Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Family Studies
(Social work and family studies)

Chair, 2014-15: Mary Carlsen (Social Work and Family Studies), social policy, ethics, social welfare history

Faculty, 2014-15: Grace Cho (Psychology), developmental psychology (on leave); Dana Gross (Psychology), developmental psychology; Anna Kuxhausen (History), Russia, modern Europe, Russian studies; Diane LeBlanc (Interdisciplinary Studies), writing, women's studies; Jennifer Manner (Social Work and Family Studies), family studies, social work practice; M. Minda Oriña (Psychology) family studies; Ryan Sheppard (Sociology/Anthropology), family, gender, race/ethnicity, social movements, quantitative research; Susie Smalling (Social Work and Family Studies), social work practice, field education, family studies; Steven Soderlind (Economics), urban and regional economics

The well-being of individuals and families is a national and global concern, and the family as a focus for study in higher education has increased in significance. Family studies is an integrative field that synthesizes knowledge from many liberal arts disciplines, particularly economics, political science, psychology, social work, and sociology.

Social Work and Family Studies offers a concentration in family studies.



Recommended preparation: introductory courses in social sciences, biology, and statistics

Required department courses (all three are required):

  1. Family Studies 232: Introduction to Family Studies
  2. Family Studies 242: Family Relationships
  3. Family Studies 391: Senior Seminar

These required courses provide a core of knowledge in the discipline that is essential to thinking systematically about family as a social institution and its interactions within the larger social context.

Possible electives (choose two; at least one must be outside the Department of Social Work and Family Studies):

  1. Family Studies 253: Human Sexuality
  2. History 272: Women in America
  3. Psychology 241: Developmental Psychology
  4. Psychology 350: Parenting and Child Development in Diverse Families
  5. Social Work 125: Racism and Sexism in American Family Life
  6. Social Work 221: Social Work and Social Welfare
  7. Sociology/Anthropology 260: Marriage and the Family
  8. Spanish 250: Gateway to the Spanish-Speaking World

These courses allow students to tailor their further knowledge about families to fit a specific application area or to integrate with their chosen majors. Elective courses not on this list may be counted with prior approval of the department chair.

Experiential component:

This requirement is usually an academic, credit-bearing experience completed during the senior year (including the previous summer.) It is designed to ensure that concentrators participate in an experience that applies basic family knowledge (theories, frameworks, concepts) to real families in a setting beyond the classroom. It must be approved by a faculty member in the Department of Social Work and Family Studies prior to enrollment. The experience and concommitent learning is presented as a graded assignment for a public audience. This occurs in the Senior Seminar in Family Studies (FS 391). Through the experience, students demonstrate attainment of intended learning outcomes for family studies.

Guidelines for the experiential component:

  • Includes a minimum of 40 hours devoted to direct experience with families (more than one);
  • Can be domestic or international;
  • Can be taken either graded or Pass/No Pass (P/N);
  • Can be submitted for distinction in a major, if it meets that department's guidelines for distinction.
  • Must be approved by a faculty member in the Department of Social Work and Family Studies prior to enrollment.

The experience may be:

  • A project in a senior year course, or work with families in a social work practicum or nursing clinical; or
  • An independent research project with family interaction (396); or
  • An internship with a family serving agency (quarter, half- or full-credit; 294).
  • A summer experience prior to senior year that involves direct experience with families.

recommendations for graduate study

The concentration in family studies is designed to enable students to learn about families in both theory and practice; it is a course of study that can enhance student learning in any major. This concentration is intended to help to prepare students entering careers with families including marriage and family therapy, education, and ministry, or to family practice in law, medicine, nursing, social work, or public policy. Students who intend to go directly to graduate school should also consider enrollment in a statistics course and a research methods course in social work, psychology, or sociology/anthropology.


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, and adjustment to parenthood. They examine stressors that affect families such as family violence, divorce, grief and loss, and socioeconomic issues. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach; students have opportunity for a broad range of individualized study. Offered annually during the fall semester. Counts towards American studies major and family studies concentration.

242 Family Relationships

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. Using the range of behavioral sciences concerned with family life, students study the interaction of individuals within families and families within society. Primary emphasis is on theories and practice of family communication. Offered annually in the spring semester. Counts towards American studies major, family studies concentration, and women's and gender studies major and concentration.

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 examined for the development of a 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. Offered each semester. Counts toward family studies concentration and women's and gender studies major and concentration.

294 Internship

298 Independent Study

391 Senior Seminar: Special Topics

This capstone seminar required of all concentrators focuses on the exploration of current research and the integration of key foundation disciplines in the study of families. Students explore special topics through assigned readings and lecture material. Prerequisites: FAMST 232 and FAMST 242. Students can take FAMST 242 and FAMST 391 concurrently with permission of department chair or FAMST 391 instructor.

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. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.

398 Independent Research