Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
News & Events

SoHE News: Mar 19–Apr 1

Thanks for reading our weekly roundup of news and events at the School of Human Ecology. Have something we should know about? Email Public Relations Manager Serena Larkin, or submit your SoHE event via this form. View past issues of news and events here.

In-house highlights

CDMC launches new podcast, “Refrangible”

The Center for Design and Material Culture is launching a new podcast exploring the stuff of our everyday lives—from keepsakes to clutter, from tools to trash—and examines what they might tell us about ourselves, our world, and our values. The first season of Refrangible will comprise four episodes, each planned to release the first Wednesday of each month April through July.

Thomas on race, equity and education

Dr. Alvin Thomas, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, addressed the Monona District School Board with a presentation titled, “Not Another Missed Opportunity: Race, Equity, and Education.”

Retailing & Consumer Behavior undergrad awarded Student Employee of the Year

Maddy Braun, a Retailing & Consumer Behavior undergraduate, has been awarded second place for the 2020-2021 Student Employees of the Year for her work as a career development intern for the School of Human Ecology Academic & Career Center. With nearly 9,000 students working in thousands of roles across campus, the Student Employee of the Year represents a prestigious honor to appreciate the work completed by students each day.

SoHE scholars in the news

Whelan on Today Show, WKOW, Channel 3000, and MarketWatch

Dr. Christine Whelan, Director of Money, Relationships and Equality Initiative and Clinical Professor of Consumer Science, joined NBC’s “TODAY All Day Special: Perfectly Imperfect Parenting,” which included the parents and stars of “Punky Brewster,” to chat about the difficulties and challenges of parenting during the pandemic. Whelan also answered questions posed by parents regarding the pandemic and the anxieties that accompany it, and offered tips and advice on how to handle the transition from online to offline life.

“Dear Pandemic” is a network of professional women volunteering their expertise to answer questions regarding the pandemic and stop the spread of misinformation. Dr. Christine Whelan, Director of Money, Relationships and Equality Initiative and Clinical Professor of Consumer Science, talked with WKOW about having joined the team as “chief happiness officer,” to “address more than just the infectious disease element” by “going even deeper into the human element,” to provide advice and guidance for people in their everyday lives.

Whelan also joined Channel 3000 to share advice and tips on how to move past the feelings of social anxiety as more people get vaccinated and the world begins to slowly reopen.

Additionally, Whelan was quoted by MarketWatch on the “double privilege” of vaccinations, referring to the potential deepening of equity gaps for communities of color. In particular, Black Americans are more hesitant to get vaccinated, and while extending the benefits of vaccine passports might while encourage people to get vaccinated, it can ultimately lead to a complicated issue of equity. The story was reprinted in MSN News.

Apple on the complicated history of home economics and professionalism

Dr. Rima Apple, the Vilas Life Cycle Professor Emerita of Consumer Science, spoke with Boston Globe on the social limitations realized as home economists tried to normalize the idea of women in STEM professions by pushing the domestic sphere into the public. The conversation on the complicated history on home economics and its scientific and social implications comes after the announcement of General Mill’s new initiative, BettyLab, designed to get children—though the website only shows images of girls and women—excited about science through cooking.

Fairbanks on the wage gap in technology

Marianne Fairbanks, Associate Professor of Design Studies, spoke with the Badger Herald on the gender pay gap in the technology industry, particularly in Madison and Milwaukee. A study comparing the best cities for women in tech, conducted by the Milwaukee Business Journal, reported that Milwaukee was slotted at No. 43 and Madison at No. 59 of the 63 largest cities in the U.S. Fairbanks stated that she is not surprised with these results due to the fear of cultural change that is present in these cities and advocates for the reframing of the word “technology” in order to incorporate more working women into the industry.

HDFS PhD student on supporting childbirth in underserved communities and the role of doulas

Tia Murray, a PhD student in Human Development and Family Studies and founder and CEO of Harambee Village Doulas, spoke with the Wisconsin State Journal addressing the racial inequities in maternal and child health in the Madison area. Additionally, she discussed the role of doulas and advocated for their presence in birthing suites with delivering mothers.

Gaddis on improving school lunches

Dr. Jennifer Gaddis, the Jane Rafferty Thiele Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Civil Society and Community Studies, joined The Conversation and other school nutrition experts to discuss the potential changes regarding school lunches post-pandemic as classrooms become full again. Gaddis suggests a greater need for food justice efforts, particularly for school food providers—who are mostly women and people of color alongside other suggestions such as more spacious cafeterias with less noise and free, healthier, and tastier meals. The story was reprinted in the Times Union, Herald & Review, The Union, and the New Haven Register.

Collins on the decrease in bankruptcies in Dane County

Dr. J. Michael Collins, the Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance and Professor of Consumer Science, spoke with the Badger Herald on the decrease of businesses filing for bankruptcy in Dane County, in part due to institutions “being more lenient on both individuals and businesses during the pandemic.” However, due to the long legal processes of bankruptcies, the full effects of the pandemic might be difficult to completely grasp. Collins also pointed out other factors that can indicate economic distress such as mortgages, student loans, or auto loans.

