Home EconomicsHome Economics describes an area of study and a group of related professional occupations, both of which aim at improving the quality of life of individuals and families by encouraging the effective management of personal resources, eg, time, money and consumer goods.
The study of home economics, which is based on both social and physical sciences, originated at the turn of the century in the US at a series of meetings of academics and national leaders in Lake Placid, NY, who were seeking remedies for the social ills of the day. Ellen Richards, who advocated the idea of "applying science for use in everyday life", is considered by many to be the founder of the field. At the Fourth Lake Placid Conference in 1902 a committee developed the first and often quoted definition of home economics: "the study of the laws, conditions, principles and ideals concerned with man's immediate physical environment and his nature as a social being and specially the relation between those two factors." One of the members of this committee was a Canadian, Alice A. CHOWN of Kingston, Ont.
At the same time, in Canada, Adelaide HOODLESS was promoting the establishment of what was then called domestic science. She headed the first program at U of T and was founder of the Women's Institute (see FEDERATED WOMEN'S INSTITUTES OF CANADA), an organization that had a close association with home economics in its earlier days.
In high schools in some Canadian provinces the study of home economics is now called FAMILY STUDIES, reflecting an emphasis on the study of family living and family relationships. The 2 largest university programs in home economics are offered at U of Man and U of Guelph.
Graduates of 4-year degree programs in home economics (or equivalent programs) are eligible to join the national professional organization, the Canadian Home Economics Assn, and to work as home economists. Many graduates also join provincial and local organizations. The graduates are usually employed in professional or in business situations, eg, food companies, utility companies, supermarkets, home-equipment manufacturers, etc. Some home economists free-lance; others work in the media and in advertising, product promotion and testing.