life and teachings of Joseph Smith than they can by studying all the books on education they might find in any library available to them.”

Joseph Smith Educator - Flyer

Joseph Smith, though not the recipient of much formal schooling, displayed an immense passion for education throughout his life. Apostle George Q. Cannon once remarked that the prophet “loved learning.” Shortly after his founding of the LDS Church, Smith began educating himself in many different languages, and even presided over a school of select Church leaders. “In knowledge there is power,” he taught. “God has more power than all other beings, because He has greater knowledge.”

This love for learning also manifested itself through Joseph’s revelations. Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants, a compilation of revelations he received for the Church, states: “whatever principle of intelligence we attain in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.”  It also instructs us to “seek not for riches but for wisdom” and warns that “it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.”

Virtually all of the doctrine of the early LDS Church, Flinders points out, followed a pattern: Joseph would learn a principle from God, and then teach that principle to his people. Flinders adds that the foundation of the Church “presumes an educational process based on inspired revelation.” Additionally, Joseph taught that part of that educational process was not only hearing and receiving intelligence, but gathering together to sustain and defend it.

Flinders received his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University in sociology. He later received a Masters in religious education and philosophy, and in 1960 earned an inter-disciplinary doctorate degree. He spent nineteen years with the Church Educational System, including a decade in the Commissioner’s Office of that system, and worked for another nineteen years on the faculty of the BYU School of Education. He also served as president of the Far Western Philosophy of Education Society and published a second book on teaching children using an agency approach to education.

Flinders and his wife served a full-time mission in Nauvoo, spending time on the faculty of the Joseph Smith Academy. While there, Flinders taught a Courtship and Marriage class based on the Family Proclamation. It was there that he began his study of Joseph Smith as an educator.


BYU’s Neuroscience Club = Service, Leadership, and Support


Brigham Young University is full of clubs, programs, and service opportunities that help students get involved with their major, peers, and community. As the Fall 2016 semester approaches, individuals in the Neuroscience Major have the opportunity to join the Neuroscience Club, or NeuroClub for short. With meetings every Tuesday and a group of officers and professors that want to make your experience at BYU the best it can be, there’s no better place for Neuroscience majors to go to find opportunities for service, leadership, and support!

Here’s everything you need to know about the Neuroscience Club:

How it Helps You


The NeuroClub’s purpose as described by the President Kaitlyn Williams is, “to enhance and broaden neuroscience student’s awareness of practices and applications in the neuroscience field while providing opportunities for service, leadership, and support in their education.” The club focuses on helping students answer: “Where can I go? What can I do? And why is it important?” in regards to their educational and career pursuits.

What it Does

For Fall of 2016, the NeuroClub has big plans for its members! With a focus on careers, each month the club will be hosting 3 activities in which students can learn more about where they can go with a neuroscience degree. These activities include:

  • Guest speakers with a neuroscience background that have chosen various career paths
  • Casual dinner meetings with professors to get to know them as well as have the opportunity to ask them questions
  • Service and Volunteering
  • Tutoring
  • And of course games and other fun activities to build lasting friendships!

Where to Find out More


To kick off the fun for Fall 2016, check out the club’s opening social on Thursday, September 1 from 12-2pm in the south quad of the SWKT! There will be food, desserts, games with prizes, and so much more. Come out to meet the club officers, find out about upcoming activities, and be there for the big reveal of the club’s NEW t-shirt design! Watch out for NeuroClub officers visiting your classrooms this week and don’t forget to vote! And there’s even more fun planned in 2017 with Brain Week in March.

Why join?

Because membership in it:

  • looks great on applications and resumes
  • builds relationships
  • provides research opportunities
  • provides ideas for career paths
  • provides service opportunities
  • helps you make an impact

Get Involved

The only requirement for membership in the club is that you are a declared Neuroscience major and have a passion for it! So make plans to go to the club’s opening social and then check out the Neuroscience Center, Facebook page, and Website. Still looking for more information? You can always email the club at

Check out the NeuroClub today!


What are the Costs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

It’s common for a child to not clean their room after being instructed to, but this can usually be attributed to laziness, procrastination, or forgetfulness. What’s more rare, but significantly more concerning, is a child who, when instructed to do a chore, boldly and defiantly refuses. When this behavior becomes a pattern, it can be diagnosed as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD),  a disorder that often leads to other ones and causes significant stress for parents and guardians of children with it. A surprising paucity of research exists to help them, as pointed out recently by one of our SFL professors.

Not as widely-known as ADHD or other childhood disorders, ODD  affects anywhere from two to sixteen percent of American children. The American Psychiatric Association defines ODD as a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/deviant behavior and vindictiveness that is severe enough to impair the child’s functioning for at least six months. If it goes untreated in the critical formative years, it often leads to more disorders, many of which are even more harmful and more expensive than ODD. Also, untreated ODD causes significant levels of stress for parents and guardians of children with the disorder, and some studies estimate that up to ninety percent of medical visits are the product of stress. Therefore, it’s in the medical community’s best interest to conduct this research in a timely manner.

The Study

Crane, Russ

D. Russell Crane, a professor in the Family Life department at BYU, recently conducted a study with colleagues on the research associated with this disorder. The study, published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, reviewed extant literature on the treatment of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, with a specific focus on cost analyses.

ODD, like most psychiatric disorders, can get very expensive. Personal bills can be overwhelming, but the impact on society is even more palpable. One study estimated that for each successful behavioral intervention with a high-risk youth, $2 million dollars could be saved. Obviously, a fair amount of research has been done on costs and benefits of treating behavioral disorders in general, but Dr. Crane’s analysis of the literature “returned only one article that reported public costs specifically associated with ODD.”

The Impact

“Little research has been done on the cost-effectiveness of ODD-specific treatment,” Dr. Crane concludes. He adds that while some studies show that the treatment of ODD is much less expensive than the treatment of the more general Conduct Disorder and family therapy is the most cost effective approach, “there [still] exists a need to include the benefits beyond just decreased symptoms, such as improving…quality of life for significant others.” Dr. Crane’s study is step in the direction of decreasing those struggles over bedroom cleaning, so that those children and families affected by ODD can have happier lives.

Do you or someone you know suffer from ODD? How has it impacted them?


“Teaching Makes Me Feel Happy and Young”

Zhidan (Diana) Duan

If you happen to spot someone cruising through campus on a scooter, you may be seeing one of our college’s newest faculty hires, Zhidan (Diana) Duan.  With an extensive background on China and Southeast Asia, Professor Duan is being warmly welcomed into the History Department this fall.

Professor Duan will be teaching both Migration in Modern China (HIST 390R) and World Civilizations from 1800 to Present (HIST 202).  She says, of teaching: “My favorite part is that I don’t age when I teach.  I mean, teaching and the interactions with my students keep me updated with new ideas, knowledge, and young people.  That makes me feel happy and young.”
Being raised in China herself, Professor Duan has an interest in the migration, borderlands, and ethnic economy of China and Southeast Asia.  She received her first PhD degree in Modern Chinese history from Renmin University of China in 2008 and then received another PhD degree in Asian history at Arizona State University in 2015.
Forbidden City, Beijing, China
In addition to her academic pursuits, Professor Duan explains, “I like a lot of outdoor sports and activities.  I like to go on road trips,  watch movies, and take photographs.”  Duan was also baptized into the LDS church in 2006 in Southern California.
Concerning her students this upcoming semester, Professor Duan says:
“I expect them to read, think, and interact.  Coming to the class without reading before and after is the least efficient way of studying because you have to spend a lot of extra time to get to know what is going on and catching up.  Studying without thinking and being creative makes the whole process boring and less effective.  Coming to the class without interacting with others is an inactive way of seeking and internalizing new knowledge.  You become isolated.  You are deprived of the opportunities of team work, teaching, comparing and contrasting your own ideas with others’, and you might improve not as fast as you expect to.”
Pictures courtesy of Flickr.

