CSU’s Family and Consumer Sciences Program the only one of its kind in Colorado

Many people might remember their middle or high school “Home Ec” classes and associated cooking and sewing projects – not so anymore. The historic discipline of Home Economics has undergone an evolution and today is known as Family and Consumer Sciences. But the lessons in health, nutrition, apparel, interior design, and human development that inspired the discipline are still at its heart.

Colorado State University is home to the only Family and Consumer Sciences program in the state, which has evolved and expanded greatly from the Home Economics discipline which was started at CSU in 1895 as the program in Domestic Economy for women. The program is open to all who are interested in learning the science-based approaches to promoting human health and well-being.

Making a positive impact on society

Today, the Family and Consumer Sciences program is an interdisciplinary major offered in CSU’s School of Education incorporating two concentrations: FCS and FCS Education. An FCS degree provides the tools and knowledge necessary to assist in making science-based, informed decisions about one’s well-being, relationships, and community. The FCS profession of today is, broadly, about making a positive impact on society. More specifically, a degree in FCS includes the study of family and consumer sciences, human development and family studies, food science and human nutrition, health and wellness, personal finance, and design and merchandising.

CSU’s FCS program includes a vast array of studies, applying knowledge of chemistry, biology, bacteriology, psychology, sociology, economics, political science, philosophy, and the arts. The job prospects for FCS graduates in Colorado, and around the U.S., are excellent because there is a shortage of individuals with these skills.

Students with an FCS degree and an education concentration earn teacher licensure and can go on to become middle school or high school teachers. Students who choose not to focus on teacher licensure find jobs in nonprofit agencies, government, extension, or businesses.

Associate Professor Dawn Mallette coordinates the program and advises students.

Assistant professor Dawn Mallette smiles while engaging with students in a classroom.
Dawn Mallette speaking with students in the classroom.

“We invite individuals from across Colorado, the United States, as well as internationally who are interested in issues affecting families and consumers and those who want to study an interdisciplinary body of knowledge,” said Mallette. “In recent years the scope of Family and Consumer Sciences has broadened from just the improvement of ‘home life’ to national and international interests. It is a field of study that has withstood the test of time, focused on the people-centered science and the art of living and working well to create healthy and sustainable individuals, families and communities.”

History of the FCS program

Ever since the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 created land-grant universities in each state, including Colorado, CSU’s mission has been to allow anyone who wanted to pursue a higher education the opportunity to do so. As a result, more women had access to universities. Home Economics was the first program developed to meet individuals’, primarily women’s, needs regarding their interests and professional aspirations.

Domestic Economy/Sciences departments were vital in progressing women’s role in society during a period when “women’s work” was considered secondary to men’s. At CSU, several university buildings are named after impactful Home Economics faculty members and Deans: Allison Hall for Inga Allison and the Gifford Building for Elizabeth Dyar Gifford.

Routt Hall is named after Eliza Routt, the first woman to serve on the governing board of CSU — the State Board of Agriculture. Routt launched CSU’s program in Domestic Economy ensuring a dedication to science-based knowledge.

While Ammons Hall is actually named after Theodosia Ammons’ brother, Elias, the 19th governor of Colorado, she and Routt are commemorated in the stained glass window in the Simon Guggenheim Hall of Household Arts, the original home of CSU’s Home Economics program.

To find out more about the CSU College of Health and Human Sciences’ progression and roots in the discipline of Home Economics, check out the story about the history of the College of Health and Human Sciences that lays out the timeline. The Family and Consumer Sciences program is an important part of the legacy of Home Economics at CSU.

“I’m proud to be a part of a profession that is continually adapting, evolving, and changing to respond to current needs and challenges of the complex world we live in,” said Mallette.

Meet some of our outstanding graduates of the FCS program: CaraShea Hughes, Tatianna Medina, Victoria Connor, and Emma Atchison. For more information on the FCS program, contact Dawn Mallette at [email protected]

Family and Consumer Sciences is an undergraduate degree program offered by the School of Education, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

CSU’s Family and Consumer Sciences Program the only one of its kind in Colorado