Celebrate Reformers at the Dead Reformers’ Debate

Five hundred years after Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of a church, he is known as the leader of the Reformation. John Calvin was a Protestant reformer whose doctrines gave birth to Calvinism.  St. Teresa of Ávila was a Spanish nun who pushed for Carmelite reform and eventually founded and oversaw seventeen convents in her native country. All three have taken their places in history as reformers who changed the direction of their societies, the ripple effects of which are still felt today. On October 30, our History Department will feature their “reincarnations,” as well as that of William Tyndale, in its third annual Debate of the Dead: the Dead Reformers’ Debate.

We hope that people will gain a sense of the historical Reformation, some doctrine, but also have some laughs,” said Professor Ed Stratford, who will serve as moderator of the debate. The event will celebrate the Reformation, and take place on the day before Luther put his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. Though the particular day was far less dramatic than it has come to be remembered, we’ll have some fun with it.”

The Reformers

For Martin Luther’s role in the Protestant Reformation, he was dubbed “one of the most influential figures in the history of Christianity” by Britannica Academic. In 1517, he wrote the Ninety-Five Theses, which proposed a debate on certain religious practices. The theses were disseminated throughout Germany, resulting in a massive religious upheaval and reformation. Professor Stratford called him “an obvious choice” for inclusion in the debate.

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William Tyndale

William Tyndale was an English scholar who, in 1525, completed an English language translation of the New Testament. He was executed before he could finish translating the Old Testament. John Calvin was highly esteemed by the puritans of his time, who brought his teachings with them to America. St. Teresa of Ávila was the author of many spiritual works in the late 1500’s. She was elevated to the position of Doctor of the Church and considered to be a powerful Roman Catholic mystic. She pushed for Carmelite reform and eventually founded and oversaw seventeen convents in her native country. 

Previous Debates

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John Calvin

The previous debates—the Dead Presidents and the Dead Queensfocused on modern political and gender issues respectively. In the former, which took place prior to the 2016 presidential election, Presidents Jackson, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Lincoln debated Trump’s and Clinton’s stances regarding foreign and immigration policies, what their strengths were, and whether or not Trump was justified in having hurt feelings.

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St. Teresa of Ávila

The queens at the latter debate were Joan of Arc, Empress Cixi, Martha Ballard, and Hurrem Sultan. They discussed women’s role in the politics, the workforce, and whether or not women were better off in modern society. At the conclusion of the debate, the women offered advice: “Joan admonished that it is ‘important to listen to what God wants you to do.’ Hurrem said to overcome obstacles and ‘believe in yourself.’ Martha encouraged women to keep journals, and Cixi offered sage advice about addiction: “[It] is bad. Pursue your education.’”

The Dead Reformers’ Debate will be held on October 30th in the Varsity Theater at 4pm.

Photo credits: Martin Luther, St. Teresa of Ávila, William Tyndale, and John Calvin.

In a Stepfamily? Come to this Lecture!

“When you have a blended family,” said stepparent Isabella, in a recent Connections article, “you have the chance to learn how charity works. Having a blended family has been a blessing to us because we had the opportunity to become an eternal family.”  While stepfamilies are becoming more common in modern society, blending them is still a challenge, according to Patricia Papernow, an expert in the study of stepfamilies and a speaker at our 2016 Social Work Conference. “It’s like Italians eating with chopsticks.” At an upcoming presentation, School of Family Life professors Jeff and Tammy Hill will share some useful tips for members of blended families both on- and off-campus.

In particular, they’ll:

  • share their own personal experience of blending their 12-kid family,
  • provide the most current research on blended families and what actually works.
  • tackle counterproductive myths about blended families,
  • equip attendees with research and gospel-oriented principles to assist them

The lecture will be held on November 8th and 7pm in room 2265 of the BYU Conference Center. Overflow will be in room 2267. It is offered as part of the Families at Risk lecture series, which provides family with techniques, perspective, and hope to take on today’s threats to family. Registration is required beforehand here, and the cost is $25.

