Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Family Studies
(Social work and family studies)

Chair, 2007-08: Mary Carlsen, social policy, professional ethics, culturally competent practice

Faculty, 2007-08: Sharon Powell, family relationships, human sexuality

As the well-being of individuals and families has become a national concern, the “family” as a focus for a discipline in higher education has increased in significance. Since many disciplines contribute to the understanding of families, family studies is an integrative field which synthesizes knowledge from liberal arts disciplines, particularly biology, psychology, sociology, and political science, as well as others.


The family studies major provides academic linkages across disciplines based in the liberal arts. The major supports the college’s emphases on cross-cultural and experiential learning. In preparation for graduate level work and professional career opportunities, a research course assists students to evaluate and critique research. The core courses introduce students to the field of family studies and explore issues, strengths, and roles within the family life span and the varied dimensions of human sexuality and interpersonal experience. Lastly, students explore special topics which focus on the explanation of research and the connections between various disciplines in the study of families.

Prerequisite courses (to be taken prior to Family Studies 232):

Sociology 121 or 260 and Psychology 125

Recommended courses:

Biology 123 or 243; Statistics 110 or 212. Students majoring in family studies will take ten courses in addition to the prerequisites:

  1. Introductory Course: Family Studies 232
  2. Core Courses: Family Studies 242, Family Studies 253, and Family Studies 391
  3. Cross-Cultural Course. Choose one from:
      • On-Campus Options: Psychology 249; Sociology/Anthropology 128, 236, 239, 242, 249, 261
      • Off-Campus Options: Family Studies 263; Psychology 226; Social Work 256
      • Other Options: Another course as approved in writing by family studies faculty or department chair

  4. Experiential course or preapproved alternative:
      • Academic Internship: Family Studies 294, Social Work 294, Psychology 294, or
      • A plan that is not offered as a course but is approved by family studies faculty or department chair
  5. Research (one course): Social Work 274 or Psychology 231 or Sociology/Anthropology 371
  6. Interdisciplinary Electives (three courses): Choose any three from the following areas.
      • Human Development: Biology 123; Psychology 241, 264; Sociology/Anthropology 248
      • Public Policy: Political Science 111, 246, 247, 270; Social Work 221, 258
      • Social Problems: Sociology/Anthropology 242, 245, 262, 263, 264

130 Families in Film and Literature

This course introduces students to family studies using selected depictions in film and literature as models. Students learn about family functioning and the dynamics that occur inside families that result from outside influences, such as economic and political environments and natural events. Offered during Interim.

232 Introduction to Family Studies

Students examine American families through the life cycle in relation to personal and professional life, with the major emphasis on communication and commitment in interpersonal relationships. Students study courtship, marriage, adjustment to parenthood, and examine stressors that affect families such as family violence, divorce, grief and loss, socioeconomic issues. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach; students have opportunity for a broad range of individualized study.

242 Family Relationships

In this course, students study the contemporary American family as it meets the challenge of a changing social world. The primary objective is to enlarge both personal and intellectual understanding of the complex issues facing families. Students study family dynamics and literature on different family roles (mothering, fathering, grandparents, siblings). Using the range of behavioral sciences concerned with family life, students study the interaction of individuals within families and of families within society.

253 Human Sexuality

This course explores the varied dimensions of human sexuality as they relate to, affect and are affected by past and present human relationships. Sexual problems and issues are re-examined for the development of personal value framework and for the enrichment of family life. The course emphasizes critical thinking skills applied to current issues in human sexuality (e.g. gay marriage, gender issues, sexual violence). Students examine issues in contemporary research and ethics in sexuality.

263 Aboriginal Culture in Australia

Students examine historical and social processes that have led to destruction and transformation of Aboriginal cultures, the role of government agencies and policy and Aboriginal attempts to maintain their own social and cultural distinctiveness. Lectures and trip to an Aboriginal "outstation" near Kalgoorlie are facilitated by faculty of Curtin University, Perth. Visits to Sydney, Fremantle, Rottnest Island and Uluru (Ayers Rock) are included. Offered during Interim.

294 Internship

298 Independent Study

391 Senior Seminar: Special Topics

This capstone seminar required of all majors focuses on the exploration of current research and the integration of key foundation disciplines in the study of families. Students will explore special topics through assigned readings and lecture material.

394 Internship

396 Directed Undergraduate Research: "Topic Description"

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Prerequisite: Determined by individual instructor. Offer based on department decision.

398 Independent Research