By Belle Vang, COSS Communications Student Assistant

In the Fall of 2020, we welcome the department of Child and Family Science (CFS), formerly under the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, to the College of Social Sciences (COSS).

As one of the original programs at Fresno State dating back to its founding year in 1911, CFS was known as “Home Economics” and has evolved over time.

The department’s mission is to prepare graduates to improve the quality of life in the Central Valley and beyond through education, research, and service.

Dr. Kathleen Dyer, CFS department chair, has been with the department for over 16 years and feels that CFS naturally belongs in the COSS because of its science and values.

“We look forward to deepening our professional collaborations with other social scientists on campus and to establish relationships that we have not previously had the opportunity to form,” Dyer said.

With several CFS classes focusing on familial cognitions from emotional development to adolescent learning, COSS provides several interdisciplinary departments to support CFS and its mission. This includes a convergence of topics and methods shared with anthropology, sociology, and psychology.

CFS class pre-COVID in a COSS building

Offering a Bachelor of Science degree, the department has two emphasis: Child Development and Family Science and also offers a minor.

Often mistaken as a discipline that focuses strictly on children, Dyer highlights that CFS also studies adulthood and the close personal relationships in and outside of families, also known as development and relationships in context.

“Ours is a major that most students discover once they get to college rather than being one identified prior,” Dyer says.  “Therefore, we have twice as many upper-division students than we do lower-division students.”

CFS students working with children

CFS will be cross-listing with other COSS departments’ classes in its curriculum, and Dyer looks forward to having more CFS students minor in other COSS programs and vice versa.

Dr. Jessica McKenzie, CFS associate professor, highly anticipates forging connections with Anthropology, ASAM, CLAS, Sociology, and WGSS since the departments and programs draw heavily in her work.

Resonating closely with COSS’ motto, “The World is Our Classroom,” McKenzie says CFS’ curriculum is built on preparing students to understand the most fundamental experience of humans and addressing some of the most pressing issues, such as modern globalization.

“Being surrounded by colleagues who study a broad range of critical issues facing humans from a variety of perspectives is fundamental with the experiences we offer our students,” McKenzie said.

As a mentor to many CFS honors students, McKenzie says it is a tremendous privilege to work with students who are motivated to learn and contribute to the body of CFS.  In merging with COSS, Dyer hopes CFS students will find lifelong, collaborative relationships in the COSS’ Honors Program.

Dr. McKenzie with CFS Honors students

“We expect some of our best students will participate in the honors program, contribute to those cohorts, and benefit from exposure to such closely-related disciplines,” Dyer said. “Our students are incredibly diverse, and our faculty and staff love to see lifelong friendships develop between students in our program.”   

Dyer also looks forward to faculty collaborating more frequently with its new COSS colleagues. 

“Although it’s a surreal time, we’ve been warmly welcomed and are grateful for the thoughtfulness of our colleagues,” Dyer said.  “Our faculty are some of the kindest people and most vibrant scholars, so we look forward to being part of a college that shares our values regarding social justice.”