Mike Searcy Named Anthropology Department Chair

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences announced Michael Searcy as the new department chair of the BYU Anthropology Department, effective June 15, 2022. Searcy replaced James Allison, who served as department chair since 2016.

“Professor Searcy is an excellent scholar across anthropological disciplines and also brings administrative skills gained as director of the New World Archaeological Foundation for the past five years,” said Laura Padilla-Walker, dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. “I’m grateful for his willingness to accept this responsibility and lend his time and expertise to leading the department.”

In 2020, Searcy received the Martin B. Hickman Excellence in teaching award from the college, and from 2015-2018, he was a Butler Young Scholar in Western Studies, awarded by the Charles Redd Center. Much of Searcy’s research focuses on the Casas Grandes cultural tradition of northwest Mexico.

“As department chair, my primary goal is to create unity and equity across subfields and for all our students,” said Searcy. “I’m a huge anthropology advocate with interest in both archaeology and socio-cultural anthropology. We offer a lot of wonderful experiences to help all our students gain a foundational and valuable education in understanding the human experience.”

The Anthropology Department is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The program is unique in that it has offered students experiential learning and mentoring opportunities for more than 50 years with field schools and through participation in projects run by BYU’s Office of Public Archaeology. As a discipline, anthropology trains students to interpret human behavior in the context of modern and past civilizations.

“Professor Allison greatly contributed to a legacy of experiential learning that is an important appeal for students who choose to study anthropology at BYU,” says Padilla-Walker. “We appreciate his contribution as department chair over the past six years.”

Learn more about studying anthropology at BYU.

Diversity Committee Helps Campus Celebrate Juneteenth

“Juneteenth is a holiday for everyone,” says Lita Little Giddins, assistant dean for Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion in the College of Family, Home, & Social Sciences. “As long as it is a fight that involves humanity, we are all included.” 

Taking that sentiment to heart, students on the college’s Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion (DCI) committee set up an opportunity for the campus community to celebrate the holiday on the afternoon June 21. The group aimed to educate others on the meaning of Juneteenth and the symbols on the Juneteenth flag, and shared red velvet cookies.

“The majority of [passerbys] had a basic understanding of what Juneteenth is,” says Kame’e Parker, a junior from Honolulu majoring in family life and a member of the DCI committee. But she was happy to share more details. “Our history textbooks don’t teach us about marginalized groups, or if they do they skim over it. If textbooks aren’t putting a focus on these events, we need to put a focus on educating ourselves and others about these events.” In addition to details about the holiday, students shared information about rooting out more subtle forms of racism or exclusion, such as microaggressive behavior.

As for how the holiday is traditionally celebrated, Giddins explains that in the South, many people wore their Sunday best. In other states, people began to wear clothing that is significant to their cultural heritage if they know which African tribe they originate from. Many people eat red-colored food because red symbolizes loyalty, power, and the blood that was shed during enslavement. The symbolism highlights the triumph of African Americans as they were officially liberated from slavery.

 Finally, Juneteenth brings to light the ongoing struggle of inclusion that African Americans feel and how we all need to be more inclusive in our communities. 

“Right now, we will inform people about Juneteenth. But I hope to one day reach a point when people already know the significance so we can simply celebrate together. After all, Juneteenth is a celebration at its core of inclusion and community,” says Giddins.

Find more resources on race from the Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion committee.

Kame’e Parker at the “Celebrate Juneteenth!” booth sponsored by the DCI committee of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.

College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Valedictorians Announced

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences has many outstanding students graduating this April. We are grateful for the hard work and scholarship of each graduating senior and the example of excellence set by the valedictorians in the college. Meet each department’s 2022 valedictorian!

Political Science: Kesley Townsend

Kesley Townsend

Kesley Brooke Townsend, a political science major with a political strategy emphasis and minors in history and sociology, is the oldest child of John and Cindy Powell. She was raised in Richland, Washington, and developed a passion for U.S. political history at a young age. During her time at BYU, she conducted original research as a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy and worked as a research assistant for Professors Goodliffe, Preece, Pope, and Argyle. Kesley interned at TargetPoint Consulting while participating in the Washington Seminar program and worked as a political strategy advisor on a U.S. senate campaign. She was president of the BYU Women in Politics organization and a writer for the Political Review. Kesley will begin a research fellowship at TargetPoint Consulting this summer and looks forward to pursuing a Ph.D. in political science in 2023. She is incredibly grateful for the mentorship provided by BYU faculty and the continued support of her family and friends. 

Geography: Kellie Haddon

Kellie Haddon

Kellie Haddon is a geography major with an emphasis in global studies and minors in international development and sociology. While at BYU, Kellie had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for Brandon Plewe on the Mormon Places project during her freshman year and worked as a teaching assistant for Chad Emmett’s Political Geography class for the past two semesters. She is excited to end her time at BYU on the Multicultural Europe study abroad with Jill Knapp during spring term. This year Kellie was also heavily involved in the club Students for International Development as one of its presidents. She will begin graduate school in the fall in American University’s MA International Development program in Washington, D.C. Kellie served as a missionary in Cebu, Philippines and enjoys painting, hiking, and exploring new places. She has lived in six states but mainly grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Kellie is grateful for her incredible family, friends, professors, and mentors for their continual support throughout her time at BYU.

