From Dean Shim
As of January 1, 2015, I have been with the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 828 days. Each day I discover something new about SoHE, our incredible campus and the people of Wisconsin. This is truly a community of bright, creative and empathetic people.
Looking back at 2014, I’ve spent a good amount of time talking about human ecology and laying the groundwork for a clearer understanding of what human ecologists bring to the world. This was my topic when I traveled to South Korea earlier this fall to present for my alma mater’s 50th anniversary. It was my focus when I was interviewed for a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on SoHE that described our aim to be “the hub of problem-solving for some of the most basic issues of life.” And, we explore human ecology and the possibilities of positive change in SoHE’s new inspirational “What If” video.
All of these interactions gave me an opportunity to talk about our Big Initiatives and making life better for children, families, communities, and the marketplace.
The newly established 4W Initiative—Women, Well-being, Wisconsin, and the World—a campus-wide collaborative housed at SoHE, emphasizes human rights, equality, leadership, and sustainability. It has already helped launch several projects, including the MORE (Money + Relationships + Equality) program focused on valuing women and their contributions to their families and society. Also connected to 4W, SoHE consumer science and design studies students used design thinking and innovation to create a micro-enterprise to sell artisan goods crafted by women in Kenya, Ecuador and Mexico. And, for the first time SoHE’s design thinking initiative was infused into a collaborative Senior Engineering Capstone Design course. The results were fantastic!
Behind the scenes in 2014, SoHE faculty have been hard at work developing a new campus-wide course, Eco-You: Belonging, Purpose and Human Happiness, aimed to help students become better problem solvers and live happier lives. This past October, our own Center for Financial Security was the recipient of not just one but two coveted U.S. Department of Treasury innovation fund awards, a portion of which will support My Classroom Economy, a program designed to increase the financial capability of fifth and sixth graders.
Our initiatives and what it means to be a human ecologist will only grow and expand in the New Year. The biggest “game changer” looking forward is the lead $100 million capital campaign gift from John and Tashia Morgridge, which will be used as a matching gift to establish professorships and endowed chairs. Thanks to several generous donors, SoHE is a good position to leverage the Morgridge’s one-to-one match fund to ensure that our school remains best in class.
So, as we begin this New Year, join me in the excitement of all of the possibilities. And know that I count every day because every day counts as an opportunity to think creatively, solve professionally, and act compassionately.
Happy 2015 and another 365 wonderful days for the School of Human Ecology!
P.S. Please enjoy this delightful “New Year Wishes” video featuring the Bunny class from our Preschool Lab.