Students considering a family social science degree will have new options for fall 2017. Following a redesign of the curriculum, the Department of Family Social Science has created three concentrations for the family social science undergraduate major that create clear career paths for students interested in improving the lives of diverse families.
“We wanted to help students focus and create a roadmap to careers or an advanced degree in family social science,” said Lynne Borden, department head. “It’s a degree that gives students a great multidisciplinary foundation with the opportunity to be mentored by some of the country’s top researchers in the field.”
Family social science degree concentrations
The family and community engagement concentration is designed for students aspiring to work directly with families in community settings. The family therapy option prepares students for entry-level clinical positions or for advanced study in marriage and family therapy or a practitioner certification, such as the parent education teaching license. The family financial studies concentration is designed for students who are interested in becoming a family financial counselor or coach or other similar career paths.
“Our alumni use their FSoS degrees in a variety of careers,” said Jodi Dworkin, associate department head, professor, and extension specialist. “Alumni are working as mortgage counselors for banks, program case managers at non-profits and in a variety of teaching positions in K-12 education and in the community.”
Family Social Science Professor Bill Doherty is spending part of his summer applying his research to help America heal.
The November 2016 election accelerated a trend that researchers have been watching grow over the past several decades: that Americans are coming to view people who differ from them politically not just as political adversaries but as enemies whose ways of living and thinking are alien and dangerous. The American society is polarizing – separating into mutually antagonistic groups that do not trust or even know one another.
The “Red” and Blue divide” has reached the point where far fewer Americans would approve of their son or daughter marrying across political party lines than across racial lines. Family and friendship bonds are being frayed and in some cases ripped apart over who voted for which presidential candidate.
“This degree of rancor and mistrust threatens the foundations of our democracy,” said Doherty. “We are experiencing levels of polarization not seen, in the opinion of some historians, since the Civil War.”
Doherty has been researching the “citizen professional” concept for more than a decade. He has examined the role of professions in society and how the role has evolved from a detached expert to a citizen professional – someone with special expertise working with – not over – members of a community to collaboratively solve problems.
Doherty is walking his talk. He has been collaborating with a small nonprofit in New York called Better Angels where he’s been the lead designer and facilitator of a series of depolarization workshops for Red and Blue Americans.
They began in Ohio after the election with two weekend dialogues for Trump and Clinton voters who came together for carefully structured weekends that led to a joint statement to the nation, a documentary (by an Emmy Award winning producer) that will come out in 2018, and the formation of a Southwest Ohio chapter of Better Angels where conservatives and liberals are working together on depolarizing work and a joint Red/Blue policy platform.
In early March, an hour-long interview did with National Public Radio’s “Indivisible” series generated interest from people in several dozen towns and cities around the country who offered to organize local red/blue dialogues. The response gave birth to the Better Angel’s One America Bus Tour, funded by the Einhorn Foundation that launched July 4 with a benefit concert featuring Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary). The tour is traveling from Ohio through New England and down to Virginia, doing Red/Blue dialogues and depolarization skills workshops in local communities and promoting the development of Better Angels chapters.
This September, Doherty will lead a dialogue as part of the Nobel Peace Prize Symposium in St. Paul, and in October the next bus tour will head to states in the south and end in Montgomery, Alabama. Rotary Club leaders in California have also expressed interest in Red/Blue dialogues for their members. Locally in the Twin Cities area, the Hennepin County library system has signed to promote these civic dialogues across its 41 branches.
Family Social Science Professor Abi Gewirtz is leading a new center dedicated to putting trauma-informed and parent-focused interventions into the hands of practitioners throughout the country who can use them to support families affected by traumatic stressors.
Joyce Serido, associate professor of Family Social Science, discussed her scholarship on financial behaviors of young people in the spring/summer issue of Connect, the magazine of the College of Education and Human Development. Read the full story on the Connect website.
Mendenhall is the co-PI on this project, which is funded by the Minnesota Department of Health and NIH/Stanford Health.
The EMAIDI is composed of four core team members who represent established and innovative organizations in St. Paul, MN that are highly invested in seeking knowledge and promoting the health of urban-dwelling American Indian (AI) people.
The primary goal is to engage AI community members (including youth, adults, and elders), professionals (including medical, mental health, and social service providers), and university researchers to better understand and reduce health disparities. Using community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods, our team worked to identify unique challenges/needs and develop specific methods for tapping/utilizing families’ and community resources/assets to address said challenges/needs.
The 2017 Ramsey County Public Health Award recognizes individuals and groups who have made exceptional contributions to improving health in Ramsey County centering on tenets of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and empirically-supported outcomes.
Department of Family Social Science associate professor Tai Mendenhall was the featured speaker in a national webinar regarding working with families wherein a family member is living with chronic illness.
The webinar titled “Chronic Illness: Empowering Families in the Journey,” was offered by the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN), and is a two-part look at how families manage the challenges of chronic illness and build family resilience.
Family Social Science (FSOS) has launched a new master’s degree program in prevention science that will help prepare family science practitioners to prevent or moderate major human dysfunctions before they occur.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Prevention Science will equip students to confront many of the daunting challenges facing today’s families and communities, including trauma and drug addiction. The M.A. in Prevention Science will also help students develop strategies to promote the health and well-being of families.
Core coursework for the M.A. in Prevention Science gives students a solid foundation in statistics and research methodology, family conceptual frameworks, and ethics. Students can choose the Plan A which includes a thesis, or the Plan B which includes a project and a paper.
