Expanding Human Potential Improving Peopleâ€™s Lives
These three works by Iowa artist Sue Cornelison are part of the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, at Iowa State University.
A prismatic trio of paintings reflects the spectrum of disciplines and converging values of the College of Human Sciences. “Transforming lives” expresses a cherished theme of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “Enhancing learning” celebrates the College of Education. “Expanding human potential” illuminates the two root schools, now constellated in the College of Human Sciences.
In 2005, hearts, hands, and minds were joined to create the College of Human Sciences. Since then, the college has flourished into a kaleidoscope of world-renowned research, award-winning programs, and cutting-edge curriculum that focus on expanding human potential and improving peopleâ€™s lives. As human scientists, the world is our lab, our classroom, and our kitchen. The uniquely collaborative spirit of our college is opening eyes to a grand vision â€“ a world of healthy citizens, effective educators, a high-tech workforce, and thriving communities.
Who is a human scientist? Your childâ€™s favorite teacher, the designer of your jeans, the researcher who packed more nutrition into your morning cereal, and the coach of the little league team â€Ś they are all human scientists, at work in our schools, businesses, and communities. The power of human science is all around us. The stories you are about to read will challenge your notions of education and provide insight into research and programs that impact all facets of the human experience. Join us on an ambitious journey of exploration, discovery, and achievement.
Pamela J. White Dean
Salmonella detection method is quicker, cheaper, easier In the hours following an outbreak of salmonella, many questions arise: Where did the problem start? Can it be contained? Is the sickness likely to spread? And answers can be hard to find. In response to growing concerns about contamination of fresh produce â€“ and its potential to harm world food sources â€“ Iowa State University researchers have developed a salmonella testing technique that may give investigators better, faster answers. The process, developed by Byron Brehm-Stecher, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition, and graduate student Bledar Bisha, begins with applying and carefully removing a strip of adhesive tape from produce or other food.
The tape contains a sample of whatever is on the skin of the produce. That sample is placed on a slide and soaked in a special warm, soapy mixture containing a genetic marker that binds with salmonella and gives off a fluorescent glow when viewed under an ultraviolet light. This genetic marker approach is called Fluorescence In-Situ Hybridization, or FISH. The approach can tell investigators whether the produce is contaminated with salmonella in about two hours, making it a cheaper, easier, and much quicker alternative to the current detection method, which takes one to seven days.
Iowa State University researchers have developed a salmonella testing technique that may give investigators better, faster answers. Brehm-Stecher and Bisha call the process “tape-FISH” and note that it could be an important technique for salmonella investigators. “I think this will be a good tool in outbreak investigation and routine surveillance, especially [because] all you need is tape, a heat block, a small centrifuge, and a fluorescence microscope,” said Brehm-Stecher. “It has the potential to be very portable.” Salmonella contamination is often caused by fecal contamination during harvesting or food preparation processes. In the past, salmonella outbreaks have been found on tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, and spinach. The sooner investigators find the origin of salmonella, the sooner they can take steps to contain it. Brehm-Stecher sees the tape-FISH technique as a valuable basic research tool and hopes that it can speed investigations of produce contamination, such as last summer’s outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul.
Graduate student Bledar Bisha (right) and Assistant Professor Byron BrehmStecher test the tape-FISH method on tomatoes for salmonella contamination. Brehm-Stecher has revolutionized salmonella testing techniques with his quick, cost-saving tape-FISH method.
Wielding lowly materials to yield top-flight knowledge Warren Franke, professor in kinesiology, had an idea. He wanted to build an instrument that could simulate conditions under which astronauts and fighter pilots work. Essentially, to generate unearthly gravity on earth. Franke had little funding, but that didn't stop him. After some experimentation, he pieced together a number of everyday products to create a blood pressure monitoring mechanism that defies gravity. Frankeâ€™s creatively constructed tool is composed of a table, leftover field drainage tile, wet suit fabric, plastic air tubes, and one very powerful vacuum. Franke said his device might seem simplistic and mundane to the untrained eye â€“ but in reality, it can alter air pressure and measure blood pressure with great precision.
