The primary emphases of the department are human development and family processes within the context of larger sociocultural systems. The distinguishing feature of HDFS is this contextual focus. Individual lifespan development is viewed as transpiring within a web of close relationships/family relationships, and family systems are seen as both context for individual and interpersonal behaviors and as units nested in larger sociocultural environments. Our unique niche is a commitment to family diversity and a multicultural perspective in research, teaching, and service. In each of these areas, we focus on the diversity that characterizes human development within the family context. Because we define family diversity and multiculturalism broadly, our focus is on the multitude of ways that individuals within families may differ, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, family structure, nationality, geographic location, and sexual orientation.