Social Aggression, Social Media, and the Perils of Lurking Online: Dr. Marion K. Underwood Speaks

Underwood-turquoise-glasses-6x9.jpgDean Marion K. Underwood will deliver her lecture “Social Aggression, Social Media, and the Perils of Lurking Online” on Thursday, February 11 in the Hinckley Alumni & Visitors Center Assembly Hall at 7:30 p.m. Her address will be the twelfth annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture, named for the late wife of Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend.

Dr. Underwood is the Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate Provost, and Ashbel Smith Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. She earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Duke University. Her research examines origins and outcomes of social aggression, and how adolescents’ digital communication relates to adjustment.

Dr. Underwood’s work has been published in numerous scientific journals and her research program has been supported by the National Institutes of Health since 1995. In 2003, she authored a book, Social Aggression among Girls. Since 2003, she and her research group have been conducting a longitudinal study of origins and outcomes of social aggression, and how adolescents use digital communication. Dr. Underwood received the 2001 Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, was granted a FIRST Award and a K02 Mid-Career Independent Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, and is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

Brigham Young University established the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Endowed Chair in Social Work and the Social Sciences in 2003 to honor Sister Hinckley’s commitment to strengthening home and family. The chair focuses on understanding and strengthening the family, the development of women, and strategies to help both parents and children in difficult circumstances. Each year, the chair invites a distinguished scholar to deliver a lecture addressing a pertinent social issue.

For more information, visit or contact Jamie Moesser at (801) 422-1320 or


MPH Logo



Starfish and Making A Difference

“A man walking on an ocean beach noticed that a young man was reaching down, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. As he came closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the older man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the man said, “Young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish along every mile? You cannot possibly make a difference!”

At this the young man bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it landed in the water, he said, “I made a difference for that one.” 1

Each of us has the power within to make a difference in the lives of others. In less than four months some of us will be graduating from this great university. Like you, I’m planning on making 2016 the best year ever. With that in mind, there is a lot of work to do. Between classes, extracurricular activities, and making memories, making a difference might not be so high on goals for the year. But, remember: we all have the same hours in the day as Beyoncé.

If you haven’t made your goals for the New Year, there is never a better time than the present to do so. Goal setting is critical to success in any stage of life. Whether you are graduating, half-way through or just getting used to the cougar lifestyle – consider the following advice:

“The establishment of goals in our lives is of extreme importance; without them we are blind. There is a difference between a wish and a goal. We should make our days count, not just count days (J. Thomas Fyans).”

In order to make your days count, here are ten ways to make a difference.

1. Save money (It will make a difference to your pocket/bank account!) I was a seasonal worker at Nordstrom (a large fashion retailer) but I paid them to work in terms of buying store merchandise. I was surrounded with articles of clothing with the words “TAKE ME” printed on the price tag. Saving money is a disciplined activity. Financial freedom makes all the difference.

2. Use online or mobile services to connect with someone far away or someone you haven’t talked to in years. Try What’s App, Skype or Google Chat and get talking. Reaching out to someone on another continent has never been easier.

3. Read the news. It’s election year and it will make a difference at the voting booth. We need informed voters, not ignorant ones. Make a difference in your community by learning about issues on a local, state, and national level and vote for wise, honest candidates for public office.

4. Learn something new each day. Rather than play “Candy Saga Crush” —no judgment— learn something new like a foreign word (have you heard of DuoLingo?) Pick a new book outside of course study to read for pleasure and expand your knowledge.

5. Write a letter or card and send it or hand deliver it to someone. Just because the holidays have passed does not mean you can’t write a card and deliver it. I’m sure you know people with birthdays. Get them a card.

6. Find a new song or perfect melody that matches your optimism for 2016. Sing happy!

7. Make a mistake AND own it. It’s too easy to blame others and criticize, thinking we would or could do it better. Accept responsibility 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of your actions. This will make a world of difference.

8. Share something on social media – and make a difference in the world with a reference to who you are or what is important to you.


9. Get rid of at least one annoying/bad/off-putting habit. We all have idiosyncrasies. Some are more visible than others. If it is wasting time reading a gossip magazine, chewing food loudly, interrupting people when they speak–focus on it and eliminate it from your conduct. I’m sure you can make at least one person happy, if not yourself.

10. Look for ways to add “thank you,” “I love you,” “please forgive me,” and “I forgive you” to your daily life. No explanation necessary.

If there is one take away from this article: just make someone happy. Cheers to you and 2016!


1  Adapted from Loren C. Eiseley, The Star Thrower (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979).

Celebrating The Family Proclamation

In November of last year, the School of Family Life celebrated the 20th Anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. There was much to be appreciated and learned from the event.

