Category Archives: Family Social Science

Family Social Science alum to deliver new student convocation address

Family Social Science alum Rose Simon will deliver the address at the new student convocation.

 

Rose Simon just graduated in May but she’s eager to return to campus to help kick off the new academic year as she delivers the address at the University’s new student convocation, Thursday, Aug. 31.

Simon is using her experience as a peer mentor in the University of Minnesota President’s Emerging Scholars (PES) program in her new job at College Possible, a non-profit organization that serves low income high school students in preparing for college. She will be a mentor in College Possible’s new program, Fostering Graduates, that focuses on supporting students in the foster care system. She will be helping students overcome the unique challenges presented by the foster care system with skill development to enter college and the confidence they need to attain their degree.

“My past experience as a mentor with PES was a great opportunity for me to see the diverse barriers students have overcome that are often unrecognized as accomplishments in the higher education system,” says Simon. “My goal and passion is to create an environment where neighborhoods, cultures and individuals feel that they belong in college.”

Simon’s undergraduate career included an internship in France during her junior year and one with the City of Hopkins’ One Voice Coalition where she put her Family Social Science classroom work to the real world test.

The city wanted to focus energy on healthy youth development by working on alcohol and drug prevention programs,” she says. “I worked with parents and community members to help create and execute family events and programs that support students and parents.”

She credits her College of Education and Human Development advisors and Family Social Science professors for supporting and inspiring her throughout her academic career. She’s looking forward to sharing her experience at this year’s convocation and reminds incoming freshman that the anxiety they may be experiencing is all part of growing up.

“Remember how when you move from elementary school to middle school you worry about finding your locker and classes in time before the bell rings? Then in high school you were stressed about navigating that huge school and finding your niche? Whether high school was the best four years of your life, or you barely made it through… you’ve finally made it to the U of M, so congrats! You’ve arrived at your next chapter in life and boy are you in for a treat!”

And she reminds students that not only are they a college student, they are now among the Golden Gophers!

2017 ITR Seed Grants Announced

We are excited to announce the recipients of the 2017 Collaborative Seed Grant Program. These grants — $20,000 or less with a one-year time frame — support small research projects that advance the use of evidence-based practices in addressing pressing issues for children’s mental health. Each project partners with community organizations in Minnesota.  The goal of the program is to kickstart innovative ideas that have a likely chance of becoming larger, sustained research projects with external funding to improve mental health outcomes among Minnesota’s children.

Our mission at the Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR) is to advance quality research, train practitioners in evidence-based practices, and disseminate information to help bridge the gap between research and practice in our field.

Mindfulness Training for Juvenile Diversion Youth

Community Principal Investigator: Hal Pickett, Director of Client Services, Headway Emotional Health Services

ITR Principal Investigator: Timothy Piehler, Assistant Professor, UMN Department of Family Social Science

This exciting project aims to reduce conduct disorder among adolescents in juvenile justice diversion programs. The study seeks to adapt a mindfulness-focused intervention called Learning to Breathe for this audience in order to improve adolescent self control. The project will use an experimental design known as a “microtrial” to gauge specific effects of the intervention, which could be a precursor to a full randomized control trial.

Excerpt from the abstract:

“Juvenile diversion programs serve as an important gateway in identifying youth at high risk for escalations in conduct problems. However, the vast majority of diversion programming currently being provided is not evidence-based, in part because there are few evidence-based programs developed specifically for this population and setting…The proposed research seeks to innovate conduct disorder prevention in the context of juvenile diversion through several strategies…The proposed microtrial will evaluate the ability of mindfulness-based skills training to impact self-control within an adolescent diversion population. …

The proposed research project represents a collaboration between a University of Minnesota research team and Headway Emotional Health Services, a community mental health agency that provides pre-court juvenile diversion services for youth offenders. The study will involve a randomized trial investigating an evidence-based mindfulness intervention (Learning to Breathe; LTB) for juvenile diversion-referred youth.”

Read the full abstract here.

Foundational Research for a Parenting Mobile App with Biofeedback for Latine Parents

Community Principal Investigator: Roxana Linares, Executive Director, Centro Tyrone Guzman and Veronica Svetaz, Medical Director, Aqui Para Ti

ITR Principal Investigator: Jennifer Doty, Postdoctoral Fellow, UMN Department of Pediatrics

This project will build and test a mobile app version of Padres Informados, a skills-based parenting intervention for Latine immigrants. The work will lay the groundwork for a robust app that includes wearable technology to provide biofeedback to parents as they go through the program.

