Advancing Family Science Section Update

Scott Tobias, Ph.D., CFLE, AFS Section Chair
/ NCFR Report, Spring 2021

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A warm greeting from the Advancing Family Science Section (AFS)! A brief introduction is in order. I am Dr. Scott Tobias, the incoming chair of the Advancing Family Science section. I am an associate professor of human development and family studies at Kent State University’s Stark campus and a Certified Family Life Educator. Serving on a regional campus, I work in a heavily teaching-focused position while also engaging in research. Thus, my interest in pedagogy, andragogy, and how both are utilized in study abroad naturally pairs with research efforts to study their effectiveness and impact on student learning. I look forward to my time as the AFS chair and the work that we, as a section, can accomplish to forward the section’s purpose. As I write my first section update, another annual conference has come and gone, with the additional experience of being conducted in a virtual format for the first time.

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to everyone at NCFR and to the Conference Program Chair Dr. Brad van Eeden-Moorfield for adapting the conference to an online setting, and to the University of Missouri Human Development and Family Science department for their role as conference host. Although we were not able to meet in person, the conference did not miss a beat in offering attendees the engaging and thoughtful talks and presentations that we all benefit from at our annual gathering. Finally, I would like to thank those who have served in leadership roles for the AFS Section whose terms ended with the conclusion of the 2020 conference. A special thank you goes to Dr. Jennifer Reinke, who has led the AFS Section for the past two years and who I hope will continue to be a resource for the section moving forward in her new role as past chair.

The AFS Section awards for this year included Wesley Burr Student Scholarship Award winners Sydney Cohee and Amanda Capannola, with Dr. Anthony Ferraro recognized for his work in winning the Emerging Teacher/Mentor Award. The section awards offer the opportunity to showcase our section, and we encourage submissions for consideration for these awards. Briefly, these include the Felix Berardo Scholarship Award for Mentoring, the Wesley Burr Student Scholarship Award, the Outstanding Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Paper Award, the Advancing Family Science Legacy Award, the Outstanding Administrator Award, and the Emerging Mentor/Teacher Award. Details of these can be found on the AFS Section website of NCFR. The section will continue to highlight the quality work of our section members through our section awards at the 2021 NCFR Annual Conference.

Dr. Tammy Henderson, conference program chair for 2021, established the theme “The Science of Families: Nurturing Hope, Happiness, & Health” for the 2021 conference. Noting a confluence of events, including the ongoing pandemic, continued economic and social inequality, and the need to address systems of oppression, Dr. Henderson’s call offers the AFS Section an opportunity to share research, practice, and instructional resources that address these issues. Therefore, our 2021 goals for the AFS Section include increasing and highlighting practitioner presence and involvement in the section and NCFR, exploring how to best support members to engage in antiracism and inclusive pedagogy and practice, and maintaining our focus on AFS Section awards. Paired with efforts by Allison Wickler at NCFR to advance the discipline of Family Science, the AFS section is in a strong position to contribute moving forward.