The study of family development and cultures is sometimes known as family science. This area focuses on researching and studying evolving family dynamics today as compared to the family units of the past. At Concordia University, St. Paul, students concentrate on evaluation and promotion of positive growth and development within families.
The evolution of family science has been shaped by events such as the Great Depression, war, government and ever-changing social norms. For instance, when America was first founded, the typical family consisted of a husband, wife and biological children. Parents stayed married, as divorce was frowned upon, while the role of a wife was to raise children, keep the house and assist her husband. Men were the heads of the household, and women had very few rights. Now, parental roles differ from family to family, single parent homes are common, and women have gained the same rights as men. Marriage has altered to support marriage based on choice, romance and companionship, rather than an expected occurrence once individuals reach a certain age.
Family science involves the study of nutrition, parenting, consumer science, family economics, research management, human development, human ecology and early childhood education. When family science was first implemented in schools, the focus was mostly on home economics, which taught girls to cook, sew and run a household. Now, classes have moved beyond the household to include discussing public policy and social change. Students not only learn about family dynamics, but also the relationships among families, communities and the surrounding environment.
Concordia University, St. Paul’s program is approved by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). The school offers a certified track and a non-certified track; those who choose the certified track will earn the designation of Certified Family Life Educator. This designation means students do not have to sit for the certifying exam, as the coursework in the program will have satisfied certification criteria. Some of the subjects that are of focus include parenting, family communication, family decisions, childhood development and how certain laws and public policies may affect a family.
Students who choose a career as a family science teacher are known as vocational educators, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports the median wage of these teachers as $51,910 annually. The projected growth rate is 9 percent by 2022, which is about average compared to other occupations. These positions are most needed in schools where programs are implemented to prepare students for technical careers.
Professionals in this field may participate in education, research, human services, nutrition and community outreach. Those in administration will most likely work with families as policy advocators, consultants or in social services. Educators will work as human service agents, court officials or in faith communities. Students who are interested in working with children will have the opportunity to provide an emotional support system for children and their families. Specific careers include housing counselor, child caseworker or juvenile probation officer, among others.