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2018-2019 PRAXIS LABS


Half of all Americans have a friend or family member who is struggling with addiction.  In the United States, it is expected that 1 in every 13 people over the age of 12, or roughly 20 million people, will meet the criteria for having a drug or alcohol addiction this year.  While the term “addict” often conjures up negative stereotypical images of the poor, unemployed, destitute person, estranged from their family and friends, and looking for handouts to support the addiction, the reality is that “addicts” are not so easy to identify.  These stereotypical notions complicate the societal responses to those struggling with addiction and recovery efforts.  Addiction impacts all people, all walks of life and is not biased in whom it brings into its clutches; doctors, pilots, classmates and community leaders are all potential prey.

In this Praxis lab, we will deconstruct many of the myths surrounding addiction and explore how such stereotypical notions complicate addiction and recovery efforts.  During the first semester, we will address questions like: What is addiction? Is addiction a choice? Do drugs cause addiction?  What do drugs really do to our brain?  Can addiction be treated?  Do people recover?  How do we curb the addiction epidemic?  We will consider drug and alcohol policy, examine current intervention, treatment, and prevention strategies, consider personal and structural barriers to recovery including stigmatization, and discuss the individual and societal implications of addiction and recovery.  By understanding the bio/psycho/social implications and ramifications of addiction we (as individuals and as a society/culture) empower ourselves in potentially responding in a more socially responsible manner. Over the course of this Praxis Lab, we will engage with a variety of perspectives from persons in recovery, addiction psychiatrists, social workers, pharmacists, neuroscientists, and policy makers. Empowered by knowledge gained in the first semester, students will develop and implement a project during the course’s second semester to address an addiction-related issue within the local community.


Tiffany Love, Ph.D.

Professor Love is a neuroscientist whose day job involves examining the brain mechanisms responsible for reward.  For nearly 20 years, she has used neuroimaging technologies to take pictures of people’s brains and explore how they detect and respond effectively to salient and rewarding events and determine what happens when the neural mechanisms supporting these abilities fail to operate properly. Currently, Professor Love’s research is focused on understanding how the processing of social rewards may be affected by drug use and whether a peptide called oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “cuddle hormone” and considered by some to be a candidate drug for treating addictive disorders, can impact these processes.

When she is not scanning brains or analyzing data, she is teaching a mix of incredibly talented undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students the ins and outs of neuroimaging and social neuroscience. Professor Love is an assistant professor at the University of Utah Department of Psychiatry.

Jerry Buie, MSW, LCSW

Professor Buie has been providing Social Work services since 1994. His work experience includes working for the Department of Corrections, Intermountain Specialized Abuse Treatment (ISAT) Center, Division of Child and Family Services and Olympus View Hospital.  In 1996, he organized the State’s first mental Health clinic designed to specifically address mental health issues for the LGBTQ community.  As a Clinical Social Worker, he developed treatment programs specific to the LGBTQ community and advocated for quality mental health services for the LGBTQ community while addressing systemic oppression during difficult political times. Professor Buie has presented throughout the State of Utah and nationally on a variety of social work and clinical issues.

Professor Buie is an Assistant Professor/Lecturer at the University of Utah College of Social Work. He teaches classes on Social Work and Diversity Issues/ Reflexive Practice, Ethics and Social Work, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Clinical Practice, Solution Focus Therapy, Cognitive Based Therapy and Substance Abuse Treatment.  He also chairs the Substance Abuse Concentration for the Master’s Program of Social Work.  Privately, he provides outpatient care for people in recovery as well as consults for various programs throughout the state of Utah regarding quality clinical care for people in recovery.

Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.: Contextualizing the Odyssey of New Americans

Refugee resettlement is a current political topic in the news and everyday discussions.  This topic is not well understood by most people in the general public. Students interested in social justice, human rights, and gender issues as well as those increasing their own knowledge about refugee resettlement in high income countries will develop a more thorough understanding about what it means to be a refugee in the current political climate, as well as what it means to be resettled outside of one’s home and familiar country. Students will develop an understanding of why “integration” is a key concept in working with individuals and families who are newly arriving Americans, i.e., refugees.