Psychology: Reilly O’Coyle Reid

Reilly O’Coyle Reid

Reilly O’Coyle Reid, a psychology major with a minor in business, is from Henderson, Nevada. The oldest of four girls, Reilly is grateful for her loving parents and the special relationship she has with her sisters. During her time at BYU, Reilly came to appreciate the vast educational opportunities available at this university, and is always searching for the chance to research and teach. She began her undergraduate education as a business major and enjoyed learning about finance, economics, and accounting. Reilly later discovered that studying psychology would fulfill her passion of helping individuals, families, and couples heal. Her research emphasis is in clinical psychology and mental health services. She is inspired by studying psychology and is thrilled to continue her education in BYU’s Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program in August. Reilly is grateful for her professors, classmates, friends and family who have supported her as she completed her bachelor’s degree.

History: Pamela Peterson

Pamela Peterson

Pamela Peterson attended BYU as a non-traditional student for the last 13 years while raising a family of six children — her greatest accomplishment. As a developing family historian, she finds the detective work of family history fulfilling and invigorating. Pam plans to pursue a career in family history with an emphasis in British research while she prepares for her Accredited Genealogist credential exams. She has loved her years at BYU and the wonderful professors she’s been privileged to learn from and associate with. Her professors and fellow students opened her eyes to new ideas, perspectives, and perceptions of peoples, cultures, and the world we live in. Her previously limited paradigm has been broadened and enhanced by her experiences and education at BYU. She is grateful for divine help and extends a sincere thank you to the BYU faculty who give their lives to teach others.

Family Life: Megan (Van Alfen) Brown

Megan Van Alfen Brown

Megan (Van Alfen) Brown is a Family Studies major passionate about helping, educating, and healing individuals and families. She is a Wheatley Scholar and received multiple awards for her educational achievements. She worked as a teaching assistant and a research assistant with professors in the School of Family Life at BYU for several years. She is passionate about researching gender, body image, mental health, and sexuality and hopes to center her career in those fields. She will be attending graduate school in the fall at Brigham Young University for a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development. She has plans to pursue a PhD to become a professor to educate students and families about complex topics that deserve increased attention. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, being outdoors, catching up with friends and building her floral design business.

Anthropology: Leeann Whiffen

Leeann Whiffen

Leeann Whiffen, an anthropology major, was born and raised on a cattle ranch in rural Idaho. She spent much of her youth helping her dad tend to the cows, swath hay, and irrigate fields. She is grateful for those experiences that have helped shape who she is today. Leeann and her husband Sean have been married for 25 years, and they have three sons. She has the special opportunity to be graduating from BYU with her son, Clay. Her husband and sons have always supported her educational goals. On one especially challenging day, she noticed a note in her chemistry notebook that said, “Good luck, Mom!” Leeann completed research under the supervision of Dr. Greg Thompson, and they co-authored an article examining physician-patient interactions that was published in the health care journal Qualitative Health Research. Leeann is deeply appreciative for her professors who have given her invaluable tools that she will carry forward. Leeann completed pre-medical coursework and plans to attend medical school.

Sociology: Hannah Dixon

Hannah Dixon

​​Hannah Dixon grew up in American Fork, Utah. She served a full-time mission in Poland, then returned to BYU, where she majored in sociology with a minor in English. Hannah is graduating with University Honors. During her time here, she relished research opportunities. She participated in a Ballard Center Social Impact Project, a research assistantship in the Sociology department, worked with the BYU Antiracism Project, completed class projects, and more. Other highlights of her BYU experience include involvement in the Honors program, volunteer and mentorship opportunities with first-year students, long hours in the library, and hiking to the Y more than 100 times. Hannah is grateful for the mentors, family, colleagues, and friends who have made her time here fulfilling and she credits their examples of grit, optimism, and encouragement for getting her to this point. She looks forward to continuing her studies at BYU this fall as a student in the sociology master’s program.

Economics: Alexander Johnson

Alexander Johnson

Alex Johnson is a senior graduating in economics and mathematics, with minors in Spanish and Portuguese. During his time at BYU, Alex realized that he possesses a love for learning and solving problems. Alex initially became interested in economics through Dr. Kearl’s Econ 110 class, learning to use a mathematical and logical framework to better understand the world. Through his experience in economics, Alex developed a passion for statistics and mathematical modeling, using and analyzing data to learn about the world in an economics framework. Seeing the strength of mathematics in such an applied context, Alex decided to supplement this growing passion for applied modeling by deciding to also study mathematics as one of his majors. This preparation allowed Alex to continue his education into the future with plans to study Applied Mathematics in a master’s program. Alex would like to express his sincere gratitude for all his professors, family, friends, and classmates, all of whom have been integral in his learning so far.

