Hickman lecture 2018: How passion can change your life and relationships

Relationships aren’t only meant to be enjoyed in the next life. They are conditions of salvation itself. This is why passion is so significant in our journey through life. In the 13th Annual Martin B. Hickman lecture, Professor of Family Life, Dean Busby highlights the ways in which passion is crucial and beautiful in our lives and relationships.

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Professor Dean Busby

To begin his discussion, Busby teaches the importance of passion from the perspective of its difficulties, asserting that passion is hard to hold onto. “You need people who can give you examples,” he says, “and inspire and show you that it takes courage.” One such example is Andrea Bocelli, a blind singer passionate about opera. He was told his dream to sing opera was impossible; he wouldn’t be able to see the conductor or engage with the audience. Originally, he was discouraged until he found a master who taught him to be guided by his passion in order to achieve excellence.

What is passion? According to Busby’s definition, passion is something you sacrifice and “exert substantial effort towards.” It “becomes part of who you are or what you identify with,” he says. A passion isn’t an interest you dabble in occasionally; it is a pursuit in which you wish to improve and enjoy further, and for which you will lay aside other aspects of your life. Passions are “central to identity” and “represent each person’s unique and fundamental way of being who they are.”

Busby says, “We are drawn to people who are passionate…Who we are has no meaning except in relationships with others.” This is why passions are very relational, and therefore, vital to our happiness in this life. We must cultivate them now to grow and expand our intellect and spirituality, as well as to become like God. Passion isn’t important just to bring us pleasant satisfaction, it’s essential to life on earth, says Busby. As President Hinckley said, “Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.”

Passion asserts itself in multiple styles. Low passion or lack thereof is known as over-regulated or inhibited, while excess passion is called under-regulated or obsessive. The ideal amount of passion is a harmonious balance between the two. According to Busby, there are many types of passion, including creative, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual/ intellectual. Sexual passion encompasses all of these and is a central factor in healthy relationships, and all passion types contribute in different ways to a fulfilling life. While following passions in areas of work, school and family can be difficult, the right amount of passion brings satisfaction not found any other way.

For the full 2018 Hickman lecture, click here or watch below.

More than a Manger: MPC combines culture and religion in holiday exhibit

See how different cultures celebrate Christmas at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures’ “More than a Manger” exhibit. Open now until February, the exhibit showcases 21 nativities from 10 unique regions in the American Southwest.

Other Christmas traditions and celebrations displayed in the exhibit include the Mexican nativity play Los Pastores, hanging ristras (bundles of red peppers), tamales and handmade nativity craft work.

46165965_975609215956828_2817372587670110208_n.jpgVisitors will also learn about the history of Christianity among the native communities of the region and find deeper meaning in the Christmas season.

Discover how Christmas not only unifies Christianity but also influences people and their cultures through the sharing and celebration of Christmas traditions.

A nativity set is more than a group of figurines and a manger; nativity details reflect the heritage and history of the hands that made them. Become immersed in cultural traditions while reflecting on the Christmas story by attending this exhibit.

Additional nativity celebrations across campus

Artist Brian Kershisnk will discuss his painting, “Nativity,” on Monday, December 10 at 7:15 p.m. at the BYU Museum of Art (MOA).

The BYU Bookstore will display a 1,000+ piece Fontanini, an Italian hand-crafted and world-renown nativity. The nativity will be located on the bottom floor of the bookstore from December 1 through 30.

Foundations of success: Psychology student receives award for excellence

“Nothing in life worth having comes easy.”

This was the philosophy Kara Duraccio had growing up on a small farm in Idaho. Though neither of her parents had finished college, they supported and loved their children by teaching them the importance of earning what they wanted in life.

Today, Duraccio is a new mother and the recipient of the Deseret Book Award for Excellence. This prestigious award is only given to one BYU graduate student every five years. Deseret Book requires that the recipient “incorporate into their lives… traits of excellence that will allow them to make a worthy contribution to the communities in which they live.”

Respected as both a teacher and student of clinical psychology at BYU, Duraccio is driven by a passion for childhood development and adolescent behavior. Her compassionate desire to help others is seen in her excellence in leadership and academia.

