To Troll or Not to Troll: Millennials and Politics Today

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

What does trolling have to do with millennials’ political participation? Dr. Lynn Clark, communications professor at the University of Denver, kicked off the Fall 2019 Civic Engagement Research Conference with her lecture on “Growing up Tracked: How Millennials are Changing Politics by Harnessing Attention in a Society of Surveillance.” Dr. Clark discussed how young people today are combining digital media and civic literacy as they participate in the political process and advocate for change. This participation often takes the form of trolling and “soft trolling,” a term coined by Dr. Clark. Here are three things that you need to know about trolling and younger generations’ political participation:

Trolling is Not What You Think It Is

Dr. Clark defined trolling as “saying something online to upset as many people as possible using whatever linguistic or behavioral tools that are available.” However, when young people engage in trolling to participate in politics, they troll for a purpose, not just to be antagonistic. For example, they troll the trolls (call out people that slander them), troll the system by challenging its flaws, and engage in “soft trolling.”

“Soft Trolling”: A More Indirect Approach

“Soft trolling” refers to how youth are “calling attention to power dynamics” with their peers as the intended audience, not larger corporations or governments. Youth use this method to advocate for political change in a more indirect manner so that they will not be viewed as too antagonistic. An example Dr. Clark presented of soft trolling was a meme depicting a man playing tennis, swinging at tear gas instead of a ball. The creators of this meme were “making light of the situation” while also taking a certain political stance.

Sharing One’s Story

Young people are using social media to tell their stories and fight misrepresentation. Dr. Clark shared an example of a Senegalese Muslim high school student who created a TikTok video in response to the Netflix film “Tall Girl,” because she felt that her experience was ignored in the media’s narrative. This student and others are saying “my story is important and it’s not being validated here.” Dr. Clark further explains: “Rather than being framed in a way they don’t like, young people are utilizing media savvy to address their own concerns.”

Through trolling the trolls, trolling the system, and engaging in “soft trolling,” young people are combining their digital media and civic literacy to participate in politics. Because social media is emotionally charged in general, Dr. Clark ended her address with the following advice: “it is important for young people to figure out what they want to do and to see themselves as agentive [taking an active role] in some way” as they participate in politics through the use of social media.

Would Suffragists Support The Equal Rights Amendment? Find Out at the 2019 Dead Suffragists’ Debate

Would you like to meet some of the women who brought the vote to women 100 years ago? These women who changed the US political landscape may be gone, but you will have a chance to hear their arguments for women’s rights on Thursday, Nov 19, 2019 during the Dead Suffragists’ Debate.

This debate will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, passed June 4, 1919, that states: “The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” On 18 August 1920, the 36th state ratified the amendment, and 8 days later it was officially adopted.

The Amendment was championed by several of the historical figures that will be on the stage at the Debate. All of them are contemporaries, but each experienced the period in a differently. The debate will be a fun experience to help those attending appreciate both the collective striving for women’s rights and the difficulties of finding common ground. This year two scholars, a BYU faculty member, and a student will be playing the roles of these visionaries:

Barbara Jones Brown, Executive Director of the Mormon History Association, will play Martha Hughes Cannon

Jane Hafen, Emerita Professor of English from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will play Zitkala-Sa a.k.a Gertrude Bonnin

Jamie Horrocks, a BYU Assistant Professor of English, will play Alice Paul

Kayla Jackson, a BYU Political Science and Global Women’s Studies student, will play Ida B. Wells

While this debate will commemorate the 19th amendment, it will also be considering the Equal Rights Amendment, that states “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This amendment was passed by Congress on March 22, 1972. This amendment, which did not require a time limit for ratification, still requires a single state’s vote to be ratified, the state of Utah.

In addition to hearing about these historical figures’ lives, the debate will consider what changed in some communities before, between, and after the legislation of the two amendments, one that has been ratified, the other that has not.

The Debate of the Dead is an annual event held by the Department of History that brings to life historical figures from the past to help shed light on the issues and challenges of their times, and how they effect us today.

This event is free of charge and open to the public. To get more information on the Dead Suffragists’ Debate, contact the History department at 801-422-4636.

Trust the Process: Gordon Limb on Strengthening the Stepfamily

Photo by Blake Barlow on Unsplash

Speaking at the Virgina F. Cutler Lecture, Dr. Gordon Limb reported data from the BYU Research study STEP (Stepfamily Experiences Project), including risks and benefits of growing up in stepfamilies.

Limb’s lecture presented statistics on the changing family environment with emphasis on the Native American family. His research with STEP has found that regardless of ethnicity, family processes are more important than family structure.