You Can Have Anxiety and Be a Social Scientist- Three Professors Share How

As the school year nears its end, we’re all feeling it — the nervousness before finals, the stress and pressure to do well, the fear of what comes next. These anxious feelings aren’t exclusive to students; nearly 20% of American adults have an anxiety disorder and many others experience issues with anxiety each year, even if they don’t have an anxiety disorder.

This month’s “Picture a Social Scientist” activity focused on those who have mental health challenges, particularly anxiety. The “Picture an Anxious Social Scientist” event on March 31 began with a presentation on biofeedback from BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Biofeedback helps us respond to our body’s stress signals before they become too intense and to take action to relieve stress throughout the day before it impacts our ability to complete our tasks or handle our emotions.

CAPS Biofeedback presentation

The biofeedback presentation was followed by a panel of professors with different types of anxiety. Alyssa Banford Witting in the School of Family Life, Sam Hardy in the Psychology Department, and Scott Sanders in the Sociology Department put themselves in an anxiety-inducing situation to help students see how someone with anxiety can be successful as a social scientist. They addressed questions such as, “What was your experience being diagnosed?” and “What do you recommend for students who may have these feelings but have not been diagnosed?” as well as “How has anxiety been a superpower in your career?”

The professors shared some of the tools they use to manage their anxiety. Sanders suggested, “Develop self-love now, develop self-care now… Do it now because it’s so much harder when you’re in those troughs.” Deep breathing is another helpful tool that was taught during the biofeedback presentation. Hardy’s tools include antidepressant medication, therapy, and support groups. His self-care includes Diet Dr. Pepper and hobbies like cooking, playing with dogs, and jamming out on drums in the basement. He also is mindful of nutrition and exercise, reads self-help books, and makes spiritual practices a priority.

Banford Witting encouraged students not to go it alone if they are feeling anxious. “Seek help, there’s no reason to suffer.” When looking for help, remember that your professors are there for you and you are not alone in your struggle. “It’s common enough that it’s okay. You’ll have some friends in the mental illness business… Everybody has anxiety to some degree,” added Hardy.

Sanders said to manage anxiety step by step, day by day, or even moment by moment. Describing his process to overcome anxious feelings he said, “What can you do in that moment? Maybe it’s a breath, a class period, a day. What does it look like and what can I do to get through that moment?”

PICTURE AN ANXIOUS SOCIAL SCIENTIST: Natalie Herbst Durtschi interviews panelists Alyssa Banford Witting, Sam Hardy, and Scott Sanders.

Whatever your experiences with anxiety may be, create boundaries for yourself, find your toolkit, and keep navigating the challenges that come your way. There will be many who can relate and help, as well as those who understand and support.

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences monthly “Picture a Social Scientist” events will return in the fall. With the goal of fostering belonging, each event will feature inspiring social science professionals to whom students can relate. Future events will explore themes such as neurodiversity, being a woman, managing a dual-career family, and other groups that are underrepresented in the social sciences. Students can expect to gain new perspectives and develop insights on how to press forward with their own ambitions.

Learn more about “Picture a Social Scientist” here.

Learn more or schedule an appointment with BYU CAPS.

BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures offers extraordinary experiences for students

This Friday night’s activity, “Night at the Museums” gives students the opportunity to visit all five BYU museums (The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Education in Zion Museum, The Museum of Art, The Museum of Paleontology, and The Museum of Peoples and Cultures) on one evening for refreshments, music, activities, and the chance to solve clues for a prize. Each museum will dazzle participants with interesting facts and thought-provoking displays, but a brand new exhibit at The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is sure to be an eye-catcher.

Greenstone Forgeries on Display

“Mayan Greenstone” displays artifacts from the museum’s vast collection of Mesoamerican greenstone artifacts. What makes these particular artifacts so intriguing? Many are forgeries.

The exhibit highlights the research done last year by former BYU student Chloe Burkey and anthropology postdoctoral fellow Marion Forest. Burkey and Forest worked to systematically authenticate the collection, using an innovative collection of techniques to spot each forgery.

The new exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to try their hand at spotting the fakes while also appreciating the ancient craftsmanship of the genuine artifacts. Museum visitors will be impressed, not only by the relics, but also by the experiential learning opportunities available to students through the Museum of Peoples and Cultures.

A Student-Led Exhibit

Nearly every aspect of each exhibit at the museum is produced by BYU students. “All of the research is done by students, the displays are designed by students, even the labels for the artifacts are made by students,” explained museum director Paul Stavast.

One student gaining valuable experience at the museum is Hannah Smith, a history major with minors in art history and anthropology. Hannah plans to work in museums in the future, and her experience as an exhibit designer at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures has given her invaluable skills for her future career.

“Along with the researchers and the director I’ve gotten to pick objects, write text, choose graphics, play with the layout of the exhibit… paint, build some walls!” joked Hannah as she described her role in the new exhibit in an interview. “I’ve learned more through this opportunity than I have in a lot of classes. It’s helped me build skills for any job and helped me really figure out what I want to do.”

