Home Economics content draws from multiple disciplines, synthesizing these through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary inquiry. This coalescing of disciplinary knowledge is essential because the phenomena and challenges of everyday life are not typically one-dimensional. The content (disciplinary bases) from which studies of home economics draw is dependent upon the context, but might include: food, nutrition and health; textiles and clothing; shelter and housing; consumerism and consumer science; household management; design and technology; food science and hospitality; human development and family studies; education and community services and much more. The capacity to draw from such disciplinary diversity is a strength of the profession, allowing for the development of specific interpretations of the field, as relevant to the context. This disciplinary diversity coupled with the aim of achieving optimal and sustainable living means that home economics has the potential to be influential in all sectors of society by intervening and transforming political, social, cultural, ecological, economic and technological systems, at glocal levels. This is driven by the ethics of the profession, based on the values of caring, sharing, justice, responsibility, communicating, reflection and visionary foresight.
Home Economics can be clarified by four dimensions or areas of practice:
• as an academic discipline to educate new scholars, to conduct research and to create new knowledge and ways of thinking for professionals and for society
• as an arena for everyday living in households, families and communities for developing human growth potential and human necessities or basic needs to be met
• as a curriculum area that facilitates students to discover and further develop their own resources and capabilities to be used in their personal life, by directing their professional decisions and actions or preparing them for life
• as a societal arena to influence and develop policy to advocate for individuals, families and communities to achieve empowerment and wellbeing, to utilise transformative practices, and to facilitate sustainable futures.
To be successful in these four dimensions of practice means that the profession is constantly evolving, and there will always be new ways of performing the profession. This is an important characteristic of the profession, linking with the twenty-first century requirement for all people to be ‘expert novices’, that is, good at learning new things, given that society is constantly and rapidly changing with new and emergent issues and challenges.
The thread or essential ingredient that all subjects, courses of study and professionals identifying as home economists must exhibit has at least three essential dimensions:
The preferred name of the field of study and profession is ‘Home Economics’. Historical records of the Federation document the challenges various names, titles and terminology have posed for , including the complexity of translation. Internationally, the field of study has consistently retained the name Home Economics and is recognised both within and beyond the boundaries of the profession. The International Federation for Home Economics is committed to re-branding and repositioning, not renaming the profession. IFHe is the International Federation of Home Economics see www.ifhe.org or for the UK section, see www.ifhe.org.uk
Home Economics is a vital profession currently enjoying renewed attention in the present era. Our contemporary world is characterised as one of unprecedented transition from industrial to knowledge-based culture and globalised economy, with all encompassing effects on society and culture. The information age is complex, diverse and unpredictable, yet has a strong commitment to retaining those elements of society that are valued, while looking ahead to the imperative of improving the world in which we all live such that sustainable development is possible. Herein lies the potential for Home Economics and the reason for renewed attention to the field of study, as this is the key imperative of the profession.
Examples of enacting the transformative powers of Home Economics professionals include:
• Home Economics professionals were instrumental to instituting the 1994 International Year of the Family which centred ‘family’ as a political issue and has impacted on family life in many countries of the world
• Poverty alleviation, gender equality and social justice concerns are a priority of Home Economics professionals, with many projects and initiatives conducted in such areas
• IFHE is an International Non Governmental Organization (INGO), having consultative status with the United Nations (ECOSOC, FAO, UNESCO, UNISEF) and with the Council of Europe
• Home Economists partner with other Non-Governmental Organisations to improve the lot of families world wide. Specific areas of collaboration/cooperation include: Peace Education, gender issues/ women’s empowerment, women’s reproductive issues, HIV/AIDS, intervention projects for families in distress and other human rights issues
• Home Economists are active in lobbying for issues that will improve the well-being of a diversity of families and households
• Home Economists serve as consultants in major businesses and organizations dealing with personal home economics, care and consumer services. They are also active entrepreneurs in their own rights
• The current four-year theme on Sustainable Development for World Home Economics Day is a strong stand that impacts on family life positively
• Home Economists are strong advocates for individual and family wellbeing worldwide, evident in for example the development of relevant curriculum for schools and universities.