Home Economics School Renamed

Home economics school renamed

New name reflects evolution of the discipline

Home economics-cooking and sewing-right?

What a difference a century makes. What was once Stout's Training School for Domestic Science Teachers evolved into the School of Home Economics, and has now, by recent action of the UW System Board of Regents, been renamed the School of Human Environmental Sciences.

"A primary purpose of that (first) unit was to prepare home economics teachers," Esther Fahm, dean of the school, said. Today there are many specialized degree program offerings which lead to a variety of professions.

Programs lead to professional careers in business, industry, education, and community and government agencies. Programs are science-based and integrate the social, biological, natural, developmental and managerial sciences for the purpose of improving the human condition and the quality of life and service, according to Fahm, and so the name-Human Environmental Sciences.

"This new name reflects the evolution and development of our professional field of study in higher education," Fahm said. "It builds upon the rich tradition of disciplines that our school has historically offered."

Provost George DePuy said he did a study of 19 similar schools around the country, and only six still maintain the term "home economics" in their name.

"This name change, from Home Economics to Human Environmental Sciences, reflects the fact that the discipline that was called home economics has evolved far beyond its original definition," DePuy said. "Most other schools of home economics at other universities have already changed their names."

Other universities using the name human environmental sciences include University of Alabama, University of Arkansas, East Carolina University, University of Kentucky, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Oklahoma State University.

"The administrative team, faculty, staff and students join me in announcing with esteem this new era of development in our field at UW-Stout," Fahm said. "The name change is a momentous event for our school."

The recent name change has raised a number of questions from alumni of the School of Home Economics. The following questions are the two most commonly asked, with answers from Esther Fahm, Dean of the School of Human Environmental Sciences.

Q: What professional titles will graduates from the School of Human Environmental Sciences use?

A: Individual professional titles may be determined in many ways. However, for years our graduates have frequently used their area of specialization, certification and/or occupational roles as professional titles. Graduates have called themselves dietitians, apparel designers, hotel managers and early childhood teachers. Our graduates will continue to utilize such titles.

Family and Consumer Educational Services is the general degree program within our school. Human Environmental Sciences serves as an "umbrella" descriptor of the academic programs array and focus of our unit as a whole and not necessarily the professional title for graduates.

Q: Since the profession adopted the name "Family and Consumer Sciences," why did the school not adopt the same name?

A: At UW-Stout, a major goal of the name change was to reflect the focus and evolution of academic programs that have already occurred within the school, and to position the unit for the 21st century in an increasingly complex society and higher education environment. Academic programs have become increasingly specialized within our school. They align with the unifying focus and conceptual framework of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences as well as with that of several other professional organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, the Council on Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Education and the American Apparel Manufacturers Association. The name Human Environmental Sciences reflects a broad scope of programs, specializations and professional alignments within the school.

Outlook Fall '95