Throughout her life, her foundation has been the principle of compassion and care. “As cliché as it sounds,” says Duraccio, “I have always known that I wanted to go into a profession that emphasized helping others.”

Duraccio began higher education with the intention of studying nursing, but quickly ended up dropping the major. She remained undeclared until she took Introduction to Psychology, saying, “I knew psychology was the field for me when I ended up reading the entire textbook only a few weeks into the class.”

With her newfound passion, she became involved in research labs and saw the impact this research could have in application. “While I loved psychological research, I felt that a career path that was solely focused on research lacked the depth that could be obtained by entering into clinical psychology,” she says.

Believing in the power of action, Duraccio began working with Dr. Chad Jensen in his pediatric obesity lab. “I love the career that I have chosen,” she says, “because not only do I get to research childhood behaviors, but I then get to put the things that I learn from my research directly into my practice!”

According to Duraccio, the principles of psychology expand beyond the academic discipline: “I feel that it is so useful to teach future and current parents about normal child development, where development can go wrong, and, most importantly, what to do if it does go wrong.”

Recently, Duraccio has been able to see this reflected in her own life as a new mother with both the perspective of a clinical psychologist and a parent. “It is so easy to become consumed with all of the things that we need to do as parents,” she says. “Limit screen time, make sure your child is eating enough fruits and vegetables…foster self-esteem and self-efficacy…and the list goes on and on.”

However, motherhood has taught her what can’t be learned in a research lab. “I truly believe that successful parenting boils down to one simple practice,” she says, “love your child…and everything else should fall into place.”

100 years later: Find out who in your family was a World War I veteran

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Moroni Seth McConkie

Joshua Seth Hunt grew up knowing he carried the namesake of his great granduncle, Moroni Seth McConkie, who was killed in a French train accident while serving in World War I.

“My middle name to me not only serves as a reminder about my great granduncle’s service to preserve peace, it also serves as a reminder to me of all those that came before me and their hard work and service,” said Hunt, a BYU computer science major.

Hunt is part of a BYU team who — in time for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day — just released Vet Finder, a Web application that will tell people who in their family tree are veterans of World War I. For the project, computer science professor Mark Clement, economics professor Joseph Price and four other computer science students spent the past five months creating a machine-learning feature to scan more than 32 million 1930 census records (for nearly 137 million people).

The census had been previously indexed, but much of the data had been left out, including individuals’ veteran status and the war they were veterans of. So the team created handwriting-recognition programs (a challenge, with such a range of handwriting styles) that would ultimately link veteran status to a person’s name and other already indexed info (birth date, birth place, death date, death place and relationship).

“This does something to give more visibility to the sacrifice of veterans,” said Clement, who has three people in his family line who served in World War I. “One of the purposes of our lab is to get people interested in family history, so this is another thing that hopefully helps them to learn more about their ancestors.”

Students on the team — Hunt, Maxwell Clemens, Jesse Williams, Iain Lee and Adam Warnick — were supported by mentoring funds from the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

“It’s so easy to generically think and study about the past,” said Hunt. “But this project helps us understand how we connect to it. The fact you can figure out that you have an ancestor who gave service like this helps you more deeply understand the importance and significance of their service and the war as a whole.”

Because the team to this point has focused on census records, people who were killed in the war aren’t yet linked with this application, but within the next few months, team members will have those records included as well.

This project offers a glimpse into one specific element of an individual’s family history, Clemens said, but handwriting recognition will increasingly help computers more quickly and efficiently provide significantly more family history data.

-Andrea Christensen, University Communications

Debate of the Dead: History Department to highlight World War I soldiers

People debate history all the time, but the best arguments come from historical figures themselves. On Monday, November 12 at 4 p.m. the History Department is holding the fourth Debate of the Dead at the Varsity Theater.

Past debates have included dead queens, religious reformers, and presidents (not to mention an incident in which Freddie Mercury was rejected from the event by Empress Dowager Cixi).

This year, to honor the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918—the armistice that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponents—history professors are taking on the personas of soldiers in the trenches.

“History still lives with us,” says History professor and debate moderator Ed Stratford. “The idea is to increase historical consciousness on campus.”

The soldiers will answer questions posed by the moderator and reflect on their memories in the trenches, as well as share their opinions on how we think of war today. This debate is a unique opportunity for students to learn more about the past as well as gain food for thought about today.

