Based on her groundbreaking research and practice, Dr. Pauline Boss, a Family Social Science professor emeritus, will outline her six guidelines for understanding ambiguous loss in a half-day workshop Thursday, May 3 in McNeal Hall on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.
Ambiguous loss is an unclear loss and thus without resolution. Boss has developed a training framework for professionals that offer ways to help individuals, couples, and families build resiliency by finding meaning, adjusting mastery, reconstructing identity, normalizing ambivalence, revisiting attachment, and discovering new hope. She also addresses relational and contextual assessments and interventions, cultural differences regarding the need for closure, the psychological family, and self-of-the-therapist issues.
Boss’s work began with military families facing the trauma of receiving the report of a loved one “Missing in Action” during the Vietnam War and developed as she helped individuals, families and first responders cope with chronic disease and disabilities, and disasters both natural and manmade – including the Attacks of September 11th in New York City.
According to Boss, ambiguous loss represents a unique type of loss that is arguably more stressful and difficult to cope with. Situated within the context(s) of human relationships, it carries no verification of death and/or certainty that the person being lost will ever return (physically or psychologically).
These efforts have informed and continue to evolve in collaboration with other scholars and practitioners worldwide who are aligning what they do in therapy, community engagement, and research with Boss’s pioneering concepts. Boss has been among those challenging the concept of “closure” – instead she advocates family and community-based approaches that “walk alongside people in finding meaning in their experiences and pain.”
When loved ones disappear physically or suffer from an illness that takes away their memory, when families are separated by forced migrations, when loss makes no sense (suicide, homicide), or when youth are fostered, adopted, or experience parental divorce, the lens of ambiguous loss guides therapists to treat situations of loss that have no solutions and where traditional PTSD and grief therapies are insufficient.
More about the workshop
The training will be videotaped. Participants may appear in the final video as part of audience shots/or asking questions. Consent forms will be collected the day of workshop.
Would you compare your marriage or current romantic relationship to the I-35 bridge collapse? That was one of Dr. David Olson’s compelling questions during his Family Social Science Cornerstone Symposium Lecture April 5.
Olson, a Family Social Science professor emeritus, used the metaphor to illustrate how PREPARE/ENRICH, a relationship assessment tool that he developed, can provide critical insights into the quality of a relationship and help couples be proactive in heading off issues that could turn into major challenges.
In his illustration, Olson outlined some of the major facts that emerged in the investigation following the I-35 bridge collapse and how close they are related to what happens when a relationship begins to degrade.
Lack of meaningful assessment
Band-aide and inadequate fixes on key structures
Resistance by those involved to acknowledge issues
Too much stress
Olson used this sobering comparison because the statistics are sobering. The divorce rate in the United States still ranges from 40 to 50 percent of all marriages with an annual cost to society of over $110 billion. Not to mention the untold impacts on family health and well-being.
These are numbers that Olson has dedicated his life to reducing. Bridging research, theory, and practice was not only the title of his Cornerstone address, it has been the theme of his career’s work defining and conducting research around his Circumplex Model of family systems.
From hockey to larger arenas
The native Minnesotan’s journey began with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master’s degree in psychology from Wichita State University and a Ph.D. in Family Relations and Child Development from Penn State.
Olson said his experiences playing high school hockey illuminated his professional path to his early discoveries. Hockey helped him learn the value of diverse skills and understand the power and energy they can bring to a project.
As co-director of a longitudinal study of early marriage and family development at the National Institutes of Mental Health, he observed that there was very little information sharing between different teams of mental health researchers. They were all playing within their narrow silos and each had their own vocabulary for describing what they were learning in their research studies – even though they were all drawing from the same case studies of families.
When he began digging deeper into the work of the research teams as a whole, the dimensions that would form the conceptual foundation of the Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems began to emerge to him. Joining the U of M’s Department of Family Social Science in 1973, he continued his research into developing the three dimensions of the Circumplex model: cohesion, flexibility and communication. Olson hypothesized that couples and families exhibiting balance on cohesion (closeness) and flexibility (ability to adapt) will experience fewer relationship problems and communicate better, resulting in higher levels of satisfaction.