Excerpt from the abstract:

“The long-term goal of this research is to reduce depression, anxiety, and substance use among Latino adolescents through a mobile application with parenting content and personal biofeedback. The goal of this proposal is to build and test a baseline mobile application with a skills-based parenting curriculum for Latine immigrants, Padres Informados. …

The first aim is to build the baseline application and test the prototype that has already been developed in interviews with 20-30 parents who completed an earlier survey. … The second aim is to assess the functionality of the baseline mobile app and the acceptability of using a wearable.

The mobile app will have the potential of increasing community accessibility to evidence-based parenting programs and enhancing existing delivery of the program by providing mobile supplementary information and goal tracking capabilities.”

Read the full abstract here.

McNair Program is launchpad for future scholars

Chen Vue discusses his research with guests at the McNair Program poster session and reception in August.

Family Social Science Senior Chen Vue drew from his own experience as a starting point on research that he hopes will help other students in his community make the leap to higher education.

A 2017 McNair program scholar, Vue, guided by his faculty mentor Dr. Zha Blong Xiong, a professor in the Department of Family Social Science, examined how much a parent’s involvement in their child’s school and at home influenced academic achievement and performance.

His project grew out of the challenges he overcame to attend the University of Minnesota.

“My research was about what predictors would engage parental involvement at home/school that would influence Hmong children’s academic performance,” says Vue. “I chose this topic because it connects to my story growing up as a low income immigrant student struggling in my academics. I want to use this research as a bridge not for myself but for others to follow into graduate school and research. I plan to continue to study parental involvement as I progress into graduate school.”

His research project included a review of current literature that suggested that homes where two parents are present, the degree of English fluency, the size of the family and the age of children all had an influence on academic performance, but results were inconclusive. Vue and his team worked with a Twin Cities elementary school and parents to conduct survey of 332 students. His research indicated parents’ engagement with their children’s school and teachers had a bigger impact than just their influence at home.

Senior Chen Vue and his faculty mentor, Dr. Zha Blong Xiong, professor of Family Social Science. Photo by Julie Michener.

“I believe Chen learned a lot during the summer about the research process, from creating a research question to selecting the appropriate variables for the analysis,” said Xiong. “Chen is such a brilliant, hardworking scholar. I was so glad to have the opportunity to mentor him. I have really enjoyed working with all the brilliant students in the McNair Scholars program.”

About the McNair program

Named for Physicist Ronald McNair, who was a member of NASA’s ill-fated Challenger space shuttle that exploded moments after liftoff in 1986, the McNair Scholars Program is among the educational opportunity TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education that help first generation college students with financial need, or those who are members of traditionally underrepresented groups.

The McNair prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities with the goal to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.

Students receive financial support for a ten-week summer research apprenticeship that include weekly seminars that help them prepare for graduate school as well as year-round seminars and advising.

The program is administered at the University of Minnesota with support from the College of Education and Human Development, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Equity.

Students sharing South Korea experience

Three Family Social Science undergraduate students are among a College of Education and Human Development group exploring and blogging about South Korean culture, language, and education during a  study abroad course. Faculty leaders are CEHD Program Specialist Marina Aleixo and Dr. Catherine Solheim from FSoS (who joins the group August 12).

Nina Thao, Cathy Xiong, and Isabella Xiong will be sharing their experience as they examine the historical background of Korean education and its impact on current social, political and educational policies. They will return to the Twin Cities August 23.

Students pose for a photo during their South Korean study abroad experience.

Family Social Science grad students win national competition

Heather Hessel (left) pictured with Lynne Borden, head of FSoS. was also the recipient of a CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle scholarship. Photo by Julie Michener.

 

Heather Hessel and Kadie Ausherbauer, doctoral students in the Department of Family Social Science, won first place in the Doctoral Category of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s 2017 Student Ethics Competition.

“Being grounded in ethics and knowledgeable about ethical practices is essential to credible research and professional practice,” said Lynne Borden, head of the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. “These two young professionals are positive role models for our community and leaders of the future.”

Only in its second year, the competition is designed, according to AAMFT, to “foster an interest in ethical issues and enhance their ability to analyze and respond to the various ethics issues that they will undoubtedly encounter throughout their career.”

The ethics competition has two categories: one for Master’s and PDI students and one for Ph.D. students. Open to teams of two to three students at the same program level, the competition is unique because students do not know the exact case study on which they will be asked to respond until after they have registered. The “hypothetical scenario” is posted on the AAMFT’s website and students have six weeks to research, analyze, and write an essay.