The stress associated with numerous family transitions can pile up, the consequences of which may persist into emerging adulthood.,” said Drs. Erin Holmes, Kevin Shafer, and Todd Jensen in a 2016 study. It is imperative that people who are in stepfamilies or who know people in stepfamilies understand the importance of successful blending and the best ways to do so. Each widowed and remarried, Tammy and Jeff Hill are eager to share their experiences with others.

 

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New Faculty Spotlight: Dr. John Holbein

“When you study great teachers… you will learn much more from their caring and hard work than from their style,” said author William Glasser. Dr. John Holbein experienced this firsthand while attending BYU as a political science undergraduate, and it was what brought him back to his alma mater to teach. Dr. Holbein is BYU’s newest Political Science professor.

Sanford School of Public Policy

“For me, there’s just something really exciting about helping people learn,” he said. “I’ve always thought that you never really understand a topic until you teach it. I learn a lot from my students. That might sound crazy to say–after all, professors are supposed to know everything. But, I find it really refreshing and invigorating to interact with students.”

So he offers this advice to students: “Don’t be afraid of your professors; we’re normal (OK, mostly normal) people just like you. We realize that BYU is a special place and are all here because we want you to be successful. Come to our office hours. Don’t shy away from contributing in class for fear of saying something stupid. You have a voice, you have something to contribute. Don’t hide that.”

Dr. Holbein’s area of expertise is voting, particularly motivations for voting. Currently, he is working to formulate inventive ways to stimulate voting. “Voter turnout is depressingly low and unequal–with disadvantaged people voting at much lower rates than advantaged people. That should be deeply troubling to us,” said the professor. As being connected with society is paramount to a person’s well-being, this is a critical problem that needs to be addressed.

Dr. Holbein graduated from Duke University in 2016 with a Ph.D in Public Policy and is currently working on a book about youth voting participation. He and his wife Brittany have one son.

Visiting Professor to Speak on the Federal Lands Debate

To compensate the western states for revenues lost to the federal government by its ownership of over 440 million acres In 2014, it paid $2.695 billion to the Far West’s eleven states, which included Utah. Yet, a century-long heated debate still rages about the federal government’s ownership of almost half of the land in those states. Scholars involved in Stanford University’s Follow the Money Spatial History project say: “some regard the spaces as sites for individual opportunity, others as resources to be conserved for wise use, still others as ecologies that must be preserved for aesthetic or recreational pleasure. Many westerners resent the vast federal presence…. Others view federal stewardship as a bulwark against rapaciousness.” Joseph Taylor, one of those scholars, will speak on this issue, at BYU on Thursday October 12th. In particular, he will speak on “mapping transfer payments and unlearning wisdom about the federal domain in the American West.” His lecture will take place from 11 a.m. to noon on the 12th in B192 JFSB.

Why is it Important to Understand This Issue?

Since the 1890’s, when the government began reserving land, western residents have voiced concerns regarding tax bases and development retraction. As these federal lands are tax exempt, state residents lose revenue. The in-lieu payments serve to supplement the local economies. “Few Americans are aware of these revenue-sharing programs, and fewer still understand why they exist,” says Dr. Taylor, of Simon Fraser University. “Almost no one knows their history and geography because they operate largely outside the consciousness of residents and politicians, yet the political economy of federal lands has always been a central concern of conservation policy.”

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Courtesy of Follow the Money

 

The Debate

Some citizens are urging for the government to cede the land back to the states. According to Dr. Taylor and his colleagues, “These debates can seem irreconcilable because they are. One group imagines a neo-liberal world in which privatization and the market liberates the West from the shackles of imperious federal overlords; another group sees nature and the public interest imperiled by short-term greed. Both tend to eclipse important common ground across the West…The inimical visions of the debate’s dominant voices have something else in common as well: an inability to see how political economy has welded together federal, state, and local governments through a set of laws that distribute revenues to sustain the ecological and social services westerners rely on every day.”

