Academic journal article Human Ecology

THE HAPPINESS AND Welfare of Children

Academic journal article Human Ecology

THE HAPPINESS AND Welfare of Children

Article excerpt

HAPPY NEW YEAR! As we celebrate the centennial of human ecology at Cornell University this year, this issue of Human Ecology focuses most fittingly on children and youth. From the earliest days when Martha Van Rensselaer was recruited to the New York State College of Agriculture in the fall of 1900 to begin reading courses for farm wives, she also addressed the needs of children and families. In a 1913 reading course pamphlet, she reflected on the establishment of home economics at Cornell and the importance of children in our discipline:

The wealth of a nation is said to be its life, and life begins in the home... this entire subject of home economics centers around the child. Life means not merely thought for the material comfort of today...but intelligent consideration of posterity, of the happiness and welfare of children. [1]

Throughout our development into a department in 1907 and then a college in 1925, we have emphasized the ecological impact of the physical, social, learning, and familial environment on the promotion of the health, development, safety, and well-being of children. In 1924 a four-year grant from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial funded the "initiation of work in child care and training." A nursery school was established and continues today as the Early Childhood Center, which still serves important roles in the education of our undergraduates and in our ongoing research. Additional funds from this memorial enabled outreach education to children, parents, and educators throughout New York State. As we progressed, Professor Urie Bronfenbrenner researched the crucial role of young children's social environment on their development. His internationally acclaimed research led to the development of the national Head Start Program in the mid-sixties. …

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