Hannah Smith with greenstone artifacts at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures

Learning Through Stories

Hannah started at the museum last April as an intern, unsure of what direction she wanted her future career to take. She gained confidence by helping with the “Utah Valley” exhibit and by talking to the director of the museum. She enjoyed the opportunity and has been working at the museum ever since. 

Smith began studying history and anthropology because she wants to tell human stories. “I feel like the social sciences are so special because it’s all about people. That’s what interests me the most is the story behind things, and the social sciences are all very story driven fields,” said Smith, explaining how stories tie together all of her passions of history, anthropology and art history.

Immerse yourself in the stories of the past at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures and other BYU museums at “Night at the Museums” on March 25.

To learn more about the Museum of Peoples and Cultures visit mpc.byu.edu.

Poor Mental Health in Adolescence Precursor of Rapid Aging

Dr. Terrie E. Moffitt to deliver upcoming Hinckley Lecture

The 18th annual lecture of the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Endowed Chair in Social Work and the Social Sciences is titled, “Surprises About Mental Health Revealed by Following 1,000 People for Decades.” Terrie E. Moffitt, professor of Social Development at King’s College in London and the Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology at Duke University will present her research on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hinckley Center Assembly Hall.

Moffitt serves is associate director for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study in New Zealand, a longitudinal study that has followed a birth cohort of 1,000 participants for nearly 50 years. This study has an unheard of retention rate with 94% of the remaining living subjects still participating.

The latest research from this longitudinal study explores the link between mental health in young people and faster biological aging, the likelihood that the majority of people will struggle with mental health at some point in their life and the value of holistic psychological treatment.

By tracking the life histories of study participants, Moffitt discovered that those who were diagnosed with mental disorders as adolescents also aged quickly. According to biomarkers of physical health, these people aged twice as fast as normal while those with good mental health in their youth showed very little aging.

Moffitt also recognized that over 800 of the 1,000 study participants met the diagnostic criteria for a mental health problem at least once in their now 50 years of life. “If you follow people long enough, almost everybody will have some brush with mental health issues. There’s no room for stigma,” says Moffit.

Many study participants also suffered from a variety of mental health issues throughout their lives. Moffit recommends that mental healthcare providers shift their focus from working through a single diagnosis at a time to doing more to encourage healthy lifestyle skills. This approach can potentially prevent the snowball of other mental health issues in the future and help people enjoy healthier, longer lives overall. “Don’t just treat the one thing that’s wrong today but give them skills they can use to stay healthy the rest of their lives,” says Moffitt.

The lecture is free and open to public. Per university event guidelines, attendees should wear a mask and must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. More information is available at https://hinckleychair.byu.edu/2022-hinckley-lecture.

The lecture will be recorded and available for online viewing at a later date.

Bill Designating 988 as National Suicide Lifeline Number Has Contributions from Political Science Alum Ryan Leavitt

“Suicide across the nation has become an epidemic, especially with young people,” says Ryan Leavitt (BA ’11), partner at Barker Leavitt and BYU political science alumnus. He served as a lead staffer for the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, which led to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ultimately designating the phone number ‘988’ as a connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Center. 

By July 16, 2022, all calls made to the number ‘988’ will be directed to the national crisis center. In Utah, you can already call this number and be directed to lifesaving resources. 

“Right now if someone experiencing a mental health emergency needs assistance, the lifeline number they dial to get help is really long. People who are having a hard time are not going to know where to get help,” says Leavitt. “The idea is to have a simple three-digit number like you have for life-threatening emergencies (911) that everyone knows.”

Because the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number isn’t easily remembered, people end up calling 911 instead and then, according to Leavitt, “We are directing resources inefficiently.”

Utah has the fifth-highest suicide rate in the nation and suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. The state of Utah was in desperate need of more streamlined resources before this bill was proposed. 

Leavitt worked under the direction of former Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Chris Stewart, who authored the bill requiring the FCC to change the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from 1-800-273-TALK to 988.

Leavitt is currently a partner at a Government Affairs and Political Consulting Law Firm in Washington, D.C. and he attributes a large part of his early career success to his educational opportunities starting with his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University. Leavitt earned a degree in political science in 2011. He took full advantage of internship opportunities throughout his undergraduate career, participating in the Washington Seminar and interning with the Utah State Legislature.

Over nearly a decade serving as a Congressional aide, Leavitt advised several of Utah’s Members of Congress, including Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, and Congressman John Curtis among others. Utah State Senator Daniel Thatcher and Utah House Representative Steve Eliason had begun advocating in the Utah State Legislature to designate a three-digit number as the suicide prevention hotline number in Utah. The Utah senators then solicited the help of Senator Hatch and Congressman Stewart to expand their proposal nationally.

Leavitt describes the bill as a “great hope” for those struggling with mental health.

To get help in Utah, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. There is also a crisis text line. 988 is not currently active throughout all the states in the U.S. and 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is still in use. 

