Campus News

Not your mother’s home ec

As President Bush encourages Americans to shoulder more responsibility for their own financial well-being, Michigan Public Radio reporter Bill Poorman wondered where to turn to learn how to manage his 401-K and make wise choices about his health-care plan.

“Shouldn’t there have been a class somewhere along the way on how to manage the economics of the home?” he asked on the NPR program Sound Money, before launching into a feature on the changes in home economics, including discussion with UGA Family and Consumer Sciences Dean Sharon Y. Nickols.

“Our work goes all the way from molecular studies looking at the impact of genetics on dietary absorption of certain nutrients to very large social demographic studies looking at population trends in anticipation of needs for housing, for instance, or the care for the elderly,” Nickols said. “More and more, our society is finding that there are unmet needs, issues related to youth development, to the way we use our environment, to financial resources, parenting. All of those are what I call front-page issues on the newspaper.”

In response to Poorman’s question whether family and consumer economics is a “girlie” field, Nickols said, “In my own college right now we have 27 percent of our undergraduate majors are male. At the graduate level about a third of our students are males and on our faculty we have about 40 percent of our tenure-track faculty are men.”