Professor Jess Alberts began her pursuit of a more peaceful world nearly 25 years ago, 20 of those at ASU as a faculty member of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. Her doctoral dissertation examined conflict resolution, a subject at which she’s now become expert.
More recently, she’s used funding like that of her Jeanne Lind Herberger Professorship in Communication to study and teach mediation techniques and skills for resolving workplace bullying. Professor Alberts’ work is widely read and she is often invited to conferences, businesses and seminars to describe her findings and offer solutions to those attending.
“Most people are not taught strong conflict resolutions skills,” says Professor Alberts. “We model the behavior of our own parents and that of behavior on TV. With the dawn of reality shows, you can imagine what an ineffective teacher TV is these days.”
Professor Alberts has been awarded the Herberger Professorship, an endowed fund through the ASU Foundation, for the past three years. In that time, the funding has also contributed to a substantial library of valuable research materials for students; underwritten several graduate and undergraduate student research projects; purchased special equipment like a flip video camera for Professor Alberts’ online courses; provided for further conflict resolution and mediation training for Professor Alberts; covered data collection costs and more.
Though her research is vast and time-consuming, Professor Alberts is a dedicated instructor. Often even her youngest students can find opportunities to conduct research with her. In her classes, like Conflict and Negotiation, she stretches students’ comfort zones by assigning work that requires them to use their skills to resolve conflicts they encounter in real life and then reflect and write about the experience.
“Many classes present mostly theory to students,” Professor Alberts notes. “My students are required to apply their knowledge. Most students see a change in their lives by the end of class if they are willing to do the work.”
Professor Alberts looks forward to her sabbatical this year, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be working. She’s developed a domestic labor theory, which she’ll begin testing and writing about. She envisions a book (“Chore Wars”) for popular audience consumption, rather than for a strictly academic audience, so she’s also attending a book proposal seminar to learn how to pitch her concept.
Professor Jess Alberts epitomizes the inestimable value of investing in ASU. Donors like Jeanne and Gary Herberger, who established this endowment, create important change. Their impact can be felt locally and globally through the work of professors like Jess Alberts.