If you’re looking for resources other than a hotline, please consider the following: BYU CAPS (for students), the SafeUT app, and webinars from The Hope Squad.

Niwako Yamawaki Joins College Administration as Associate Dean

July 1 marks a new beginning for several faculty members in the Dean’s Office for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. While Laura Padilla-Walker, professor of family life, assumes her role as dean of the college after four years as associate dean, Niwako Yamawaki, professor of psychology, joins the office as associate dean for faculty development. 

“I had the privilege of working closely with Dr. Yamawaki on the college Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion committee and I appreciate her thoughtfulness, responsiveness, and organization,” says Padilla-Walker. “She has a passion for helping students and faculty to succeed and I am delighted she agreed to join our college team.”

Padilla-Walker believes Yamawaki is well qualified to serve as the associate dean over faculty development because of her dedication to the mission of the college and university, her strong research and teaching record, and her fierce dedication to mentored student research. 

Yamawaki was most recently an associate chair in the Department of Psychology and received the college Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion award in 2020 and the Martin B. Hickman Achievement in Teaching Award in 2019. She conducts cross-cultural research to investigate cultural factors — such as stigma, discrimination, and collectivism — that influence attitudes toward mental health services and violence against women. Along with that, she is interested in the role of psychological resilience in Eastern and Western populations and is affiliated with both the American Psychological Association and the Japanese Association for Mental Health.

Specific responsibilities Yamawaki will have as associate dean of faculty development include overseeing faculty research awards and grants, faculty leaves, reviews for the college’s institutes and centers, and the use of space in the college. She will head the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Endowed Chair committee, the Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference, and lead the college Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion committees for race and first-generation students.

Padilla-Walker is enthusiastic about the team of associate and assistant deans she’ll be working with. “I am confident that together we will be able to continue the positive trajectory of our college. We are here to support our wonderful faculty and students and hope you will feel free to seek us out to help in whatever ways we can. We look forward to working with all of you.” 

Mikaela Dufur, professor of sociology and associate dean, has new responsibilities too as she shifts from overseeing faculty development to now focusing on faculty evaluation.

“Dr. Dufur is well qualified for this position after serving as the college rank and status chair for several years, and I look forward to continuing to benefit from her wisdom, careful attention to detail, and her strong desire to support faculty and students,” says Padilla-Walker.

Dufur’s specific responsibilities now cover college rank and status, stewardship Interviews, and faculty profiles, university awards, and the university faculty development meeting. She will lead the Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion committees for gender and health/disabilities and continues to manage computing services, technology, and capital equipment. 

Sam Otterstrom, professor of geography, will continue in his role as associate dean for curriculum and teaching where he oversees academic advisement, assessment, education preparation, American Heritage, the bachelor of general studies, graduate studies, writing instruction, international study, online and independent studies, the BYU-Salt Lake Center, and scholarships. He also leads the Student Career Development Council and the University and College Curriculum Council, and remediates student complaints. 

“Dr. Otterstrom has been such an important asset to the team for years and we will greatly benefit from his continued expertise,” says Padilla-Walker. “He is a team player and I appreciate his patience, his perspective, and his desire to support our students through our many college efforts surrounding curriculum and experiential learning.” 

Find our contact info at the Dean’s Office Directory.

Read With Us! Faculty and Staff Recommend Great Summer Reads for Social Scientists

We invited faculty and staff in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences to share what they’ve been reading. Here are their top picks for titles you might enjoy at the beach as well as those that will keep your brain thinking. Scroll through the recommendations and find what interests you.

Dean’s Office

The Story of Arthur Truluv

by Elizabeth Berg

Recommended by Laura Padilla-Walker, Dean

The story of an unlikely friendship between Arthur Moses, an elderly man who lost his wife, Maddy Harris, an introverted girl trying to escape the kids at school, and Lucille, the spinster neighbor who loves to bake. Berg’s novel explores human connection amidst love, loss, and self-discovery.

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

Recommended by Laura Padilla-Walker, Dean

Ove is the classic cranky old man next door, but he is so much more than he appears. In this funny and charming first novel, Swedish columnist Fredrik Backman explores the influence one life can have on many others.

The Tea Master and the Detective

Recommended by Mikaela Dufur, Associate Dean

“Futuristic Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery where ‘Sherlock’ is a prickly female scholar and ‘Watson’ is a sentient spaceship. You read that right. Novelette set in the author’s broader Xuya Universe.”

Fearing the Black Body

by Sabrina Strings

Recommended by Mikaela Dufur, Associate Dean

“Compelling argument that changes in ‘fashion’ that have been converted to health assumptions are connected to ideas of racial inferiority.”

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

by Austin Channing Brown

Recommended by Lita LIttle Giddins, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion

Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion.”

Listen, Learn & Love

by Richard H. Ostler

Recommended by Lita Little Giddins, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion

Former YSA bishop Richard Ostler seeks to help his readers understand the experiences of LGBTQ Latter-day Saints through hundreds of true stories. An extension of the Listen, Learn & Love podcast.

