The HDFS graduate program is founded on several core philosophical values. First, we encourage students to develop skills in identifying families’ strengths and to develop an appreciation of diversity in age, race and ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, learning styles, and abilities.
Second, we emphasize the importance of education and prevention in addition to intervention, with the recognition that stress, loss and change are normal aspects of life experiences. Thus, we provide students with accurate information on developmental characteristics and interpersonal interactions so that they can most effectively work with individuals and families to lessen problems that arise because of misinformation about what is considered “normal”. The program recognizes that the distinction between prevention and intervention is not always clear, and encourages students to develop skills that can bridge these areas.
Third, to better appreciate the complexity of individuals, the HDFS graduate program strives to foster in students an understanding of cognitive, biological, and socioemotional development and the interactions of these components across each stage of the lifespan. To better appreciate the complexity of families, the program strives to foster in students an awareness of the development of family systems, roles, and reciprocal interactions. We encourage students to look at families as more than just interpersonal interactions, and to address family resources that can contribute to stress or resilience during times of crisis or change.
Fourth, consistent with an ecological perspective, the HDFS graduate program emphasizes the contexts within which individuals and families develop and function. As such, we believe that an understanding of these multiple contexts, including cultural and societal influences, is essential in any attempt to understand individuals and families.
Our goal is to provide graduates who are prepared for roles in professions requiring:
- Knowledge of biological, cognitive, and socio-emotional characteristics of humans across the lifespan;
- Knowledge of family systems and family interactions;
- Knowledge of effective communication for working with individuals and families;
- Assessment and improvement of resources needed by individuals, families, and their communities;
- The ability to provide education about individual development and family life;
- The ability to combine elements of education, prevention, and early intervention; and
- The ability to work in an intergenerational context and with diverse families.