Chair's Message

Welcome to Human Ecology

In Human Ecology, we offer students relevant, cutting-edge learning and research opportunities in topics that matter to families, communities, government, and industry.

Human Ecology is a multidisciplinary, applied field that focuses on the wellbeing of individuals and families within a range of social, cultural, and material environments. Practically, this means that in Human Ecology, we address contemporary topics and issues that are relevant and important to people, which I like to refer to as the perennial, practical problems of everyday life. For example, what clothing fibers are optimal for comfort across the seasons? What disciplinary strategies are linked with the best child outcomes? Which government policies best support families?

Although there are a range of disciplines in which we research and teach, there are a few important ideas that unify us. In Human Ecology we are interested in wellbeing, sustainability, inclusivity, and innovation. We strive to:

  • Evaluate and develop policies and programs to improve wellbeing for children, youth, families, and older adults;
  • Create and study textile innovation for safe, sustainable, inclusive, and comfortable clothing;
  • Design and study the built environments (i.e. homes, communities, cities & systems) in which we live;
  • Explore ways to create sustainable fashion business management.

 Our degree programs and research contribute to achieving many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including: good health and wellbeing; no poverty; decent work and economic growth; reducing inequality; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; and gender equality.

As you can see on our website, we offer undergraduate and graduate programs that provide students with opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills related to their interests in clothing and textiles, material culture, aging, family wellbeing, and sustainable fashion business management. Examples of our research and teaching include:

Children, Youth, Families & Aging

  • Positive family relationships including intimate couple relationship formation, development, and maintenance and good parenting skills
  • Successfully juggling paid work and unpaid family responsibilities
  • Empowering marginalized youth and families
  • Aging well: ensuring parents and grandparents have a good life as they age
  • Assistive technologies for caregivers
  • Stable, affordable accessible housing
  • Economics of aging and family/friend care
  • Conceptualization and measurement of family functioning
  • Social policy environments that lead to child and family wellbeing

Textiles, Clothing & Material Culture

  • Comfortable, safe and sustainable clothing
  • Historic and contemporary fashion
  • Development and retention of odour in textiles
  • Clothing comfort and protection in the workplace
  • Design of the places we live and work such as design environments for older adults/persons with disabilities
  • Relationships among objects, language, and personal, social, and cultural identity
  • Clothing consumption & sustainability

In our undergraduate programs, experiential learning plays a key role: a cornerstone of our program is a practicum that students complete in their last term in community sites such as non-profit organizations, government ministries, or businesses.

I think you will also be interested to learn about our unique research facilities and resources, including the Clothing and Textiles Collection, the Protective Clothing and Equipment Research Facility (PCERF), and the Textile Analysis Service.

The Department of Human Ecology has much to offer. I invite you to check us out through our website, or contact a professor whose interests align with yours. We would love to meet you, learn about your interests, and tell you more about who we are and what we do.