“As far as I know, there aren’t any lower body negative pressure measurement tools commercially available, so everybody kind of makes their own,” Franke said. “Mine kind of looks like Homer Simpson made it, but the crux of it is that it works well.” For testing, a participant lies on the table, with legs sealed inside the airtight chamber – formerly the drainage tile. Franke uses the vacuum to control the negative air pressure inside the chamber and records how the participant’s cardiovascular system responds. The net effect is a laboratory-based tool that mimics orthostatic stress, which happens to the body when a person stands up.
Franke’s lowly tool has yielded lofty research findings. “This measurement tool enables me to evoke responses from individuals’ cardiovascular systems and to investigate the differences in blood pressure regulation [under varying atmospheric pressures] across various groups, genders, and ages,” Franke said. “Under normal conditions, we are under an atmospheric pressure of about 1G. This device can go to -120 millimeters, so you can think of it as putting your body at 2Gs.” Franke’s lowly tool has yielded lofty research findings. His findings apply directly to astronauts and test pilots. “For example, we have seen that women are less tolerant of negative air pressure than men, which is a significant finding for female astronauts and is why they tend to have more clinical problems than men,” Franke said. “Regarding fighter pilots, we have similarly seen that different individuals can be more or less prone to blackouts when making a high-G turn.” Franke has also used the instrument to test those who function at ground level. He recently measured blood pressures of older adults at negative air pressure. "Older adults can train hard without compromising their ability to tolerate orthostatic stress [blood flow changes while standing up] or negatively affecting their ability to regulate blood pressure," said Franke. Franke next plans to use his instrument to simulate and measure the effects of severe injury and blood loss. That study could yield meaningful results for those developing military garments capable of monitoring soldiers’ vital signs. These diverse applications show that, when it comes to Franke's unique contraption, the sky is hardly the limit.
By cobbling together mundane materials, Warren Franke, a professor in kinesiology, has created a finelytuned instrument that measures the effects of negative air pressure on people’s blood pressure.
Helping families survive, thrive Iowa State is strengthening families â€“ around the world. Established in 1993 in response to a call for reduced teen substance abuse and violence from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth (ages) 10-14 has proven so effective that it has since gone global. Coordinated by ISU Families Extension, the program delivers wellness to youth and their parents. According to Virginia Molgaard, professor emerita of human development and family studies and one of the developers of Strengthening Families, an ongoing study of youth in 33 Iowa public schools shows that program participants fight less in school, are less apt to abuse drugs or alcohol, and are more resistant to peer pressure â€“ and their parents learn to set firmer limits while showing love.
Molgaard attributes these measurable behavioral changes to a distinctive aspect of Strengthening Families: the family sessions. “While many other programs work with either youth or parents individually, only a few involve both at the same time,” said Molgaard. “But the family sessions are where the real ‘magic’ of Strengthening Families takes place.”
Strengthening Families was rated the most effective program for decreasing the onset of drug and alcohol problems in youth – from among 6,000 intervention programs. And the magic is happening well beyond Iowa. Since the World Health Organization endorsed Strengthening Families as the world’s “most promising drug and alcohol prevention program” in 2000, it has been offered in 45 states and nine countries in Europe and Central and South America. Not only expanding but diversifying, versions of the program are now available in Spanish and Chinese. At home and abroad, Strengthening Families has earned accolades for its impact on youth. Strengthening Families has been cited as a model program by seven organizations: National 4-H Headquarters, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and National Crime Prevention Council. In addition, Strengthening Families was rated the most effective program for decreasing the onset of drug and alcohol problems in youth – from among 6,000 intervention programs reviewed by researchers at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, England. Moreover, the program saves taxpayers money. According to a recent study conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Strengthening Families saves communities $5,805 for each youth participating in it. Cathy Hockaday, state implementation specialist, said that Strengthening Families will continue to spread across Iowa, the United States, and abroad, improving communities one family at a time.
The World Health Organization endorsed Strengthening Families as the world's "most promising drug and alcohol prevention program."
‘Smart’ ideas for older adults Try as we might to deny it, slow it, or even reverse it, the process of aging is a fact of life. But a research team organized by Iowa State’s gerontology program believes that technology can address the challenges of advanced age and make the golden years as fulfilling as those that precede them. The team is in the middle of a three-year initiative titled “Exceptional Longevity in Rural Environments,” which is specifically focused on centenarians – people 100 years of age or older. Centenarians comprise the fastest-growing population in the United States, and Iowa has the second-highest proportion of centenarians in the country. While the completed first phase and ongoing second phase are dedicated to understanding the cognitive and physical
condition of the population, continued support for the initiative’s final stage will allow for collaboration with Iowa State's Department of Computer Science on the development of “smart home” technology. This technology generates practical solutions for the common problems – including memory lapses, fading senses and declining health – encountered by the 50 percent of centenarians who continue to live in their own homes.