Knowing ourselves in the context of God’s plan means knowing who came before us. “I firmly believe that the restored gospel implicitly demands attention to the history of the human family,” says Stratford. “We understand the nature of the Atonement better by coming to understand the breadth of its beneficiaries… This event is just another opportunity to do just that.”

For additional information about the Debate of the Dead, call the History Department at 801-422-4636.

Passion for life, passion for others: 2018 Hickman lecture to teach the place for passion

Life is a constant search for balance.

Especially in religious living, it can be difficult to find a place for passion. But passion for what we love improves our minds and makes relationships beautiful.

At the 2018 Martin B. Hickman Lecture on Thursday, November 1 at 11 a.m. in 250 KMBL, BYU School of Family Life Professor Dean Busby will speak on how we can appropriately use passion to foster appreciation for life and loved ones in his lecture “The Place of Passion in Our Lives and Our Relationships.” The lecture is a free event and is open to the public.

Professor Busby has a Ph. D. in Family Therapy from Brigham Young University and taught Syracuse University and Texas Tech University before returning to BYU. Since his return, he has played a prominent role in the School of Family Life as the Graduate Coordinator of the Marriage, Family, and Human Development M.S. and Ph. D. programs, as well as the Director of the School of Family Life.

The lecture is in honor of Martin Berkeley Hickman, a BYU political science professor who served as the dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences from 1970-1986. He helped make possible the Women’s Research Institute, the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies and the Family Studies Center. As for teaching, Hickman is recognized as the father of BYU’s American Heritage program. Hickman was renowned for his loyalty and dedication to his family, the Church, the college and BYU.

The Martin B. Hickman Scholar Award is given annually to recognize a notable college faculty who follows Hickman’s example of service and dedication.

Hope and healing: Social work to hold conference on fighting substance abuse

In recent years, illicit drug use and alcoholism have grown in relevance and affect a vast amount of people. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 11 percent of people struggling with substance abuse receive the help they need.

The BYU School of Social Work is hosting the 13th Annual Social Work Conference on Friday, November 2 at the Hinckley Alumni Center. The free conference will highlight issues, concerns and approaches relevant to every day relief for those who struggle with substance abuse. Professionals, students and members of the community are invited to learn more about this prevalent social problem and obtain strategies to help individuals and families affected by this issue.

In the past 15 years, deaths due to prescription drug abuse have quadrupled in the state of Utah. While the harmful effects of substance abuse are widespread, timely public information is not as far-reaching. According to Assistant Professor of Social Work Cory Dennis, “it’s important to understand that people don’t choose addiction.”

The purpose of this conference is to narrow that knowledge gap as well as inform professionals and work to make an impact in the fight against substance abuse. If people could learn only one thing at the conference, it would be “that behind the addiction is a human being,” says Dennis, noting the importance of “making compassionate and informed approaches to treatment.”

For more information, go to the conference website and be sure to register.

Celebrating the Economic Department’s history with chili: Saying farewell to the FOB

You’ve probably been to a graduation or a going‑away party. But have you ever attended a farewell celebration for a building?

In winter 2019, the long-standing Faculty Office Building (FOB) will be demolished. For the past 35 years, it has been the home of the Economics Department, which will now be temporarily relocated to the Crabtree Technology Building.

On Oct. 19 from 5-6:30 p.m., the Economics Department will be hosting a free chili dinner for all current economics students, professors, alumni and emeritus. This commemoration party is as unique as the history of the building it celebrates.

The FOB’s Rich History

The FOB began in true Cougar fashion: at the stadium. Before housing faculty offices, the FOB was nothing more than the restrooms of the Cougar Stadium, which lay on the hill below. When the stadium was demolished in 1964, architects included the north and south stadium bathrooms in their FOB design, adding offices between them. Additionally, the old press box was used for research rooms until the early 2000s.

In 1970, the FOB was dedicated alongside the indoor tennis courts and new football stadium by Ezra Taft Benson. The new building housed Language Studies, Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology, Economics and more. Besides providing space for faculty, the FOB has been a place of research, hosting many labs over the years and contributing to BYU’s search for knowledge.