The overall purpose of the Praxis Lab is to create a frame for advocacy work that will last a lifetime. During Fall semester, students will work through the 10 indicators of integration (Agar & Strang, 2004) to create a composite sketch of why these indicators are important and what they say about U.S. society in the 21st Century.  Service providers from Catholic Community Services, the International Rescue Committee, the Office of Refugee Services, the Refugee-Immigrant Center—Asian Association of Utah, and Women of the World will be invited as guest speakers. Throughout the semester, we will consider various methods for community-based participatory research and project development. Students will need to spend time at the Refugee Education & Training Center to meet with community partners for the work planned for Spring Semester.

For Spring semester, faculty and students will co-create activities based on the discussions from Fall Semester. Students will create a summary of the work they would support around advocacy, education, and/or research.  Once these interests are summarized, students will decide on a project to work on for the remainder of the semester.


Caren J. Frost, Ph.D., MPH

Dr. Caren Frost is the Director of the new Center for Research on Migration & Refugee Integration for the University of Utah and a Research Professor at the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. She chairs the Refugee Women’s Committee for Utah, and works with a number of refugee women’s groups to identify speakers and topics for workshops on women’s health.  She is a qualitative researcher with expertise in ethnography and phenomenology.  Her research expertise allows her to capitalize on mixed method frames emphasizing the importance of adding qualitative components to inform data collection and analysis. As Co-Chair of the Institutional Review Board at the University of Utah, Dr. Frost provides expertise in social and behavioral science methods.

Lisa H. Gren, Ph.D., MSPH

Dr. Gren holds a doctoral degree in Public Health from the University of Utah, and she is the Associate Director for the Center for Research on Migration and Refugee Integration. She teaches graduate courses in Biostatistics, and Public Health Systems and Services. Her research focuses on matching individuals and communities to the right health intervention, delivered at the right time, in a culturally appropriate way. In this work, she uses a mixed methods approach that includes both qualitative assessment (such as interviews and focus groups) and quantitative measures (such as questionnaires and health records). Her work on evaluating integration includes the development and validation of the Measuring Immigrant & Refugee Integration (MIRI) tool.

Family Violence Across the Life Course: Child, Partner and Elder Abuse

Family violence exists with varying severity throughout the life course in the form of abuse, exploitation and neglect of vulnerable groups, such as infants, children, intimate partners, disabled persons and elder adults.  Ethical and scientific controversies are explored in this course as we dispel myths, advance theoretical perspectives, and review existing empirical research. The aim is to reveal what is known about causes and distinctions in types of mistreatment.  The economic, physical and psychological costs and consequences to individuals and society are staggering, so we focus on efforts to detect and curb these destructive forces.  Abuse is a difficult reality, so understanding the network of professionals intervening in cases of exposed family violence is important, along with the resources available to protect survivors and prevent future harm.  Public health campaigns, victim’s rights, criminal justice solutions and legislative initiatives are compared with the purpose of improving the quality of life for generations of families in Utah, the US and internationally.

This Praxis Lab will examine multiple viewpoints and experiences of family violence including victims, perpetrators, witnesses or family members, and community professionals working with those affected by family violence.  Students will read empirical, scientific and medical articles, legal cases, and non-fiction writing in order to develop a better understanding of what is known and what areas need more extensive research.  A diverse methodology will inspire learning with guest speakers (professionals, survivors), site visits, international films, and video clips.  In the second semester students will present their projects born from a synthesis of our discussions, readings and experiences to create a meaningful product, legislative contribution or intervention in our community.


Antoinette L. Laskey, MD, MPH, MBA, FAAP

Dr. Laskey completed her medical degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine followed by her pediatric residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia Hospitals and Clinics. She completed a research and clinical fellowship and a master’s degree in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Laskey spent 9 years at Indiana University and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis where she was the Fellowship Director for the Child Abuse Pediatrics program and the co-director of the Family Violence Institute. She joined the University of Utah as the division chief of the Center for Safe and Healthy Families at Primary Children’s Hospital in 2012 and is a Professor of Pediatrics.  Dr. Laskey has since completed her MBA at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and is particularly interested in process improvement initiatives.