“This is the future, and the future is now.” Among the technological applications envisioned by the team are a refrigerator that reminds older adults when food is running out, a sensor-filled floor that detects falls and contacts caregivers for help, and face-recognition software that automatically unlocks doors for family and friends.
Peter Martin (left), director of Iowa State's gerontology program and principal
“You start with a real problem – ‘I don’t know who is at the door’ – and you try to solve it,” said Peter Martin, director of the gerontology program and principal investigator for the study. “The technology is already there; it’s been easy to do these things. But we need to link the needs of a population such as older people with the solutions that computer science can provide for us.”
investigator for the "Exceptional
The gerontology program has collaborated with the Department of Computer Science in the past, watching its ideas come to fruition at the Smart Home Laboratory in Atanasoff Hall. The successful partnership has led Martin and his colleagues to consider building a smart home prototype on the Iowa State campus.
of Computer Science faculty members
“We have some very specific ideas, and the nice thing is that it’s not just the gerontology program, not just the College of Human Sciences, not just the Department of Computer Science,” Martin said. “It’s really a collaboration of … colleges that take ownership of this. We want to open this up to people. This is the future, and the future is now.”
Longevity in Rural Environments Initiative," is working with Department
Carl Chang (center) and Johnny Wong to develop technological applications that will improve living conditions for centenarians.
Piloting programs, predicting better high school graduation rates Whatâ€™s the best way to learn English? Through another language, of course. Research from Iowa State Universityâ€™s National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center (NFLRC) suggests that Englishlanguage learners master reading, writing, and speaking in English better when they simultaneously receive instruction in their native tongue. The more proficient students become in their own language, the more skills they are likely to develop in the second language, said NFLRC director Marcia Rosenbusch. Nontraditional? Yes. Effective? Very.
Rosenbusch is conducting a four-year research project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, that focuses on “Spanish two-way immersion” – a teaching and learning approach used in classrooms where roughly half the students are native English speakers and the other half are native Spanish speakers. Within these classrooms, the curriculum and daily routines are divided equally between English and Spanish, “immersing” all students in a second language. In the current study, the learners start the two-way immersion program in kindergarten and continue through the third grade.
NFLRC research suggests that high school graduation rates will likely increase as a result of the students’ early learning, cultural acceptance, and better understanding of both languages. “The teachers work very hard during the first several weeks of kindergarten to orient the kids and set up a routine so there is always something familiar to students when they are learning in two-way immersion,” Rosenbusch said. “The idea is that the students understand the skills and concepts and gain knowledge without having to be dependent on language. When children are given visuals and student-centered instruction, the concepts are more accessible to them. Five-year-olds may not necessarily understand the entirety of what’s going on, but they take that in stride because they understand the context they’re in.” In addition to the academic skills students develop, early results of the study conclude that students who learn through two-way immersion are more likely to embrace both the second language and classmates who speak it. This research also suggests that high school graduation rates will likely increase as a result of the students’ early learning, cultural acceptance, and better understanding of both languages, Rosenbusch said. With solid, research-based evidence of the program’s benefits, more school districts are likely to initiate dual-language programs. “Our demographics, statewide and nationwide, are changing very quickly,” Rosenbusch said. “Ten to 15 years from now, our workforce is going to look very different than it does today. We want to develop citizens who can collaborate with others from around the world, and this program is critical preparation for that.”
Students at Irving Elementary School in Sioux City engage in two-way immersion learning. Research indicates that children who learn via this ISU-led program are more apt to embrace a second language – and more likely to graduate from high school.
Student-powered business provides big ideas on small budget For many small businesses, non-profits, and government agencies, the practice of hiring consulting firms is virtually nonexistent. Most simply canâ€™t afford it â€“ that is, until now. Six Iowa State University graduate students in curriculum and instructional technology have teamed up to create the Learning Design Solutions organization (LearnDS) â€“ a student-run group that assists businesses with their instructional design needs at a fraction of consulting firm prices. As a result, LearnDS is quickly becoming the go-to group for howto training.
