Central Michigan University (CMU)’s Dept. of Human Environmental Studies began with one sewing class taught in 1904 as Manual Arts. By 1909 courses were taught as Domestic Science and Arts and were held in the College Elementary Building. A two-year Manual Arts program for women was initiated in 1913 and taught under the title of Domestic Arts. Eighteen students were enrolled. In 1919 Domestic Science Arts was separated from Manual Arts and Rose Hogue was employed to teach Home Economics. She served as head of the program for 34 years.
In 1920 the student Home Economics Club was organized. It was very active. As of 1996 it had evolved into eight organizations, six related to areas of study and two honorary societies.
In 1925 the College Elementary Building burned down and the Home Economics Department was temporarily quartered in Ronan Hall, a girls’ dormitory. The Home Economics Department moved to the new Warriner Hall in 1926. The department remained there until 1948 when it was placed permanently in the Arts and Crafts Building, later named Wightman Hall. The Hall was finally renovated in 1989-1990 to accommodate computers.
The department curriculum expanded to a three-year life certificate in teaching in Home Economics in 1925. Also that year, the department officially became a department with two faculty teaching courses. By 1932 a four-year curriculum in Home Economics with a life certificate in teaching was offered. In 1941 a third faculty member was hired.
As early as 1929, a unique requirement for students seeking teacher certification was to take a course in Home Management and live for a period of time in a home to practice their skills. Initially, the president of the college and various faculty would open their homes so students could have this experience. In 1948 a large home was purchased and moved to the corner of Washington and Preston streets which became the Home Management House. It remained active until the late 1960s.
Over the years, the number of students enrolled in Home Economics courses increased dramatically. In 1913 there were 18 students, and by 1995 there were 6,057 students.
Course offerings in the early 1900s concentrated on the needs of managing the home and educating women to become Home Economics teachers for public schools. By the 1950s the needs of the family were recognized. Courses in Child Development, Family Relations, Family Finance, Housing and Home Furnishings, and Nutrition were added. During the 1960s a curriculum in Home Economic Family Life Education and an Interdisciplinary major in child development with an emphasis on pre-school education were offered. A Master’s degree in Home Economics and a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Home Economics were also available. In 1970 the name of the Department of Home Economics was changed to the Department of Home Economics, Family Life, and Consumer Education to reflex the changes in the department curriculum. In the 1970s and 1980s the curriculum expanded to include majors and minors in Dietetics, Food Service, Foods and Nutrition, Fashion Merchandising and Design, Textile Technology, and Interior Design. Students demanded career options other than teaching. The department’s name changed again in 1993 to the Department of Human Environmental Studies to indicate the progressive and relevant characteristics of the department. (This information was taken from History: Department of Human Environmental Studies, 1904-1996, written by Donna Poynor, a copy of which is in the collection.)