FCS Profession: Our Legacy, Our Destiny

Article excerpt

What an impressive legacy AAFCS has-empowering consumers and strengthening families and communities for almost 100 years! Although family and consumer sciences (FCS) can celebrate this legacy in each specialty, our destiny depends on moving the profession forward amidst formidable challenges.

The profession has a rich history of contributions during the 20th century that include: (a) healthier population and longer life expectancy; (b) safer, more effective work patterns and use of time; (c) credible information for functional consumer and family decisions; (d) use of new technologies and energy resources; and (e) delivery of services to diverse populations. These societal gains did not just suddenly appear-they resulted from the work of strong, creative, and science oriented professionals.

Meeting the Challenges Ahead

At least four formidable challenges exist for FCS. The following are the challenges and proposals to meet these challenges:

Challenge 1. Increasing the number of FCS university administrators, faculty, and other FCS professionals within AAFCS; making membership in the flagship organization apriority.

Proposal 1: Avoid denigrating FCS annual conferences with "There's nothing for me" comments. State and national meetings offer presentations relevant to each FCS specialty that speak to diverse interests and critical issues. Scientists increasingly encourage specialists to engage in stimulating scientific interaction via multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary discussions (American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2000; Wilson, 1996). Healthcare, education, athletic, and social services organizations afford multi-knowledge base venues to stimulate collaborative projects. Participation in a specialized organization does not preclude participation in the flagship organization.

Proposal 2: Reward productive participation in AAFCS through salary, promotion, and tenure decisions.

Proposal 3: Spur participation in AAFCS via group membership fees.

* A college/department group rate could enable more faculty in a unit to participate.

* Group membership fees with sliding percentages for preprofessionals could increase participation in core courses with the journal as a reference.

* If the flagship organization were a federation of specialist organizations, dues payment could be consolidated, with attractive rates based on economies of scale.

Challenge 2. Cultivating preprofessional students in AAFCS strengthens student ownership of FCS careers.

Proposal 1: Direct students to AAFCS; unfortunately, FCS specialists have directed them away from the flagship organization.

Proposal 2: Afford FCS graduate students without FCS degrees opportunities to embrace the values of the profession in a course integrating the FCS body of knowledge such as that offered at Illinois State University (Theory and Contemporary Issues in FCS) (Canabal & Winchip, 2004).

Proposal 3: Include this journal as the text for the entry level core course, with student membership in AAFCS as a benefit, as offered at Ball State University. In a senior core course, student teams from FCS specialties engage in collaborative research projects (J. McFadden, S. Whitaker, & A. Spangler, personal communication, 2004).

Proposal 4: Mentor students through programs such as HUGS. FCS students represent the future, therefore, mentoring and coaching become wise investments.

Challenge 3. Increasing employment of FCS administrators and faculty with no FCS degrees is problematic. "We have not been careful to select faculty and unit administrators who have internalized the values of the profession-either because those individuals were not available or because other criteria seemed more important than basic beliefs and ideals" (Jenkins, 1990).

Proposal 1: Select candidates who understand or who are willing to embrace the FCS mission. …