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Welcome to the Department of Family Science. Today families are more diverse than ever and face challenges, new and old. The COVID-19 pandemic has struck far too many families across the country and the globe, and we have lost too many lives. Its economic impact has devastated many families who are struggling with unemployment, housing, and hunger. The raw grief and rage caused by the deaths of Black men and women are pushing us to grapple with the critical issue of racism and its impact on our daily lives and very institutions. There is literally not a single aspect of family life left untouched by these challenging times.

Focusing on the study of families, the Department of Family Science examines how families influence our life course and our health, and how they are influenced by the broader social determinants of health. We are united in our shared commitment to make a positive difference in the research, programs and policies that impact our families every day.  

We are excited to be a part of a vibrant and growing School of Public Health (SPH). We are the first of two departments of family science based in a School of Public Health in the US. We bring the synergies of our multiple disciplines from family science, couple and family therapy, maternal and child health, psychology, epidemiology, behavioral sciences, and economics among others to enhance family health and well-being. We believe that the public health challenges of today, from chronic diseases, aging and caregiving, mental health, violence, financial instability, disasters, healthy physical and emotional development, racism, and health disparities require our inter-disciplinary strengths. Our faculty represent multiple areas of research in reproductive and sexual health, intimate partner violence, immigrant families, LBGTQ families, linkages between couple communication and family finances, the impact of incarceration, racial socialization of Black youth in families, and vaccine hesitancy. 

Making a difference for families means that we partner with diverse communities and organizations across Maryland and the national capital region of Washington DC and its surrounding communities. Our partnerships enable our students from undergraduate through doctoral programs to participate in program delivery and evaluation, interact with local youth and families and conduct research with community organizations dedicated to improving the health and well-being of local families. 

Our faculty members are committed to excellent teaching and mentoring. Our undergraduate program prepares our students for careers in human service and health organizations, as well as enables them to move forward with graduate programs in social work, Couple and Family Therapy, nursing, psychology, public health, and other disciplines. The department’s Couple and Family Therapy program is ranked among the very best in the nation, and our students provide therapeutic services to over 400 families a year in our Center for Healthy Families. Our doctoral programs in Family Science and Maternal and Child Health provide a rich, interdisciplinary environment for our doctoral students to learn, conduct research, and develop their teaching skills.  We seek to foster a supportive living and learning environment to assist our students as they contribute to the creation of new knowledge that can keep families healthy across the life course. 

Our department is proud of the rich racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of our faculty, staff, and students, and our leadership on diversity has earned the department countless awards. Yet, we also recognize that to achieve our goals for all, we must actively strive toward becoming an anti-racist community. In summer 2020, we began a journey to examine our department and ourselves with that goal in mind. Many of our students are also first-generation students who are building toward a better future for their families. We live within a racially and ethnically diverse area that provides exciting opportunities for new cultural experiences. Moreover, with a Metro stop just moments from campus, our proximity to Washington, D.C., enables our students to seize opportunities for internships, research experiences, and engagement with policymakers at the federal level. Our department’s ongoing focus on family and health policy enables our students to work with local, state, and federal representatives to foster policies that strengthen families. 

The Department of Family Science is passionate about our shared commitment to anti-racism action, health equity, diversity and inclusion, and social justice. Come join us in making a difference through education, research, and policies that foster health, well-being, and quality of life for all families.

Professor Sandra C. Quinn
Chair, Department of Family Science