Olson developed ten inventories/measures for research and clinical work with couples and families that assess satisfaction in a number of relationship categories and give participants insights into their relationship dynamic, commitment level, spiritual beliefs and personalities. Research around one of his assessments – PREPARE (Premarital Personal and Relationship Evaluation) – would disrupt the field of marriage and family therapy and draw widespread media attention.
In the early 1980s, working with several of his doctoral students, Olson conducted a research study that demonstrated his premarital inventory could predict divorce with an accuracy rate of 80 to 86 percent.
Olson’s findings were so radical that editors at the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy wouldn’t publish the results. They asked Olson to re-do the study – which he did – with similar results. JMFT published the report in its October 1986 issue.
But even before the report was published, Olson’s compelling work was attracting the attention of colleagues and the media. He was invited to discuss his model at the 1985 International Congress on Families in Zurich, Switzerland, among others, and helped NBC Today Show Medical Expert Dr. Art Ulene create a 20-part series on family wellness in 1984.
Following the JMFT’s release, the New York Times highlighted his PREPARE assessment’s predictive quality more than once in articles about relationships and marriage. Geraldo Rivera featured him on his daytime talk show and Oprah brought in an entire audience of premarital couples to devote a show to PREPARE’s efficacy.
Olson himself has authored 20 books and contributed numerous chapters to colleague’s books as well as peer-reviewed articles and presentations. His relationship inventories – both for premarital and married couples – became so popular that Olson and his wife Karen founded a company (PREPARE/ENRICH) in 1980 to distribute them. Currently the relationship inventories have been translated into 12 languages and used by 2.5 million couples and families globally. Another measure, FACES (Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales) has been used in over 1,200 professional research studies.
Hope for the future
At the Cornerstone Symposium, Olson wasn’t resting on his considerable laurels. Even though he is stepping back from CEO duties as PREPARE/ENRICH transitions to its new parent company, Thrivent Financial, he was already looking forward to a new slate of initiatives that will be distributed digitally. The assessments will be available on the web and couples and families can assess their relationships on their own and access a variety of resources.
Although he believes couples are best served using his inventories in concert with a trained professional, he has faith that even with a semi-structured online version, there will be benefits.
Olson told the assembled audience that thinking and talking about their relationship is the most important thing a couple can do. They can identify their strengths and areas where they need to grow as well as improve their communication and conflict-resolution skills. He noted that balanced families have better health outcomes over the long term and that children have the strongest opportunity to grow up well-adjusted.
Olson said he’s a believer in prevention because without regular maintenance and care – marriages and relationships – just like the I-35 Bridge – can experience catastrophic failure.
FSoS Professor Tai Mendenhall is among a team of editors of the new book, Clinical Methods in Medical Family Therapythat outlines research-informed practices and applications of Medical Family Therapy (MedFT) across a range environments and clinical populations. This comprehensive resource is for any behavioral health student, trainee, or professional seeking to understand and gain skills requisite for entering the healthcare workforce.
University of Minnesota faculty, alumni, students and community partners were among the collaborators for the book, including Professor Bill Doherty (Family Social Science) and Dr. Macaran Baird (Family Medicine & Community Health).
Family Social Science Alumni included:
Katharine (“Kit”) Didericksen
University of Minnesota Community Partners included:
Elizabeth (“Nan”) LittleWalker
Mendelhall also engaged two FSoS Undergrads in copy-editing and manuscript-prep: Therese Nichols (now an alumni) and Catherine Futoransky.
The book was written to be applicable for a wide variety of healthcare disciplines, including family therapy, counseling nursing, medicine, psychology and social work.
