Top 10 things about HDFS that may surprise you…but shouldn’t!

Top 10 things about HDFS that may surprise you…but shouldn’t!

Apr 6
Susan Silverberg Koerner, Head, Department of Human Development and Family Studies

10. Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) faculty are pioneering advances in our understanding of LGBT families; effects of shared mealtimes on child/family health; intimate partner violence; positive youth development; self-regulatory processes in the development of pediatric obesity; father involvement in families with children with disabilities; adolescent risk/resilience from an international perspective; school readiness in the context of poverty; and much more.

9. Our undergraduates pursue a wide range of professions – many in health-related fields such as physical and occupational therapy and pediatric medicine. As HDFS majors these students enroll in pre-health science courses and, through their HDFS courses on lifespan human development and family dynamics, gain insights and skills preparing them to become well informed and compassionate professionals in the health- and mental health-care arenas.

8. HDFS houses The Autism Program (TAP) – a service providing resources and referral for families with children and teens diagnosed on the autism spectrum, consultation and training for professionals, social-skills groups for teens, and opportunities for U of I student training and faculty research. In fact, student interns often describe their TAP training and experience to be the most memorable and transformative experience they had as a U of I student!

7. HDFS faculty and student scholarship is always conducted with a view toward relevant, practical implications. HDFS faculty members serve on federal-level panels and committees for their expertise on school inequalities, child and family policy, post-divorce custody policy and practice, university-based child development laboratories, and more.

6. Our PhD students take on top-notch positions. For example, some have gone on to pursue post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard University and the University of Virginia, while others have gone on to become assistant professors at Auburn University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Some of our PhD students have accepted positions as data analysts and policy researchers for the University of California-Davis and the U.S. Government, while others have become policy/advocacy specialists for organizations such as the National Association of Child Advocates.

5. The majority of our undergraduates gain hands-on, career-related experience in HDFS faculty research labs. For example, students assist in data collection at courthouses for a study of family court decisions about child custody in the context of intimate partner violence – a perfect opportunity for HDFS students who intend to pursue a career in family law or child/family advocacy.

4. Our goal is to help HDFS students develop a global perspective and awareness. How do we do this? Our students enroll in HDFS 220 Families in Global Perspective – and find it both challenging and eye-opening. Nearly half of our majors have at least one study abroad experience before they graduate – many, including students with physical disabilities that require wheelchairs, through the HDFS faculty-led service-learning trip to Cape Town, South Africa. Our students also work on faculty research projects with an international focus. For example, students assist on a research program on acculturation, globalization, and health among youth and families in Jamaica.

3. The Child Development Laboratory, housed in HDFS, has not only served families in the community with high-quality, evidence-based child care for 75 years (yes, 75 years!), it has had a significant impact on the teaching and research endeavors of faculty and students in six of the colleges on the U of I campus (i.e., ACES; Applied Health Sciences; Education; Engineering; Fine & Applied Arts; and Liberal Arts & Sciences) and the School of Social Work.

2. As they move toward earning their PhDs, HDFS graduate students develop strong skills in advanced quantitative statistical analyses and two forms of qualitative data collection and analysis, making them uniquely competitive on the job market!

1. Our department is ranked No. 2 of 52 PhD-granting HDFS departments nationwide!


ACES students enjoy an afternoon on the ACES Quad