How to teach family policy
by Dorotho O Rombo

To teach family policy is
To show that even if you are not interested in politics, politics is interested in you
To know ideologies, their roots and values
To debate both sides and even more
To question and understand underlying assumptions
To identify the stakeholders

To teach family policy is
To explain dominance in the construction of knowledge
To show the association between family theories and policy
To determine the negative unintended consequences
To connect functions and cause

To teach family policy is
To politicize problems and how they are solved
To show that it is a cultural expression, not science per se
To debunk the myth of neutrality
To appreciate the skills of persuasion, mediation, collaboration and confrontation

In the end, to teach family policy is
To center families
To ask how they are impacted
To ask how they can be part of the solution
To ask how they might have contributed
To infuse science into policy practice
To prove that all policies are indeed family policy

IMAGE: No. 112 (Woodblock print, 2003) by Funasaka Yoshisuke.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a course so dear to my heart and each semester that I teach it I strive to make it relatable to everyday life. It is in striving to achieve this goal that I have conceptualized a poem to capture the themes of the class. I share this poem with my students at the beginning of every class and have them react to it, and then have them read it again at the end of the course and ask again for their impressions. It is a learning tool and a way to motivate students to be curious about policy.

rombo copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dorothy O Rombo is an associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the department of human ecology, State University of New York at Oneonta. She holds a Ph.D. in Family Social Science with a minor in family policy from the university of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has extensive experience in higher education, both internationally and in the US. Her research interest is centered on vulnerable populations, including international families, women, children, gender and sexual minorities. Her theories of preference are human ecology and family strength perspective. She has published on different topics regarding these populations. List of publications.