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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 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
Nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

, food preparation, parenting
Parenting
Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood...

, early childhood education, family economics and resource management, human development
Human development (biology)
Human development is the process of growing to maturity. In biological terms, this entails growth from a one-celled zygote to an adult human being.- Biological development:...

, interior design
Interior design
Interior design describes a group of various yet related projects that involve turning an interior space into an effective setting for the range of human activities are to take place there. An interior designer is someone who conducts such projects...

, 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 and as a required course all throughout North America. Other topics such as sexual education, food management and fire prevention
Fire prevention
Fire Prevention is a function of many fire departments. The goal of fire prevention is to educate the public to take precautions to prevent fires, and be educated about surviving them. It is a proactive method of reducing emergencies and the damage caused by them. Many fire departments have a Fire...

 might be covered.

Family and consumer science is also known as human sciences or home economics
Home Economics
Home economics is the profession and field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community...

. It is also sometimes referred to as human ecology
Human ecology
Human ecology is the subdiscipline of ecology that focuses on humans. More broadly, it is an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study of the relationship between humans and their natural, social, and built environments. The term 'human ecology' first appeared in a sociological study in 1921...

, though this term is used for several disciplines.

Establishing the field of family and consumer sciences



One of the first to champion the economics of running a home was Catherine Beecher (sister to Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom...

). Catherine and Harriet both were leaders in the mid-19th century 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
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 and Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 were early leaders palma 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
Home Economics
Home economics is the profession and field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community...

 movement started with Ellen Swallow Richards
Ellen Swallow Richards
Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards was the foremost female industrial and environmental chemist in the United States in the 19th century, pioneering the field of home economics. Richards graduated from Westford Academy...

, who was the first woman to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 and later became the first female instructor. Through her chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 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
Melvil Dewey
Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey was an American librarian and educator, inventor of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification, and a founder of the Lake Placid Club....

. 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
Euthenics
Euthenics deals with human improvement through altering external factors such as education and the controllable environment, including the prevention and removal of contagious disease and parasites, environmentalism, education regarding home economics, sanitation, and housing.The term was derived...

, 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
Home Economics
Home economics is the profession and field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community...

, such as Human Sciences, Human Ecology
Human ecology
Human ecology is the subdiscipline of ecology that focuses on humans. More broadly, it is an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study of the relationship between humans and their natural, social, and built environments. The term 'human ecology' first appeared in a sociological study in 1921...

, 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


The AAFCS (American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences)
American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences is an American professional association that networks professionals in the area of family and consumer science. It was founded in 1909 as the American Home Economics Association by Ellen H. Richards...

 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
Association for Career and Technical Education
The Association for Career and Technical Education is the professional association of CTE educators . It is a nonprofit membership association based in the United States. Its members are primarily educators and administrators of career and technical education , which is sometimes known as...

 (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.

See also

  • Human ecology
    Human ecology
    Human ecology is the subdiscipline of ecology that focuses on humans. More broadly, it is an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study of the relationship between humans and their natural, social, and built environments. The term 'human ecology' first appeared in a sociological study in 1921...

  • Consumer economics
    Consumer economics
    Consumer economics is a branch of economics. It is a broad field, principally concerned with microeconomic analysis behavior in units of consumers, families, or individuals . It sometimes also encompasses family financial planning and policy analysis...

  • Domestic technology
    Domestic technology
    Domestic technology is the incorporation of applied science into the home. There are many aspects of domestic technology. On one level, there are home appliances, home automation and other devices commonly used in the home, such as clothes dryers and washing machines. These things are itemized...

  • Family (economics)
  • Ellen Swallow Richards
    Ellen Swallow Richards
    Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards was the foremost female industrial and environmental chemist in the United States in the 19th century, pioneering the field of home economics. Richards graduated from Westford Academy...


Colleges and academic departments


Societies and associations


Family and consumer sciences resources