FHSS Valedictorians: Aspen Neville, Geography

Aspen Neville

Graduate Aspen Emily Neville was named valedictorian for the Department of Geography. She is the daughter of Ron and Lara Neville.

Aspen grew up in Vail, Colorado. While deciding a major, she participated in the Kilimanjaro: Global Adventure Travel in Tanzania study abroad with the Geography Department. That eye-opening experience helped her find a love of geography and a desire to learn about the world around her. With the Geography Department, she has been a teaching assistant and has been involved with the BYU weather station. Additionally, Aspen has worked as a GIS (geographic information system) intern with a water conservancy district. She joined both Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key International Honor Society at BYU.

Outside of school, she enjoys long-distance running, including having run the Boston Marathon two times while attending BYU, skiing, hiking, and just being in nature. She would like to thank her parents for their constant support and love as well as the Geography Department for making her experience at BYU a memorable one.

FHSS Valedictorians: Savannah Hurley, Anthropology

Savannah Hurley

Graduate Savannah Hurley was named valedictorian for the Department of Anthropology. She is the daughter of Charlotte and Bryan Hurley. She grew up in Moab, Utah, and fell in love with studying people during her freshman year at BYU. She discovers a passion for new subjects each semester.

Last year she participated in an anthropological field school in Southeastern Utah and subsequently wrote a research thesis on the archaeology of trade in southern Utah and surrounding areas. She has enjoyed rubbing shoulders with brilliant and inspiring peers at this university.

Apart from learning, Savannah enjoys spending time with her family, collecting snakes, reading, traveling the world, and trying new foods. She would like to thank her family for their support, as well as all of her professors at BYU. In particular, she would like to thank Joseph Moody, Alexandra Brattos, James Allison, and Zach Chase for their skill in teaching and their considerate stewardship over, and even love for their students. Their inspiring words distinguished them and assured her she was worth teaching. 

FHSS Valedictorians: Victoria Beecroft, Economics

Victoria Beecroft

Graduate Victoria Beecroft was awarded valedictorian honors for the Department of Economics. She is the daughter of Collin and Melinda Beecroft and the oldest of three children.

She grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts, and served a mission in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil. As an undergraduate, Victoria worked as a teaching assistant and research assistant for various professors in the Economics Department, Marriott School and Kennedy Center. She enjoyed the opportunity that the Economics Department and the Honors Program gave her to explore various disciplines and make the most of her academic experience. Victoria also worked as an intern for finance, technology, and management consulting companies.

Through her classes and work experience, she developed a passion for economic development and education, which she hopes to incorporate into her career as a consultant.

After graduation, Victoria plans to work for McKinsey & Company and apply to graduate school. She is very grateful to the professors who took time to work with her one-on-one. She is also grateful for her friends and family for their support.

Global Women’s Studies Spring 2019 Study Abroad: Every Drop Counts

Study abroad group outside abolitionist William Wilberforce’s house in Hull, England

England, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Netherlands…sounds like the perfect European getaway, but Global Women’s Studies (GWS) students traveled to these countries for more than just sightseeing. They met with individuals and organizations who fight for human rights and women’s human rights. This past spring was the first ever BYU Human Rights/Women’s Rights study abroad, with 30 students, all GWS minors, participating in the program. 

Dr. Valerie Hegstrom, coordinator of the Global Women’s Studies program, and political science professor Dr. David Kirkham, who focuses on human rights, co-founded the study abroad. During the program, human rights classes were taught by Kirkham and women’s rights classes were taught by Hegstrom at Hyde Park Chapel in London. Hegstrom said that in addition to attending classes, students visited historical monuments involving human and women’s rights issues and met people who promote those rights. The main emphases of study were the two worst offenses of human rights: slavery and the Holocaust.  

Because of the intensity of the subjects they were studying, students shared that the program was both deeply meaningful and challenging. Emma Beaumont,  a student majoring in nursing, shared that the study abroad was “eye-opening, perspective-changing… [and] very humbling.” Joseph Fitzgerald, double majoring in psychology and German, explained that as a returned missionary from Germany, learning about the Holocaust was difficult. It was hard to learn about, because the Holocaust is “emotional” and “so many different perspectives” need to be considered when addressing it. Beaumont added that although the study abroad was “overwhelming at times, [it was] motivating to be the change and the difference you want to see from these problems.”  

Katherine Kramer, a political science major, shared that the study abroad excelled at “helping us connect with lots of different people in the sphere of human rights.” Fitzgerald said that meeting with these individuals was the “most impactful part of the study abroad,” because it was “cool to see so many organizations and people working towards progress, [since it is] easy to complain about injustices, [but] hard to make a change.” Hegstrom said that the group also visited several human and women’s rights sites, including:  

  • A concentration camp in France and the Holocaust Center in England 
  • Amar Foundation in London, where a Baroness spoke about refugees  
  • The International Criminal Court in Hague, Netherlands, where they witnessed a trial   
  • Bletchley Park, where codebreakers (many of which were women who were good at puzzles) worked to break the codes the Nazis used during World War II 
  • The European Court of Human Rights, where a human trafficking spokesperson met with them  

For GWS students, the human and women’s rights study abroad impacted them on a professional as well as on a personal level. Beaumont shared that the study abroad was “life-changing.” She used to “have the blinds on” about these issues, but now she “want[s] to be more proactive and open in talking about human rights.” Kramer said that she learned from the program that “not every person in vulnerable place/situation is going to have the same narrative/story.”  For Fitzgerald, one of the main takeaways of the program was that “we need to celebrate progress but not become complacent” with the progress made. Beaumont added that she had felt like her influence was a “drop in a bucket,” but then she learned that “every drop counts,” because these organizations have made an impact. GWS students learned that although there are many challenges still facing the world, every drop does make a difference.  

