2019 De Lamar Jensen Lecture Will Focus on Religion in the Age of the Reformation

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.

Virginia F. Cutler Lecture Will Focus on Strengthening the Stepfamily

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.

2019 Civic Engagement Research Conference Will Examine How Millennials are Impacting Today’s Political Landscape

The Office of Civic Engagement Leadership is hosting a conference on “Millennial Political Engagement” on Thursday, October 24, 2019 from 9:00am-4:30pm in the Hinckley Alumni Center East Conference Room. All students are invited to attend. The purpose of the conference is to help students across disciplines to understand the value of research on civic engagement.

The presentations will be:
9:30-10:45 am
Lynn Clark, University of Denver
“Growing Up Tracked: How Millennials are Changing Politics by Harnessing Attention in a Society of Surveillance”

11 am – 12:15 pm
Stella Rouse, University of Maryland
“Latino Millennials and Attitudes about Climate Change”

12:30-1:15
Peter Levine, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service
“Why We Need SPUD (Scale, Pluralism, Unity and Depth)”

1:45-3 pm
Leticia Bode, Georgetown University
“Feeling the Pressure: Attitudes about Volunteering and Their Effect on Civic and Political Behaviors”

Writing Westward Podcast: Exciting Stories from the North American West

Brenden Rensink, Producer and Host of the Charles Redd Center’s Writing Westward Podcast

With topics ranging from Native Studies to rural America to race and ethnicity, the Redd Center’s Writing Westward Podcast features conversations with writers who focus on the American West. With a new episode released each month, the podcast has recently passed its one-year anniversary mark. Brenden Rensink, the Associate Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, producer and host of the podcast, began the podcast “as a way for the Redd Center to engage with more scholars and give more authors a platform to share their work.” The Redd Center invites scholars to give lectures on campus, but Rensink found that there are more people to spotlight than there is time in the semester. The Writing Westward Podcast allows the Redd Center to feature more scholars in a unique way that reaches additional audiences. Rensink also adds: “It would be dishonest if I claimed it wasn’t also an excuse for me, personally, to sit and read interesting books.”

And the books featured on the podcast are interesting. Rensink reports that he tries to “choose topics that will appeal to academics and the general public.” Many of these topics fall under the umbrella category of history, literature, and poetry. Because the podcast is multidisciplinary, the series as a whole features a wide variety of subfields: Native Studies, the environment, rural America, immigration, race and ethnicity, memoir, and more. The authors of these works are renowned in their particular fields. As Rensink explains, “Guests have included many prominent scholars whose books have won many awards.” One of these authors is John Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Journalist, who wrote The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the American West. Another one of these authors is Tacey M. Atsitty, writer of Rain Scald: Poems, and recipient of multiple creative writing and poetry awards.

In addition to compelling topics and authors, a casual conversational style is a distinguishing characteristic of the podcast. Rensink says, “One of my guiding principles is to host a loose conversation that is flexible and goes where it will. Rather than stock Q&A, I like to allow us to wander. I think this makes for a more engaging listen.” Rensink reports that listeners’ response to the podcast has been “very positive,” and the Redd Center is continuing to work on attracting more and more listeners.

In the introduction to each episode, Rensink states that the episodes are meant to “inspire you to learn more about the North American West as a region as well as its peoples and environments, histories, and literature, and so forth” and to “provoke as many questions as they provide answers.” Join in on the conversations about the North American West and gain valuable insights and discoveries at http://www.writingwestward.org.

Not All Bad: A Look into Dr. Sarah Coyne’s Social Media Research

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

It’s said that every generation comes with habits that are loathed by the adults of that generation. The youth of the ‘70s had too much synth-heavy rock. Those too-loud-too-punk kids in the ‘80s played too many video games. Young adults today are relentlessly judged for their use of a seemingly far worse source of entertainment: social media.

Dr. Sarah M. Coyne, professor in the School of Family Life, conducted a six-year study examining the patterns of time spent on social media to see how adolescent lives are affected by the quantity of use. The 457 Participants in the study were from various upbringings, ethnicity, income, and family structure. All were aged 10-14 to begin in order to observe them throughout adolescence. To be true to the purpose of the study, examining differential patterns of social media time use throughout adolescence into early adulthood, the research team focused specifically on time, disregarding content, spent on Social Networking Sites (SNS), such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Yearly, each participant would answer a series of questions offering information about their habits and behaviors. At the end of the study, depression, aggression, and delinquency were assessed. Coyne found that the participants naturally sorted, as predicted, into three groups: Increasers, Peak Users, and Stable Users. The Increasers had the worst mental health outcomes than any of the other groups. To be considered an Increaser, the participants had a moderate amount of social media usage at the beginning of the study that stayed moderate through the halfway point then skyrocketed towards the end of the six-year period. Sadly, these people experienced aggressive behavior, both physically and in relationships, leading to cyberbullying, delinquency, and an increased likelihood for addictive and problematic behavior.

The majority of participants, however, categorized as Stable. Stable use participants had a fixed, moderate usage of SNSs over the years of the study. When used moderately, the study found that social media is a normative part of growing up in the digital world (Coyne, Walker, Holmgren, & Stockdale, 2018). Much like the music and hangout spots of the ‘70s and ‘80s, SNSs provide new ways for youth to interact with their peers, make new friends, participate in adolescent culture, and exert age appropriate independence (Coyne, et al., 2018).

Social media has been getting a bad rap, but studies like these show that the addictiveness of SNS depends on everyone’s own ability to self-regulate time spent online. Though at its worst it can lead to forlorn situations, social media is hardly as bad as rock music was in the eyes of moms and dads of the ‘70s. While it may be wrapped in different packaging, youth of any generation are simply looking to connect to the time and to each other.