Thomas on slow economic recovery for communities of color

Dr. Alvin Thomas, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, spoke with TMJ4 News on the slow economic recovery for communities of color. While things have begun to get better, African American, Latino American, and Asian American/Pacific Islander communities continue to file high numbers of unemployment claims. Thomas stated that African Americans have been among the most impacted racial group during the pandemic and that their jump in unemployment claims was not nearly as drastic, since the group was already facing higher unemployment to begin with. “These are not new issues. This disparity is historic. COVID-19 just highlighted existing disparities,” said Thomas.


Papp on emotional and substance behaviors of young adults’ amidst pandemic

Dr. Lauren Papp, Associate Dean for Research, Vaughan Bascom Professor in Women, Family and Community, and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, is first author on a new paper in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors that examines young adults’ emotional and substance behaviors during a normative baseline period in relation to the COVID-19 disruption period in late March/early April of 2020. The findings indicate that there was greater alcohol and marijuana use in daily life across time, while nicotine and prescription drug misuse did not show significant changes. Additionally, the researchers indicated several risk factors for experiencing steeper increases in negative affect, which included: higher levels of loneliness, financial strain, health concerns, and marijuana cravings.

Harvey and Urban on high school personal finance teachers’ confidence

As many states have begun to require personal finance instruction in high schools, Dr. Melody Harvey, Assistant Professor of Consumer Science, and Dr. Carly Urban, PhD alumna of SoHE’s Consumer Behavior and Family Economics program (now Associate Professor of Economics at Montana State University and a faculty affiliate of the UW Center for Financial Security), examined how prepared high school instructors feel to teach personal finance. In their newly published paper, “How Confident are Potential Personal Finance Teachers?”, they found that since 2009, teachers’ confidence increased from 46% to 96% and dispositions strongly favoring personal finance requirements increased from 46% to 70%. Their results indicate that instructors are well-prepared and favor the advocacy for teaching personal finance in high schools—time, low-cost, and professional development opportunities permitting.

Dodge Francis on the impact of COVID-19 and racism on public health on communities of color

Dr. Carolee Dodge Francis, Ecology of Human Well-Being Professor in Civil Society and Community Studies, is coauthor on a new paper in the Nevada Journal of Public Health titled “COVID-19 and Communities of Color: Understanding the Impact of Racism on Public Health.” The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an uneven burden on communities of color and has supported the view of racism as a public health crisis. The article first outlines and defines the levels of racism that exist in the United States and closes by suggesting solutions in the areas of policy, health care and COVID-19, public health, and future research opportunities in hopes to provide a starting point for dialogue, planning, and implementation in which to address these health disparities that have consistently been ignored.


“Fostering Resilience Through Indigenous Wisdom & Scientific Knowledge,” with Dr. Mariaelena Huambachano

Wednesday, April 14, 11:00 a.m.-8:30 p.m. CT, Virtual | Dr. Mariaelena Huambachano, Assistant Professor of Civil Society and Community Studies, will present the keynote address, “Resistance and Resilience: Indigenous philosophies of collective-being as a recipe to living well,” at the 16th Global Health Symposium, hosted by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Global Health Institute. Inviting Indigenous scholars and community members, the symposium will explore the intersection of traditional practices that advance well-being and academic research, education, and outreach projects that also promote health. Learn more and register.

“Healthy Minds, Healthy Farms,” with Larissa Duncan

Friday, April 9, 11:00 a.m.-12 p.m. CT, Virtual | Hosted by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension, Dr. Larissa Duncan, the Elizabeth C. Davies Chair in Child and Family Well-Being and Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, will lead a discussion on the difficulties—mental, physical, and relational—caused by the ongoing economic conditions in agriculture on farm families and their rural communities. The livestream will explore ways for farmers, families, businesses, and communities to remain resilient, manage stress, use planning tools to make sound decisions, and create roadmaps for the future. Learn more and register.

Spring Experts Fair with the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies

April 15, 16, 22, and 23, Virtual | As a follow up to the CommNS 2020 Annual Event, “Getting the Work Done: How-Tos in Community and Nonprofit Efforts,” the UW Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies will host a virtual Experts Fair. Meet with experts from a range of areas including global nongovernmental organizations, board leadership, capital campaigns, student development, and more. Sign up for 1-on-1 meet-ups and learn more about topics relevant to their collective work to make a positive change. Learn more about the participating experts and register.

“Threads 2021: Reality? Virtual Design & Fashion Event,” with UW–Madison’s Textiles & Fashion Design students

Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1, 8:30-10 p.m. CT, Garver Feed Mill | Join the Textiles & Fashion Design major students of UW–Madison as they present their work for the Threads 2021: Reality? Virtual Design and Fashion event, a socially distant, large-scale outdoor projection. Take a step onto the virtual runway as students explore their new reality inspired by the changes incurred by the pandemic. The event is free and open to the public, and masks and social distancing are required. Learn more.

“Cross Pollination Lecture Series: Jennifer Angus & Dr. Kenneth Cameron”

Thursday, June 3, 5:00-6:00 p.m. CT, Virtual | Jennifer Angus, the Audrey Rothermel Bascom Professor in Human Ecology, joined by Dr. Kenneth Cameron, Department Chair, Professor of Botany, and Director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium, will host the Cross-Pollination Lectures, as part of a series of conversations between contemporary artists featured in the Orchids: Attraction and Deception exhibition at the Barry Art Museum and botanical experts in the field. Learn more and register.

Plus, view the full online calendar of SoHE-sponsored events.