Family and Consumer Sciences Thesis

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¶ … American Home Economics Association, the precursor to the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, was founded in 1909 by Ellen H. Richards, the first female graduate of MIT (AAFCS 2003). Richards' goals in life and with the organization included creating a more educated consumer and bringing greater attention to public health and safety concerns (AAFCS 2003). Her attempts to apply scientific and management principles to the day-to-day operations of the typical family eventually led to the formalization of family and consumer sciences as a scholarly filed and profession, and today the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences has more than seven thousand members who attempt to exert influence on public policy and strengthen communities and families through extensive education programs designed to improve the quality of life for American families (AAFCS 2003).


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The International Federation for Home Economics is the only international organization devoted to home economics and consumer studies, and serves as a network organization for many smaller organizations involved in he furtherance of family and consumer sciences (IFHE 2009). The Federation is organized into five regions -- Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Pacific -- with each region under the leadership of a Vice President elected by the members of the Federation (IFHE 2009). Through publications, the International Federation for Home Economics attempts to coordinate the gathering and dissemination of information pertinent to family and consumer sciences (IFHE 2009). The Federation also has consultative status with the United Nations and with the Council of Europe (IFHE 2009).

TOPIC: Thesis on Family and Consumer Sciences Assignment

The International Federation for Home Economics hold several important meetings on an annual, biannual, and quadrennial basis (IFHE 2009). The next IFHE World Congress is scheduled to take place July of 2012 in Melbourne, Australia, and is the largest meeting the Federation sponsors (IFHE 2009). A Council Meeting takes place a year from now in Ireland, and will include the election of several officers in the Federation; the most recent Leadership Meeting took place earlier this year in Kingston, Jamaica, and no information is currently available on the website as to the next planned Leadership Meeting (IFHE 2009). Membership in the organization for individuals, including students, costs forty Euros a year and is open to anyone (IFHE 2009). Membership includes access to the Federation's publications and the ability to attend some meetings, with the possibility of affecting policy (IFHE 2009).


Certification through the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences is the first step of professional development within the Association (AAFCS 2003). Becoming certified allows an individual to use the title and designation of CFCS (Certified Family and Consumer Scientist), which opens up a much wider arena of employment and career opportunities and stands as a testament to the individuals commitment to continued growth and learning in the field of family and consumer sciences (AAFCS 2003). It also helps to formalize the discipline by increasing the rigor of the standards of the Association in the eyes of the public (AAFCS 2003).

There are several steps to becoming certified, but it is still a very straightforward process. First, a baccalaureate degree in family and consumer sciences or a highly related field is a minimum requirement, and advanced degrees are highly encouraged (AAFCS 2003). Candidates for certification who have achieved the minimum education requirements must then take the National Family and Consumer Sciences Certification Exam, which consists of one-hundred and fifty multiple choice questions to be completed in a three-hour time limit (AAFCS 2003). Study guides for the Exam are available through the Association (AAFCS 2003). Successful completion of the exam, which can be taken either with paper and pencil or electronically at any of the many testing centers nationwide, results in certification that is good for three years (AAFCS 2003). In order to maintain certification, a candidate must complete seventy-five professional development units (PDUs) every three years, submitting applications for prior approval of these units based on the activities the candidate is engaged in, and must apply for a renewal of their certification (and pay the fee) after certifying their PDUs (AAFCS 2003).


Accreditation through the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences is for educational institutions and departments what certification is for individual students and professionals (AAFCS 2003). The Association examines the standards and practices of the family and consumer science program that has applied for accreditation in order to assure the quality of the program, which benefits the educational community and the public at large by providing an external rubric and stamp of approval (AAFCS 2003). Ultimately, the accreditation program run by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences is meant to continually strengthen and improve education and in the family and consumer sciences (AAFCS 2003).

The exact standards used by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Council of Accreditation are not published online, but the Association is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a Specialized Accrediting Agency, meaning that it meets rigorous national standards of evaluation and must hold the institutions to which it grants accreditation to the same standards (AAFCS 2003). The criteria used by the Association's Council for Accreditation are continually updated, remaining contemporary and relevant through all progress and evolution of the family and consumer sciences (AAFCS 2003). Accredited programs are also reevaluated continually in order to maintain their accredited status as required by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (AAFCS 2003).


Ellen Richards, who formalized the study and practice of home economics and founded the American Home Economics Association (later the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences), was born Ellen Henrietta Swallow on December 3, 1842 in Dunstable, Massachusetts (Bois 1997). Her education began at home, where she assisted her parents with the farm work and with other household chores and was schooled in academics by her father. When her family moved to Westford, Massachusetts in 1859 she began attending the Westford Academy, which made up her only pre-collegiate formal education (Bois 1997). She taught elementary school in Littleton, Massachusetts, where her family moved in 1863 and her father ran a store. Richards continued to read and educate herself during her time as a teacher, as well as learning the practical necessities of commerce by helping in her father's store (Bois 1997).

Richards began attending Vassar College in 1868, and graduated with a B.S. In 1870 (Bois 1997). She then began attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the first woman ever to do so, though she was admitted as a "special student in chemistry" meaning neither she nr MIT had any obligation to each other. In 1873, she received a second B.S. from MIT as well as an M.S. In chemistry from Vassar, and despite continuing her studies at MIT for two years she was never awarded a Ph. D. (possibly because the school did not wish their first doctorate in chemistry to be awarded to a woman) (Bois 1997). In 1875, she married MIT mining engineering Professor Robert H. Richards, and her work with him analyzing ore led to her election to the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, another first for womankind (Bois 1997). Richards was a strong advocate for women in the sciences, and was also engaged in many pubic health pursuits through her scientific knowledge.

Other major achievements of Richard's life include her founding of the New England Kitchen in 1890, which provided low-cost nutritious food and food preparation instructional classes to working class families (Bois 1997). She also instigated school lunch programs and domestic science courses in Boston public schools, and organized the Lake Placid conference in 1899 (bois 1997). The aim of this conference was to define standards of teacher training and certification in the field of home economics, and under her continued leadership the conference members eventually formed the American Home Economics Association (Bois 1997). Richards was president of this association until her death in 1911, at which point she had also started the Journal of Home Economics and been awarded an honorary Ph.D. By Smith College (Bois 1997).


Kappa Omicron Nu is an honors society for students in the human sciences (KON 2009). The purpose of the organization, as with most honor societies, is to promote and reward academic excellence and leadership achievement, specifically in the human sciences (KON 2009). Benefits of membership in Kappa Omicron Nu include a national network of colleagues in the human sciences, scholarship and grant award eligibility, subscriptions to the organizations publications, enhanced employment eligibility and opportunities, and a general sharing of knowledge (KON 2009). In order to obtain membership in Kappa Omicron Nu, undergraduate students must have completed 45 semester hours or units towards a declared major in the family and consumer sciences and be in the top 25% of their class (KON 2009). Graduate students must maintain a GPA of 3.5 and have completed 12 units towards their advanced degree in the human sciences; membership invitations are extended by local chapters to eligible candidates and full membership requires verification of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Family and Consumer Sciences" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Family and Consumer Sciences.  (2009, August 31).  Retrieved October 27, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Family and Consumer Sciences."  31 August 2009.  Web.  27 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Family and Consumer Sciences."  August 31, 2009.  Accessed October 27, 2021.