During spring semester, Miguel Quiñones, graduate student, and Joyce Serido, professor and extension specialist, collaborated to create the new Family Social Science undergraduate course, “The Cultural Context of Family and Financial Wellness.” The eight-week, one credit course explored the core concepts of financial decision-making for contemporary college students, taking into account their diverse backgrounds, lived experiences, and financial goals. It was a pilot for an approved course in the FSOS minor in Family Financial Studies.
Dr. Serido, Quiñones, and TRIO Student Support Services crafted a curriculum to achieve two key goals: shedding light on how students’ everyday contexts interact with financial decision-making principles; and unmasking the often-hidden aspects of the American financial system. Rooted in a case study approach, this course was intentionally designed to resonate with the real-life experiences of contemporary college students and demonstrate the types of financial decisions students will have to make during this critical developmental period.
For many students from first-gen and underrepresented backgrounds, college represents an important developmental transition. They must learn to navigate the rules and responsibilities of dominant-culture financial systems, contend with multiple socializing agents (family, community, culture), and develop their own goals and plans for their future.
“For the contemporary college student (Gen Z!), this is all happening against the backdrop of rapid social change, technological advancement, and economic uncertainty,” says Quiñones. “This is why the case study approach is so impactful – it gives students an opportunity to “learn by doing” as they prepare to enter a society and labor market that have undergone significant changes over the past few years.”
Quiñones says developing the course from scratch was exciting, but teaching it was an invaluable experience.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students.,” says Quiñones. “One interrupted me to say, ‘get your money up, not your funny up’ and it’s been living in my head rent-free ever since… in a good way. Because that’s what the course was all about.”
The course represents just one piece of a greater curriculum redevelopment effort within Family Social Science to update its course offerings to meet the needs of today’s college students and engage with a shifting socioeconomic landscape.