Family History as a Tool for Missionary Work


Often when we think of missionary work, we picture knocking on doors, handing out Books of Mormon, and teaching investigators. Family history isn’t the first thing that comes to our minds. While explaining the Restoration is one key way to bringing people to the Gospel, helping them explore their family history can help them to love it. As many who have done genealogy can attest, researching our ancestors gives us a feeling of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Nothing illustrates this better than the story of pianist Paul Cardall, whose own genealogical experience expanded both his horizons and those of the family members he didn’t know he had.

Cardall’s Experience

Cardall, as the keynote speaker at BYU’s recent Family History Conference, said: “As for those whose hearts have turned, I believe we will see greater faith among people if we do the family history work.” When people do it, their hearts open and they become more receptive to the love and blessings the Gospel provides. It is from there that the change of heart Alma spoke of in Alma 5:26-27 can begin to take place.

As part of his concert tour and family history undertaking, Cardall was invited by President Grant to share his thoughts on changing hearts and his spiritual experiences.

He and wife Tina experienced that effect as they worked on her family history. Through their efforts to find her ancestors, which proved difficult due to the fact that she was from Slovenia, Cardall and his wife were able to meet and connect with family they had not known they had. Tina’s mother was also able to reunite with kin she had not seen in forty-three years. Together, they had the opportunity to introduce more than fifty of Tina’s family members to the Gospel.

Family History Can Bridge the Gap

Families, being one of the core tenets of the Church and of society, have the potential to be instrumental in converting others, in a broader sense than ever before. Of this, Cardall says, “I told the young missionaries who come here from foreign lands that I believe the key to having a meaningful conversation is by turning the hearts of the children to the deceased fathers and mothers.” Family is something everyone understands.


Not only is it a way to bridge the gap between the secular and the spiritual, but also brings together people of all ages. Elder Bednar in the 2011 October General Conference, as quoted in the 2016 Connections, in regards to the youth of the LDS church said, “Many of you may think family history work is to be performed primarily by older people. But I know of no age limit described in the scriptures or guidelines announced by Church leaders restricting this important service to mature adults. You are sons and daughters of God, children of the covenant, and builders of the kingdom. You need not wait until you reach an arbitrary age to fulfill your responsibility to assist in the work of salvation for the human family.” In addition to those remarks, Bednar also highlights some of the amazing tools available now days for genealogy work such as


Family history is a means to bring people together, bridge spiritual and secular gaps, and connect with people you might not know otherwise. It’s about helping people understand both their familial and spiritual roots.

Do you know who’s in your family history?




Incoming Freshmen: 5 Tips for Success

September is fast approaching, and that means two exciting things are incoming: football and freshmen. But since there’s already enough hype surrounding this year’s BYU football team, we’ll use this post to give a few helpful tips to the freshman entering or considering the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. This advice comes from many resources available to incoming freshmen: BYU’s Freshman Checklist, students and alumni who commented on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, and Sam Prestwich, an Academic and Career Advisor with the FHSS Advisement Center.

Tip #1: Don’t Stress

cat-649164_1920Selecting a major is one of the most stressful decisions a college student can make, but a sizable portion of that stress can be relieved by the paths an FHSS degree opens up. Rather than constraining a student’s options, an FHSS degree expands them. “Instead of saying, ‘this major is going to make me who I am,’ you can say, ‘I’m going to utilize this major and this degree as a vehicle to get wherever I want to go,'” Prestwich said. “Each one of our majors allow a full array of career and grad school options.”

Students exploring the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences have a big advantage: the majors within the college provide an almost limitless number of post-graduation opportunities. “The path for students here doesn’t always need to be linear,” Prestwich said. “If you’re an engineering major, most of your opportunities are going to be in engineering. But if you’re a psychology major, for instance, that’s a degree which is applicable over a variety of disciplines and career options.”

