Home economics, in its early beginnings (circa 1989), is a discipline whose basic mission is that of helping individuals and families improve their lives. The nomenclature "home economics" was adopted at the first Lake Placid Conference by a committee composed of eight educators and scientists. It was derived from the Greek word "oikonomia", which means household management.
In 1902, during the fourth Lake Placid Conference, the home and family was established as the focus of study in home economics. The subject matter for home economics was then defined to include "(a)four forms of knowledge-laws, conditions, principles and ideals-and (b)three kinds of content to know-one's immediate physical environment, one's nature as a social being, and especially the relation between the two" (Florencio, 1995; East, 1980).
To date, home economics remains true to its basic mission to "improve individual and family life amidst changing social, political, economic and physical conditions" (Gabriel, 1998). In 1996, the University of the Philippines-College of Home Economics faculty collectively defined home economics as “the study of families and the management of resources available to them for the satisfaction of basic needs in changing environments” (UP CHE, 1996).
Home Economics is unique in its holistic view of daily living. The issues and concerns about daily living of individuals and families are approached both from its physical or material and relational dimension of life and their interaction (Florencio in Gabriel, 1988). This comprehensive view of home economics gave rise to several sub-disciplines and professional careers, which include home economics education, family life and child development, clothing technology, interior design, food science, nutrition, and hotel and restaurant administration. These sub-disciplines remain rooted to the home economics discipline because of its focus on serving families, individuals and consumers in their day-to-day lives (Gabriel).
East, M. (1980). Home economics: past, present and future. Massachussets: Allyn & Bacon, Inc.
Florencio, C. (1995). Families and home economics (Not by bread alone but neither without it). Monograph Series No. 1. Quezon City: UP CHE.
Gabriel, F. (1998). The role and contribution of home economics to national development. The U.P. Home Economics Journal. 25(25-33).
Related Article: McGregor, S. (2006). Sustaining home economics in the 21st century: Root system as metaphor. Keynote address during the First International Home Economics Congress.