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News & Events

100+ Years: SoHE & the Wisconsin Idea

The Wisconsin Idea first sparked to life in 1914. That was the year federal funding established Cooperative Extension at UW-Madison. The same funding expanded home economics education—the field of study that became the seed of today’s human ecology.

The goal of that 1914 initiative was to bring health and development research into Wisconsin farmhouses, and ever since, SoHE and Cooperative Extension have been linked through the work of our students, alumni, and faculty.

“Extension faculty within SoHE are among the best in the country,” states Dr. Stephen Small, the longest-serving Extension specialist at the school. “They are working on cutting-edge applied research and designing and evaluating innovative programs that are making a difference in the lives of families in Wisconsin and across the nation.”

Read more about how Dr. Small, other SoHE Extension specialists, and alumni propel the university’s guiding philosophy.

Faculty Extension Specialists

STEPHEN SMALL, PhD, Human Development and Family Studies professor and Extension’s Family Living Programs specialist

Dr. Small has been a researcher and applied practitioner for more than 30 years. He is currently investigating how parents and professionals address problems with young people. As part of that work, he co-facilitates the Parenthetical.com website, a popular resource for practical, research-based information on adolescent development and raising teens, drawing over 3,000 visitors a month.


KENDRA ALEXANDER, PhD, Civil Society and Community Studies assistant
professor and Extension’s Youth Development in Program and Community
Contexts specialist

Dr. Alexander came to UW-Madison in 2016 as an assistant professor of community-based programs that engage youth of color in low-income, urban
communities. Her UW-Madison roles expand on her decades of direct-service, youth-worker experience in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Her work engages young people and those who connect with them, including 4-H educators, in messaging around higher education, careers and alternative pathways to adulthood.

J. MICHAEL COLLINS, PhD, Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance, Consumer Science associate professor, and Family and Consumer Economics specialist for Extension’s Family Living Programs.

Through Extension’s websites, Dr. Collins shares advice and research on family
financials, including saving, borrowing, and money management. His work with SoHE Outreach Specialist Peggy Olive for the Check Your Free Credit Report campaign earned the 2017 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award. He was recently awarded the prestigious 2018 H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship and is the inaugural winner of the FINRA Investor Foundation’s Ketchum prize.

SoHE Alumni

CAROL L. ANDERSON, PhD (’65 BS, ’69 MS Home Economics Education)

Dr. Anderson has made a career of outreach, including a role as associate director of Cornell’s Cooperative Extension. After completing her bachelor’s, she became an Extension educator in Trempealeau County, WI. She then worked as a human development specialist while completing her doctorate at Iowa State University. A lifetime of civic involvement earned Anderson SoHE’s 2017 Wisconsin Idea Alumni Award.

ANNE CLARKSON, PhD, (’14) Digital Parenting Education Specialist

Anne Clarkson

Dr. Clarkson was the first graduate project assistant jointly funded by SoHE and Extension. While earning her HDFS doctorate, she worked with Dr. Stephen Small on the impact of digital media within families. Clarkson is now employed at UW-Extension as a Digital Parenting Education specialist and manages Extension’s digital parenting website, eParenting®, and its learning modules.

Meet all nine of SoHE’s Cooperative Extension integrated specialists and the staff
at sohe.wisc.edu/extension