Tip #2: Take Introductory Courses

Every department in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences offers introductory courses to students not in the major as a way of exploring the field. You want to learn more about sociology? Take Sociology 101. Anthropology sounds cool? Anthropology 101. Always been curious about psychology? You’re in luck—Psych 101 is one of BYU’s most popular classes. Intro level courses are a great way for students to explore their options, learn about a variety of disciplines, and gain valuable insight into future major and career paths.

“Incoming freshman usually haven’t declared a major, so they have a lot of schedule space to fill with these introductory courses,” Prestwich said. “It’s one of the best ways to find out if you’re passionate about a subject.”

Tip #3: Get Involved

“Students need to recognize that there’s more to an education than just taking classes,” Prestwich said. “There are valuable opportunities to supplement your education with real-world experience.”

Internships, volunteer work, professor-aided research, teacher’s assistant positions, part-time jobs, and study abroad programs are just a few of the many ways that an FHSS student can get involved, build their resume, and gain valuable experience. “These kinds of opportunities are going to shape the direction a student can go, whether to grad school or directly into a career,” Prestwich said. “Sometimes students only focus on schoolwork and forego all the other great resume builders and experiences that are readily accessible through each department in the college.”

Tip #4: Develop Good Study Habits

Some people can coast through high school on brains alone, but without good study habits, college can overwhelm even the smartest procrastinator.

“Most students I talk to who are struggling have trouble with time management,” Prestwich said. “They also don’t take advantage of resources available to them—teachers, TAs, study groups. Lots of students tell me they wish they’d done that.” Consider buying a day planner to help organize the workload, and regularly set realistic goals that push you to improve.

Tip #5: Seek Advice

Some of the most helpful resources in getting through college are people who have already done it. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences has an amazing network of students and alumni who are passionate about their fields and eager to provide advice. Here are some tips we recently got from FHSS students and alumni on Facebook…:


…and Twitter


So, perhaps the best advice we could offer is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get connected with other students in the college! Good luck!



5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Anthropology

Our world is shrinking, so to speak. It’s now possible to send communication to the other side of the world in an instant, and perhaps even more impressive, to physically travel to the other side of the world in a matter of hours. Our ancestors could have never imagined the heights to which humanity would soar. With interaction between societies becoming ever more frequent, it becomes ever more important to study human society in all its forms—past and present. That’s why anthropology, the study of human cultures and civilizations, is more important now than ever before. Last week, we ran a detailed article about why children should be interested about anthropology. This week, with the help of BYU’s Department of Anthropology, we’ll share some tips for how to actually get our kids excited.

Field Dig.JPG

Tip #1: Take Your Kids to a Local Dig

You can take your kids to a local field school dig. Your older kids can even volunteer! There’s nothing like seeing an actual dig, helping to sift out the relics, and relating it to people who were here long ago. Contact the department (801.422.3058) to find out when the next local one is, and to arrange a guide!

All of BYU’s Anthropology majors are required to attend a faculty-supervised field school. They conduct digs to learn more about ancient civilizations, sometimes right here in our own backyard! There are digs in Goshen and on the shores of Utah Lake.

Tip #2: Visit the Museum of Peoples and Cultures


The Museum of Peoples and Cultures, on the campus of Brigham Young University, cares for the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic artifacts in the school’s possession. There may be no better way to inspire a child than to take him or her to this vast collection of exhibits.

Currently, the museum has a couple of special exhibits, including one focused on the archaeology of the historic Provo Tabernacle (now the Provo City Center Temple), and a detailed exploration of the fine textiles of the ancient Andes.

The museum holds plenty of exciting programs for younger kids, and some of the older kids might not mind taking a date!

Tip #3: Arrange for an Anthropologist to Visit Your Child’s School

SearcyIf you have a child going into fourth grade this year, contact their school principal or teacher! They can put in a request to BYU’s Anthropology department for a school visit by faculty member Mike Searcy, who brings a unique and exciting perspective on anthropology, as well as several actual relics, to classrooms. Your kids will love it!



