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Faculty-Field Partnerships

By Trish Olson, Interim Associate Dean

Recently I read a blog post from Brookings Institution titled Hitting Kids: American Parenting and Physical Punishment that provided a perspective on this fall’s Adrian Peterson situation. (Peterson is the Minnesota Vikings player accused of disciplining his 4-year-old son with a switch.) I thought to myself, “Who in Extension could offer a research-informed Minnesota perspective?”

November 6 Brookings Institute blog post by Richard V. Reeves and Emily Cuddy
I am thankful to Dr. Jenifer McGuire for offering additional information to reflect upon as we consider the ramifications of publicity from the Peterson case on our work with parents and children. Read her response to the Brookings article here: Interpreting Research on Parent-Child Interactions, Including Studies on Physical Discipline.

We must remember that these incidents about disciplining children are not just news media fodder, but important topics in the lives of families, children, and the agency staff who serve them. We in Family Development need to stay informed about these topics so we can thoughtfully contribute to discussions about these matters with our clients and others who serve our clients.

I value the fact that, in Extension, each one of us has a role in our mission to address critical public issues through teaching, research, and outreach. Those of us with offices away from campus are in a particularly good position to pay attention to educational needs in communities and share those needs with faculty and others who can work with us in those communities.

Together we can understand the issues and, in turn, collectively create educational solutions to these issues. Faculty members like Jenifer have the unique task to listen locally and nationally for trends, new research, and new ways to conduct effective informal education, and then share this information with our field staff.

As we start our planning for 2015, embrace the faculty-field partnerships we have in Extension. Together we will make greater impact.

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