The Event

charles redd Hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, the event aims to “increase public understanding and dialog about public lands issues in the modern West,” said the center’s director, Dr. Brenden Rensink. He adds: “There are essential elements of the current administration of public lands that are missing from current political debates about them.” 

The event will be held on Thursday, October 12 in B192 of the JFSB from 11-12.

Featured image by Andrew Maranta on Unsplash

Stanford Professor to Present on the Legacies of Laura Bassi and Galileo

If ever there were an interesting story to be told, it would probably be that of Laura Bassi, an Italian woman in the early 1700s who became the second woman ever to receive a university degree and the first to be offered an official teaching position at any university in Europe. She was also a wife, and mother to twelve children, five of whom survived. Paula Findlen, who has written about Laura’s work, will tell some of her story at an upcoming lecture on the BYU campus.

Dr. Findlen will deliver a presentation titled: “The Scientist and the Saint: Laura Bassi’s Enlightened Catholicism and Galileo’s Legacy” on Thursday, October 5, at 11 a.m. in B190 JFSB. Students, faculty, and members of the general public are invited to this event, conducted as part of our History department’s annual De Lamar Jensen lecture.

Dr. Findlen hails from Stanford University. “I have taught the early history of science and medicine for many years,” she says, “on the premise that one of the most important ways to understand how science, medicine and technology have become so central to contemporary society comes from examining the process by which scientific knowledge emerged. More generally, I am profoundly attracted to individuals in the past who aspired to know everything. It still seems like a worthy goal.” She is the author of three books, including Gusto for Things, in which she creatively uses account books, inventories, wills, and other records to examine early modern attitudes toward possessions, asking what people did with their things, why they wrote about them, and how they passed objects on to their heirs.

JensenLecturePoster_V2The De Lamar Jensen lecture seeks to help students understand global history. The lecture is named after Dr. De Lamar Jensen, a former faculty member in the Department of History, who was an expert on early modern Europe. Dr. Jensen began teaching at BYU in 1957, served as chair of the History Department and dean of the Honors Program, and in 1979 received a Guggenheim fellowship. He retired in 1992, but found another passion: painting murals in his backyard, which allows the nonagenarian to continue “traveling” to places he visited as a professor.

What is Your Young Adult Thinking?

What is your young adult thinking? Until recently, the concept of emerging adulthood (ages 18-24) was not academically recognized as distinct from adulthood. But now, in part thanks to School of Family Life professors Larry Nelson, Jason Carroll, Brian Willoughby, and Laura Padilla-Walker, researchers are beginning to study it. In a recently-released 2017 Connections article, writer Jake Healey said: “Emerging adulthood is a unique time of life, complete with its own set of challenges and struggles, and it is important for parents, teachers, employers, and others to learn about these issues. So what does the research of Carroll, Nelson, Padilla-Walker, and Willoughby reveal as the four primary concerns of this age group? They are, in order of importance:

  • identity,
  • parental involvement,
  • sexual behavior/relationships, and
  • morality/religion

For explanations of each of those categories, check out the full article on the Connections magazine webpage. While there, you’ll also find information on:

  • cutting-edge Alzheimer’s Disease research at BYU
  • helpful money management tips
  • an analysis of the U.S.’s relationship with Germany, from political science professor Wade Jacoby, an expert on the subject
  • our most recent and successful Utah Colleges Exit Poll
  • the changing face of invention (clue: it’s more of a team effort than you thought!)
  • help for members of stepfamilies

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Students: Attend the Cousin Reunion & Save the World?

