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Courses Focused on Understanding Cultures

Penn State is committed to enhancing cultural competence, or the ability to understand and function within cultures other than your own. To this end, all undergraduates are required to take one course with a focus on U. S. cultures and one course with a focus on international cultures. To enhance the competitiveness of HDFS majors in dynamic job markets, the department requires an additional course focusing on U. S. cultures.

HDFS courses fulfilling the United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) requirements are below.  For a full list of courses, visit the University Bulletin.

Sexual Identity Over the Life Span (HDFS 250) icon-olus-circle

Concepts of affectional and sexual orientation over life span, with emphasis on lesbian and gay male personal, family, and community adaptation.

Reading Our Lives: Understanding Diversity and Human Development Through Memoirs (HDFS 254N) icon-olus-circle

An exploration of the way people and their environments interact to influence human development through memoirs and other personal narratives, and social science theory and research.

Intercultural Community-Building (HDFS 287) icon-olus-circle

An experiential introduction to negotiating differences in small groups, families, institutions, and communities.

  • Three credits
  • Multiple sections available
Family Development (HDFS 315) icon-olus-circle

Family functions over the life course; family from a multidisciplinary perspective, emphasizing adaptation and change.

Gender and Social Development (HDFS 405) icon-olus-circle

A review of gender-related patterns of social development over the lifespan, as influenced by biological, sociological, and psychological factors.

Racial and Ethnic Diversity and the American Family (HDFS 416) icon-olus-circle

This course will explore the nature and determinants of racial and ethnic variation in family processes in the United States.

Biocultural Studies of Family Organization (HDFS 417) icon-olus-circle

Study of variability in family organization with an emphasis on cultural and economic factors influencing household organization and family roles.

Family Change in the Global Economy (HDFS 469U) icon-olus-circle

Exploration of how family life, quality, and structures in each region of the world are affected by the new global economy.

Family Development in an Economic Context icon-olus-circle

Economic conditions influencing family functioning; familial effects on the economy; strategies to enhance work-family relations.