The M.A. in Prevention Science is intended for individuals who would like to build a career that supports families and works to redirect maladaptive behaviors.
The program is currently accepting applications for Fall 2017. The application deadline is March 1, 2017.
FSOS Ph.D. student Renada Goldberg was recently awarded a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation. Renada will work with the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy to conduct a community-based participatory research project in partnership with African American parents, caregivers, and leaders of nonprofits to study and ultimately help shape state and municipal public policies such as the new paid leave policy in Minneapolis.
FSOS professors Abi Gewirtz and Bill Doherty offered post-election thoughts in local and national media outlets, respectively.
Local NBC affiliate, KARE 11 featured Abi Gewirtz and her thoughts on talking to kids regarding the current mood in the country.
The Wall Street Journal featured Bill Doherty and his thoughts on moving forward in familial relationships when parties disagree on the outcome of the election. Independent.co.uk also featured Doherty’s thoughts.
Department of Family Social Science faculty members Cathy Solheim and Liz Wieling, along with FSOS Ph.D. student Jaime Ballard, recently published a breakthrough textbook titled, Immigrant and Refugee Families: Global Perspectives on Displacement and Resettlement Experiences.
While they were preparing to teach “Global Perspectives on Immigrant and Refugee Families,” Solheim and Wieling noticed that while there was a wealth of information regarding the immigrant experiences of individuals, very few textbooks focused on immigration experiences as it pertained to the family as a whole.
With the help of Ballard, Solheim and Wieling created a text that discusses current theoretical frameworks and synthesizes current research specific to immigrant and refugee families.
WCCO recently featured Department of Family Social Science professor Bill Doherty in a segment about how much time parents spend with their children.
According to the “Good Question” segment with Heather Brown, moms are spending about four hours a week more with their kids than they did 40 – 50 years ago. Dads are also spending more time with their kids.
“The big thing is interacting with them compared with just being around,” said Doherty.
He said there is no magic formula, but the key is being intentional with your time, and balancing quantity and quality of time.
Department of Family Social Science professor Bill Doherty was recently quoted in a Wall Street Journal article about the importance of doing spontaneous things as a family.
The author of the article tells the story of how she listened to her 10-year old son when he said he wanted to go from Pittsburgh to Cleveland to see the victory parade for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won the 2016 NBA Championship.
Despite the crowds, booked hotel rooms, and the heat, the family took an impromptu road trip from Philadelphia to Cleveland for one reason: it would be memorable.
While parenting is often about structure and setting limits, “sometimes it’s good to say ‘what the heck’, and break out of what we normally do,” Doherty said.
He also said, “The thing about spontaneous family events is that they are a bit over the top. That is what makes them memorable.”
In a recent Star Tribune article about how kids spend their summers, Family Social Science associate professor Jodi Dworkin says it’s okay for kids to be bored.
Every year, parents in Minnesota face the quandary of what to do with their children during the summer, when school is not in session, according to a recent Star Tribune article.
For parents of young children there are many options, like day care or summer camp, but for parents of “tweens” (ages approximately from 12 to 15), summer can be a challenge. Tweens are too old for day care, but too young to work.
As a result, parents try to fill summers with activities for tweens, which are often expensive, to keep them active, off their phones, and out of trouble.
However, Dworkin says despite the pressure parents feel to fill up their kids’ summers with enriching activities, it’s OK for them to be bored, too.
“Allowing your children to be bored not only gives them a chance to be creative, it also gives them a chance to refresh and get ready for another school year,” she said.
This month NPR featured Boss in a segment of On Being with Krista Tippett titled “The Myth of Closure.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Boss placed emphasis on the importance of remembering loved ones, and that actively trying to “get over” a death or failed relationship often prevents people from being able to do just that.
Boss also praised CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for putting “closure” in its proper place in the media when interviewing survivors and family members after tragedy.
“I know from his own biography that he knows what loss is, and he understands that there is no closure. He’s the only reporter I’ve ever heard explain that in the line of his work, and I think the rest of us have to do a better job of it, too.”
Boss coined the term “ambiguous loss” for her pioneering research on what people feel when a loved one disappears. However, she says, “We have to live with loss, whether clear or ambiguous, and it’s okay.”
The project investigates homeless youth’s perceptions of their education and employment interests, needs, and potential interventions. This award will bring together the Office to End Homelessness (OEH) and FSOS to give voice to youth interests and desires.
In a recent New York Times article, FSOS professor Marlene Stum says it’s not the big things that matter when dividing assets after the death of a loved one.
In fact, Stum says that most often families have decided ahead of time what will be done with the items bearing any significant monetary value. It’s the smaller things worth almost no money, but high in sentimental value, that families end up fighting over, which leads to strife in relationships.
Stum’s publication, Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate, helps families navigate the division of the assets. Her book sets forth principles such as helping family members understand that each belonging has a varying value to each family member, and stresses the importance of setting up a fair system for dividing assets, and sticking to it.
FSOS department head, Lynne Borden, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for an event with Joining Forces.
As part of the event titled, “Operation Educate the Educators: Sharing Successes and Setting Sights for the Future,” Dr. Borden met Dr. Jill Biden.
Joining Forces is an organization that works on behalf of military families. In addition to her duties as department head, Dr. Borden also runs the REACH lab, which also focuses on helping military families.