“‘Genealogical consciousness’ means seeing how past, present, and future are connected,” said Amy Harris, a BYU History professor in a recent BYU devotional. “Because developing genealogical consciousness requires that we think about strangers in the past, it develops the possibility of thinking about strangers in the present, and strangers in the future, to think about how our relationships and actions will last beyond death, will echo into future strangers’ lives.” In that sense, she asserts that family history, or the kind of awareness and activity one develops while doing it, just might “save the world.” And, “in a world of turmoil and uncertainty,” said L. Tom Perry, “it is more important than ever to make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities.” Thus, there is reason aplenty to attend Family History Week activities, and the Cousin Reunion in particular!

What and When is the Cousin Reunion?

The Cousin Reunion will take place on Tuesday the 26th at noon in the Brigham’s Square Quad between the ASB, HFAC, HBLL, and JKB. Participants will be able to use their cell phones to find extended family members through relativefinder.org. Those interested in attending should, before the even:

  • know or get their FamilySearch.org account login credentials
  • go to RelativeFinder.org,
  • find and join the group BYU FHWEEK17 (password: BYU)

There will be prizes, and participants’ chances of winning will increase by logging into RelativeFinder and joining the group. Follow BYUFHProgram on Facebook if you have questions about the event, or problems with logging in.

How Will You Benefit From Attending?

 

At last year’s Family History Conference, keynote speaker Paul Cardall spoke on the connection between family history and missionary work. “As for those whose hearts have turned, I believe we will see greater faith among people if we do the family history work,” he said. Beyond developing greater faith, though, there is the benefit, as Dr. Harris said, of “building lasting relationships and connections with other people, [which is] is the only way to live happy and meaningful lives. We are built to cooperate with and belong to not just our kin, but all humanity.” Check out FHWeek.byu.edu for more information about this event, and others during that week that can help students live happier, more connected lives.

 

Housework and Family Satisfaction: A Short Video

One may be surprised to learn that over half of married couples cite shared housework as paramount to a successful marriage. They place it above income, children, religious beliefs, and concordance in political beliefs.  Sociology professor Dr. Renata Forste has researched the stalled revolution of gendered division housework and how our modern culture devalues that work. At the 2017 Cutler Lecture, she further illuminated this pressing issue.

She found that in terms of housework, both women and men were more likely to do the chores stereotypically associated with their gender; women did laundry, cleaning, and cooking while men took out the trash, mowed the lawn, and acted as the handyman. She further found that “women…report doing more than their fair share of housework whereas men report doing less than their fair share.” It is clear that both genders understand that the imbalance of housework is unfair.

“If both the partnership do laundry, buy groceries, and take care of sick family members the workload is reported as fair. Especially if both partners share in cleaning the house, respondents were almost three times more likely to perceive the distribution of household work as fair. So sharing housework is predictive of doing one’s fair share, which is predictive of family satisfaction,” said Dr. Forste.

This post is twenty-fifth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

Four Benefits to New Students of Attending the New Student Orientation FHSS Breakout Session

It’s that time of year again: Fall, school, and New Student Orientation. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will host its breakout session on Friday September 1st from 3-5pm. The event starts with a presentation by the Advisement Center in B002 of the JFSB that will cover:

  • Information about the Advisement Center
  • Information about advisors and career paths
  • Myths regarding the liberal arts

Following that will be tables manned by representatives of the individual departments, as well as other college entities. in the Southeast Breezeway of the JFSB Courtyard. Those tables will include

  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • The School of Family Life
  • Geography
  • Neuroscience
  • Anthropology
  • FHSS Writing Lab
  • Office of Civic Engagement.

The Dean’s Office will have a table and representatives will be available to answer any questions you have about the college.

If you’re a new student, what are the benefits of attending FHSS’s New Student Orientation?

1. Learn about different majors

Trying to figure out what to study can be daunting. Taking advantage of NSO to ask various department representatives about their department can help you decide what you want to study.

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2. Build connections

Because you are interacting with faculty and department representatives, you will be able to establish a valuable connection early on. The connections you form during your time here will serve you long after you graduate.

