Family studies picking up a lot of momentum in rural communities
We have seen the science of studying families evolve from Home Economics, Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Ecology to Family Studies. You may remember taking ‘Home Ec.' or ‘FACS' in middle and high school, however, this discipline is much more than cooking and sewing. In fact, historically, home economists have contributed and played a role specifically during the progressive era. More specifically in the earlier years of the 20th century, home economists contributed greatly to research and development in the areas of hygiene, medicine, child development, family health, family planning/economics (Brumberg and Weiss, 1998).
The evolution of this discipline has narrowed down and is now referred to as family studies or family sciences. In the 1960s, we saw many broad changes in how this discipline was delivered in many collegiate organizations (Cornell University, 2001). Now, we will rarely see a home economics degree option. Rather we will view a college offer a family and consumer science, human ecology, family studies and/or family science degree pathways.
Studying families has provided post secondary pathways for individuals who wish to serve families in various settings. We have seen this discipline pick up momentum in rural areas to serve the needs of the given community. One example is what we are seeing in our own community in Yuma. Students in our community have the opportunity to obtain an associate degree in family studies from Arizona Western College and transfer to the University of Arizona-Yuma to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in family studies and human development. Students in the Yuma area can reside in Yuma for the entirety of their bachelor's degree pathway.
This opportunity allows students to serve families in various organizations. Given the opportunity, these family studies and human development bachelor's degree holders can pursue careers in serving families, various nonprofit organizations, educational organizations, health sciences, and familial court/law professions.
Students may also see this bachelor's degree pathway as an opportunity to pursue graduate work in related fields. Such graduate programs that students can transition into include medicine, law, counseling/therapy, psychology, sociology, and education.
In the Yuma area, Arizona Western College and the University of Arizona-Yuma family studies programs are growing. We saw over 100 percent of an increase in student numbers specifically for the University of Arizona-Yuma Bachelor of Science degree in family studies and human development. Many of these students wish to pursue careers working with families soon after graduating while others may wish to pursue medicine, law, therapy, education and other graduate programs. Nevertheless, research, development and education of families can only assist in building and serving our Yuma community.
Aryca Arizaga-Marron is a professor of family studies at Arizona Western College. She can be reached at Aryca.Marron@azwestern.edu.