Texas Tech University

Journey Abroad: Exploring Theories of Human Development and Family Sciences Through a Different Cultural Lens

Samantha Salazar

September 19, 2023

HDFS Study Abroad

Stephanie Shine, Ph.D. led a group of students in London as they learn about societal lifestyles and grow in cultural self-awareness.

Study abroad programs offer students a unique opportunity to expand their academic and personal horizons. Stephanie Shine, Ph.D., led a study abroad session in London where students could take HDFS 3301: Theories of Human Development and Family Sciences. This course addressed significant questions about human nature. Shine worked with students to explore some of the following question: How do we parent, educate, and support those who struggle?

"We cover major theories in human development and family sciences,” Shine said. “We look at the cultural context, impact, and application of theories to various aspects of human and family development. Students consider the implications of their own implicit theories of development.” 

One of the key moments during the course was a visit to a London foundling museum. During the visit, students considered the implications of attachment theory. They learned about ways other societies educate and care for people throughout their lives. Shine said she hoped this experience would allow students to increase their openness to other societal lifestyles and grow in cultural self-awareness. Students also learned about different approaches toward the end of life when they visited St. Christopher's Hospice.

"Our combined impressions, observations, and background knowledge really increased the richness of each experience, especially when we had different interpretations of what we had seen," Shine said. 

This course allowed students to view theories of human development and family sciences through a different cultural lens. The exposure to diverse perspectives aimed to expand their horizons and challenge their preconceived notions. Additionally, the study abroad experience transformed the students personally. Students said they became increasingly confident and competent travelers, taking the initiative to explore new places and navigate unfamiliar environments. Despite not knowing each other before the trip, the students formed close bonds and learned to work together as a cohesive group. They returned home with a strong desire to continue their travels and a new outlook on their lives back home.