FSoS Professor Bill Doherty welcomed a BBC documentary crew into his home last Thursday. His work helping communities bridge the political divide attracted the attention of Anisa Subedar, a senior producer for BBC Trending. She asked Bill if he could do a one on one version of the community group sessions he facilitates for the national non-profit, Better Angels. Doherty connected with Minnesotans Deborah Mosby and Tom Chamberlain who agreed to work with him on camera. Subedar and Natalia Zuo, a video journalist, also taped a lecture Doherty delivered the previous evening. While in Minnesota they also enjoyed Matt’s Juicy Lucys and visited Paisley Park.
Professor Emeritus David Olson will deliver the 2018 Cornerstone Symposium lecture Thursday, April 5, at 4 p.m. in the McNamara Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP online at: z.umn.edu/cornerstone2018.
One of the pioneers in couple and marriage therapy, Olson will discuss how he bridged research, theory, and practice to create the pioneering Circumplex Model, a systemic model based on three major relationship dimensions: cohesion, flexibility, and communication. Used in a variety of settings with couples and families, the assessment provides diagnostic information that is useful for treatment planning, clinical intervention, and assessing the clinical outcome. The model has been used as the foundation for more than 1,000 research studies worldwide.
He joined the University’s Department of Family Social Science faculty in 1973, and served as Director of Graduate Programs from 1973-1987. He also served as acting head of the Department in 1989. He conducted research studies of health family systems, marital and family conflict, premarital preparation and marriage enrichment programs, mediation approaches to child custody, and family treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse. He has written or edited over 20 books and published more than 100 articles. He currently serves on the editorial boards of six family journals.
Founder and former CEO of Prepare/Enrich (Life Innovations), Olson created a simplified version of his assessment that has been used with over 4 million premarital and married couples around the globe to improve the health and resilience of their relationships.
He is a fellow of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the American Psychological Association. He has served as president of the National Council on Family Relations and the Upper Midwest Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. He was honored by both AAMFT and the American Family Therapy Association with Distinguished Contributions to Family Therapy Research Awards, as well as the University of Minnesota’s Legacy and Research Excellence Awards.
Olson was honored with Professor Emeritus status in 2001. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master’s in psychology from Wichita State University, and his doctoral degree from Penn State.
More about Family Social Science
The Department of Family Social Science is in the College of Education + Human Development. Formed in 1970, the Department of Family Social Science features academic programs that are future-focused, comprehensive, and transdisciplinary. FSoS scholars not only discover new knowledge, they are committed to collaborating with families, communities, and agencies to identify challenges and create evidence-based solutions. Its multi-disciplinary focus in a research-intensive institution makes it distinctive and unique.
Family Social Science Associate Professor Tai Mendenhall’s project to help first responders, called “Preventing Compassion Fatigue in Disaster-Responders: Advancing and Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Mobile Self Care App,” has been selected for MN-Reach funding.
The University of Minnesota launched MN-REACH in 2015 to help researchers with new health-related discoveries navigate the complex path(s) from laboratory to market. MN-REACH is also one of three sites in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs.
Mendenhall is principal investigator (PI) on a team that created a self-care app for trauma-responders, the UMN Responder Self-Care App. In 2012, providers and researchers from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Academic Health Center (Office of Emergency Preparedness), and Department of Family Social Science collaborated with colleagues at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to develop the innovative self-care app for emergency responders in-the-field. They pilot-tested an early version of the app with volunteer members of the UMN’s Medical Reserve Corps (Behavioral-, Biomedical-, Veterinary-, and other teams) and MDH.
“These volunteers assisted us with understanding their use-cases, so that we can refine and revise this early version across both content and organization,” said Mendenhall, who earned his Ph.D. in Family Social Science at the U of M in 2003. “We are now working toward widespread use and rigorous (randomized) empirical testing. This is very timely and important work!”
Mendenhall’s co-investigators include Andrew Morrow, in the U of M’s Office for Technology Commercialization, and two professionals from the MDH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Nancy Carlson, a doctoral student who also works as a behavioral health and community resilience program coordinator, and Tom Garcia, a medical countermeasures planner.