“Our essay required that we research and discuss ethical codes, legal statutes, and commentaries on ethical issues,” said Hessel. “As is usually the case with ethics questions, there was quite a bit of “gray” area to debate between ourselves. We also selected and applied an established ethical decision-making model to the scenario, which helped us provide additional structure to our response.”

A fourth-year doctoral student, Hessel is working on a dissertation that explores how both noncollege and college-going emerging adults are using communication technology with extended family members.

Kadie Ausherbauer teamed up with Heather Hessel to win the national ethics competition sponsored by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

“I had a great time working on this project,” said Kadie Ausherbauer. “It was interesting to sift through areas where best practices didn’t correspond with specific ethical codes, so some things that initially seemed very problematic weren’t necessarily violations of the code of ethics. We applied the ethical decision making model to find ways that the hypothetical therapist could have prevented or improved the situation at different junctures in the process.”

Ausherbauer is a third year doctoral student whose research centers on development of self-regulation, early childhood trauma and micro-level behavioral analyses.

In addition to a cash prize, both Hessel and Ausherbauer were awarded complimentary registration, hotel accommodations and airfare to attend the AAMFT’s annual conference in Atlanta in October. Their winning essay will also be published on the AAMFT’s website and will be recognized in the organization’s publications and other communication channels.

Family social science degrees reimagined for fall 2017

Students interested in a family social science major will be able to choose from three concentrations. Photo by Erica Loeks.

 

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.”

For more information contact Jill Trites, director of undergraduate studies,  or visit the FSoS website.

Bill Doherty is “on the bus”

Bill Doherty (far right) leads a discussion group in Ohio. Photo by Ciaran O’Connor.

 

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.

Learn more

Updates from the  Better Angels One America Bus Tour.

Listen to WNYC’s Indivisible program podcast, “Can we reunite America,” and MPR’s program on “How to talk politics with someone who disagrees with you.”

Read the Southwest Ohio chapter of Better Angels joint statement.

Watch a six-minute excerpt from the documentary from the second dialogue.

Original material courtesy of Bill Doherty, edited by Julie Michener. 

Research into Practice to support families affected by trauma

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.

The Center for Resilient Families is a program of the Institute of Translational Research at the University of Minnesota. The work is funded through funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Read more about it at the National Children’s Alliance blog.

FSOS prof’s project awarded Ramsey County Public Health Award

FSOS associate professor Tai Mendenhall’s research project The East Metro American Indian Diabetes Initiative (EMAIDI) is the recipient of the 2017 Ramsey County Public Health Award.

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.

FSOS faculty member featured in national webinar

Tai MendenhallDepartment 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.

View the webinar here.

Learn more about Tai Mendenhall and his research interests here.

Family Social Science launches new M.A. in prevention science

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 awarded grant

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 profs offer post-election commentary

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.

See Gewirtz on KARE 11 here. Learn more about her and her research interests here.

Read Doherty’s comments in WSJ here. Read his comments in Independent hereLearn more about him and his research interests here.

Solheim, Wieling, and Ballard publish new textbook

immigrantrefugeetextbookDepartment 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.

Read the textbook, which is available for free through University of Minnesota Libraries.

Learn more about Solheim, Wieling, and Ballard on their respective profile pages.

 

 

FSOS to host reception prior to NCFR

The Department of Family Social Science will host a reception prior to the start of the NCFR national conference, being held in Minneapolis this year.

“The Great Family Social Science Get Together” is an opportunity  for departmental friends and colleagues to reconnect.

The reception will be held on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, in Symphony Ballroom III, at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

Learn more and RSVP for this event here.

Parents today spending more time with their kids

Professor Bill DohertyWCCO 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.

Read the WCCO article and see the video here.

Learn more about Bill Doherty and his research interests here.

Spontaneous activities important for making family memories

Professor Bill DohertyDepartment 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.”

Read the Wall Street Journal article here.

Learn more about Bill Doherty and his research interests here.

 

It’s OK for “tweens” to be bored during summer

Dworkin-StrackJ-2003In 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.

Read the Star Tribune article here.

Learn more about Jodi Dworkin and her research interests here.

 

 

FSOS alum named dean at CSUN

farrellwebb150225FSOS alumnus Farrell Webb has been appointed dean of the College of Health and Human Development at California State University, Northridge.

Webb graduated with a Ph.D. in family social science in 1994.

After graduating, he worked for almost 20 years at Kansas State University. For the past two years, he worked as an associate dean at California State University, Los Angeles.

Read the CSUN Today article about his appointment here.

Congratulations, Dean Webb!