Texas Tech University

College of Human Sciences to Introduce New Interdisciplinary Department

Mallory Collins

January 12, 2024

Interdisciplinary Human Sciences

The new department will integrate aspects of health and wellness from all areas in the college

*pending Board of Regents approval

The College of Human Sciences is introducing a new academic department, Interdisciplinary Human Sciences. This department will house current degree programs, including Family and Consumer Sciences Education degrees, along with the bachelor's and master's degrees in Human Sciences. This change is a cause of the growth and expansion of the college and the increased number of students pursuing pre-health pathways. 

Among the faculty members leading this new department is associate professor, Sara Dodd, Ph.D. Dodd also serves as the Master of Science in Human Sciences program director. She said the creation of this department was largely in response to what students are seeking and societal needs. 

“We are coming back to the holistic roots of home economics,“ Dodd said. “What does any scientific breakthrough matter if it cannot be leveraged for the benefit of society?”

Dodd describes this change as a full-circle moment for the college. Since the founding of the College of Human Sciences, then referred to as the School of Home Economics, there has always been a focus on every aspect of human health and wellness. From various fields including design, nutrition, human development, and business services, the College of Human Sciences continues to impact the human condition. 

The Human Sciences program began taking shape after the Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences, a non-teaching certification track, was renamed the Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences (BSHS) interdisciplinary degree in 2011. Beginning in 2016, the BSHS integrated courses, including Integrative Studies (INTS) 2310: Foundations in Integrative Studies and INTS 4350: Capstone in Integrative Studies, and served the need to immediately offer assessment-based courses into the degree while Human Sciences specific courses were being developed. In the same year, the Human Sciences minor was created and consisted of core courses within the college, including addiction studies, human development, financial literacy, and nutrition. 

In 2019, a partnership between Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) created a dual degree between the Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This interinstitutional degree plan was popular among pre-health students looking to pursue a nursing career. The Master of Science in Human Sciences (MSHS) was approved for enrollment in 2022. There are currently 13 students enrolled in the MSHS program. 

In December 2023, the Academic Council approved the new Interdisciplinary Human Sciences department. The next step of the process will go in front of the Board of Regents meeting in May of 2024. One of the main goals of this department is to reflect and respect the interdisciplinary nature of human sciences through cross-departmental research, teaching, and outreach. This department will continue to lead in interdisciplinary research and explore partnerships with the TTUHSC, empowering students in critical thinking, leadership, and communication skills to pursue multiple venues of health and wellness.

The College of Human Sciences incorporates health and wellness into every aspect of the college. From academic programs to community outreach initiatives, the college aims to make an impact in the lives of individuals and families locally and globally. Ashlee Brown, Ph.D., serves as an assistant professor of practice in the Human Sciences program and the assistant dean for undergraduate student services. Brown said that the College of Human Sciences IS health and wellness; and health and wellness IS interdisciplinary. 

“Each of our departments play a significant role in understanding the human condition from multiple perspectives: personal financial wellness, environmental wellness, physical wellness, mental wellness, etc,” Brown said. “The Interdisciplinary Human Sciences department is the study, education, and application of purposefully integrating these multiple perspectives for the purpose of holistic wellness.” 

The new Interdisciplinary Human Sciences department will provide a foundation of teaching and research that produces an understanding of wellness in how to care for people in every domain of their lives. This department distinguished itself through its intentional and strategic commitment to bringing together all the academic disciplines in the College of Human Sciences to foster broader and deeper learning and innovation.