The interactive smartphone app (available for iOS and Android) engages responders in a variety of ways before, during, and after deployments. The personally-customizable tool serves to promote and aid responders’ attention to their own physical, emotional, and social well-being.
High stress – high risk
Disaster-responders are already a high-risk group for compassion fatigue and – paired with the high-risk nature of fieldwork, itself – they are also at high-risk to become impaired. This puts both providers and the families they serve at risk. A 2016 Survey conducted by the National EMS Management Association (NEMA) described in detail the current needs of the responder community, including a call to action: “There is a significant mental health and wellness problem among the EMS workforce in the United States. Insufficient data exists to fully describe the extent and impact of this problem across the 800,000+ professionals that serve around the clock each day.”
Currently organizations address compassion fatigue during after-action processing and/or debriefing sequences, which do not sufficiently address the personal health and well-being of responders. This gap is partly connected to the cultures of medical education, law-enforcement, and emergency services institutions (e.g., rigid hierarchies between classes and specializations, long working hours, and an ethos that does not support or encourage asking for help or appearing vulnerable).
The risks associated with compassion fatigue have personal consequences for emergency responders, including physical and mental illnesses, relationship stress, and professional consequences for the individuals and families that disaster response personnel serve (ranging from missing important cues, to ineffective teamwork and/or straightforward medical errors).
“The opportunity to use the UMN Responder Self-Care App in real-time – privately or in coordination with assigned team-members – will help responders with self-care during times when doing so is most needed, while also capturing much needed data to support long-term research so crucial in this field,” said Mendenhall.
Early development of the UMN Responder Self-Care App was supported by University of Minnesota: Simulations, Exercises, and Effective Education (U-SEE) funding to investigate the effectiveness of public health preparedness training methods with the goal of developing training models that build system capacity.
The hashtag #UMNProud was a presence at the National Council on Family Relations’ annual conference in Orlando in November.
Current students (26), faculty and research associates (13) and alumni (25, including a professor emerita) from the Department of Family Social Science and the University of Minnesota made presentations, moderated panels, and led special sections dialogues, as well as discussed their research in poster sessions across the four days of the national meeting.
Their topics spanned the growing range of family social science research – from transgender youth and young adults in context, to familial and neighborhood influences on obesity, to military service and its impact on families. The Department of Family Social Science is among the national leaders advancing theory and practice to improve the well-being of diverse families.
In addition, grad student Samantha LeBouef was publicly recognized for her national Student Proposal Award in the Education and Enrichment Section for a paper she presented at the conference.
The University of Minnesota was also among 18 institutions promoting their family social science departments to potential grad students during University Receptions Thursday evening.
Here’s a selection of graduate student presentations, posters and papers:
Molly White Bailey, Anti-racists Identity Development – poster;
Natasha Bell, Children and Finances in Divorce Decision-making – poster;
Gretchen Buchanan, Conceptualization of What Constitutes a Strong Family – poster;
Sarah Burcher, Work or Family? A hermeneutic phenomenology qualitative meaning and value of employment from the perspective of low-income women – presentation;
Daniel Cooper, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families, presentation; and Examining biracial identity development: Key concepts and assumptions – poster;
Lekie Dwanyen, Examining Strength and Resilience with Resettled Liberian Refugee Families – presentation;
Renada Goldberg, Using CPBR in Policy Analysis: Assessing Paid Sick Leave and African Americans – poster;
Heather Hessel, Different Paths: Comparing College-Going and Non-college Youth – poster;
Emily Jordan, Barriers to Rural Mental Health Care: Clinicians’ Perspectives – presentation;
Samantha LeBouef, Near, Far, Wherever you are: Siblings and Social Media Communication – paper;
Sun-Kyung Lee, Well-Being of Emerging Adults: How Family and Friends Matter – poster;
Na Zhang, Relationships between mindfulness facets and observed anger expression: An actor partner interdependence analysis with post-deployed military families – poster;
Jingchen Zhang, Effects of a military parenting program: Inhibitory control as a moderator – poster.