Instructional design is the process of improving education by analyzing learning needs, developing learning experiences, and evaluating outcomes. Instructional designers propose innovative uses of technology to facilitate learning and support effective teaching. One of the foremost experts in the field is Ana-Paula Correia, an assistant professor in curriculum and instruction who also advises LearnDS. Through one of her courses, students extend their skills beyond the classroom and into the boardroom.
"We have developed a high demand for our skills and to meet this need, students started LearnDS." “Through the advanced systems design class (C I 603), students work with businesses that may need help in the creation or updating of instructional technology products,” Correia said. “Over the years, we have developed a high demand for our skills and to meet this need, students started LearnDS to provide these services year-round. It really helps the businesses and it gives our students an opportunity to keep their skills fresh and learn new techniques.” Among the clients of LearnDS is the Story County Coalition for Disaster Recovery (CDR). When LearnDS member Vanessa Preast attended a sandbagging volunteer workshop, she realized the training system could benefit from the skills of her colleagues. After consulting with the CDR, LearnDS members applied their expertise by reorganizing existing information, creating quizzes and illustrations, and making instructional videos that help new volunteers see the sandbagging process in action. Betty Boccella, volunteer coordinator for the Story County CDR, said the updated training materials ensure that the organization – and volunteers – will be more prepared than ever before. “The LearnDS team produced a product that was very well done and wellreceived by the Coalition members,” Boccella said. “They were extremely thorough, detail-oriented, and had excellent follow-through, down to a written executive summary of the project. The first training, using the new curriculum, was very successful.” With their group of talented educators, designers, application specialists, and self-taught entrepreneurs, the LearnDS team looks forward to working on a variety of projects in the future. “We come from an education background,” said Jacob Larsen, LearnDS member. “In the end, we want to design the best, most effective product that will help people become better employees, volunteers, and citizens.”
Curriculum and instructional technology graduate students Turkah Karakus and Jacob Larsen redesign a business’s web site as part of their work with the LearnDS student organization. The student-run group is meeting growing demand from area businesses for its instructional design services.
Connecting thousands to educate millions Blogging has become one of society’s most powerful forms of communication. However, most wouldn’t expect educators – or the educators of educators – to blog and promote the practice as time well spent at work. Scott McLeod sees it differently. McLeod is a traditional academic in many respects: He’s an associate professor in educational leadership and policy studies, coordinator of the educational administration program, and director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). Still, there’s another reason his name is among the hottest in education: He created, oversees, and regularly contributes to several well-known blogs – with at least one more in the works.
“If you’re looking for bang for [your] buck, you can’t go wrong with blogging,” McLeod said. “I work with some phenomenal researchers and education experts, but for what I’m trying to do, a blog is the best way to reach people and facilitate change in schools.” McLeod estimates that 5,000 people visit his Dangerously Irrelevant blog on a daily basis. The site is dedicated to helping educators resolve incongruities between a technology-driven society and traditional education curriculum. Moreover, millions of educators share best practices and real-life examples via his other online resources, including CASTLE’s LeaderTalk blog hosted at Education Week, the CASTLE Conversations podcast channel, the Moving Forward wiki, and CASTLE’s Principal Blogging Project.
Millions of educators share best practices and real-life examples via Scott McLeod’s online resources. “[The] information and ideas being shared aren’t found in academic journals,” McLeod said. “And to be truthful, the people I want to reach probably aren’t reading them anyway. Short of writing a best-selling book, there is no better way to interact with this many people. The success stories and questions I get every day speak to [blogging’s] tremendous impact.” The purpose of all this blogging? To better educate and prepare administrators, teachers, and parents for what their students already know. McLeod said schools must begin playing a major role in teaching youth to use technology in productive ways. The tech expert sees teaching with new modes of communication as a necessary way to prepare students for the global workforce. “If technology [were] readily used in every classroom, it would create a much more dynamic learning environment,” McLeod said. “We would have students engaging in discovery learning, working in collaborative teams like they would in the workplace, and sharing their knowledge and experiences with other students through blogs, wikis, and other online channels.” As Iowa schools adopt his hybridization of strong teaching foundations and innovative curriculum, McLeod will continue to push the envelope to ensure that young learners are primed to excel in our technology-rich new world.