The School of Family Life Director, Dean Busby, began the meeting by making a wonderful parallel between the first verses in the Gospel of John, and the proclamation on the family. The first verses of the gospel read:

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

14. And the Word was made flesh…

Busby then compared Christ being made flesh to the doctrines in God’s Plan of Happiness found in the proclamation. “What the proclamation did more than anything,” said Busby, “Was to coalesce and organize the doctrines about the family into one constitutional document. The question is: can we take this declared word and make it flesh? Can we bring it to life in our  lives and in the lives of those around us?”

“The proclamation can become [flesh] by our choices and by the way we decide to give it meaning each day.”


The School of Family Life, over which Dean Busby serves as chair, has its own special mission to “provide instruction that fosters commitment to the principles in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

A student speaker from the School of Family Life, Savannah Keenan, served her mission for the LDS church in St. George, Utah and Santa Maria, Brazil. She taught the gospel of Jesus Christ within the homes of many. She said, “I learned through these experiences that anywhere in the world, and in any situation, and in any kind of home, every single family can and will be blessed as they apply the principles taught in  The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

The leaders of the LDS church have counseled the SFL faculty to focus on promoting principles found in the proclamation on the family. SFL professor Dr. Sarah Coyne told about a time following a difficult period in her life where she felt inspired by God to do something to follow that counsel. She began a longitudinal study in which she looked at “digital natives”— kids who have never been alive without internet readily available. It will be a study that will follow them into their young adult years. She studies both the good and the bad that came from media use, answering questions like “What are the precursors to developing an addiction to media?”

“Kids spend more time with media than anything…including sleeping,” said Coyne. So it is important to give parents “tools to help children not only survive, but thrive in this media environment.” And then she testified, “One of the ways we can strengthen the family is to understand the ways that families use media.”


“I testify to you that God is in the School of Family Life,” said Coyne, “We’re part of a plan that is bigger than us all.”

The Family: A Proclamation to the World states, “We call upon responsible citizens…everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” And the School of Family Life has chosen to take that calling seriously. While it may be intimidating to be part of something so important to the world’s future, Coyne offers her encouragement.

“We do not have to do these things alone,” she said, “He will guide our thoughts and our efforts to be able to be the kind of scholars that he needs us to be; scholars that will build his kingdom and defend the family, scholars that will be a voice of reason and goodness in a world that desperately needs it right now.”


President Kevin J Worthen, as the keynote speaker, also offered some wonderful insight on the importance and relevance of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. “[The Proclamation] puts many social issues for us in an eternal context,” said President Worthen, “And that makes all the difference in the world: when you start understanding what God is trying to accomplish in that context.”

He then shared an important insight from the LDS Church Handbook:

God established families for three reasons:

  1. To bring us happiness.
  2. To help us learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere.
  3. To prepare us for eternal life.

President Worthen continued:

“The proclamation on the family is a constitution for us about what things are most important in our lives… it provides us with specific advice on how to make [God’s] plan real in our lives.”

The School of Family Life plays an integral part of the FHSS college mission and we thank their faculty and students for their important contribution to it. May the Family: A Proclamation to the World be a constitution for our family lives, and may we become the scholars and people our Heavenly Father wants us to become.

Watch the full celebration below:


What ways have you found to implement the Proclamation in your family’s life?

Dr. Rick Miller to Serve as New Chair of Sociology Department

Miller, Rick

Dr. Ben Ogles, dean of BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, announced in December 2015 that Dr. Rick Miller will be serving as the chair of the Department of Sociology beginning January 1, 2016.

Dr. Miller is a graduate of BYU’s Sociology program (MS; 1984) and then did his PhD in Sociology at USC with emphases in Family Studies and Adult Development along with obtaining certification in Marriage and Family Therapy.  He was hired as an associate professor in the School of Family in 1999 after working for 11 years at Kansas State University and was promoted to the rank of professor in 2004.  He also has significant administrative experience including serving as the former director of the School of Family Life (2006-2012), associate dean (2005-2006), director of the Gerontology program (2002-2007), and director of the MFT graduate programs (MFT and PhD) at Kansas State (1994-1998).

Dr. Miller replaces Dr. Cardell Jacobson, who served as chair of the sociology department for many years.  In welcoming Dr. Miller, we also thank Dr. Jacobson for his faithful service.  Dean Ogles said of Dr. Jacobson: “I am grateful for his dedication to and hard work on behalf of the department and college.”

Rootstech Volunteering = Rootstech Pass

Love family history? Want to attend the largest family history gathering in the world? Come volunteer for the RootsTech conference for at least nine hours and receive a free RootsTech pass. The conference is scheduled for February 3rd through the 6th. Below you will find the shifts that are available:

6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Wednesday-Friday

6:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday

This conference provides an opportunity to network with family history professionals and learn about the inner-workings of a large conference. Help is wanted. To volunteer, contact Ann Baxter, program administrator for Conferences and Workshops at BYU.