Tip #4: Check out a Culture Case

For only a small fee (which is waived for educators), you can borrow a Culture Case from BYU’s Department of Anthropology. These cases include artifacts, replicas, CDs, books, and other teaching tools to help children learn more about various cultures.

Culture Case Web Banner
Culture Case Web Banner

These detailed and informative cases are available for regions such as the Great Basin, the American Southwest, Mesoamerica, Polynesia, Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, and many more!

Tip #5: Go to the Utah Lake Festival

The annual Utah Lake Festival in Provo is a great place to take children who are excited about anthropology. The Museum of Peoples and Cultures will have a booth and various activities available for children and families. Contact Utah Lake Commission Executive Assistant Noelia Deaton (801.851.2900, for more information!


New Insights Into Politics, Autism and ADD Diagnoses, Genealogy, and More: our Magazine


When you want to better understand and help solve societal issues, where can you look for accurate information? As an alum of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences at BYU, you have a connection to a special source. The most recent issue of our alumni magazine Connections, just out, offers:

Interesting insights into the question of why more women aren’t involved in politics: aversion to competition among them


As election season rolls around yet again, the question of why more women aren’t involved in politics continues. Research by Professors Stoddard, Preece, and Karpowitz shows that there are a variety of reasons for their under-representation, which include aversion to entering a competitive environment and a general desire to stay behind the scenes. But it also found that, when women were individually recruited, they tended to get involved more often, and to stay involved longer.

New hope for families of children with ADD or autism


Disabilities and disorders are challenges faced everyday by individuals and their families. BYU professors realize that each case is different and they  are looking to find cures by breaking down the disorders and then creating treatments. For those faced with these challenges, professors have been researching options for early intervention among individuals and education among others to create understanding and help before major problems arise.

News about the rise in interest in family history and how that’s changing what we’re doing on campus


In recent years, among LDS church members and individuals around the world, there has been an increase in enthusiasm regarding family history and genealogy work. Individuals are forming bonds with their ancestors and creating a sense of belonging they didn’t have before. We discuss how this surge in interest has doubled student matriculation in family history, and brought together over thirty different campus entities to provide unprecedented access to both students and the community as a whole.

An advanced look at Professor Richard Davis’ new book on Twitter and politics


The question of social media’s usefulness in political campaigns has been asked for some years now. While it has not yet been answered conclusively by anyone yet, Professor Richard Davis’ new book shows that candidates are still not fully taking advantage of the unique nature of Twitter, limiting its influence in the political worl.

News about what individual alumni are doing, as well as where you are as a whole


The alumni of the FHSS college has been leaving their footprints around the world.

And so much more!


We hope you’ll find a lot of helpful information in the pages of Connections! We would love to hear your thoughts on these important topics.

Media: Does it Cause Social Withdrawal?

3035660201_d2478b7068_bDoes a night at home binge-watching a Netflix series, constantly refreshing your Facebook feed, or trying to advance to the next level of your video game affect your social prowess?  A recent study argues that media choices can affect the likelihood of experiencing social withdrawal.

BYU‘s Drs. Larry Nelson and Sarah Coyne , of the School of Family Life, recently published a study entitled “Withdrawing to a Virtual World: Associations between Subtypes of Withdrawal, Media Use, and Maladjustment in Emerging Adults” in the journal Developmental Psychology.  Their research shows that media could have a direct impact on social withdrawal, depending on the type of withdrawal and media being considered.

Coyne, Sarah
Dr. Sarah Coyne

For this study, researchers distributed an online survey to over 200 undergraduate students at two universities in the United States.  After taking the initial survey, participating students were then given another survey a year later and the results were compared.

The Study

While there has been substantial research published about the effects of media on social withdrawal, Coyne’s study proves unique in that existing work:

  1. examines shyness as an “umbrella category,” rather than multiple forms of withdrawal
  2. has a lack of specificity regarding the types of media use and the breadth of outcome variables being examined
  3. focuses primarily on childhood and adolescence

In the study, Coyne explained, “No empirical work with emerging adults has examined

Nelson, Larry2.jpg
Dr. Larry Nelson

how subtypes of social withdrawal might be related to various forms of media use and how that media use might be related to the stability of withdrawal and its associations with indices of adjustment or maladjustment over time.”