About the conference
The NCFR’s annual conference attracts more than 1,000 scholars and practitioners from across the globe with the goal to highlight research, feature evidence-based best practices and critically examine policies that impact families and communities.
University of Minnesota Alum Ashley Landers Lace won the best dissertation award at the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s 2017 annual conference. This award is given by the AAMFT Research & Education Foundation to recognize scholarly achievement by recent graduates whose research study related to couples and family therapy or family therapy training.
Lace, an assistant professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State College (Virginia Tech or VPI), graduated with a Ph.D. in Family Social Science in 2016. During her U of M academic career, she was honored with a President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, a M. Janice Hogan Fellowship, a Family Process Institute’s New Writers Fellowship, and a Waller Summer Fellowship (twice), as well as a AAMFT Graduate Student Research Award from American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Her peer-reviewed presentations included national and regional conferences on child welfare, the impact of trauma on relationships, and diversity. Following graduation she served a post doc at the University of Calgary.
Rose Simon, a 2017 family social science graduate, was a keynote speaker at this year’s New Student Convocation, the U o f M’s welcome event for the incoming first-year class. Simon was encouraged to apply for the opportunity by her undergraduate student services adviser, Carole Anne Broad. A transcript of her speech is below, and view the event on YouTube. Simon’s speech begins around the 1 hour mark.
Welcome Class of 2021 and may I be one of many to congratulate you on this huge accomplishment. You are now officially a college student and you have certainly overcome numerous barriers to be here today and you should be very proud of yourselves. I am sure you are thrilled and eager to start classes and most importantly, for the “all you can eat” ice cream in the dining halls. However, before we get too far into your college days, I’m here to share a few of my own experiences and tips to help you along the way: and my first one to you is, don’t eat too much ice cream.
When I look back at my past four years of college, I can’t help but smile. I have done some pretty amazing things, but I was still surprised when I was asked to speak to you today. Surely, there was someone more qualified than I with a more picturesque college experience. What you heard in my bio is fairly impressive and I certainly worked hard these past four years but what you don’t hear about are the many challenges I faced throughout college. You don’t hear about the mental health issues I faced, or the time I was affected by a terrorist attack when I studied abroad, or the classes that I almost failed. These challenges became part of my journey and I realized that I DID have a perfect experience, just in a different manner that can’t be compared to any other college experience. It was perfect because I was challenged academically, mentally, emotionally and physically, and eventually I realized that I walked away with greater insight about myself and my potential.
So, I’m not here to tell you my life story, but I am here to share a few tips from my own journey through college. I have four tips for you that I hope will guide you in overcoming and succeeding when faced with your diverse challenges; whether your challenges are small or mighty.
Tip #1 Find your passion – whatever that is, and follow it, and do NOT let doubt overtake your confidence.
I love French, but boy did I struggle. When I was failing a French course my freshman year, it was difficult to remember how much I loved languages and connecting with other cultures when society was telling me that I should do something more practical, something that makes money. But my heart was telling me otherwise. When I made the wise choice to follow my passion by declaring my French major, I was able to live abroad in France for an entire year learning and challenging myself in a new space and culture. So find your passion, and stick with it, because some things are just meant to be.
# 2; Ask for help. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed and you need to know that the entire U of M community has your back. Asking for help, whether it’s going to your professor’s office hours and asking for homework help, asking your mentor, friend, advisor or coach for advice, or seeing a Boynton therapist – it will be the best way for you to find support when you face tough challenges. I personally have asked for help from all of those resources and I can attest to how much it helped me. So when faced with challenges, small or mighty, ask for help.
#3: Connect with your community on campus, and you will find your home and your second family where you will only receive love, support, and connection. Find your sport team if that’s what you’re into, join a fraternity or sorority, surround yourself with those that share pride in your culture by joining a cultural group, find support through programs like the Multicultural Center of Academic Excellence, TRIO or the President’s Emerging Scholars Program. I found my niche with the University of Minnesota women’s rugby team and my President’s Emerging Scholars family, and those two groups showed me nothing but love and support and as a result, I always felt like coming to campus was coming home.