“There’s no better way to interact with this many people,” says Scott McLeod, who uses blogs and wikis to keep educational administrators in the know on the latest in classroom technology.
Sharp-dressed swimmers gain Midas touch He’s never won an Olympic medal or set a world record. But Rick Sharp, professor in kinesiology at Iowa State University, is one of the leading names in swimming. That’s because Sharp manages a testing team that aided the design of the LZR RACER – deemed the “world’s fastest swimsuit” by Speedo. Based on the success of those who wear it, the slogan is more than just hype.
Michael Phelps sported the LZR RACER as he earned a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – as did 94 percent of swimmers who won a race at those Olympics, according to Speedo. Dozens of world records have fallen since its unveiling in February 2008, and tests indicate that it slashes race times by one to three percent – what Sharp called a “very meaningful difference” for a sport measured in hundredths of seconds.
Ninety-four percent of swimmers who won a race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics sported the LZR Racer. Speedo first contacted Sharp in 2003, after he and a graduate student published a study that reported no significant benefits of wearing existing full-body swimsuits. Sharp spent the next few years collaborating with experts from around the globe, conducting batteries of physiological and performance tests in an effort to refine countless prototype suits. “We would collect a whole bunch of ideas from a lot of different [sources] – scientists, engineers, design people, coaches, athletes – throw all those together and say, ‘How do we move forward? What kinds of objectives could we try to achieve in a prototype?’” While Speedo had previously tested its suits using static scenarios that included towing specially built mannequins through the water, Sharp directed a more practical approach. “They really didn’t do any dynamic testing while [the swimsuits] were actually on swimmers – to say, ‘We could make this suit really tight, but could you still breathe? Could you move?’ It was my role to provide the leadership to get that dimension covered with tests … at Iowa State and elsewhere.” Sharp’s work with world-class swimmers assisted the development of the LZR RACER’s many unique features, which resulted in five percent less drag than its predecessor. Chief among these features are the suit’s ultra-thin, water-repellant fabric and panels; a “core stabilizer” for support and optimum body positioning; and ultrasonically welded seams that further streamline the suit’s surface. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Sharp, a former competitive swimmer and coach. “I’ve always wanted to give something back to a sport that did a lot for me.”
Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics while wearing the revolutionary Speedo LZR RACER swimsuit. Iowa State Professor in Kinesiology Rick Sharp manages a team that conducted physiological and performance tests to refine the suit.
Satisfying industry appetite for versatile graduates In todayâ€™s ever-changing society, healthy eating and nutrition know-how are essential. In response to a growing demand for palate-pleasing and wholesome food products, Iowa State has launched a new culinary science major that combines the artistry and science of food development into one course of study. With 26 students enrolled in its first year, the program has seen a favorable response from high school students, parents, and food professionals. Culinary science program coordinator Erica Beirman said that the new major â€“ the
only such program in Iowa and one of three in the Midwest – has great potential for growth. “Because of the way our culture has changed, students often don’t have basic culinary skill sets when they go into the food science industry,” Beirman said. “In response to that, the industry has been hiring chefs as well as food scientists for product development and research. We’re preparing students to fill the voids on the team, which is more efficient in the workplace.”
"Iowa is a big part of the food industry, and we want to embrace what we have here and now." As part of the curriculum, students also work in the Iowa State dining kitchens for 100 hours, providing them with institutional experience and a chance to learn basic culinary skills. This well-received endeavor helps students gain critical knowledge for career and learning opportunities later in the program. Over the course of their sophomore, junior, and senior years, students complete two internships. The first takes place in a culinary setting, as interns work in fine dining establishments and are encouraged to use their creativity in the creation of meals; the second is in a commercial lab, where students work in product development and research. These internships provide valuable training for the dynamic field of product presentation and creation. Culinary science students thus advance to the workplace equipped with both food science and culinary skills. Potential career paths for these students include food product creation, corporate restaurant menu development, food marketing and sales, quality assurance research, and culinary technology. Beirman said that consumers’ ever-changing tastes and demands mean the field is primed for a new crop of experts. “These students will be impacting the lives of others on a daily basis [through] their creation of new products for consumers,” Beirman said. “Iowa is a big part of the food industry, and we want to embrace what we have here and now.”
The food product development course (FSHN 412) challenges students to integrate their science, culinary arts, and entrepreneurial skills to create innovative, marketable fare.
Priming students to trade worldwide It takes just a glance at the tag of a T-shirt to realize that textiles and clothing is a global industry. But labels provide only a limited glimpse into the international roots of nearly every garment on the market today. Elena Karpova, assistant professor in apparel, educational studies, and hospitality management, understands this fact better than most – which is why she’s gone the distance to ensure her Sourcing and Global Issues (TC 372) students are primed to trade worldwide. “Sourcing means finding components for a garment in different countries and then finding production [facilities] in yet other countries,” Karpova said. “To make a suit, they actually get wool from Australia and spin it in India. They take shoulder pads from China, buttons from Canada, lining from Korea – and [then] everything moves to Russia to get assembled.”
Why all the travel? Designers and buyers are searching for the highestquality, lowest-cost pieces – and are willing to go to the far corners of the earth to find them, said Karpova. “You have to think not only about labor costs, shipping, and logistics – you have to think about politics and countries’ economic and social environments,” Karpova said. After learning that industry leaders see sourcing as one of the fastestgrowing career paths, Karpova began brainstorming a unique assignment that would develop her students’ intercultural communication skills in a virtual environment.
Industry leaders see sourcing as one of the fastestgrowing career paths. The result is the Going Global project – a collaborative, month-long assignment for students from Iowa State, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia), and the University of Pretoria (South Africa). Students break into seven- and eight-person multinational teams and communicate via WebCT, an e-learning web site that links students with their professors and one another. After getting to know each other, teams shift their focus to a problem-solving activity or business proposal. In Going Global’s first two semesters, students have devised ways to combat the prevalence of sweatshops, found solutions to brand counterfeiting, and developed plans for a sustainable fashion company. Throughout it all, students must overcome cultural and time differences: When it’s noon in Ames, it’s 7 p.m. in Pretoria and 3 a.m. in Melbourne. Overcoming these challenges requires candid communication and multitasking, which Karpova considers two major keys to success in her industry. “I don’t think [these students] will be afraid when they have to communicate with someone they’ve never seen [or even] met. I think they will feel much more confident doing that because they had this experience.”
Elena Karpova, an assistant professor of textiles and clothing, has designed a learning experience that transcends borders and teaches students about the global industry of clothing in TC 372.
Preparing students to make sound financial choices The burdens of tuition and a lackluster economy are presenting Iowa State graduates with a daunting uphill climb toward financial security. Human development and family studies (HDFS) faculty are aware of the pitfalls – and are now taking extra steps to equip students for the ascent. “Students need to develop the skills of managing their own finances and thinking toward the future,” said Steven Garasky, professor of HDFS. “It is important that students have a deeper understanding of important issues such as credit, interest rates, and investments.”
The department’s determination to improve financial literacy is exemplified by its decision to double the enrollment capacity of HDFS 283 (Personal and Family Finance) for fall 2009. HDFS has also begun a search for two new faculty members to accommodate the expected increase in enrollment and further research into helping young adults chart successful economic futures. Not satisfied with expanding only its traditional classroom offerings, HDFS is also tapping the web’s potential to reach students. In addition to offering an online version of HDFS 283, faculty are collaborating with the Government of the Student Body to develop a one-credit online course (HDFS 183X) that will provide students with a basic understanding of issues such as budgeting, credit, and student loans.
“With our consumer focus on financial issues and pragmatic approach to teacher education, the College of Human Sciences is extraordinarily qualified to ensure that young people … are primed to make sound financial decisions.” The College of Human Sciences is further aiding the cause by devoting the 2009 Helen LeBaron Hilton Endowed Chair to the field of financial literacy. The chair is expected to be filled by Jeanne Hogarth, who sits on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C. As the Hilton Chair, Hogarth would preside over numerous lectures and forums aimed at raising the profile of financial issues critical to individual and family prosperity. HDFS efforts to improve fiscal education are also moving beyond the collegiate level. Responding to the Iowa Department of Education’s emphasis on making financial literacy a core component of the K-12 curriculum, HDFS faculty are developing a certificate program that prepares high school teachers to lead personal finance courses. Collectively, these new enterprises illustrate the college’s dedication to helping Iowa State students reach the pinnacle of fiscal responsibility. “With our consumer focus on financial issues and pragmatic approach to teacher education, the College of Human Sciences is extraordinarily qualified to ensure that young people … are primed to make sound financial decisions,” said Pamela White, dean of the College of Human Sciences.
