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 (http://carto.byu.edu/mp/) 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 plewe@byu.edu or Jill Crandell (History) at jill_crandell@byu.edu.


Mormon Places screenshot.JPG

Top Five FHSS Studies of 2015: New Findings on Important Relationships

The faculty and staff of BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences are passionate about improving the understanding of how people work, how families work, and what makes societies tick. We spend a lot of time researching, teaching, and writing about these things. Other people seem to be interested in those things as well, as witnessed by the fact that five of the top-10 most read stories produced by BYU News in the last 12 months are stories about research done by faculty in our college. We’re proud of their great work, and excited to see the effects of it in peoples’ lives. Here are those five stories, in order of Facebook likes:

5. Prescription for Living Longer: Spend Less Time Alone (598 likes):

Holt-Lunstad, Julianne Cropped

Research from psychology professor and lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity. “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously,” she said.

The study, published in the Perspectives on Psychological Science, took into account that loneliness looks different to different people. Someone may be surrounded by many people but still feel alone, while others may purposely isolate themselves because they prefer to be alone. The effect on longevity, however, is much the same for those two scenarios.


4. Frenemies: Ambivalent Marriages are Bad for Your Health (690 likes)

BYU psychology professor and lead author Wendy Birmingham published

Birmingham, Wendy

a study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine in May that found that couples in ambivalent relationships experience higher blood pressure than their supportive-couple counterparts. This means that their relationship has both high levels of positive and negative elements, similar to what some would call “frenemy” relationships.

Birmingham remarked that previous studies about health and marriage look at marriage quality uni-dimensionally, qualifying it as either supportive or not supportive. This study takes into consideration realistic relationships that aren’t always perfect, but aren’t always awful either.

The study was quoted in Time, New York Times, Deseret News, KSL.com, and Details magazine.

6614968881_5cf95a5b60_b I against I via Flickr Raul Lieberwirth
Courtesy of Flickr.

3.  Most of America’s Poor are not Unemployed (3,221 likes)

Sociology professor Scott Sanders says the findings of a study he co-authored with researchers at Cornell and LSU dispel the notion that most impoverished Americans don’t work so they can rely on government handouts.

Sanders, Scott

“The toxic idea is if we clump all those people together and treat them as the same people, then we don’t solve the real problem that the majority of people in poverty are working, trying to improve their lives, and we treat them all as deadbeats,” Sanders. Science magazine says the data from this study is relevant to the upcoming presidential election, as candidates discuss ways to help the working poor move out of poverty.




2.  Parents’ Comparisons of Siblings can Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

“Parents’ beliefs about their children, not just their actual parenting, may influence who their children become,” said BYU professor and lead author Alex Jensen. The study, published in June in the Journal of Family Psychology, looked at 388 teenage first- and second-born siblings and their parents from 17 school districts in a northeastern state. The researchers asked the parents which sibling was better in school. The majority of parents thought that the firstborn was better, although on average, siblings’ achievement was pretty similar.


Now, drum roll please… the study that garnered the most attention on BYU news channels was about…elementary school lunches?

1. Eat School Lunch AFTER Recess

6239623842_6fa315afc5_b school lunch via flickr USDA.jpg
USDA Photo by Lance Cheung via Flickr.

This study was shared by over 4,000 people on Facebook, and cited in USA Today, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo News, CBS News, the Salt Lake Tribune, LiveScience, Deseret News, and NPR. What was it that was so important? It was the finding that when recess takes place before kids sit down to eat lunch, instead of after, fruit and vegetable consumption increases by 54%.

“Recess is a pretty big deal for most kids, said Joe Price, BYU economics

Price, Joseph

professor. “If you have kids choose between playing and eating their veggies, the time spent playing is going to win most of the time.”

Price is the lead study author and collaborated with Cornell’s David Just for the paper in Preventive Medicine. Their sample involved almost 23,000 data points. Price and Just noted that, “increased fruit and vegetable consumption in young children can have positive long term health effects. Additionally, decreasing waste of fruits and vegetables is important for schools and districts that are faced with high costs of offering healthier food choices.”



All faculty photos: All Rights Reserved BYU Photo


Navigating Christmas the FHSS Way

Getting through the holidays can be a real pain in the gingerbread. With presents to wrap, dinner to cook, and relatives to tolerate, it can seem like the whole world is trying to get in the way of your Feliz Navidad. So as a fellow FHSS student, I want you to know I’m here for you. I write because I love you. And I want you make it to January 1st with fond memories of a holly jolly Christmas.

So, to help you navigate your Christmas appropriately, I’m going to start off by telling you how NOT to navigate Christmas, and then I will do the opposite.

Usually when I go home for Christmas, my navigation looks something like this:

Navigating Christmas- Chase Style (1)

If you’re like me, you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. The holidays can be exciting and cause us to forget what’s most important. This doesn’t make us bad people. But I’m worried that if we continue navigating Christmas like this, we’re going to end up with regrets, or worse yet, a lump of coal in our stockings. And I don’t want that for you or for me.

So let’s decide now to make a change. Let’s have our Christmas go a little more like this:

Navigating Christmas- FHSS style (1)

BYU Speeches has some great material that speaks to each step on this lovely navigation chart. So I’ve put all the steps in a link-able list:

I suggest that you choose one, maybe two of these speeches. Give them a read, and make it a goal to navigate through your Christmas with them in mind. I promise that if you do, you’ll keep off the naughty list, and come closer to the Savior. I love you. Happy holidays.