A Place for Us: A Novel

by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Recommended by Jordan Karpowitz, Assistant Dean for Communications and External Relations

This novel is the story of an Indian-American Muslim family and the bonds that hold them together as well as the differences that pull them apart. It is heart-wrenching — just as every family story is. But the religious practices and beliefs of this family make the story especially poignant for similarly religious Latter-day Saint families that also wrestle with love, compassion, faith, and forgiveness.”

Becoming

by Michelle Obama

Recommended by Jordan Karpowitz, Assistant Dean for Communications and External Relations

“I love biographical stories about women and thinking about how the stories of different women’s lives are told. I love the framework for this book: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More. It’s such a familiar and universal path for women especially as they move through seasons of their lives — discovering themselves while connecting with others. I think that particularly female students in the college will appreciate reading about Michelle’s educational journey (she majored in sociology and minored in African-American studies) and career path, as well as how she balanced career and family.”

Experiential Education in the College Context

by Jay W. Roberts

Recommended by Danny Damron, Assistant Dean for Experiential Education and Professional Development

“I like Experiential Education in the College Context by Jay Roberts. It outlines the basics of experiential education as a pedagogical approach. It asks that we adopt the experiential learning (ExL) cycle and structure learning with intention, reflection, and integration. My approach to professional development is deeply influenced by the ExL principles Roberts advocates.”

Crucial Conversations

by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

Recommended by Carina Alleman, Administrative Assistant to the Dean

“I would highly recommend Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High. It teaches how to approach people and have important conversations and discussions, even when things are hard and, like the title says, when the stakes are high. I find it especially important to learn these skills in the world of today, when things are so polarized and people are on very opposite sides. For a non-confrontational person like me, this book was invaluable in helping me learn to not avoid certain topics and to bridge the gaps with loved ones, colleagues, and friends.”

Archaeology

The Maya

by Michael D. Coe and Stephen Houston

Recommended by Dr. John Clark

“It’s a general introduction to one of the major civilizations in the Americas, and it is a very well-illustrated, comfortable read for the non-specialist.

Civic Engagement

Politics is for Power

by Eitan Hersh

Recommended by Dr. Quin Monson, Director of Civic Engagement and Dr. Jay Goodliffe, Department Chair of Political Science

“(The book) provides motivation and concrete ideas for anyone who wants to be more involved in civic life. Hersh equates what he calls ‘political hobbyism’ to treating politics the way many of us treat sports teams. We like to watch and talk about them and we too easily substitute time spent consuming current events and talking about it (including social media posts) to more meaningful activities that will actually lead to meaningful change. The book is very readable and is filled with examples of meaningful ways to make a difference, especially at the local level.”

Economics

Capitalism and Freedom

by Milton Friedman

Recommended by Dr. Mark Showalter

“Written by perhaps the most influential economist in the second half of the 20th century. Outlines the case for classical economics as the underpinning of a democratic society.”

The Undercover Economist

by Tim Harford

Recommended by Dr. Mark Showalter

“Lots of interesting stories where economics helps understand behavior. Writer of an economics column for the Financial Times.”

Family History

The Spiritual Practice of Remembering

by Margaret Bendroth

Recommended by Dr. Amy Harris

Amazon Review: “A splendidly written summons for us to remember and honor the past. We often dismiss history as dull or irrelevant, but our modern disengagement from the past puts us fundamentally out of step with the long witness of the Christian tradition. Yet, says Margaret Bendroth, the past tense is essential to our language of faith, and without it our conversation is limited and thin. This accessible, beautifully written book presents a new argument for honoring the past. The Christian tradition gives us the powerful image of a vast communion of saints, all of God’s people, both living and dead, in vital conversation with each other. This kind of connection with our ancestors in the faith, Bendroth maintains, will not happen by wishing or by accident. She argues that remembering must become a regular spiritual practice, part of the rhythm of our daily lives as we recognize our world to be, in many ways, a gift from others who have gone before.”

The Family: A World History

by Mary Jo Maynes & Ann Waltner

Recommended by Dr. Amy Harris

Amazon Review: “Mary Jo Maynes and Ann Waltner tell the story of this fundamental unit from the beginnings of domestication and human settlement. They consider the codification of rules governing marriage in societies around the ancient world, the changing conceptions of family wrought by the heightened pace of colonialism and globalization in the modern world, and how state policies shape families today.”

Family Life

General Conference Talks & BYU Speeches

Recommended by Erin Holmes, Director of the School of Family Life

Instead of recommending a book, I echo an invitation offered by President M. Russell Ballard.  He said,  “I invite you to look deep in your souls and ask how you can fulfill your purpose of being a child of God by loving the Lord and loving your neighbor more faithfully than you ever have before. . . . You might best accomplish this by finding some quiet time in which you can think through where you are with your relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son and His Church. At different times in the Savior’s life, He took opportunities to be alone to ponder and pray. I invite you to spend some time in the next few days to be alone in a quiet place to commune with your Heavenly Father and learn how to better understand and serve each other by helping and lifting each other.”

