Carrie Lane, American studies professor at CSUF, is nothing short of accomplished.
With a bachelor’s in anthropology from Princeton and a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale, her education and passion for American studies, specifically interviews and observations, can be seen in her many published journal articles, books and ongoing studies.
One of her most recent studies focuses on professional organizers.
She came upon this study while interviewing an unemployed woman who said she wanted to become a personal assistant or “concierge for working women.” After being laid off and still having young children to care for, she decided to start her own company.
Lane said this was significant because normally wealthy people have personal assistants, but this would be different because it would be for middle-class people.
While Lane was volunteering with the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO), she met women of different backgrounds. NAPO is an online service that caters to people looking for organizers who are trained and educated in the field. One of these women said it was the first time in her life that she felt professional, Lane said.
“This was a woman who was super successful and helping to support her family through this work, and yet there was something about this organization that clicked in her and changed how she felt about herself,” Lane said.
Lane buys into the cultural belief that an organized lifestyle is a life that all people should have. She said she recognizes the contradiction that professional organizing puts forth in American society.
After over 100 unpaid hours put into working with these organizers, Lane found that there were profound moments of human connection within the industry. She compared it to the TV show “Hoarders.” The show pretends to have everything done in a weekend and that everyone’s cured, but that’s not how organizing works and definitely not how mental illness works, Lane said. However, she said the “aha” moments at the end of each episode are the real moments in organizing.
This may be a short-lived fix for some people, but there is proof that these organizers are making a difference, she said.
“If you’re organized, you’re happier. Being organized gives you a better life, a simpler life, a happier life, and that’s a pretty odd claim when you say it in modern American culture,” Lane said.
Her dedication to her work doesn’t stop here.
Lane is also passionate about teaching. Her desire to maximize the collegiate experience of her students has resulted in leading a study abroad program to Copenhagen, Denmark this summer.
With many years of hard work and commitment, Lane created a space of opportunity for her students. Fifteen students will be selected to study multiculturalism, food and sustainability in Denmark.
One of the students going on the trip, Jovi Davis, said she became interested when she got the email that Lane was heading a trip to Copenhagen. She is most excited about the cultural aspect of the trip, since that’s what her main focus is as a student at CSUF.
“I’m going to use this opportunity to fully immerse myself in other countries that are nearby, so I think it’s a great opportunity,” Davis said.
The other area of study is food and sustainability. They will be looking at traditional Danish food and new Nordic high-end cooking. Lane said Denmark has a very enthusiastic and simple approach to food waste: they don’t want any. A crucial part of this trip is the volunteer aspect because the students will be doing service learning, which is hands-on learning specifically linked to the course material.
“We will be volunteering with a food sharing organization to help distribute food,” Lane said. “Twice a week (the volunteers) take it out to parks in low-income areas and hand out the food until it’s gone, it’s literally tons of food they hand out every year to the Danish people”
Lane knows this type of work is important because its an opportunity to give back to the country that has been hosting the students and physically experience something they’ve been learning about in the classroom.
Lane’s success in her field has given her different platforms to display her work. Whether it’s volunteering for organizations or leading students on programs overseas, Lane continues to make new and profound discoveries.