Meet Dean Shim

Welcome to SoHE

Thank you for visiting the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology (SoHE) website and for your interest in human ecology.

Since becoming the dean in 2012, I’m often asked, “What is human ecology?” For me, the answer is simple—it is an applied human science that studies the question of everyday life. It is everything that touches us and everything that we touch to improve the quality of life.

It is also about a study of people – children, families and individuals – with a goal of helping others. You can also explore what it means to be a human ecologist through SoHE’s six UW-Madison Bachelor of Science majors:

Each area of study seeks ways to improve our world by helping people, from bolstering communities and better understanding our phases of life to enriching living environments and financial security at every age.

Another common question I’m often asked is, “What do human ecologists study?”

All of the research and scholarship that comes out of SoHE is based on questions asked out of empathy.

For more questions, as well as the answers, check out our faculty’s research website or our Masters and PhD graduate school programs.

As you can see, the students, scientists, educators, artists, designers, and leaders who direct this work at SoHE are real-world problem solvers seeking to improve the quality of life for children, families, consumers, marketplaces, and communities. The education, research, expertise, and resources they harness are amplified from UW-Madison to Wisconsin and to the world through our five Centers of Excellence.

To uncover solutions to life’s big problems, we use a collaborative systems approach that crosses through our educational departments. One example is our foundational One21 Vision Pillars, a roadmap created by faculty and staff that continues to drive us to think creatively, solve professionally, and act compassionately.

Here are a few more examples of our collaborations:

  • The new interdisciplinary Master of Science in Design + Innovation program between SoHE and UW-Madison’s Engineering, Business, Information School, and Art schools
  • A Positive Parenting Program to enhance family well-being in 16 rural counties and tribal nations representing the highest-risk parts of Wisconsin
  • Informative research on the financial well-being of economically vulnerable families, older people, people with disabilities, low-wealth households, and children nationwide.
  • Implementation and dissemination of early childhood research on housing, nutrition, physical health, education, and parenting through our Prenatal to Five Initiative
  • Examination of food security and nutrition through societal, sovereignty, and policy lenses
  • Partnering with NGOs to gauge Wisconsin’s civic engagement and community connectedness

So, the question you are most likely asking yourself is, am I a human ecologist? Chances are, yes! Human ecologists are an inquisitive bunch, thriving on creative problem solving and real-world experiences. SoHE students are incredibly diverse and boasts campus’ highest rate of study abroad participation and complete resume-worthy internships that prepare them for careers. Our alumni are dedicated Badgers who make positive impacts on their communities. And, our history is long and rich.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a human ecology student at UW-Madison, reach out to our Advising & Career Center by emailing We’d love to meet you and, of course, answer all of your questions.

On, Wisconsin!

soyeon shim signature
UW-Madison School of Human Ecology, Dean