In addition, BYU will be helping with the registration area and will need at least 15 people throughout the week. If you need transportation, the Department of Conference and Workshops will provide a van to transport volunteers from the Conference Center (near the Marriott Center) to the RootsTech conference.

The benefits of a pass include access to the keynote sessions, more than 200 classes, the expo hall, and all of the evening events.  Please note Family Discovery Day on Saturday does require a separate registration.


If you are eager to work additional hours, there are additional rewards:

  • Lunch for each 9 hour shift or longer you volunteer
  • Up to $5 in parking reimbursement per day if you do not have Temple Plaza parking privileges

Volunteers who give 10 hours or more will also be given a conference bag.

Volunteers who give 18 hours or more will be invited to a volunteer thank you luncheon after RootsTech.

Contact Information:

Ann Herd Baxter

Program Administrator

Conferences and Workshops

Brigham Young University






Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness: Author Paul Reeve Speaks

The Charles Redd Center will sponsor a lecture by author and historian Paul ReevePaul Reeve, titled “Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness” on January 27. Reeve, who teaches at the University of Utah, will base his comments from evidence found in his recent book, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. Paul Reeve suggests that Mormon whiteness in the nineteenth century was a contested variable, not an assumed fact.

Situating the Mormon racial story within the broader context of a very fluid and illogical American racial history, Reeve will address the evolution of Mormon whiteness over time and offer a new lens through which to view the evolving priesthood and temple bans within Mormonism. Reeve also argues that one way in which Mormons attempted to secure whiteness for themselves was in distancing themselves from their fellow black Mormons. For more information about upcoming lectures scheduled by the Redd Center for the winter semester, click here.

Religion of a Different Color book cover

Paul has published a book on the subject, entitled, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness, was published by Oxford University Press in February 2015.  He is also the author of Making Space on the Western Frontier: Mormons, Miners, and Southern Paiutes, and co-editor with Ardis E. Parshall of Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia.  With Michael Van Wagenen, he co-edited Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore. He is the former Associate Chair of the History Department at the University of Utah and current Director of Graduate Studies where he teaches courses on Utah history, Mormon history, and the history of the U.S. West.  He is the recipient of the University of Utah’s Early Career Teaching Award and of the College of Humanities Ramona W. Cannon Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.  He serves on the Board of Editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly and was a past board member of the Mormon History Association and the Faculty Advisory Council of the University of Utah Press.



Five Apps to Save You this Semester

You’re a student. You’re busy. You might feel like  you’re drowning in textbooks. You’ve got to find ways to be less busy. Well, here we come to the rescue, dressed in a beautiful bathing suit of smartphone savvy. We’ve got five apps that can help you—as FHSS students majoring in anthropology, economics, geography, history, neuroscience, political science, psychology, family life, social work, or sociology— be less busy, and save you this semester:

1. BYU App


Perhaps you already knew this app existed. You might have used it when you lost your ID card in a snowstorm, or to make sure you aced the last test. But we’re going to point out a few things you may not have seen yet. Things that can save you time.

  • Vending: now you can search where the machines are and which ones carry your favorite snacks (e.g. chocolate milk, fresh veggies, etc.). No more sprinting across campus to find the right machine before your next class!
  • Campus buildings: Never get lost on campus again. If you’ve got the building name (or acronym) you can search and find it no problem
  • Campus Shuttles: With the new shuttle system comes the new shuttle schedule function that you’ll need on hand if you want to make it home on time for that hot date.

2. Evernote


It’s not easy to keep all your notes in one place, especially if you want to share them with others. Sometimes you find something online, but don’t have time to take copious notes on it. Other times you need to access your notes from different devices. With Evernote, you can save things you find online, and work on projects with other students within the app. And all your work will stay in one place. There are several ways to customize your note-taking, and you will NEVER run out of room to write. It’s listed under the “essentials” list in the App Store. So if you haven’t started using it yet, we suggest you do. And just like the elephant in this screenshot, you’ll “never forget” your notes at home – because it will be on your phone. And we know that you don’t forget your phones.

3. Mint


We’re saving you with this app by saving you money. As a college student, you may feel like keeping a budget is too time-consuming, so you fly by the seat of your pants instead. The problem is, the seat of YOUR pants don’t have a lot of money in them. So this app puts all of your bank accounts into one place, and helps you create a budget accordingly. It will give you advice on how to spend and save like a financial whiz. It will automatically move your card-purchased transactions into the appropriate section of the budget spending. So instead of worrying about your finances, all you have to do is spend, and make sure to check Mint once in a while (instead of Insta).

