Penn State University
HDFS offers an interdisciplinary approach to individual and family development across the lifespan. As one of the premier departments of its kind, we focus on child and adolescent development, adult development and aging, biological aspects of human development, family studies, intervention research, and developmental research methods. The family studies emphasis focuses on the human family: its evolution, history, and function and on relationships among family members throughout the life cycle. Students study communication patterns, power, decision making, problem solving, and intergenerational relations. Students study links between individual and family behavior and the wider community, for example, the relationship among parental employment, family dynamics, and patterns of child development. Students also learn about family and social, economic, and race influences; gender relations; and cultural variation in family structure. Family studies is integrated in teaching and research with the other areas of the department, for example, combining family and developmental perspectives.