Easy access to credit cards and rising tuition rates are among the many barriers facing college students who seek financial security. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is expanding and developing new financial literacy courses aimed at helping students effectively handle these responsibilities.
Redefining social justice Social justice is a buzzword often heard in college classrooms, forums, and meetings. In the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS), what started as a buzz has evolved into an orchestrated symphony of talented scholars, innovative curriculum, and ground-breaking research. And it’s much more than a song and dance.
Studies in social justice examine the dynamics of privilege and the multiple forms of oppression at the individual, group, institutional, and systemic levels in higher education and throughout society. Seeing a need for more quality, focused teaching and research in this area, ELPS faculty created a curriculum specifically geared toward social justice. Four years later, the higher education program’s social justice concentration is recognized as the nation’s first and is leading the way in cutting-edge coursework.
“We believe future leaders in higher education must be challenged intellectually to develop integrity, courage, and vision to advance democracy, equity, and social justice,” said Laura Rendón, professor and ELPS department chair. “We have become well regarded in the nation for our efforts to embrace the differences amongst people and views and engage in high-level thinking.”
ELPS also prides itself on having the most diverse body of faculty and students on the Iowa State University campus. Rendón said this factor helps recruit some of the nation’s top young scholars to the College of Human Sciences.
The higher education program’s social justice concentration is recognized as the nation’s first. “People are attracted to a place where there is a sense of community and they are understood,” Rendón said. “Research has indicated that students gain in learning when they are surrounded by a diverse environment and challenged to think beyond what they have always known – whether that is having a professor or classmates from a different country, of another religion, or any variety of differences that can occur between people.”
ELPS offers the 12-credit social justice in higher education certificate to students across the university. As the concentration gains numbers and accolades, Rendón said ELPS students and faculty are on track to create an impact in the field of higher education.
“Many great things are coming,” Rendón said. “We’ve been asked by other institutions to collaborate on their diversity initiatives, and we know we’re producing some of the top work in the nation on this issue. We have a great future ahead of us.”
Graduate students studying social justice discuss privilege and oppression with Soko Starobin (second from right) and Nana Osei-Kofi (far right), assistant professors in educational leadership and policy studies.
Stabilizing access to food Poor economic times have hit the nationâ€™s â€œland of plenty,â€? with extensive research by Iowa State faculty finding that Iowans have a food insecurity rating higher than the national average. Kim Greder, an associate professor in human development and family studies and Iowa State Extension to Families specialist, has been working with the concept of food insecurity and its impact on family life for more than 10 years. In that time, her research has helped create educational programming that works to improve the lives of Iowa citizens. Food insecurity is defined as times during the year when households are uncertain of having, or unable to acquire,
enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Greder said that over the years, many state and federal policies and programs have assisted those in need. As a result of food insecurity research findings by Iowa State experts – and subsequent programming efforts – many communities have utilized Iowa State Families Extension resources to help communities, families, and individuals vanquish food insecurity.
"When communities gain insight into what their populations need, they can respond by creating programs that will help." “It starts with a community examining who is food insecure – and why,” Greder said. “Maybe it’s a lack of livable-wage jobs … or finding that people don’t have basic food preparation and money management skills to stretch their dollars. When communities gain insight [into] what their populations need, [they] can respond by creating programs that will help the food-insecure population obtain an adequate food supply and learn more about their food choices.” Two of these ISU Families Extension programs are the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and Family Nutrition Program. Run by Families Extension health and nutrition field specialists, these programs help more than 3,000 pregnant teens and families with young children and approximately 16,500 youth in 20 Iowa counties learn to make informed choices about lowcost, nutritious foods; better manage family finances; and become more selfsufficient. The ISU Extension to Iowa Insecurity Web site also offers tips and assessment tools for community leaders or volunteers who plan to initiate proactive, anti-hunger efforts. “As food insecurity rates increase, research will increase as a result,” Greder said. “It’s a complex problem with many dimensions that affect many people. We want to help communities understand how all people can have stable access to food.”
Kim Greder, associate professor in human development and family studies and Iowa State Families Extension specialist, said food insecurity ratings in Iowa and around the nation will continue to rise on account of the recent economic downturn.
