Department of Human & Community Development | Illinois


Small Community with Big Opportunities

Susan Silverberg Koerner
The Department of Human and Community Development (HCD) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engages in teaching, research, and outreach to improve the lives of children, youth, and adults in the contexts of families, communities, and societies. The department creates an environment where these efforts are enriched by a multicultural perspective. HCD faculty recognize the diversity of cultures and classes in American society, and this perspective prepares students to address contemporary social issues.

Teaching. Our faculty regularly earn campus and national awards for outstanding teaching. Our teaching assistants that provide support to students outside of the classroom and in small discussion sections routinely are rated as among the best TA's on campus. In recent years, Dr's. Jennifer Hardesty and Ramona Oswald earned a national awards for teaching excellence. Lyndal Khaw, a graduate student earned a campus award for teaching.

Study Abroad. There are many opportunities for our students to study abroad. We sponsor two short programs in South Africa and Brazil where are students get experience learning the culture and understand the needs of children and families in poverty. Currently, about 30% of our students have participated in study abroad sometime during their four years and more are participating every year.

Undergraduate Research experience. About 50% of our undergraduate students go on to graduate school. During their undergraduate program they have many opportunities to work with graduate students and faculty on important scientific questions about children and families. Close to 50% of our undergraduate students participate in at least one research opportunity.

Undergraduate Program. Our program in Human Development and Family Studies prepares students for careers working with children, adolescents and families. Students have the opportunity to work with children, families, and professionals in the Child Development Laboratory, the Child Care Resource Service, the Family Resiliency Center, The Autism Program and numerous social service, child assistance and family social service agencies. This hands on experience complements classroom instruction.

Graduate Program. This program prepares students for careers in higher education, social service administration and public policy settings. Our students are involved in significant research activities and have the opportunity to participate in outreach work that translates research to practice. We have advanced research facilities for studying children in our Child Development Laboratory. We have a unique family observation research facility at the Family Resiliency Center that allows for intricate study of family interactions in a home-like atmosphere. There is support for students in terms of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships. Our students complete their programs with many awards, publications and other important achievements.

Research. Our faculty are among the top scientists studying children and families in the world. They focus on significant societal issues. Our work could be described as “science with a social conscience.” Faculty are interested in the most challenging basic scientific issues, but they are always asking how this information can be applied or how they can make a difference.

Preparation of Advanced methods in unique laboratory facilities. Faculty and students are engaged in developing and mastering the most sophisticated quantitative and qualitative methods available to social and behavioral scientists and to practicing these skills in state-of-the-art laboratories.

Collaborative and collegial Interactions. Professor Isabel Bevier, a pioneering scientist in 1900, noted that the wide-open Illinois prairie provided “no boundaries” and this characterized the faculty’s intellectual orientation as well. Our faculty work across disciplines, programs, methodologies and they work with colleagues across settings, departments and institutions.

Faculty with Major Scientific Leadership Roles. Our faculty are not only excellent researchers and scholars, but they are also leaders in the scientific community. They are recognized by their peers for awards and hold elective office. They are invited to give lectures at major national meetings and at universities across the world. They serve as editors of the major journals in the field.

Outreach & Extension. Our faculty are not content to just find out more about children and families, they want to improve their lives. We have a long tradition of creating unique educational resources and programs for helping families. For the past 15 years our faculty have been especially interested in creating web-based educational resources. Dr. Aaron Ebata has been at the forefront of educating parents online with the latest version being, Parenting 24/7. Parents who are interested in managing work and life issues more effectively can gain information from Intentional Harmony.

In addition to these online educational programs, our Department was one of the pioneers in providing information and resources to parents about child care. From the humble beginnings of a telephone and desk in the hallway staffed by a part-time person, the Child Care Resource Service today is one of the national leaders in innovative methods of providing resource and referral services to families. Similarly, The Autism Program provides information, consultation, and training for families who have children with an autism, as well as for professionals who serve these families.

Another long-time feature of the Department is working with Family Life Extension Educators across Illinois who are adept at providing community-based educational programs to fit the specialized needs of family members. These educators have developed unique skills for reaching undeserved rural and urban families who often would not have the opportunity to learn about children and families.

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