Winners of 2020 Fulton Mentored Research Poster Conference Announced

We are excited to announce the winners for the 2020 Fulton Mentored Research Conference! 

Although we were not able to hold the usual public Fulton Poster Conference due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were able to move forward with a virtual online competition this year. The winners and submissions from each department are now listed on the online Fulton Poster Conference website:

You can view all Fulton Poster Conference winners and submissions here

A big congratulations from the college to the winners, and to all the students and faculty mentors that submitted their research. We appreciate your hard work and dedication!

* Winners will be contacted with more information on how they will receive their awards. The number of awards for each department is based on the quantity of posters submitted. 

The WomanStats Project: Shedding Light on the Situation of Women Worldwide

Dr. Donna Lee Bowen
Copyright BYU Photo

Did you know that how a nation treats its women impacts its levels of peace, prosperity, and health? The WomanStats Project, which has the largest database of information on women, was created to better understand the relationship between the situation and the security of women. Dr. Donna Lee Bowen, professor emeritus of political science at BYU, is one of the principal investigators of the WomanStats Project, along with other BYU professors. Bowen has worked on the project for 10 years and shares that it is a global effort. There are principal investigators from the U.S. and from other countries including Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Colombia. Statistics about women’s lives in 174 countries have been gathered using over 310 variables.

Purpose and Meaning of the Project

Bowen explains that the WomanStats Project is meaningful to her in three main ways:

  1. It is an excellent research opportunity for students.
  • Graduate students from multiple universities work as coders for the project. BYU employs several undergraduate students as well as a few graduate students as coders.
  • These students receive heavy duty training and become skilled coders.

2. The WomanStats Project contributes to the academic work on women in a way that’s never been done before.

  • The project’s database is a unique research tool.
  • It is also “the world’s most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women” as the project’s website explains.

3. The WomanStats Project contributes to understanding the situation of women.

  • “If you care about your country, you need to care about the welfare of women in your country,” says Bowen.

Impact of the Project

Bowen explains that the slogan of the WomanStats Project is: “The fate of nations is tied to the status of women.” Bowen and other principal investigators have found that when women are treated poorly, a country is less well-off in terms of its economy, education, environment, health, and government. Bowen explores these findings in greater detail in her book The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide with co-authors Valerie M. Hudson and Perpetua Lynne Nielsen.

Regarding the impact of the WomanStats Project on the situation of women, Bowen says, “We are hoping we are going to change the discussion of women and how [governments] make policy and laws.” Bowen hopes that countries will “take a serious look at the importance of women,” and not just in terms of raising children, although she acknowledges that what happens in the family determines all other aspects of women’s lives. With the largest database of information on women and researchers dedicated to analyzing these issues, the WomanStats Project is working to improve the status of women and nations by shedding a light on the issues women face worldwide.

How You Can Get Involved

The public can get involved with this research on women by exploring the WomanStats Project’s website. As Bowen explains, you can view maps that show how specific countries are affected by different variables. One multivariable map shows women’s physical security, revealing that in many countries, women have low levels of or completely lack physical security.

You can also visit the WomanStats Project’s blog, which includes articles on a wide range of issues related to the situation and status of women. You can also create a free WomanStats Project account and access the database. Visit the WomanStats Project’s website and become educated on the situation of women worldwide.

Mikaela Dufur to Serve as Associate Dean

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences has selected Mikaela Dufur to serve as an associate dean starting on July 1st of this year. Dr. Dufur has been teaching at BYU in the Department of Sociology for almost twenty years.

As associate dean, she will organize many important events within the college including the Fulton Mentored Research Conference and the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture. She will also help with faculty grants and professional development leaves.

Dufur expressed her excitement for the new position saying, “I’m excited to get to know people who are outside my department and outside the college.”

Dufur’s day-to-day schedule will shift from teaching to working within a committee of two other associate deans that includes Dr. Samuel Otterstrom from the Department of Geography and Dr. Laura Walker from the School of Family Life. Dr. Dufur will take over for Dr. David Nelson from the School of Family Life.

Although Dufur will be taking on several new administrative tasks, she will still be teaching one class per semester. She is glad to stay connected to students, saying, “I am really grateful to still be able to teach because I love teaching.”

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is grateful for Dr. David Nelson for his years of service and congratulates Dr. Dufur on her new position.