After decades of rich history, this building is stepping down to retirement. Although the FOB served more than only faculty, questions yet remain about similar buildings on other campuses. Senior writer of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Lawrence Biemiller questions the future of faculty office buildings. “Faculty offices are typically occupied… less than half the work week,” Biemiller says.

With faculty spending much of their time off campus and outside of their offices, will universities be willing to continue funding faculty buildings? Soon, it may be easier to spot a professor in a coffee shop than in an office.

As the university environment continues to change, we take a moment to look back into the past and commemorate the layered history of the Faculty Office Building. And of course, there is no better way to celebrate than with a chili dinner.

Preparing with hope: 2018-2019 Families at Risk lecture series

We aren’t meant to be alone, and in a world continually changing, Families at Risk reminds us what the core of life is: our families. An upcoming series of lectures powerfully advocates effective communication, healthy sexuality, mental health awareness and more.

The Families at Risk lecture series is held every second Wednesday of the month for nine months, beginning on October 10th, 2018. Classes start at 7 am and last for about two hours. Prices vary from $10 to $25 depending on the class, and all lectures are held at the BYU Conference Center.

From parenting kids with behavioral concerns, helping children transition to adulthood, and building healthy relationships in all stages of life, BYU Continuing Education offers advice and techniques for you and those you care for.

With such a diverse range of subjects, you may register for only the topics which are most useful and compelling to you and your family.

In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy asserted, “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” No family’s trials are the same, and yet they can all be reconciled through Christ. His hands are outstretched, offering hope and healing. The best thing we can do to build lasting, beautiful relationships with those who mean the most is to learn and grow together.

Registration is available in multiple convenient ways: over the phone (877-221-6716 weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding holidays), by mail (Families at Risk Registration 229 HCEB 770 E University Pkwy Provo UT 84602), in person at 116 HCEB 770 E University Pkwy, or online at familiesatrisk.ce.byu.edu, where a full schedule and additional details are also posted.

Growing together: The importance of consistent sexual communication in families

Patting yourself on the back for gritting through “the talk” with your kid? Not so fast: new research from BYU family life professor Laura Padilla-Walker suggests that when it comes to your teens, one vague and generic conversation about sex is not enough.

In her study, just released in top-ranked Journal of Adolescent Health, Padilla-Walker found that ongoing communication about sex between parents and their adolescent children benefits the parent-child relationship and leads to safer sexual activity at age 21.

“Our current culture is highly sexualized, so children are learning about sexuality in a fragmented way from an early age,” said Padilla-Walker, who has been publishing in top family science journals for nearly two decades. “Research suggests that parents can be an effective means of teaching their children about sexuality in a developmentally appropriate manner, but that does not occur if parents only have a single, uncomfortable, often one-sided talk.”

Padilla-Walker evaluated parent-child communication among 468 14- to 18-year-olds and their mothers, plus 311 of their fathers. She contacted participating families every summer for 10 years and evaluated their level of sexual communication.

Each summer, participants responded to a four-item measure assessing parent-child communication about sexuality and avoiding sexual risk.

The study found that both teens and their parents reported relatively low levels of sexual communication, though teens reported even lower levels than their parents did. Those levels, for the most part, stayed constant.

“Whether or not parents think they are talking about sexuality often, children are generally reporting low levels of communication,” said Padilla-Walker. “So parents need to increase sex communication even if they feel they are doing an adequate job.”

An increase in sexual communication between parents and children, she found, can help adolescents feel safe going to their parents with questions and concerns. She also found that ongoing sexual communication resulted in safer sexual activity at 21, a finding that should increase the urgency parents feel to have conversations with their children.

Even if parents don’t anticipate that their children will be sexually active before marriage, said Padilla-Walker, “all children are developing sexually and need continuous and high-quality communication with parents about the feelings they are experiencing.”

Moving forward, Padilla-Walker hopes to explore the quality of conversations parents have with their kids about sex, specifically whether parents are being open and approachable or are using fear tactics and negativity.

“I would like to see an upward trajectory of parent-child communication as children age,” she said. “Parents should talk frequently with their children about many aspects of sexuality in a way that helps the child to feel comfortable and heard, but never shamed.”

– Jayne Edwards, University Communications