This article appeared on the Huffington Post website October 1, 2014 about becoming a Family and Consumer Science Educator. Check it out:
If you think hanging a diploma on your office wall means you have a complete education, this one perspective might just change your mind.
According to Chris Moore, Brigham Young University’s director of the Family and Consumer Sciences program, "If you have your Master's degree and you can't live within your means or go home from your job and feed yourself a nutritious meal, you're not a complete graduate. Without [home economics educators], who teaches that? They need us as much as we need them," she told HuffPost Home.
And, based on College Board reports, there are about 187 colleges across the country offering similar programs that would probably agree with that sentiment. Though the field of study is perhaps most prominent at BYU, where 100 students (out of the 34,409) are enrolled as majors in Family and Consumer Studies, formerly known as Home Ec.
These students will graduate and go into schools to get public education jobs or teach about sewing, interior design, or personal management. Those who do not go into an education setting, however, sometimes take a "more entrepreneurial" approach. They will start their own business in the food industry, the apparel industry or go on to get another degree in interior design or a graduate degree in child development so they can work in these settings, Dean Busby, director of the School of Family Life at BYU, told HuffPost Home via email.
But despite popular belief, these students aren't just spending their days living out what Moore calls the old stereotype of "stitching and sewing." While there are courses such as "introduction to interiors," "textiles," "food preparation in the home" and "history of apparel" that are dedicated to these more traditional views of home economics, the program maintains a strong basis in STEM academics of science, technology, engineering and math, as well.
"We connect our curriculum in a way that shows how scientific principles, math and technology mainly, are used every day in the family and the home," she says, namely through the use of the latest appliances and machines as well as the current focus on issues such as home energy consumption and community disaster relief efforts, "We have fought 100 percent to show that we teach science in the home and we are a viable compliment to the STEM program through our course integration."
Other courses students in this major can enroll in include the more historically scientific-based options such as "biological foundations of human development" and "cognitive development." And, because there is "economics" in "home economics" after all, students also have the choice to take courses including "family finance" and "money in the family," which can actually help set the foundation for a financial planning or financial literacy focused career.
But what if you're not committed to majoring in home economics? Well, just like most colleges, students in other programs will dabble in a family and consumer sciences course or two, says Busby. "Our cooking, sewing, interior design, and family finances courses are very popular and many students outside of our majors take these classes each year as electives."
And whether it’s taken as a major, minor or just for a few extra credits, Moore says the objective is still the same. "Without [home economics] as a counterpart to your academic education, you're really not educating the whole person."