4. Lunchbox


This app gets you free lunch on campus. Woah there we go again saving you money! If you’ve never heard of this app, then you’re in for a real treat. It was invented by two former BYU students and is being used on campuses across the United States. Four easy steps will guide you through this app:

  1. Read calendar to tell you when and where you find on-campus food.
  2. Go to food.
  3. Eat food.
  4. Food.

Simple enough right? You’re welcome.

5. Elevate


This app will help you sharpen:

  • Memory
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing concisely
  • Math skills
  • Everything else related to the smart side of your brain

What sets this app apart from other “brain game” apps is that it makes a customizable workoutfor the areas of your brain that need the most attention. It’s mostly free (some of the exercises have to be purchased) and it’s awesome. Just look at how much fun it looks:



This is first in a series of upcoming posts about apps and technology that can facilitate a more effective educational experience. We hope you have the best semester of your life. Stay tuned and stay smart.

What apps do YOU use for your education?


Church History Research, MormonPlaces Project

The MormonPlaces Project ( has the goal of building a comprehensive database of every ward and branch in the LDS Church from 1830 to 1930 (about 4,000 of them). We need two historical research assistants, who will primarily be studying primary source documents to compile detailed information about these congregations, and to investigate important questions in how the practice and leadership structure of wards and branches have changed over time. History and Family History majors who have completed coursework in research methods are encouraged to apply to Brandon Plewe (Geography) at or Jill Crandell (History) at


Mormon Places screenshot.JPG

Common Ground Between Liberals and Conservatives: the Family?

“Americans may be nearing a tipping point of fear,” says , a writer quoted recently in the Huffington Post. In his article titled “A Nation Divided By Fear” he said that, if you are like most Americans, according to a Chapman University study, you believe there has been a marked increase in child abductions, mass shootings, gang violence, school shootings, and pedophilia. In truth, from available statistics, there are fewer such crimes in each category; in some cases there have been dramatic declines. A recent study conducted by FHSS political science researchers Chris Karpowitz and Jeremy Pope shows that, likewise, many Americans fear the gradual dissolution of the institution of marriage, but the reality is that, in practice, it is still held in high regard by liberals and conservatives alike.

Deseret News American Family Survey screenshot



The American Family study was paid for and published in the Deseret News National in the fall of 2015. “What’s unique about this survey,” said Dr. Karpowitz, “is that we asked respondents broader questions about what they think about marriage and families, about their political attitudes in family-related areas, and how they rate the stability and structure of their own families.”

“One of the survey’s more surprising findings is that, although liberals and conservatives have markedly different ideological attitudes about family and marriage, their lived family experiences are almost exactly the same,” the Deseret News said. “It also found that while most Americans say their own marriages and families are strong, they rate the strength of marriages and families generally much lower.”

Pope, Jeremy

Jeremy C. Pope, co-author of the study, associate professor of political science at BYU, and co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy (CSED) said: “[This] should make everyone who cares about the family and family policy sit up and take notice—whether they are on the political left, the right or in the center. Knowing how the public views marriage and family is an important step in diagnosing problems and identifying potential solutions where everyone can agree.”


Christopher F. Karpowitz, co-director of CSED and also a political science associate professor at BYU, said that part of what they found in the survey was that conservatives and liberals were “talking past each other.” In general, says Professor Karpowitz, liberals care about economic stresses mostly and have paid less attention, comparatively speaking, to family structure and cultural issues. The opposite is true for conservatives; they care about the structural and cultural issues, but they are less focused on the economic challenges. Both Pope and Karpowitz feel their  findings will show that both of those things play an important role.

This speaks to the value of the survey to a larger audience. Professor Karpowitz continued: “I do think that the work we have done so far and the work that we still plan to do is contributing to a larger discussion in the United States about the role of families and how to make families stronger. The other thing that we’ve been telling everyone is that there are some things that conservatives and liberals agree about a lot.”

Indeed, if coverage of the survey is any indication, people are beginning to take notice of these findings. It has so far been covered in the Washington Post (in an opinion piece, an article on the benefit of religion for families and kids, and a piece on slowing marriage rates), the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, KSL News, The Guardian, Christian Today, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. With a combined readership in the millions, Pope and Karpowitz’s study is providing plenty of food for thought, if not discussion.

5246934428_b5f7f57049_b lego family via Flickr pascal faceless family.jpg

Perhaps it’s possible then that, in a day of such divisiveness and fear,  common ground on the subject of family is possible, if not in practice, at least in discourse. Since we as a members of the same society all have an interest in the successful functioning of that society, one would hope.