Students, as you take this time, I also invite you to consider reading and pondering the following recent General Conference talks, BYU devotionals, and Ensign articles that speak to understanding, serving, helping, and lifting each other. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it represents some of the talks I have been pondering recently.

The All-or-Nothing Marriage

by Eli J. Finkel

Recommended by Dr. Alan Hawkins

From Amazon: Eli J. Finkel’s insightful and ground-breaking investigation of marriage clearly shows that the best marriages today are better than the best marriages of earlier eras. Indeed, they are the best marriages the world has ever known. He presents his findings here for the first time in this lucid, inspiring guide to modern marital bliss.

A Time to Build

by Yuval Levin

Recommended by Dr. Alan Hawkins

Amazon Review: Levin argues, now is not a time to tear down, but rather to build and rebuild by committing ourselves to the institutions around us. From the military to churches, from families to schools, these institutions provide the forms and structures we need to be free. By taking concrete steps to help them be more trustworthy, we can renew the ties that bind Americans to one another.

The Secret History of Home Economics

by Danielle Dreilinger

Recommended by Natalie Hancock, Director of Family and Consumer Sciences Education

The New York Times: Dreilinger’s carefully researched homage to a field that is often belittled chronicles its origins in practical science and its key role in establishing nutritional standards, the federal poverty line, radio programming and more. “Dreilinger chronicles home ec’s decline beginning in the 1960s and its frantic efforts to reinvent itself,” Virginia Postrel writes in her review, fondly recalling her own time in a middle school home ec classroom. “Learning how to cook and sew — to make useful physical objects with sensory appeal — was deeply satisfying for a 12-year-old bookworm. It’s the same satisfaction that animates the contemporary maker movement. … Integrate some electronics and carpentry and you’ll have a hit.

Geography

Come Follow Me: Doctrine and Covenants

Recommended by Daniel Olsen, Department Chair of Geography

“There’s so many other good books out there, but we should be reading from the best book…I would do the Doctrine and Covenants Come Follow Me but I would then try to read at least a few verses of the Book of Mormon. We learn by study but also by faith. If we’re so focused on study and we’re not studying by faith, we’re not going to get out of our classes what we need to get out of them. If you’re not going to read during the summer, at minimum, read your scriptures.”

History

Walking With the Wind

by John Lewis, with Michael D’Orso

Recommended by Dr. Rebecca DeSchweinitz

“John Lewis’s autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement is an award-winning book that gives you a front row seat to the civil rights movement and offers inspiration, understanding, and lessons for our time. Lewis’s story reminds us that we ‘can feel hope and love at the same time as [we] feel anger and a sense of injustice.’ His life shows us the personal and societal transformations that can take place if we allow ourselves to be moved by the ‘spirit of history’ to ‘do our part.'”

Jesus and the Disinherited

by Howard Thurman

Recommended by Dr. Rebecca DeSchweinitz

“I find myself thinking more and more about Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited. A mid-century black theologian who greatly influenced the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., Thurman shows the significance of Jesus’s life and teachings to the work of antiracism.”

The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History

by Darren Parry

Recommended by Jay Buckley, director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and BYU’s American Indian Studies minor.

W. Paul Reeve, author of Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness.”While never flinching from the realities of Latter-day Saint encroachment on Shoshone land and the racial ramifications of America’s spread westward, Parry offers messages of hope. As storyteller for his people, Parry brings the full weight of Shoshone wisdom to his tales—lessons of peace in the face of violence, of strength in the teeth of annihilation, of survival through change, and of the pliability necessary for cultural endurance…”

Political Science

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

Recommended by Dr. Darren Hawkins

“It is smart yet readable, with breathtaking scope and insights on many different countries across centuries of time. It helps us understand why the United States is so successful compared to others.”

Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

by Anne Applebaum

Recommended by Jay Goodliffe, Department Chair for Political Science

“From the perspective of a historian of communism in Eastern Europe, this is a book that helps us understand where the United States and other democracies are headed and how to change the trajectory.”

Psychology

Behave

by Robert M. Sapolsky

Recommended by Dr. Rebekka Matheson

“Sapolsky is a vibrant character who writes about behavioral neurobiology in fresh, compelling ways. The book brims with colorful anecdotes, fascinating science, and a writing voice seasoned by a life well-lived.”

Anxious People

by Fredrik Backman

Recommended by Dr. Ben Ogles

“If the students prefer a light distracting summer read that is entertaining, I would recommend Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrik Backman. It’s a fun book and easy read with interesting characters and quirky Scandinavian humor.”

Social Work

Somewhere in the Unknown World

by Kao Kalia Yang

Recommended by Dr. Stacey Shaw

“I would recommend two books by Kao Kalia Yang, “Somewhere in the Unknown World,” and “The Latehomecomer.” Yang came to the United States as a child with her family and community of Hmong refugees. She visited BYU and spoke a few years ago.”

