Remaining True to the Vision: Promoting Research in FCS
Blackwell, Ann P., Burgess, Anne M., Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences
There is an ongoing need for family and consumer sciences professionals to generate new knowledge through research and then share findings with diverse groups. Specific Action Steps describe methods to incorporate research into university curricula to promote this role. The ultimate goal is to inspire new professionals to remain true to the original vision of FCS in order to advance improvements in quality of life for individuals, families, and communities.
A study of the early leaders of home economics reveals an extremely diverse group of professionals representing a number of disciplines. Drawn together by a shared vision that quality of life for individuals and families can be improved, these individuals conceived a profession dedicated to improving the level and standard of living of ordinary people through the application of scientific research. They articulated and demonstrated the potential for scientific principles, gleaned from research, to ameliorate daily, practical problems of life (Andrews, 1948; Bane & Chapin, 1945; East, 1980; Rasdall, 2005; Stage & Vincenti, 1997).
The early leaders of home economics were cogendy aware of the social issues confronting individuals and families of their time. They recognized the relationship of social issues, pertinent research, and the critical step of dissemination of information to appropriate groups (Andrews, 1948; Bane & Chapin, 1945; Craig, 1945; East, 1980; Stage & Vincenti, 1997). Stage and Vincenti (1997) pointed out that the work of the early leaders addressed issues of importance to many Americans and applied science to daily life in areas ranging from disease prevention to effective parenting.
Today, the profession continues to evolve as an extremely diverse group of professionals focused on improving quality of life. The name of the profession changed in 1994 from home economics to family and consumer sciences (FCS) (Stage & Vincenti, 1997), but the vision remains the same. Professionals continue to focus on societal issues that have an impact on the lives of individuals and families in our nation (American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences [AAFCS], 2005) and the world. The efficacy of conducting pertinent research and sharing the results with appropriate groups to promote optimal well-being remains constant.
A challenge faced by the profession is to impress upon new professionals the responsibility that each FCS professional has to embrace and promote the original vision as conceived by the early leaders. Specific Action Steps to incorporate into university curricula to promote research as a professional responsibility are shared. The Action Steps stress the significance of research and the importance of sharing results with diverse groups to improve quality of life. Of course, the ultimate goal is to educate new FCS professionals to engage in research to the extent possible and contribute to improving quality of life
FCS professionals charged with the education of undergraduate and graduate students must provide an essential foundation in research for each student. It is important to espouse established theory, stress current research in the field, and demonstrate the contribution of both to the mission of the profession. Professors must continuously accentuate the relationship of research, dissemination of findings, and the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Programs also can assess the effectiveness of this education by measuring the application of research skills by new professionals as they progress in their careers.
The first step is to provide students with a sound knowledge base related to established theory. This is achieved through an exhaustive education in selected theories involving human needs, human development, and family systems. As an example, Maslow's Self-Actualization Theory is studied to convey a psychology of health and a focus on human potential (Maslow, 1970). …