Office of Civic Engagement Announces New Leadership Minor Coordinator

Quin Monson

Professor Richard Davis will be stepping down as the Coordinator for the Civic Engagement Leadership Minor on May 1st. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences would like to thank Davis for his outstanding work. Davis became the founding coordinator as he headed up the Futures committee, which suggested the idea of greater involvement in civic engagement. Davis’s noteworthy accomplishments include:

  • Developing the Civic Engagement Minor
  • Creating annual opportunities for students to learn about civic engagement through workshops and speakers
  • Creating and hosting annual civic engagement research conferences on campus
  • Hosting a lecture series on various avenues of civic engagement
  • Promoting civic engagement through on campus advocacy

The college would also like to welcome political science professor Quin Monson as the new Coordinator for the Civic Engagement Leadership. Monson conducts research on public opinion, campaigns and elections, survey research methods, and religion and politics. His work has been published in many distinguished journals, including the American Journal of Political Science and Political Analysis. Monson also co-authored Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics. The college anticipates new steps in the civic engagement program based on Monson’s leadership and new perspective gained through extensive experience working with both political candidates and governmental and non-governmental agencies.

College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences To Create Virtual 2020 Convocation

Spring Commencement April 25, 2019 Photography by Nate Edwards/BYU © BYU PHOTO 2019 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu

For the students scheduled to graduate in April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with their opportunity to celebrate formally.  The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences has developed a virtual graduation website to recognize graduates given the current circumstances.  While the college’s efforts to provide a replacement will not be the same as an in-person convocation, Dean Benjamin Ogles from the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences still wants to commemorate each graduate’s accomplishment.

  • The college has developed a website where it will individually honor each graduate in the college.  Students should follow this link (Virtual Convocation Website) to enter their personalized information and a photo, or to opt-out of the website if they do not want to be featured.
  • Graduates are also welcome to join a future in-person college convocation where they will have the opportunity to participate in a formal graduation ceremony.  The college anticipates, and is hopeful, that the next opportunity would be April 2021, but students will be welcome in any future year.
  • The college will also send each graduate a graduation package that will include a convocation program, a diploma cover, a cap and tassel, and a small gift. Students are asked to double-check their mailing address when entering their information in the graduation website. Students must opt-in and verify their address to receive the package.

“We hope these efforts will, in part, make up for the missed opportunity to participate in-person in our college convocation,” said Dean Ogles.

The college congratulates all students on the completion of their degrees. Dean Ogles tells students that “So very few achieve this honor, and the college is pleased to include this class of students among the graduates of Brigham Young University and the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.”

The Rollins Center: Building the Business of Social Science

Marriott School of Business Students in the Tanner Building. Jaren Wilkey © BYU PHOTO

Have you ever had a class where you were required to ask for a discount every time you bought something in person? Students in the Business Fundamentals and Advertising for Startups course are given this very assignment. This class is one section of Topics in Entrepreneurial Management (ENT 490R) offered by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, whose aim is to prepare students to begin and expand their own businesses.

Although ENT 490R is a business class, students from the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences are branching out of their classes in the college to learn how to apply what they are learning to the business world. FHSS students share that their experience with business has enhanced their majors by providing them with new opportunities and social connections.

Referring to the assignments of ENT 490R, Taylor Hollingshaus, a junior majoring in economics, shares “all of the class assignments have been unique…you are not going to get an assignment you get in this class from other classes.” He reports that these assignments are teaching him that it is important to “be okay with being uncomfortable.” Juan Saaved, a junior majoring in sociology, says that the discount assignment in particular “taught me that you aren’t going to lose anything you don’t have.”

Harrison Riehle, a senior majoring in Geography, Urban & Regional Planning, says that the “most interesting and rewarding things I’ve done have come from the Rollins Center…I have met people I never could have met by just being in class.” Hollingshaus adds that it is “good to get outside of what we normally do” and that FHSS students also have the opportunity to bring a unique perspective to the ENT 490R class that can benefit their peers.

For Saaved, ENT 490R is enhancing his education by teaching him the business skills he needs in order to create his own start-up. His dream is to create a more affordable tourist package for students who want to travel to Machu Picchu, complete with housing, food, and guides. He wants to help students overcome language barriers and prevent common travel problems like avoiding pickpockets. Because Saaved hopes to create a business that will foster unique travel experiences for tourists, he sees ENT 490R as a course that “helps you make your idea a reality.”

The benefits of ENT 490R for FHSS students go beyond the business skills. For Riehle, taking a business class as an FHSS student is about becoming well-rounded. It is also about understanding more about how the world works, since he feels “business plays a part in any career.” For Saaved, participating in business is meaningful, because it brings people together. He shares that ENT 490R has individuals from a variety of backgrounds. “When it comes to the business world,” says Saaved, “we are all speaking the same language, [enabling] us to overcome social barriers.”

Due to all the valuable skills and connections students are making, it is no surprise that FHSS students are finding that the course is enhancing their college experience. For students interested in business but who are hesitant, Riehle says that “no one cares if you aren’t a business student or wearing a suit or something… when it comes to your educational goals, you can do anything you want to do.” For more information, visit the Rollins Center.