UConn Integrates "Family Science" Into New Department Name

The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) is pleased to share that the University of Connecticut has officially changed the name of its Department of Human Development and Family Studies to Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS). 

NCFR member Eva S. Lefkowitz, Ph.D., who serves as professor and department head, said the new name more accurately represents the rigorous research involved in the curriculum. 

“When people hear ‘family studies,’ they think that we’re all working one-on-one with families as clinicians,” she said. “Some of our faculty do this, but more broadly, we study the healthy development and wellbeing of individuals and families over the lifespan, processes within families, and societal and cultural contexts that impact individuals and families.”

Lefkowitz also reports that the name also better reflects the faculty’s increased focus on applied research and translational sciences. Undergraduate students can complete the HDFS major and minor on four of the university's five campuses.

“Students have a vision of what science is, and it tends to be labs and people in white coats,” says NCFR member Kari Adamsons, Ph.D., CFLE, who serves as associate professor of HDFS and associate head of undergraduate studies. “We want to expand the diversity of what science looks like to them.”

Read more about the University of Connecticut's HDFS name change.


In 2014, NCFR formally adopted Family Science as the preferred term to identify the discipline. Since then, use of the term has been encouraged for department and program names. Family Science is a more accurate and understandable term for students and prospective employers. It denotes a rigor and reflects the underpinnings of research-informed practice, and as such, it carries with it a new higher level of credibility and regard.

In addition, the term provides a professional identity—that of Family Scientist—to program graduates. Many departments have changed their names over the years to incorporate Family Science, and the continuation of this national trend in turn helps to improve the overall standing of the discipline.

Does your college or university have a new program or new name? Let us know! Share your news items through our online form or contact Trip Sullivan, NCFR communications manager. 

If your department is considering a name change, NCFR has sample documents and resources available for you that other schools have successfully used. Contact Dawn Cassidy for more information.