Expanding human potential
Excelling in recruitment, retention amidst recession As 2009-2010 enrollment figures take a hit at colleges across the country, Iowa State Universityâ€™s College of Human Sciences is doing its best to weather the economic storm. While fall 2009 enrollment numbers are unlikely to surpass the fall 2008 all-time high of 3,610 (undergraduate and graduate) students declaring College of Human Sciences majors, faculty and staff are doing all they can to attract and retain students. Corly Brooke, associate dean for undergraduate education, said that a primary focus of these efforts centers on learning communities.
“Our student services staff has worked tirelessly to grow our learning communities,” Brooke said. “These communities get students connected to their major, the faculty, an older peer mentor, and each other. Data shows that the learning communities significantly and positively impact retention. We have worked very hard to place them in each College of Human Sciences academic program, and this year we have been much more deliberate about getting their coordinators together to foster a more collaborative approach.” The college has also done its best to keep college tuition affordable through scholarships, grants, and work-study or research opportunities, said Brooke.
"Data shows that learning communities significantly and positively impact retention."
Cutting-edge curricula, scholarships, and learning communities draw students
“Students in our college benefit from the generosity of our alums through scholarships. However, due to the depressed economy, we didn’t have as much of a return on our scholarship investments this year, so Dean Pamela White made a strategic decision to supplement our scholarship fund,” Brooke said. “As a result, we were able to offer a very comparable number of scholarships to our 2009 incoming students. Individual student scholarships might be a bit smaller, but we were very happy to be able to offer so many to our deserving students.”
to College of Human Sciences
While learning communities and aid help attract and retain students, Brooke said the college has also given careful thought to what courses and majors will help students achieve successful careers while also meeting the needs of society.
increased by 9.8% since 2005.
“Our faculty work diligently to tailor the curriculum and majors to what students need to learn but also to their future careers,” Brooke said. “For example, we’re seeing an increased focus on financial literacy and planning, and we have tailored our curriculum to offer students that knowledge. At the same time, we have really tried to [stay] in tune with societal changes – for example, an increased need for health and fitness experts from kinesiology – so that students are prepared for the careers that society requires. Our entrepreneurship minor prepares students to problem-solve and think creatively while designing programs to meet community needs, and our new culinary science major combines science, technology, and creativity. It’s a dynamic time to be part of the College of Human Sciences.”
programs – and help them focus on what’s important. Student enrollment in College of Human Sciences programs
Improving people’s lives
Ready, willing, and giving: Young alums donate to college To give is to receive, or so the saying goes. For alumni Lisa (’03, child, adult, and family services) and Craig (’02, mechanical engineering) Peterson, their decision to give back to the College of Human Sciences through a scholarship is one that benefits both students and the young couple. “I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships all four years at Iowa State,” said Lisa. “I was so grateful to have received them, and now, it’s time to help students in the same position.”
The Petersons said they never imagined that establishing a scholarship was feasible at such a young age, but information from another young alumni couple and the Iowa State University Foundation helped them make their dream a reality. When deciding how to focus their giving dollars, Craig and Lisa wanted to help students who were choosing career paths not for the high income potential, but for their service to others. The Petersons were able to set their own qualifications for the scholarship recipient and look forward to finding out who was chosen to receive their gift. “This scholarship is a perfect blend of the things that are important to us – we love the Iowa State community, we feel it’s important to give, and we want to make a difference in the life of a deserving student,” Lisa said. “[Scholarships are] a great opportunity for a young alum to give back in some way. By focusing our giving dollars, it can make quite a personal impact.”
“This scholarship is a perfect blend of the things that are important to us – we love the Iowa State community, we feel it’s important to give, and we want to make a difference in the life of a deserving student.” Pamela White, dean of the College of Human Sciences, said the college does an outstanding job of giving students the financial support to get through college. For the 2009-2010 school year, she said more than 525 college- and department-level scholarships will make higher education a possibility for undergraduate students. “Given the challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to support these hard-working students,” White said. “Many chose to go into service-oriented positions where they are making a true difference in our communities and schools but don’t necessarily make a lot of money – yet they still have college debt to pay off. Scholarships allow students to focus on their coursework without the distractions of a demanding job or the stressors of high debt loads.”
Lisa (’03 child, adult, and family services) and Craig (’02, mechanical engineering) Peterson were able to establish a scholarship for a deserving College of Human Sciences student by focusing their giving dollars.