Helpful Family Processes during Remarriage Transitions:

  • Think about the age of children when making adjustments: kids under 5 tend to feel abandoned, between 5-8 blame themselves, at ages 9-12 kids will side with one parent or the other, however, all children under 9 adjust to change more easily.
  • A Negative Co-Parenting situation can trigger depression in the child. Negative co-parenting can be anything from having different homework standards, forcing the children to take sides during arguments, or enforcing different bedtimes.

Limb’s research with Native Americans in the STEP Project found:

  • On average Native American children are more “insecurely attached” during transitions than Caucasians, expressing feelings of anxiety, emotional distance, and clinginess.
  • Allowing children to establish a good connection with their stepsiblings can make a big difference.

Overall, Limb found that Children adjust well to different environments and situations if there is consistency, continuity, and efforts to build positive relationships between stepsiblings and stepfamilies.

2019 Chauncy Harris Lecture Discusses the Balance Between Humans, Wildlife, and the Environment

Marguerite Madden, Professor and Director Center for Geospatial Research; Department of Geography, University of Georgia will give the 2019 Chauncy Harris Lecture on Thursday, November 14th at 11:00 AM in 250 KMBL. Dr. Madden’s lecture will examine understanding elephant movements and linkages to development, local communal farming and drought towards mitigating Human-Elephant Conflict in Africa.

Dr. Madden’s research interests include GIScience and Landscape Ecology, including remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), spatio-temporal analysis, geovisualization and geographic object-based image analysis, as applied to landscape-scale biological/physical processes and human-impacts on the environment.

Dr. Chauncy Harris and his family endowed the Chauncy Harris Distinguished Lecture at Brigham Young University in 2003. Dr. Harris graduated from BYU in 1933 at the age of nineteen with a degree in geology and geography. He was BYU’s first Rhodes Scholar and the valedictorian of his graduating class. He later earned a second B.A. from Oxford and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Chicago. Dr. Harris is best known for his work in urban geography and the geography of the Soviet Union/Russia.

Think, Pray, Don’t Forget Your GPS – The Recipe for Life by Alumni Achievement Recipient Clayton Brough

Photo by Tabea Damm on Unsplash

Last Thursday, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences awarded Geography Alum R. Clayton Brough with the Alumni Achievement Award. Brough is a graduate of the College’s bachelor (‘73) and masters (‘75) programs of geography, though with the ease and eloquence that he delivered his lecture it was evident that he’d had many years of practice in front of cameras and crowds as a schoolteacher and weekend climatologist for ABC 4. Brough shared with us valuable lessons accompanied by entertaining anecdotes of his life, while bringing an encouraging spirit into the room during his lecture “5 Lessons I’ve Learned in 50 Years.”

Lesson 1: Think Carefully before You Agree to the Wishes of Others

In opposition to the culture of ‘sending it,’ Brough encourages his listeners to “not push send until you’ve thought of the end.” Giving us a very real and very comical example of a mistake he made while here at BYU that led to people believing he had married his sister, Brough reminded us that even innocent good deeds could not end well if the end is not thought through first.

Lesson 2: Don’t Leave Home without a GPS Receiver

Throwing it back to the good ol’ days of no Google, no Siri, and a hard-to-read paper map, Brough related his experience as a young Geography student to the importance of remembering to take our spiritual guides with us wherever we go.  On an assignment to map Utah County, Brough and partner accidentally found themselves in the middle of the Dugway Proving Ground, a military training area where new tactics and technology are tested. Whether it be the still small voice or the strict direction of Siri, sometimes in life it takes a couple of wrong turns in life to realize how important it is to have a way to get back to the right place.

Lesson 3: Nourish a Good and Clean Sense of Humor

A good sense of humor is not just a fun personality trait, but was extremely beneficial for Brough when he dealt with negative comments during his time as a forecaster. Brough emphasized the importance of being nice, and, again, thinking before you send.

Lesson 4: Find Happiness through Serving Others Including Those on Both Sides of the Veil

The cheerful buzz in the room paused for just one moment as Brough recalled the cancer diagnosis of both he and his son. Brough, however, is grateful for the opportunity he had to reprioritize the things in his life. Cancer caused him to slow down and appreciate his family and the eternal significance of everything in this life. This focus sparked Brough’s passion for genealogy and family history work, something he and his wife Ethel Mickelson now do together.

