Spring 2014 Family Science update

by Bahira Sherif Trask, Ph.D., section chair

As those of you who follow our section are aware, we have had a bit of an identity crisis-- who are we, what do we represent, who do we want to be, who do we want to represent--and of course, how can we assist in moving our discipline forward.

In order to facilitate this discussion we have had both online dialogues and discussions at our last two annual NCFR meetings. This exercise has turned out to be quite productive: we have generated a long list of potential names and, in part, have encouraged various stimulating sessions and workshops on the current and future status of the Family Science discipline. From my perspective at least, this has been an important and necessary discussion.

While much of this dialogue and soul searching has been driven by the high number of incorrectly placed conference submissions to our section, I believe this discussion has a much broader purpose: to stimulate a vision of how we create a broader and more unified conceptualization of the discipline.

In addition, the various discussions have illustrated that each of us at our various universities is dealing with very similar issues. We are all in a position where we have to "prove" to our higher administrations why our discipline matters – even though we have very popular classes. Most problematic to that end is that most students only end up finding us "accidentally" once they are on campus. And yet, in my mind, Family Science represents a discipline for the future. Family Science is translational, applied and interdisciplinary. Exactly the kind of melding that is so often encouraged these days at universities, at least in theory. Moreover, many of us are interested in teaching techniques and new ways to make our work relevant to students who have been raised in the age of social media, Instagram and snap chats!

Our section provides a place for debate on these issues and a forum for practical suggestions. In that spirit, it has been suggested that a potential new name for our section is "Advancing Family Science." Later this month, we will be sending out a survey to our section membership. I ask that you vote if you are in favor of this name change or not. And I thank everyone for their enthusiastic participation in this whole exercise. We are truly engaged in moving our discipline into the new world for which we are preparing our students and other professionals.