Sociology

The Sum of Us

by Heather McGhee

Recommended by Dr. Jacob Rugh

From Amazon: One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone — not just for people of color.

How Beautiful We Were

by Imbolo Mbue

Recommended by faculty in the Sociology Department

“Mbue is a Cameroonian author who artfully describes how a young woman inspires her small African village to stand against an American oil company. Set in the fictional village of Kosawa, ‘How Beautiful We Were’ illustrates how colonial legacies and corporate greed continue to threaten communities, and how people can come together to resist these global forces.”

Share your favorite reads with us @byufhss.

Professors Honored with National and University Awards

Multiple professors in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences were recently recognized with awards and honors, both on a national scale and at the university level.

2021 Career Enhancement Fellowship

On May 5, the Institute for Citizens and Scholars announced their 2021 Career Enhancement Fellows. Among the 39 chosen recipients of this honor is David-James Gonzales, assistant professor in the Department of History.

Gonzales was named a 2021 Career Enhancement Fellow.

Gonzales is one of twenty-one six-month fellows from a highly competitive pool of applicants working on research projects, according to a press release. His project is a book about Mexican-American grassroots politics that challenged efforts to segregate and marginalize their Orange County communities in the first half of the twentieth century. 

The Career Enhancement Fellowship entails a six-month or one-year sabbatical stipend of up to $30,000, a research/travel/publication stipend of up to $1,500, mentoring and participation in a professional development retreat. For his sabbatical, Gonzales intends to spend three weeks in Southern California conducting research, then use the remainder of his six months writing the final chapters of his book.

Career Enhancement Fellows “represent unique perspectives within their disciplines and are committed to increasing diversity and inclusion on campus through service and research,” according to the press release.

“Primarily, I strive to create inclusive spaces in the classroom and across campus where students feel seen, accepted, and supported,” Gonzales said. “I do this by centering my teaching on diverse perspectives and experiences and promoting dialogue in the classroom. I believe the university classroom is such an important space for us to be able to learn from and about each other, as well as those we know little about.”

As part of a minority within academia, he said, “One of the major challenges faced by underrepresented faculty (and students) is the feeling or expectation that you somehow represent or speak for an entire community of people that ‘look like you.’”

Despite this pressure, however, Gonzales also said he feels support from fellow faculty on campus.

“My colleagues in the history department (and several others throughout the college) have been so welcoming and supportive from day one,” he said. “I feel like they have embraced the expertise and approach I bring to serving, teaching, and researching. I also cherish the close relationships I’ve built with so many students, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students. Their support and appreciation for my work at BYU means everything to me.”

Gonzales serves as the faculty advisor for the BYUSA Hispanos Unidos club, a member of the Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion faculty advisory committee for the college, chair of the Civil Rights Seminar committee, and a member of the General Education Design Committee Task Force on Diversity.

2020 Inspired Learning Awards

Faculty in the college are also being recognized on the BYU campus. During the Fall 2020 semester, students were encouraged to nominate outstanding faculty and staff for Inspired Learning Awards. Nominees were pivotal to students’ career progress and development of lifelong-learning skills, according to the Experiential Learning and Internships website. Two professors in the college, Sarah Coyne, associate director for the School of Family Life, and Wendy Sheffield, field faculty in the School of Social Work, received Inspiring Learning Awards.

Sarah Coyne was awarded a Career Champion Award.

Coyne received a Career Champion Award. Recipients of this award were exceptionally influential in helping students reach a significant career path milestone. A student who nominated Coyne said she “inspired me to find issues that I am passionate about and begin contributing to knowledge about them even as an undergraduate.”

“Her research and career inspired me to see how I could make a positive impact in the lives of women and girls,” another student said.

Sheffield received an Experiential Learning Award, meaning she inspired students through co-curricular experiences that promoted good life habits or life-long learning.

Wendy Sheffield received an Experiential Learning Award.

 “Professor Sheffield led our cohort to experiential learning that was just right for each of us,” a student said.

Additional faculty in the college were also nominated for Inspiring Learning Awards. For the Experiential Learning Award, these included Alex Jensen, Curtis Child, Daniel Olsen Gantt, Jared Warren, Joseph Price, Larry Nelson, Leslie Hadfield, Lucy Williams, Mark Butler, Niwako Yamawaki, Stacey Shaw, Stewart Anderson, Tammy Hill, and Wade Jacoby. For the Career Champion Award, Darren Hawkins, Dawn Marie Wood, Joseph Price, Natalie Romeri-Lewis, and Tammy Hill received nominations.

2020 General Education Professorship

Larry Nelson was awarded the 2020 General Education Professorship.

Larry Nelson, a professor in the School of Family Life, was recently awarded the 2020 General Education Professorship for his work teaching SFL 210: Human Development.

“Nelson represents the best in faculty who teach for the General Education Program,” Christopher Oscarson, Undergraduate Education associate dean, said.

Annually, one professor, nominated by their colleagues, is chosen for this professorship that lasts for three years and includes a yearly stipend of $4,000 and an additional $4,000 annually for research.