Lesson 5: If You want to be Successful, Dream Big, Work Hard, and Pray Often

Brough spent 30 years working with students and in that time learned that we must allow even the youngest students to dream big and think outside the box. Students at Eisenhower Junior High proved to be a testament of that as the holders of seven world records. A feat made possible by a handful of creativity, a spoonful of studiousness, and a dash of daring dreams.

Clayton Brough ended as he started, encouraging us to keep a sense of humor and remember to serve. Brough has since retired and now works at the Counselling Center at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Utah.

Co-Founder of the Difficult Break-up Support Group Shares that Healing Comes Through Connections

Laura Waters Black and her husband Austin Black

“The most powerful catalyst for healing is making connections with people who have had similar experiences,” says Laura Waters Black, co-founder of the Difficult Break-up Support Group on BYU campus. Waters Black, a family studies major, started the group because of her experience with a broken relationship and because she “did not want other people to feel alone.” With help from a friend, Waters Black was able to start the support group, receiving additional assistance from Professor Haupt of the School of Family Life, who, Waters Black reports, “believed in me and saw value in the idea.”

At the time Waters Black had the idea to start the group, she was also taking Professor Haupt’s SFL 315 writing class, a course that encourages students to publish their work and coaches them through the process. Waters Black felt inspired to write about her experience with a broken engagement for a class assignment, because she had “felt marginalized and isolated at that time and wanted to help others” by telling her story. Writing about her experience proved impactful to Waters Black, who said, “I never thought I’d do public scholarship, but writing about my experience was transformative and took me to areas I’d never thought I’d be in.”

Organizing and joining in on sessions of the Difficult Break-up Support Group has also proved to be a transformative experience for Waters Black. The support group involves 10-week sessions, with therapists leading psychoeducational discussions on topics such as trust, shame, and ambiguous loss. Participants engage in deep interactions and confront challenges together. As someone who has gone through similar trials, Waters Black says that she can be a mentor figure in these sessions, showing these women that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Waters Black adds that the “most beautiful thing to see is when people with different experiences come together.” The group has included 20-year-olds and 60-year-olds, who are able to connect with one another despite their differences in age and life experience. Waters Black says that what has stood out to her from these group sessions is how the older women respect the pain of younger women. An older woman who experienced years of relationship challenges once comforted a 19-year-old who had a painful 6-month relationship by telling her: “Pain is pain for you, and I don’t think your pain is less than mine.” For Waters Black, the experience of creating and participating in the Difficult Break-up Support Group has been “healing for me in ways I didn’t think I needed.”

To learn about the importance of human connections in overcoming trauma, read Waters Black’s article here. Also, watch out for her upcoming article in the Ensign: “How a Broken Engagement Healed My Heart.”

Geography Alum R. Clayton Brough is Recipient and Lecturer for Alumni Achievement Award

In 1975, when Robert Clayton Brough was graduating with his masters in geography, BYU was celebrating its centennial birthday. On October 17, BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will be celebrating the life and achievements of R. Clayton Brough. Though Brough will be receiving an award from the College for distinguished achievements in his studies of geography, majority of Brough’s career was spent as an educator. For over thirty years, Brough taught Taylorsville middle school students geography, journalism, and science. The David O. McKay School of Education has also recognized Brough for the lives he touched throughout his career as a teacher. Brough will be giving his lecture Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 11 a.m. in 250 KMBL.

Brough taught people both in and out of the classroom. While most people use the weekend to relax after a taxing 9-5 week, Brough spent his time out of the classroom informing the people of Utah of the weather. For twenty-eight years, Clayton Brough served the citizens of Utah with a sunny smile as the weekend broadcast climatologist for ABC 4. A bright and lovable TV personality elevated Brough to something of a local celebrity, known best for his weekend spots and special 8-14 day forecast. This two-week glance proved helpful for Utahns in seemingly unpredictable seasonal weather.

Brough’s geographic background no doubt contributed to his success as a meteorologist and climatologist. He has held numerous board positions as a climatologist including the Vice President of the American Geographical Research Corporation of Utah, an organization dedicated to studying regional climates. Brough credits Dr. Richard H. Jackson and Dr. Dale J. Stevens, two BYU alum and geography professors Brough had during his time here as a student, for teaching him how to successfully interact with his students and inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams. Though Brough attributes these professors for helping his teaching career, they’re influence undoubtedly contributed to Brough’s own dedication to scholarly excellence. Years after his graduation, Brough came back to school and researched Utah climate with faculty members at BYU and Utah State University. Since then, he has published multiple scientific articles discussing the climate and geography of Utah. Brough’s degree did not limit his interest to education and climate. With a passion for his faith and family history, Brough has also published more than thirty articles relating to genealogy.

