Introduction to the Department of Child Development and Family Studies, Tzu Chi University
The Department of Child Development and Family Studies of Tzu Chi University (hereinafter “the Department”) was launched with government approval in 2001. The Department began official student recruitment in 2002, and in the second term of the 2006 school year, faculty integration with the Early Childhood Care and Education Department of Tzu Chi College of Technology (TCCT) was completed. Currently, it has about 160 students. Headed by Professor Chang Ying-peng, the faculty includes (1) full-time staffers: Associate Professors Lee Hui-chuan , Cheng Ya-li; Assistant Professors Shih Shu-chuan, Lo Ting-ying, Lee Shiue-ling, Ho Rui-yao Annie, Jang Li-fen Anne and Hu Mei-chih; and (2) part-time staffers: including Associate Professor Chang Mei-chuan from TCCT’s Department of Nursing; Lecturers Wu Wen-ying, Bruce Liao (a.k.a. “Mr. Bull”), Chiang Chun, etc. Both the full- and part-time staffers have been increasing in number over the years.
Families are a society’s building blocks, and children the hope of mankind. As the Taiwanese social and family structures have changed so drastically in the midst of ever-intensifying commercialization, in order to rekindle fresh concerns over family and childhood education, the Department makes compassionate efforts to meet the country’s demand for vocationally competent, humanity-minded professionals in pre-school childcare, family studies, child counseling and special education.
The Department aims to nurture professionals capable of providing preschool education and childcare, family studies, child counseling and special education.
Three Core Competencies Required of Students
- Vocational expertise regarding child development, family studies and special education;
- Instruction and solution architecture;
- Teamwork and coordination skills.
The Department develops talents with:
- Knowledge of child development and early childhood care and education (ECCE);
- Capabilities of planning family studies events and raising awareness accordingly;
- Basic abilities of child development and family studies;
- Capabilities of child counseling and special education;
- Expertise in family studies;
- Professionalism in children and family services.
As Taiwan’s family structure and functions undergo dramatic social transformation, raising concerns over childhood education and family adaptation, the Department harnesses all of its resources to develop, with equal emphasis on theory, practice and culturally diverse knowledge, a caring, service-oriented curriculum that contributes to the education of families with an indigenous heritage, single or absent parents, disabled members, low incomes or new immigrant spouses.
Detailed below are the development objectives of the Department:
- Introducing certified training programs or course groups regarding ECCE, child counseling and special education, or family studies;
- Encouraging teachers to participate in workshops held by Tzu Chi University or other organizers, seeking improvement in ECCE, family studies, child counseling or special education skills;
- Offering symposiums on child development and family studies to help both the faculty and students sharpen their research skills in related disciplines;
- Perfecting solutions to quality instruction and research so that the faculty can satisfy Hualien and Taitung areas’ needs for ECCE, child counseling, special education and family studies;
- Expanding the alumni association in order to not only ensure that the vocational courses meet actual workplace needs, but also keep graduates updated with the progress in educational theories and practices;
- Organizing family studies awareness campaigns and workshops through the family resource room;
- As part of the regional outreach effort, integrating Tzu Chi University’s internal and external resources for giving academic advice to underprivileged children as well as professional assistance to teachers in far-flung areas.
I. Diversified knowledge
- Course groups: The Department’s three course groups are ingeniously designed to instill diversified, professional knowledge among students;
- Workshops: Knowledge enhancement workshops are available continuously so the faculty can further demonstrate its professionalism and grow expertise-wise;
- Academic research: Integrated research projects are conducted to address topics about child development and family studies;
- Efficient use of resources: With expertise in education and communication, the Department works with additional resources from Tzu Chi University’s College of Medicine to foster humanity-minded talent specializing in healthcare, education and communication.
II. Service learning opportunities
- Community services: The Department partners with social administration and education organizations to offer education, among other types of support, that meets the specific needs of each disadvantaged family.
- Transforming classrooms into babysitter’s licensure exam venues: The Department dedicates certain classrooms to studies of children or family welfare and uses them as venues for babysitter’s licensure exams.
- Neighborhood partnership: Child welfare or family studies initiatives are implemented through long-term partnership with childcare and family welfare facilities across Hualien;
- Service learning as part of the curriculum: By incorporating the service learning and elements of the neighborhood’s diverse cultural heritage into a curriculum that marries theory and practice, the Department nurtures the next generation of education-savvy citizens in a culturally diverse society.
III. Global perspectives
- Overseas volunteering projects: Both the faculty and students are encouraged to volunteer for charitable projects worldwide to broaden their horizons;
- Cross-border academic exchanges: The Department makes all-out efforts to seek partnerships and scholastic cooperation with overseas research institutes.
◆ Department Goals
- Creating the Tzu Chi Family Resource Center to help solve East Taiwan’s child development and family-related problems, notably the counseling and assistance for groups with special needs, underprivileged or aboriginal members;
- As part of Tzu Chi University’s cross-disciplinary integration effort, the Department will build a counseling website that takes a multi-dimensional approach to child development and family studies, instruction, advice, extension services and research projects;
- Introducing courses, workshops or training programs that contribute to learning-oriented families and related professionals’ career growth;
- Developing teaching materials, training programs, databases and cross-border research projects for child development and family studies as worldwide facilities;
- Nurturing highly qualified researchers through graduate programs.
◆ Faculty Enhancement and Extension Services
The excellence of an undergraduate program is reflected in the instructional results, as well as students’ character and competencies. The Department plans to improve this part by taking actions in the following areas:
- Academic research: Besides seeking central or local government subsidies to bolster its faculty members’ respective specialties, the Department is committed to academic studies by working alongside research institutes worldwide;
- Faculty enhancement: Distinguished teachers will be recruited from across Taiwan and beyond;
- Curriculum and instruction: Teachers are encouraged to not only comply with government policies but also take a creative, multimedia approach in pursuit of instructional excellence and curriculum development;
- Extension services: In addition to working as an academic publisher, the Department earnestly seeks partnerships with Tzu Chi affiliates and other NGOs in its neighborhood to offer advice for, and solutions to, educational issues for the community and disadvantaged families. Extension courses, including credit-awarding ones, will also be available for parents and children alike.
◆ Career Prospects for Students
- Family studies professionals;
- ECCE workers: ECCE professionals, babysitters, babysitter support system inspectors, or early intervention ECCE staff;
- Marriage and family therapists or counselors;
- Professionals in children-related sectors:
(1) Children’s TV production staff (for Da Ai Television, Taiwan Public Television Service, YOYO TV, etc.)
(2) R&D workers for teaching aids, toys and children’s media (e.g., computer literacy courses, websites for kids and Kiddie’s Paradise);
(3) Publishers of children’s books, magazines, newspapers and other printed media (e.g., Mandarin Daily News, Hsin-Yi Foundation, preschool education-themed publications and Mom Baby);
(4) Developers of teaching materials for kindergartens, elementary schools, etc.
- Counselors or children/social welfare workers;
- State-certified public servants (e.g., education administrators or ECCE professionals);
- Counselors at nonprofit organizations;
- High-school teachers (after completing Center for Teacher Education’s training program);
- Pursuing advanced studies.