David SmallenPhD Student, Human Development & Family Studies


As a graduate student on the doctoral track in the School of Human Ecology’s Human Development and Family Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dave Smallen’s interests center around relationships, awareness, and the arts. He is curious about how creative practices can be marshaled to enhance self-awareness, empathy, and intimate capacities, as well as how social spaces and norms can be shifted to honor and support the unique development of all persons.

Education and Relevant Experience

Prior to joining the Human Development and Family Studies program at UW-Madison, Dave spent over a decade as a working musician and visual artist. As a singer and songwriter he delivered over 500 performances across the United States from 2001 until 2011 (including appearances at Austin City Limits, SXSW, CMJ, and Treasure Island Music Festivals), released an album on Capitol Records, and has had compositions featured in the soundtracks of MTV and NBC television shows. He earned a BA in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in 2013. He is currently a Teaching Assistant for HDFS 363, Development: Adolescence through Old Age. In future research, Dave hopes to blend his interest in positive development and relationships with his experience in the creative and performing arts to cultivate progressive psychoeducational media interventions that bring knowledge from the human sciences into the lives of the general public.

Degree Program

  • Human Development and Family Studies Graduate Program