Global Consortium for International Family Studies

About the programme

The international team of educators forming the GCIFS has collaboratively designed a comprehensive and integrated program in International Family Studies primarily to be offered in online mode from September, 2013. The program will promote a rich intercultural learning experience through the participation of students from many countries in the courses, and through the opportunity for students to access international courses from their local base.

The strength of the program lies in the fact that it draws expertise from the partner Universities. This program will introduce students to the field of family studies from a global perspective. Students will gain an understanding of various theoretical and research approaches to the study of family, specifically, the eco-family systems perspective, the feminist perspective and the strengths perspective. Importantly, students will gain an understanding of the relevance and application of these various perspectives on family in varied cultural and national contexts. At the end of this course students will have an understanding of the way in which these theoretical perspectives and research on the family informs models of intervention in work with families.

Objectives of the International Family Studies Programme :

  • Explore a global focus on family studies.

  • Understand multiple theoretical perspectives on the family.

  • Investigate the linkages between micro and macro analyses of the family.

  • Enhance and apply their knowledge and skills in practice and policy advocacy in international family studies.

  • Develop and expand their intercultural competencies in academic, professional and personal contexts.

  • Apply non-judgmental approaches and critical thinking to specific academic, professional and personal contexts.

Rationale and context for offering International Family Studies Programme

Around the globe, families have long been recognized as basic units of society which perform essential functions and can serve as sources of stability, continuity and development. It has also been recognized that families are essential to the world's future as they provide the nurturing ground for the generations to come. However today, in every part of the world, families are experiencing the tremendous influences of the socio-economic-political changes brought about by globalization, technological developments and allied forces. These have posed new challenges to the family at two levels. At one level, they have affected the structure, functions and dynamics within the family system: the status, roles and power held by its members; and family norms and practices. At another level, these forces have adversely affected the family system's interaction with other systems in its environment and its ability to access community resources. These changes have also led to increasing mobility within countries and across countries which has no doubt generated new opportunities for many individuals and families and contributed to an improved quality of life.

However, for many families around the world, these changes have also meant displacement from their roots and loss of the safety net provided by the kinship system and the ethnic community. It has created scattered families and weakened interpersonal relationships between family members. However, in spite of the accelerated social change faced by contemporary families the world over, the family as a social system has in fact shown tremendous strength, resilience and capacity to change with changing times. Nevertheless, one must take cognizance of the fact that globalization has pushed a large number of families around the world into vulnerable situations, often leading to their marginalization and exclusion from social and welfare services. As a result, families today are in need of support to recognize their unique strengths and to bring a more equitable power balance within family relationships. They also need help in obtaining their entitlements from the larger systems in society.

That families warrant special attention and should be helped as much as possible, so that they can assume their responsibilities within the community was recognized by the architects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights decades ago while drawing up its provisions. Article 16(3) of the Declaration proclaims that "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State". The proclamation of 1994 as the UN International Year of the Family and subsequently, the decade from 1994 to 2004 as the UN Decade of the Family has reflected growing international recognition of and concern for the precarious situation of families in today's globalized world.

The UN International Year of the Family and the Decade that followed did achieve the goals of increasing awareness and understanding among both policy makers and civil society, about the unique role of families, the issues faced by them in contemporary times and the activities needed at the local and national levels to address these issues. It is also now recognized that despite the diversity of families even within countries, many of the issues faced by families and by the larger society are common to countries and regions. However, continued long term action includes reinforcing the relationship between family well-being and social development, facilitating societal conditions that are supportive of families, building families based on partnership and democracy and promoting family strengths and providing for family needs. Over the years, across the world, the field of family research and interventions has changed considerably in terms of its perspectives, complexity of its scope and the variety of professional expertise needed. This field today needs the combined efforts of family counselors, academicians, researchers, policy makers and families themselves. The United Nation's Year and the UN Decade for the Family also reaffirmed that international cooperation on family matters is valuable.

Employment or Volunteer Possibilities for graduates of the program:

  • Non-profit agencies that work with diverse families;
  • Government agencies/departments involving family and communities needs (internationally or locally)
  • International Schools/ centres having a Family Studies focus;
  • Institutes or universities teaching family studies courses with an emphasis on international family studies;
  • Join research teams studying families and communities anywhere in the world
  • United Nations organizations;
  • International business opportunities with a focus on family needs;
  • Mission work in other cultures
  • Refugee and immigration related employment in local or other communities
  • Consulates/Embassies with outreach projects related to families and communities

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