College of Education and Human Development

Family Social Science


In the Department of Family Social Science, we study systems frameworks (such as family systems theory or ecological models) to understand, advance knowledge, and enhance the well-being of “diverse families in a changing world.” Families and family systems are inextricably linked to and intertwined with all aspects of healthy family functioning and human development.

    Advancing knowledge in family science and human development

    As a department, we advance knowledge in human development across multiple life stages and transitions. Faculty expertise spans family systems, family processes, and family socialization; parenting, parent-child interactions, and parent education; personal and family finances and financial literacy; as well as the intersection of families, neighborhoods, and communities in health, well-being, and development. 

    Using a systems approach makes us unique

    Faculty in our department focus on multiple domains of family health, wellness, and development including physical, mental, emotional, relational, educational, and financial. Using a systems approach to understand individuals, families, and communities, faculty in our department focus on individuals in the context of relationships and families across the lifespan – adults, children, and adolescents – and intergenerational and transnational interactions and relationships.

    Grounded in inclusion, diversity, equity, and justice

    Inclusion, diversity, equity, and justice are embedded in faculty research, teaching, and service. They focus on diverse populations and communities such as immigrant and refugee families, African American couples and families, the Native American/American Indian community, Sexual and Gender Minority youth and parents, and children with autism and their families. Within the department, faculty use a variety of theoretical frameworks, paradigms, and models across both research and teaching.

    Emerging and enduring departmental priorities

    • Centering systemic approaches and theories
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Applied and engaged research and pedagogy
    • Focus on theory and theory development
    • Immigrant and refugee, BIPOC, and other marginalized communities, families, and individuals including transnational family relationships
    • Centering health and wellbeing across multiple domains: mental, physical, relational, financial, and educational
    • Innovative methodological approaches

    Learn more about FSoS research

    Visit the projects and labs page to learn about faculty research projects and collaborations.

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    The outreach page outlines collaborations with community partners.

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    The extension page highlights extension specialist projects across Minnesota and across the nation.

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    Dive deeper into FSoS research

    Culturally responsive relational interventions Culturally responsive relational interventions

    Understanding how cultural factors influence the dynamics of relationships and applying this knowledge to design interventions that are sensitive and responsive to the unique needs of individuals from various cultural backgrounds.

    Culture Culture

    Understanding the differences between one's own culture and the cultures of others to effectively connect, teach, and help.

    Discrimination Discrimination

    How various forms of discrimination, such as racial, gender, or socioeconomic discrimination, impact individuals’ relationships and family dynamics.

    Extension Extension

    University of Minnesota Extension partners with counties and tribal communities to deliver local programming throughout the state and build a better future through science-based knowledge, expertise and training.

    Financial counseling and economic well-being Financial counseling and economic well-being

    Examining best practices of financial counselors/coaches who work with clients of color; college students’ money management practices; and the economic stability and viability of families, specifically those who are self-employed or own businesses.

    Foster care Foster care

    Using a variety of research methods to understand foster care dynamics and inform policies, interventions, and support systems to enhance the well-being of children and families in the foster care system.

    Gender identity Gender identity

    This research delves into the psychological, social, and cultural factors that influence the formation of gender identity and may also investigate the intersectionality of gender identity with other aspects of identity, such as race, ethnicity, and…

    Intergenerational relationships Intergenerational relationships

    This focuses on studying the dynamics and interactions between different generations within families and societies and explores how individuals from various age groups relate to and influence each other, examining both the positive and challenging…

    Mental health and/or substance use Mental health and/or substance use

    Understanding mental well-being and its impact on human development and relationships, and the effects of drug abuse, dependency, addiction, and recovery on individuals, families, and systems.

    Methods: mixed methods, quantitative methods Methods: mixed methods, quantitative methods

    The integration of quantitative and qualitative methods in family science allows researchers to explore the complexity of family life, providing a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding that can inform both theory and practice.

    Prevention and intervention science Prevention and intervention science

    A multi-disciplinary approach to developing, testing, and disseminating evidence-based strategies and programs that improve the health and wellbeing of diverse individuals, families, and communities.

    Relational decision making, divorce Relational decision making, divorce

    Investigates the decision-making processes involved in marital relationships leading to the consideration and experience of divorce, including factors influencing couples' decisions to either continue their marriage or pursue divorce.

    Resilience Resilience

    Understanding how individuals and families navigate and adapt to challenging circumstances in order create strategies and develop interventions to enhance their well-being.

    Sex therapy Sex therapy

    A type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) to help individuals and couples address sexuality issues including sexual identity, sexual problems, gender identity, body image, sexual trauma, and sexual relationship concerns.

    Sexual prejudice, LGBTQ+ Sexual prejudice, LGBTQ+

    Using diverse research methods to understand sexual prejudice and LGBTQ+ issues within the family context in order to inform advocacy efforts, contribute to the development of inclusive policies, and enhance the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals and…

    Sibling relationships Sibling relationships

    The dynamics, influences, and outcomes associated with these relationships in order to inform theories about family dynamics, influence therapeutic interventions, and provide insights into the factors that contribute to positive or challenging…

    Technology and families Technology and families

    Explores the interplay between digital technology (e.g., smartphones, social media, Internet) and family dynamics and its impacts on family relationships, youth development, and family members' well-being.

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