Looking Back & Ahead: Advancing Family Science

Diane Cushman, NCFR Executive Director
/ NCFR Report, Winter 2022

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The transition to a new year presents a good time to reflect on the bigger picture at NCFR: what the organization exists to do, how our programs are supporting NCFR members in their professional lives, and what more we can do to fulfill NCFR’s mission and our members’ needs. I hope that new NCFR opportunities created in recent years — the NCFR Olson Grant, Mentoring Academy, Student Access Grants, CV review program, resource collections, webinars, the Family Life Education Summit, and more — have continued to increase and improve the support we are providing to you and to our whole member community.

One foundational area that continues to be brought to the attention of NCFR staff and leadership is strengthening and promoting the Family Science discipline. The stronger the identity and visibility of the discipline, the better supported you can be in the important work you are doing.

Thus, our work continues on NCFR’s Advancing Family Science (AFS) Initiative: strengthening the identity, visibility, and perceived value of the discipline of Family Science, to ultimately make “Family Science” a household name.

These are some key needs we’ll be working to meet in the next year and beyond, always with guidance from our members:

Resources for Employers: Many graduates who hold degrees in Family Science or Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) aim to work directly with families and communities in practice careers. Many practice employers still need to be informed of what Family Science is and why a Family Science or HDFS graduate would be a great fit. We also hope to equip and mobilize our members with materials to advocate for Family Science and HDFS with employers in their communities, such as those that provide student internships.

More Career-Exploration Tools: Members have shared that current and prospective students need more information and tools to find Family Science and HDFS, learn about career options, and ultimately identify career options that might be a good fit for them as individuals.

Additional Support for Academic Programs: Members have revealed opportunities for a stronger collective identity for Family Science and HDFS students and graduates, and academic programs through the exploration of common competencies, coursework, and/or curriculum provided across academic programs at each level of degree. We plan to continue discussing and exploring these ideas with the greater membership. There has also been a continued need for resources to advocate for Family Science programs and departments with different stakeholders at academic institutions, e.g., administrators, admissions, advisers, marketers, and more.

Keep Using Free Resources From 2022

NCFR’s resources to promote Family Science are meant for your continued use! Communicating our collective message about why Family Science matters will require us all to repeat and reinforce key points.

NCFR keeps these materials free because sustaining, supporting, and growing the Family Science discipline is crucial. You are welcome and encouraged to keep these key resources in rotation in your classroom and professional projects, with your professional networks, and with others still learning what Family Science has to offer.

NCFR’s free resources to use and share include:

Become a Family Scientist: This website helps illustrate to prospective students — and their families and advisers — what they can learn, gain, and achieve by studying Family Science or HDFS.

Guide: “How to Explain Family Science to Anyone”: This thorough yet comprehensible guide provides ways to develop your Family Science elevator pitch. Also: check out the case study for using the guide in your classroom.

Your Toolkit to Promote Family Science: Find graphics, posters, articles, and more to download and help spread the word about Family Science. From one NCFR member: Our recruitment for students in our Master of Science in HDFS is way up this year, and I would attribute that at least partially to these 'Promoting Family Science' resources.”

Careers Webinar & Profiles: Explore more career options through the free, on-demand webinar “How to Find a Career in Family Science” (contact NCFR for classroom licensing). You can also read profiles of NCFR members in different practice careers.

“Why Family Science?” Article: This important article introduces Family Science in lay terms and illustrates some of the many ways Family Scientists makes an impact. Written by NCFR President Norma J. Bond Burgess, Ph.D., and published through COSSA, the Consortium of Social Science Associations.

Free Webinar: Navigating a University Restructuring: This free on-demand webinar offers strategies to support your academic program, and the people in it, when a restructuring is forthcoming or underway at your institution.

While much remains to explore and achieve, what makes this initiative exciting is hearing ideas and enthusiasm from members. We welcome your thoughts related to strengthening and promoting the Family Science discipline. Specifically, how are you using existing resources, and what else do you need? Send us your feedback anytime.