And my final tip for you…
#4; Seek challenges and step out of your comfort zone. No doubt, this will happen without choice, but there are many ways that you can deliberately step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself with new experiences. Show up at a club meeting even if you don’t know anyone, study abroad in a different country, volunteer with a community you have never worked with, learn about a new culture. From studying abroad I learned that taking a step beyond what I was used to or comfortable with was an amazing way for me to learn beyond the classroom, and I don’t regret any of the challenges that I placed upon myself.
I know this is not the first time you have faced a challenge, and for many, you have faced bigger challenges then most can even imagine. When your faced with these new challenges, remember you’ve earned your place at the U of M and in four years you will be holding a diploma instead of a tassel and looking back at your challenges and honoring your successes, for teaching you so many life lessons.
I hope that when you look back on your college career four years from now, that you will have found your passion and followed it, found a community and embraced it, asked for guidance and given it, and challenged yourself, but most importantly, I hope you can look back and can’t help but smile. Best of luck on your journey and congratulations!
June Henton honored as Auburn University Champion of Change
A University of Minnesota alumna who earned her Ph.D. in Family Social Science in 1970, June Henton is currently Dean of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University and has been a leader and champion for human and environmental sustainability throughout her career. Perhaps more than any single individual, June Henton has been responsible for sustainability becoming a strategic priority at Auburn University. She was honored with Auburn University’s Spirit of Sustainability award.
Alleviating hunger and creating sustainable development have been longstanding passions for Henton. In 2012, she was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for Food Security for her work leading Auburn’s Human Sciences team to become the lead partner in the U.N. World Food Programme’s Student War on Hunger campaign. She led efforts that resulted in the launch of Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) and also involved the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and corporate and nonprofit organizations in the effort to address hunger.
Henton was also honored in 2000 as one of the “Centennial 100” of the College of Human Ecology at the University of Minnesota.
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!
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.
After years of living in the United States illegally, Daniel Perez, a former FSoS undergraduate student and current graduate student, has a green card after qualifying for a federal program that offers deportation reprieve for immigrants who entered the country as children.
Perez, who crossed the Mexican border when he was 15, qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), passed by the Obama administration in 2012.
According to an article in the Star Tribune, for those who qualify, DACA offers a temporary reprieve from deportation and a work permit. For some immigrants married to U.S. citizens, the program also allows government-approved travel abroad to nullify their initial illegal entry into the country and permit them to apply for a green card.
Perez’s wife, Kendra, a Canadian who is now a U.S. citizen, sponsored him.
Through DACA, Perez has been granted “advanced parole,” according to the Star Tribune. This means that a person with a pending immigration application has permission to re-enter the country, as long as they had an educational, professional, or humanitarian reason to leave the country. Perez, who now works as a social worker in Minneapolis, was granted advance prole for a professional conference in Canada.
Now Perez and his wife are planning his first trip to Mexico since he and his family left in 2002. They will visit his grandparents and other family.
Perez will be eligible to apply for citizenship in 2018.
The children of FSoS alumna Anna Williams and CSE alumnus Nick Williams, Miller (age 9) and Maria (age 10), were each named an honorary “Bell Museum Tiny Curator” after they developed their own “Tiny Natural History Museum,” near their home in Minnetrista.
There were more than 100 objects on display at their museum, and being from a family of great U of M pride, the siblings decided to donate half of the money they earned to the U of M’s Bell Museum of Natural History.
On President’s Day, the Bell Museum hosted the Williams family for a special tour. Along with their honorary title, the Bell Museum also presented the fledgling scientists with magnifying loupes and U of M backpacks.
Seal, an adjunct program instructor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate and Certificate Program at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, is conducting research on confidants for American marriages and long-term committed relationships as part of the Marital First Responders project under Professor Bill Doherty.