Because of this lack of research, Coyne’s work divided “social withdrawal” into three categories: shyness, unsociability, and avoidance.  It also designated a difference between problematic media (violent video games,  online gambling, pornography) vs. connective media (email, social networking) and internalizing problems (depression) vs. externalizing (illegal drug use, shoplifting).

The Findings

By making these distinctions from former research, the team was able to come forth with new information.  They found that:

  1. all withdrawn individuals, regardless of the subtype, used email more frequently than their non-withdrawn peers
  2. the avoidant group played substantially more video games and violent video games, gambled (online), and viewed more pornography than the other withdrawn individuals
  3. there is evidence of stability of social withdrawal in emerging adults
  4. problematic media has a role in mediating the link between avoidance and externalizing problems in emerging adulthood

3936927326_bbabb1a21d_bWhat’s the impact?

The research team explained that their findings “may serve as a warning about the mounting problems that might accrue the longer emerging adults engage in shy and avoidant behaviors.”  They suggest that “problematic media not only leads to increases in shy and unsociable behaviors, but also to higher levels of [negative] externalizing behaviors.”

In addition, “there may be reason for concern for [avoidant] individuals in the third decade of life because higher levels of problematic media use appear to be linked to higher levels of externalizing behaviors.”

Better understanding these findings could impact the way that researchers continue to study the negative effects of media on social behavior and how individuals personally choose to engage in potentially harmful media use.

Photos courtesy of Flickr.



How Landscape Affects Fire Recovery

8598789914_1c1055225f_zMany states, including Utah, often experience devastating wildfires.  These disasters are especially prevalent during the hot, dry months of summer.  While environmental restoration from these fires can be a lengthy process, could the landscape of the area increase the recovery rate?

This inquiry was taken on in conjunction with our college’s recent Fulton Conference.  The study was conducted by a team of geography students comprising of Alan Barth, Roxanna Hedges, Kevin Ricks, Ben Seipert, and Dr. Matt Bekker, their faculty mentor.  Their research showed a positive correlation between an environment’s recovery rate and its vegetation and slope.

The Experiment

The team chose to research the 2007 Salt Creek Fire in Utah’s Juab and Sanpete counties.  This site allowed them to study both the effects of the slope aspect and the rates of the maple and scrub oak tree recovery compared to the juniper trees.

Speaking of their research process, the students explained, “We used imagery from 2006, just before the fire, as our control, and imagery from 2014 for visualizing sufficient regrowth time.  We then analyzed this imagery by running landscape metrics…measur[ing] spatial characteristics of patch, classes of patches, or the landscapes…We also used the slope aspect map to analyze the vegetation types based on the slope aspect.”


Following their research, the students found that “the oak and maple scrub vegetation increased after the fire because the oak and maple scrub sprout from roots and grow at a more rapid rate. Juniper took the longest to recover from the fire. This is likely because juniper grows slowly compared to maple and oak scrub.”

The study also discovered that the slope of the hill and its direction affected how fast the environment would recovery.  From their maps, the students founds that the north facing slopes grew back at a quicker rate than the south facing slopes.  They hypothesized that “this is likely explained by the amount of sunlight that these slopes receive. The south facing slopes in this terrain grew back slower due to receiving more sunlight throughout the day and not being in the shade like the north facing slopes. Being in the shade allowed for the north facing slopes to retain water more water while the south facing slope water evaporated more quickly or became run-off.”

Landscape Ecology of Fire Recovery

The Effect

The findings of this study could help ecologists to better understand the timeline and effectiveness of wildfire recovery.  By furthering knowledge in this field, changes could be made to improve environmental recovery as well as potentially wildfire prevention.

To learn more about wildfire prevention, go to the following website.

Pictures courtesy of Flickr.