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3. Meet people with similar interests

You can never have too many friends! Take this opportunity to meet people who are interested in the same things you are. giphy (1)

 

4. Get a cookie!

The Dean’s Office table will be giving out cookies. Enough said.

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Be sure to stop by the JFSB on September 1st to learn more about the wonderful opportunities offered by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences!

Should We Institute Relationship Education for Youth?

“We are failing to equip our youth with the ideas, tools, and practices to know how to negotiate their romantic and sexual lives in healthy, nondestructive ways that prepare them to achieve the happy, functional marriages and families that most of them say they want in future years,” said Christian Smith and his co-authors in their book Lost in Transition: The Darker Side of Emerging Adulthood. Professor Alan Hawkins, in our School of Family Life, agrees. He proposes, in fact, that an institutionalization of better relationship education for youth (YRE) is the answer. He provides an argument for it in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.

couple 2“The road that links adolescence to adult family life is not a paved interstate,” he says, “with efficient on- and off-ramps, helpful guideposts, and numerous safety features to prevent or cushion mistakes. Youth navigate [it] alone for the most part. In contrast to a few generations ago, society generally takes a hands-off approach to regulating adolescent and young adult romantic relationships. Not surprisingly, then, many young people arrive at their family destinations battered and bruised.

The Facts

According to Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families, 80% of young adults surveyed want to get married. However, young adults in general have some of the highest rates of divorce, according to marriage scholar Nick Wolfington.

“Intervening earlier in relationship development, before individuals are committed or perhaps even partnered, has the potential to have an even greater impact on improving relationship quality, reducing divorce rates, and, perhaps most importantly, supporting stable unions for children to grow up in,” said Galena Rhoades and Scott Stanley in their analysis of relationship education.

Hawkins supported this by citing a 2011 study on the evidence of relationship education on high school aged youth: “Overall, [the research] found significant, positive change in students’ relationship skills. These changes were moderated, however, by a number of factors: students in two-parent families showed stronger gains; those in severely economically disadvantaged areas showed little gain; mandated classes produced stronger gains than self-selected classes,” said Hawkins.

Why and How?

effect-1772035_960_720Statistics Hawkins cites demonstrate overwhelmingly that teens’ relationship problems often start early. “Prominent scholars argue,” he says, “that romantic relationships in youth are neither transitory nor trivial, but instead have real effects, positive and negative, on adolescent development.” Youth relationship education has the potential to reduce problematic pathways to marriage (e.g., cohabitation, out-of-wedlock childbirth) and increase the success of their relationships, and thus their happiness.

So, if the need is apparent, how does one implement YRE? Hawkins offers the following suggestions:

  • Private funders and government entities need to invest more in YRE
  • Schools need to be more proactive in providing YRE and must be able to teach all of their students. This can be done by assimilating YRE into required health classes, which have a large reach, as opposed to elective Family and Consumer Science classes
  • Religious settings in conjunction with parental involvement are a good place to suggest YRE
  • Community programs can incorporate YRE into existing youth programs.

Of Paramount Importance

If the only thing that you have to offer in a relationship or marriage is your physical appearance, then you are definitely walking on a very thin line,” said Edmond Mbiaka. It takes more than physical beauty to sustain a healthy relationship or marriage.”  While there are limits to YRE, statistics show the effectiveness of teaching youth how to form healthy relationships, Hawkins says. Finally, Hawkins suggests that instead of differentiating between YRE and CRE (couple relationship education), people refer to them collectively as simply, RE- relationship education: “Removing the C from CRE clarifies that the field is much broader than providing valued relationship education to intact couples; it encompasses the important work of individually-oriented relationship literacy education for youth and young adults. Perhaps this small change in how we refer to the field will spur greater attention to the need to allocate a greater proportion of our resources to healthy relationship formation for young people, to help them better navigate the challenging roads to forming healthy relationships and stable marriages.”

Do you think we should institute YRE?