Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Sonya S. Meyer, Dept Head (105 Mary Hall Niccolls Family and Consumer Sciences Bldg. 83844-3183; phone 208/885-6546;

Faculty: Marilyn C. Bischoff, Laurel J. Branen, Myung-Hee Chae, Nancy Deringer, Michelle Eaton, Janice W. Fletcher, Sandra M. McCurdy, Sonya S. Meyer, Katie R. Miner, Suzanne M. Planck, Elizabeth A. Price, Martha A. Raidl, SeAnne J. Safaii-Fabiano, Cynthia J. Schmiege, Harriet L. Shaklee, Ling-Ling Tsao Susan J. Torntore. Affiliate Faculty: A. Larry Branen, Judith Brown, Mimi Hartman, Arlinda K. Nauman.

Family and consumer sciences focuses on the relationships, resources, and services contributing to individual and family well-being. The discipline analyzes the needs of individuals and families using social, psychological, physical, biological, economic, and aesthetic theories and concepts.

Three majors leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences (B.S.F.C.S.) are offered by the School of Family and Consumer Sciences and are designed to meet professional and individual goals of students. These are: (1) Child, Family, and Consumer Studies, (2) Food and Nutrition, and (3) Apparel, Textiles and Design.

Students may choose one of three program options in the child, family, and consumer studies major. Child and Youth Development relations focuses on the normal, healthy development of children and families. Family Life offers a general preparation in Family and Consumer Sciences that provides a foundation for further specialization.

The Food and Nutrition major offers the Dietetics and Nutrition options. The Coordinated Program in Dietetics includes a senior year experience in Spokane where students complete a supervised practicum in community and medical center settings. This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association, 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, IL 60606, 312/899-0040, ext. 5400. After successful completion of the program, students can take the national registration exam to become Registered Dietitians. The nutrition option prepares students for careers with government agencies, commodity groups, health and fitness agencies and businesses, and some components of the food industry. In addition, the course work would provide excellent background for those wishing to pursue advanced degrees in medicine or nutrition. The first two years of courses are very similar in these two options. Students apply for acceptance into the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the end of the sophomore year.

The Apparel, Textiles and Design major offers both apparel design and fashion merchandising emphases. Combining courses from art or business with the clothing, textile, and design courses offered in the school prepares students for careers in retail and wholesale sectors of the apparel and textile industries. Designers, product development specialists, retail buyers and managers, and merchandise managers are some of the career titles held by UI graduates.

Apparel, Textiles and Design Program Outcomes


  • Understand the global nature and scope of the industry and related sectors, including but not limited to design, production, buying and merchandising, and distribution.
  • Focus on fibers and textile materials and specifications relative to serviceability, quality, performance, and cost.
  • Understand and apply knowledge about key concepts such as target market, product development, the consumer, and the roles and functions of various contexts in which products are developed and consumed.

Product Development

  • Identify and interpret needs and wants of consumers and how industry processes are applied to plan, develop, produce, communicate, and sell profitable product lines.
  • Relate the elements and principles of design to product development, use, and evaluation and use the design process to create products that meet marketplace needs.
  • Demonstrate critical and creative thinking skills, and creative problem-solving skills, including the ability to critically evaluate and compare diverse perspectives.
  • Communicate ideas in written, verbal, and visual forms using appropriate technology.
  • Evaluate product quality, serviceability, and regulatory standards.

Understanding the Consumer

  • Understand, communicate and apply knowledge and research regarding appearance and human behavior, and about the complex nature of consumer behavior as it relates to aesthetic preferences, economic and purchasing decisions, and social, historical, and cultural factors.
  • Understand the concept of dress (as all of the supplements and modifications to the body) and its role as it reflects and shapes intra and inter-cultural and social interactions.
  • Apply knowledge about the interrelationships among historic and socio-cultural factors of dress and their impact on human behavior, including the effects of life stages, change across time, and culture.

Career Development and Professional Skills

  • Identify and evaluate issues of social responsibility, professional behavior, sustainability and ethics related to the impact of individual, organizational, and corporate decision-making.
  • Demonstrate the necessary skills for industry careers, including creativity, teamwork, attitude, ethics, goal setting, and career development.
  • Function as team members and leaders within professional and culturally diverse environments.
  • Apply concepts and integrate knowledge through practical learning experiences in meaningful workplace settings and various industry contexts.

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development and Education is offered jointly between the College of Education and the School of Family and Consumer Sciences. Coursework will prepare students to be recommended for Idaho Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Special Education (ECE/ECSE) Blended Teacher Certification. Students will be certified to teach children birth through grade three.

The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences offers graduate course work and research opportunities concerning individuals and families across their life spans. An integrated approach prepares students for the complexities of our global society through the analysis and application of relevant theories, practices, and research. Issues important to individuals and families, such as human development, consumption, resource management, education, aesthetics, and public policy, are studied in the context of cultural and physical environments.

Graduate students apply communication, analytical, evaluation, and synthesis skills to the study of families and consumers through classroom, practica, and research experiences. The school's Child Development Laboratory provides a special resource for both teaching and research activities. Internships in community agencies and business, practica in teaching and supervision, and graduate teaching and research assistantships also provide valuable graduate student experiences. Graduate student research is closely aligned with faculty interests that currently include work and family, quality child care, feeding young children, at-risk youth, financial management through the life span, sports nutrition, family and consumer sciences education, international textile trade patterns, and cultural aspects of dress. The program prepares students to be teachers in the public schools and community colleges; child or human development specialists in public and private organizations such as nonprofit and social services agencies, hospitals, child care centers, and the extension system; and for the future pursuit of the Ph.D. degree in family and consumer sciences, social work, education, or related fields.

The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences has an outstanding scholarship program for entering first-year students, continuing undergraduate majors, and graduate students. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence regardless of financial need.


See the course description section for courses in Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS).