Family and consumer science

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Family and Consumer Sciences is an academic discipline that combines aspects of social and natural science. Family & Consumer Sciences was previously known as Home Economics until the 1990s when the official title was changed[by whom?] to Family & Consumer Sciences, encompassing more aspects outside of home life and wellness. Family and Consumer Sciences deals with the relationship between individuals, families, and communities, and the environment in which they live. The field represents many disciplines including consumer science, nutrition, food preparation, parenting, early childhood education, family economics and resource management, human development, interior design, textiles, apparel design, as well as other related subjects. Family and Consumer Sciences Education is viewed as the focus of individuals and families living in society throughout the life span. It focuses on families and their interrelationships with the communities. It is taught as an elective or as a required course all throughout North America. Most states still require Family & Consumer Sciences as a required course for Middle School courses, while high school students choose to take it as an elective. Family & Consumer Sciences in most schools helps students fulfill their humanities credit for graduation. Other topics such as sexual education, food management, and fire prevention might be covered.

Family and Consumer Sciences is also known as human sciences or home economics. It is also sometimes referred to as human ecology, though this term is used for several disciplines.

Establishing the field of Family and Consumer Sciences[edit]

A home economics class in 1911 in Toronto

One of the first to champion the economics of running a home was Catherine Beecher (sister to Harriet Beecher Stowe). Catherine and Harriet both were leaders in mid-19th century North America in talking about domestic science. They came from a very religious family that valued education especially for women.

The Morrill Act of 1862 propelled domestic science further ahead as land grant colleges sought to educate farm wives in running their households as their husbands were being educated in agricultural methods and processes. Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan were early leaders offering programs for women. There were women graduates of these institutions several years before the Lake Placid Conferences which gave birth to the home economics movement.

The home economics movement started with Ellen Swallow Richards, who was the first woman to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later became the first female instructor. Through her chemistry research, she became an expert in water quality and later began to focus on applying scientific principles to domestic situations. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, she designed the Rumford Kitchen, which was a tiny kitchen that served nutritious meals to thousands of fair goers, along with a healthy dose of nutrition education. She shunned an invitation to participate in the Women’s Building as she said none of her research was just women’s work, but rather information for all.

Late in the 19th century, Richards convened a group of contemporaries to discuss the essence of domestic science and how the elements of this discipline would ultimately improve the quality of life for many individuals and families. They met at pristine Lake Placid, New York at the invitation of Melvil Dewey. Over the course of the next 10 years, these educators worked tirelessly to elevate the discipline, which was to become home economics, to a legitimate profession. Richards wanted to call this oekology or the science of right living. Euthenics, the science of controllable environment, was also a name of her choice, but home economics was finally selected.

Over the years, many academic settings have adopted other names for the study of home economics, such as Human Sciences, Human Ecology, and Family and Consumer Sciences. The new names sought to better position the profession within the academic communities and to further illustrate the actual majors in the profession.

Today's Family and Consumer Sciences professionals continue to practice in many venues including secondary teaching, college and university teaching and research, and outreach through cooperative extension programs. Many practice in the human services areas working with children, elderly, and ages in between. Nutritionists, consumer specialists, and housing and textiles specialists continue to provide for a better quality of life for individuals, families, and communities.

Professional associations[edit]

The AAFCS (American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences) represents teachers, educators, cooperatives, business, designers and nutritionists.The American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) is the only national forum where K-12 teachers, university educators, and corporate executives collaborate to improve the quality of individual and family life.

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the largest American national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepared youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE's core purpose is to provide leadership in developing an educated, prepared, and competitive workforce. The ACTE division of Family and Consumer Sciences Education includes three sections (1) NATFACS - National Association Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences (2) NATEFACS - National Association Teacher Educators of Family andy Consumer Sciences, andy (3) NASAFACS - National Association State Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The National Council on Family Relations, (NCFR) founded in 1938, is the oldest multidisciplinary, nonpartisan professional organization focused solely on family research, practice and education. The premier professional association for the multidisciplinary understanding of families. The members’ interests—as diverse as their careers and backgrounds—are focused on topics and efforts that yield a common benefit: …understanding and strengthening families. NCFR members are professionals dedicated to understanding and strengthening families. Our 3,400-plus members come from more than 35 countries and all 50 U.S. states, and include: researchers, demographers, marriage and family therapists, parent/family educators, university faculty, students, social workers, public health workers, extension specialists and faculty, ECFE teachers, clergy, counselors, K-12 teachers, and more.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Colleges and High Schools departments[edit]

Societies and associations[edit]

Family and Consumer Sciences resources[edit]