1. First, list your current professional title. Second, describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies.
Professor and Chair, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics/ Director, Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont.
My background includes a B.S. in Nutrition, an MBA, and a Ph.D. in Consumer Economics with minors in Agricultural Economics and Marketing. During my MBA experience, I realized that the consumer/citizen side of side of the marketplace was where I wanted to focus. In economics, this means demand rather than production. As I moved through my Ph.D., Industrial Organization piqued my interest, as the way businesses are organized impacts their conduct, which ultimately impacts consumers. I was fortunate to have been hired by the University of Vermont, in the area of Consumer Studies. My background in applied economics has afforded me the opportunity to use the tools in my toolbox to study a wide range of issues related to quality of life—how consumer complaining behavior can improve “predatory” business practices, quality of health care, female labor supply and family well-being, obesity, controversial food system policy issues that are impacted by the amount of information available in the marketplace, and community development from an assets based approach.
2. What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
To be honest, I grew up watching 60 minutes and I saw both Ralph Nadar and President Kennedy as champions of consumer well-being. The ideas they put forth, for example, the Consumer Bill of Rights, followed me from elementary school and still resonate with me today. There is no such thing as the “invisible hand” of the free market. Some regulation is needed in order to improve societal well-being, social justice, equitable distribution of resources, etc.
3. What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention?
Any advice for future QoL researchers? I think that the United Nations Sustainable Development goals provide a tractable framework for quality of life studies across the globe. I also believe that quality-of-life casts such a broad net that there is room for so many fields that might not consider QOL a “fit.” From the impacts of climate change to medicine, there are opportunities to incorporate QOL concepts into research programs.
4. How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
Wow, that isn’t something that I have kept track of. A long time? I believe quality of life is a concept that links many of my seemingly disparate research interests together. If our research doesn’t ultimately benefit people, what are we doing? Even basic research (e.g., methods) are developed to eventually solve a problem or help us to understand a concept in a new way. My involvement in ISQOLS has led to new collaborations, has broadened my knowledge base, and (selfishly) has taken me to fantastic geographic locations. The conferences are intimate enough so everyone feels welcome. It doesn’t take long to be “on the inside” at ISQOLS.
5. Feel free to include any other important comments or things you'd like to share with the ISQOLS community.
Join us in Burlington, Vermont in 2021. Our quality of life, sense of place are a perfect complement to ISQOLS. We live quality of life!
The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS)