Child and Family Studies

Division III Chair: N. Mecham

Department Chair:  K. Rivers Thompson

Faculty: D. Hill-Zuganelli, C. McGaha, N. Mecham, K. Rivers Thompson, and A. Woodward


Courses: CFS Courses

Course Sequencing Table: Child and Family Studies

Entrance to the Major Information: Progression for CFS Child Development B.A.; Progression for CFS Family Studies B.A.; Progression for CFS Nutrition and Food Studies B.A.

Major/Minor Requirements: Child and Family Studies Child Development B.A.; Child and Family Studies Family Studies B.A.Child and Family Studies Nutrition and Food Studies B.A.; Child and Family Studies Minor

Child and Family Studies is an interdisciplinary department that promotes the development and maintenance of strong and healthy families through educational experiences that lead to the enrichment of individual and family life. This interdisciplinary department offers a comprehensive understanding of the family, prepares students for professional employment in areas of service to families and children and for graduate school, and promotes critical thinking and professional communication skills. The primary approach to learning seeks to integrate conceptual knowledge of the family as a societal unit with related educational concepts from the social sciences, natural sciences, and other disciplines. The curriculum explores the interrelatedness of the family through structural, functional, and systems theories and family interactions with other societal systems, such as the economy, law, criminal justice, gender, religion, media, and popular culture. Lifespan human development and the needs of individual members and the family as a system are explored in-depth. Students study the interaction of families with their near environment, including sustainable housing, consumer decision making, nutrition, and effective resource management. A special emphasis is placed on the development of effective communication skills and research skills needed by professionals who will be working with individuals, families, and in various occupational contexts. Course work in all of the concentrations allows graduates to meet both professional and personal goals. The Child and Family Studies Department is committed to the preparation of creative, independent thinkers who demonstrate respect for diversity and are willing to serve as agents of positive social change.

The Child and Family Studies Department builds upon the College's liberal arts academic foundation preparing students to become well-rounded individuals, contributing family members, and agents of social change in their communities, society, and the world. As a department, the College's mission of service is fully embraced and practiced. To support this commitment to service, the department’s approaches to learning are based on a philosophy of applied knowledge as exemplified by the many, first-hand learning opportunities available within this discipline. Child and Family Studies majors have undertaken internships in domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, Head Start programs, family resource centers, child care centers, social service agencies, food banks and kitchens, child advocacy centers, senior citizen centers, and many other locations where the students provide service while studying social issues to understand the broader scope of social change. Additional learning opportunities are encouraged though Internships, Independent, Team-Initiated, or Directed Study, or through the Labor Program. Most of the department's graduates go into lives of service.

The department offers a B.A. degree in Child and Family Studies with three areas of concentration: Child Development; Family Studies; or Nutrition and Food Studies. Students interested in pursuing a Masters in Social Work or a teaching career in Family and Consumer Sciences or Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education can be advised on appropriate course selections for preparation for graduate study in these areas. In addition, the Department offers supportive instruction for other majors and minors such as Appalachian Studies, Asian Studies, Education Studies, Nursing, Theatre, and Women and Gender Studies. 

The Child and Family Studies Department operates in a variety of facilities. The Emery Building houses faculty offices, classrooms, food science laboratories, housing and interior design facilities, and a specialized foods library. The Harrison-McLain Home Management House offers a dual learning environment for CFS majors. It is the laboratory for the family resource management capstone practicum and serves as an upper-level female residence hall for selected department majors. The state-of-the-art Child Development Laboratory, located on Jefferson Street, offers settings for observations and interaction with children from infancy through pre-school age and in after-school care. The lab is licensed for up to 130 children for full-time child care and serves as the primary laboratory and research facility for majors in early childhood education and child development. Other majors, such as Nursing, Education Studies, Psychology, and Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS), also use the facility as an educational laboratory. The CDL also serves the College by providing high-quality care for the young children of students, staff, and faculty.

In order that each CFS major gains an insightful and holistic perspective of the family as a societal unit, a core curriculum of six courses is required to provide a common body of knowledge central to understanding the needs, strengths and contributions of the family to individual family members and society as a whole.

The department has special policies regarding CFS 186/286/386/486 (Special Topics) and CFS 395/495 (Internship), as indicated in the applicable concentration and course descriptions to follow.


The Child and Family Studies Department introduces students to the umbrella profession of family and consumer sciences, with a particular emphasis on the specialized areas of child development, family studies, and nutrition and food studies. The department supports learning outcomes that (a) promote a comprehensive body of knowledge, skills, and attitudes/thinking about human development, with a particular emphasis on children and families; (b) foster more informed decision-making about health and well-being and the development of positive relationships; and (c) help CFS majors develop skills in the effective uses of resources to assist children, adults, and families in improving their quality of life.

In addition to supporting students' achievement of the Aims of General Education, the Child & Family Studies Department seeks to assist students in meeting the following learning goals and associated learning outcomes:

Child & Family Studies Student Learning Goals & Outcomes

Learning Goal 1: Build a comprehensive body of knowledge, skills, and attitudes about human development, with a particular emphasis on children and families.

Learning Outcome 1.1: Demonstrate knowledge of the historical and current context of the field and the specialized areas within the profession including but not limited to: nutrition and food studies; child development; early childhood education; adolescent development, adult development; family development; family relations; family and consumer science; personal and family finance; housing and design; community needs; advocacy for children and families; and other dimensions of personal and group well-being.

Learning Goal 2: Build more informed decision-making about health and well-being and the development of positive relationships.

Learning Outcome 2.1: Learn and practice the ethical principles of the field as established by the learned professional organizations in the field: Association of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, Child Life Council, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and National Council on Family Relations.

Learning Outcome 2.2: Recognize, respect, and value individual, family, and societal diversity.

Learning Goal 3: Develop skills in the effective uses of resources to assist children, adults, and families in improving their quality of life.

Learning Outcome 3.1: Demonstrate methods that can be used to support, enhance, and improve the lives of children, adolescents, adults, families, and communities in this 21st century global society.

Learning Outcome 3.2: Analyze, critique, develop, implement and/or assess practices, policies, and services that support the well-being of children, adolescents, adults, families, consumers, and communities.

Learning Outcome 3.3: Develop skills for becoming advocates for the improvement of the lives of children, adolescents, adults, and families in a variety of situations.