Genealogy is truly a passion of Brough’s. He has served four different times as Chief Genealogist for the Brough Family Organization, one of the world’s largest and oldest non-profit ancestral family organizations and surname associations. Brough has also served as secretary of the LDS Ancestral Families Association and was a member of the International Genealogy Consumer Organization for fourteen years. Of course, Broughs own direct family is of the greatest importance to him. His last night on air he stated that his leaving would fulfil his wish to “conserve my energy, preserve my health, and spend more time with my wife, children, and grandchildren.” Broughs immediate family consists of over a dozen grandchildren, four children, and his wife, Ethel Mickelson, of over forty-five years.

The college is honoring Clayton Brough for his academic achievements, though the rest of his life has truly been a model of the age-old saying “life is what you make it. Not only is Brough a cancer survivor, returned missionary, and an Eagle Scout, his teaching career was uniquely filled with the breaking of numerous Guinness World Records that he achieved with his students and coworkers. Amongst Eisenhower Junior High’s collection of records were World’s Largest Pan Loaf, World’s Longest Paperclip Chain, and World’s Fastest and Largest Human Mattress Dominoes. Eisenhower also held the record for most records held by one group. These record-beating feats were not all fun and games, Eisenhower teachers reported that they taught “teamwork, logistics, [and] problem-solving” to the students. Join us Thursday, October 17 to listen to Clayton Brough discuss his studies, world records, and more in his lecture “5 things I’ve Learned in 50 Years”.

Free Counseling for Students at BYU’s Comprehensive Clinic

The hottest spot on 9th East is no doubt The BYU Creamery. A lesser-known spot, just across the street from the ‘80s-styled ice cream diner is the BYU Comprehensive Clinic, located in The John Taylor Building. The clinic has been serving BYU Students and the surrounding community since 1976. As part of the Marriage and Family Therapy program here at BYU, the Comprehensive Clinic functions as a training and research clinic and offers free counseling services to BYU students.

Part of being a training clinic means that sessions are held by graduate students being supervised by experienced licensed professionals. These students also assist with the clinical research that is facilitated as well as the psychological theories that are constructed there. The research results can be found on the comprehensive clinic’s blog.

The blog features stories that provide brief descriptions of the results of their studies. Though all of the topics covered are along the lines of marriage, family life, and relationships, there are many options that relate to your everyday life as a student. These articles range from how siblings affect adolescent happiness to the secret of managing stress. 

Both the physical comprehensive clinic and their blog are an excellent on-campus resource to students. To stay up to date on the research coming out of the comprehensive clinic, visit their blog’s page on their website. Information for scheduling appointments can be found on the FAQ page of their website.

2019 De Lamar Jensen Lecture: The Reformation in Religious Context

Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Distinguished Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The 2019 De Lamar Jensen lecture will be presented by Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 11:00 AM in 2107, Jesse Knight Building. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Wiesner-Hanks’ lecture will discuss how the voyages of Columbus and the religious changes of the Reformation that are often seen as ushering in the modern world, but they are usually examined separately. Her lecture will bring them together, discussing religious changes around the world in the sixteenth century, some of which occurred because of the interactions between cultures that resulted from the voyages of discovery, but many of which grew out of movements of reform within various religious traditions as highly-educated thinkers and ordinary people changed religious beliefs and practices and sought to redefine the relationship between the divine and human. These will include the creation of Sikhism by Guru Nanak, reforms in Confucianism, the spread of Kaballah, Shi’ite Islam in the Safavid Empire, among others. Seeing the Reformation with the context of religious transformations across the globe does not diminish its importance, but allows us to understand it in a new way.

The annual De Lamar Jensen lecture is presented by the Department of History in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, and was established to honor Jensen, who joined the BYU history faculty in 1957.

On Strengthening the Stepfamily – The 2019 Virginia F. Cutler Lecture

Gordon Limb, Director of the BYU School of Social Work

The School of Family Life is holding the 56th Annual Virginia F. Cutler 2019 Lecture on Tuesday, October 15th, at 7:00 pm in 250 KMBL. Gordon Limb, PhD, Director of the BYU School of Social Work, will be leading an interactive discussion on the following topic: “Strengthening the Stepfamily: Research Evidence from the General Population and American Indians.”

This interactive discussion focuses on the risk and protective factors of growing up in a stepfamily, including what we know about American Indian stepfamilies. Data will be presented from the Stepfamily Experiences Project (STEP), a BYU research study of 1,593 emerging adults, including 340 American Indians, who grew up in stepfamilies. Implications from practice, policy and future research will be given relating to both the general population and American Indians.