On Being Mormon, Black, and Female: LeShawn Williams-Shultz

LeShawn Williams-Shultz is a Mormon black woman. She is a mental health therapist and as a professor. She studies identity development, and she experiences it. It’s something we all go through, regardless of our race, religion, or color. It’s an important process, one she spoke openly about at BYU’s fifth annual Women’s Studies Conference, in November 2015.

LeShawn was one of sixteen speakers presenting at the conference on the theme of “pioneering women in fields of knowledge.” “As an educator,” she said, “I bring you my perspective that context matters. As a therapist, I bring you the perspective that [the process of] making meaning matters.”

The Conference

The Women’s Studies program at BYU is operated jointly by both the College of Humanities and the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences. Students in this program study women’s past and present position in global society. This year, their conference took place on November 5th and 6th.

The Presentation: James Marcia’s Identity Development Theory

Mrs. Williams-Shultz discussed what it was like to be at the intersection between being black, mormon, and female in the context of an identity development theory like James Marcia’s. Her church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (i.e., “Mormons”), as a whole, has undergone a process of identifying itself in relation to the race of its members. LeShawn encouraged her audience to think about that ongoing process as she elaborated on the stages of identity development for people of color within the church.


Stages of Identity Development

The first stage deals with conformity and contact, Shultz explained. You idealize everything about your dominant culture. There is generally a strong desire to assimilate into the dominant culture, even if there is not much recognition that you are different. But then there comes a moment of realization of one’s differences, whatever they are, which leads to the next stage.

Introspection is characteristic of the second phase. This is a time of beginning to accept your identity and tell your own stories. You redirect your energy towards making sure that you create safe spaces and attempt to become independent of racism and white supremacy, or the attitudes of others.

The next stage is the difficult process of learning how to balance the different worlds in which you exist. This stage is different for everyone who experiences it. But the result is the final stage, which is a state of an increased awareness.

Church and Identity

Within the LDS church, there is identity development, Shultz said. She spoke about gender identity in the church as both a biological and a social construct. “The LDS impact on gender, I call it the philosophies of men mingled with biology,” she said. Within the church, many people believe that womanhood is completed by motherhood. Women in the church that experience infertility or do not have a desire or opportunity to bear children may experience an identity crisis.

Near the end of her lecture, Shultz shared a verse (2 Nephi 2:11) from the Book of Mormon. “There must needs be that there is opposition in all things … Wherefore, all things must need be a compound in one.” She summed this up to mean that we need blackness as much as we need whiteness. We need differences.

Though our unique situations may leave each of us feeling alone at times, understanding that a journey of self discovery is a commonality among human beings can help us stay connected to one another. Discussing problems and questions that come up throughout this process provides crucial learning opportunities for each of us to understand minority and majority positions within identifiers, such as race, faith and gender.

The full video of her presentation is available below.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

What things have you found helpful to overcome identity crises?

Porn and Marriage: Dr. Willoughby Presents at WCF

In case you haven’t noticed, we spend a lot of time talking about families here. A lot of our faculty are doing some really interesting research on family dynamics, families and religion, family therapy, families and politics, and the changing definition of marriage in American culture. It’s something that’s on a lot of people’s minds lately, as evidenced in part by the presence of the World Congress of Families conference in October 2015. Several BYU FHSS faculty members presented there: professors Dollahite and Carroll were some. Dr. Brian Willoughby also presented, on the issue of pornography use and marital relationships.

Willoughby, Brian
BYU Photo 2009 All Rights Reserved

“My presentation focused on how pornography use intersect with family formation and marriage,” he said. “One of the often overlooked costs of pornography is how it influences relationships and family formation at all stages of the life course.  This issue is particularly important among teens and young adults who are in a crucial stage of relationship and family formation.  Several studies and data collection efforts show how pornography has both a negative relational effect and also influences how young adults think about marriage.  Specifically, pornography users generally have more negative views of marriage and hold a desire to delay marriage in their life.  Given the high levels of pornography use we see among young adults, such [attitudes] may have important ramifications for future marriage and families.”

According to a study co-authored by colleague Professor Carroll, pornography use has increased dramatically in the past 10 years.  Among the 258 young adults surveyed for Dr. Willoughby’s presentation, seventy percent of young men had viewed pornography on a weekly or monthly basis in the past year. Eighteen percent of young women had viewed it. Of those young men, sixty percent agreed that pornography was an acceptable way to express sexuality, compared with thirty-five percent of young women.

13072266233_31534a21e3_k via flickr iconicphotoservices

He said that those who view pornography on a regular basis are more likely to think of sexual intimacy more in terms of their own sexual needs, with a sexually available and often submissive partner. These expectations lead to frustrated, selfish behaviors. Amongst young adults, this is particularly concerning because it impacts their value of marriage and their decisions about when they will form those long-term commitments. Pornography use is linked to a desire to delay marriage and a devaluing of marriage.

About presenting at the World Congress of Families, Dr. Willoughby had this to say: “It was wonderful presenting the WCF.  I was able to present with two other leaders in the field of pornography and we were able to approach the topic from numerous policy and research angles.  The audience was great and energized by the presentations and I think motivated to take the work that was presented and advocate for positive societal change.”

It is interesting to think about what avenues those who want to advocate for positive society change regarding the use of pornography might take. Our own Comprehensive Clinic offers a pornography process group for males struggling with pornography, for instance. Dr. Willoughby cautioned that marital beliefs are complex and multi-faceted, but, when considering the bigger, social costs of pornography, we should consider the subtle yet important ways pornography nudges youth away from committed and healthy relationships.

The full video of his presentation can be found here:

Feature image courtesy of IconicPhotoServices on Flickr.