Dr. Laskey’s clinical interests relate to the evaluation and management of the potentially abused child. Her research interests include cognitive errors in decision making related to child maltreatment, child fatalities and prevention programs related to unsafe sleep practices and child abuse. Dr. Laskey enjoys teaching multi-disciplinary audiences and presents on topics related to child maltreatment, cognitive errors and the investigation of child deaths.

Sonia Salari, Ph.D.

Dr. Salari is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies (FCS) at the University of Utah. She is a family sociologist with a specialty in gerontology, race and ethnicity. She received her doctorate at the University at Albany, in upstate New York. Her work has won national awards, including the Gerontological Society of America dissertation award. She was awarded a National Institute on Aging NIA postdoctoral fellowship at the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  It was there that she served as an advocate for victims, at the Orange/Durham Coalition for Battered Women.

Her faculty appointment at Utah began in 1995. In 2005 she won the College of Social and Behavioral Science Superior Teaching Award and in 2008 the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award. Her courses include FCS 5370 family violence, FCS 5240 adult development in mid/later life and FCS 5962/6962 family policy and advocacy.  For over 20 years, her students have partnered with a variety of non-profit organization to lobby the Utah State Legislature.

Her community service work includes membership in Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and the Utah Commission on Aging.  At the University, she served as graduate director of the human development and social policy (HDSP) master’s program. Known for her research on domestic violence homicide and elder mistreatment, she is author of over 30 publications, as well as her book, Family Violence Across the Life Course: Research, policy and prevention (2015, Kendall Hunt).

Globalization and inequality: Precarious lives in Utah

The concurring trends of deepening globalization and increasing inequality permeate all aspects of our lives. Globalization has enabled unparalleled technological advances and economic growth. At the same time, inequality has increased dramatically. Our societies are polarized: the super-rich co-exist with a well-to-do professional class, and the rest struggle in the Neverland of big box stores and the gig economy. Many jobs do not provide a living wage or good benefits, and ever more people lead precarious lives: teetering on the edge of poverty, in weakening communities with fragmented identities.

This Praxis Lab challenges students to connect the broad and all-encompassing trends of deepening globalization and rising inequality to two local constituencies: immigrants in the Salt Lake Valley, and poor white Utahans beyond it. The many differences between these two groups – with respect to race, class, geography, legal status, and political party affiliation, among others – will allow us to examine the complex interactions between socio-economic and technological changes on the one hand, and the “populist” and nationalist upheavals of our time on the other. How does the global economy shape the everyday lives of these two groups, and how do those experiences shape their political orientations?

The Department of Economics at the University of Utah is organizing a conference on The Great Polarization: Economics, institutions and policies in the age of inequality. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz will deliver the keynote address. Designed around this conference, the Praxis Lab will challenge students to engage its themes within the local context. Guest speakers and field trips during the Fall will expose us to local debates. In late November, we will begin discussions on ideas underpinning the Praxis Lab Project—which will in turn occupy us throughout Spring.


Rudiger Lennart von Arnim, Ph.D.

Dr. von Arnim earned his PhD in economics at the New School for Social Research in New York, NY, in 2008. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and is currently serving as the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Over the years, he has been closely involved with efforts to increase and improve undergraduate online course offerings. Dr. von Arnim teaches courses in the fields of macroeconomics, development and international economics, as well as online courses for International Economics and Intermediate Macroeconomics.

His research currently focuses on (1) the causes and consequences of inequality, specifically the precipitous decline in the fall of the share of income that accrues to employees; (2) the reasons for the slowdown in the rate of growth across a number of advanced countries; and (3) the macroeconomic effects of multilateral trade agreements.

Marcel Paret, Ph.D.

Dr. Paret is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Utah, and a Senior Research Associate in the Center for Social Change at the University of Johannesburg. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, he earned his PhD at the University of California-Berkeley, and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Johannesburg. In 2017, Dr. Paret became the recipient of the 2016-2017 College of Social and Behavioral Science Superior Teaching Award.

His research focuses on the politics of economic insecurity, including how it is created and how economically marginalized groups respond to it, with emphasis on the United States and South Africa. He is currently finishing a book on the politics of local protest and community organizing in the impoverished townships and informal settlements around Johannesburg.

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