In Fall of 2014, Department of Communication assistant professors Colleen Colaner and Haley Horstman co-founded the Institute of Family Diversity and Communication (IFDC). Through their research on family communication, Colaner and Horstman came to understand that society is rapidly changing in ways that affect family relationships. Families are defining themselves differently and are being formed through complex legal, social, and voluntary ways. This changing nature of families challenge what society assumes to be a “normal” family. Families are now created through a variety of pathways, including but not limited to: adoptive families, foster families, divorced and stepfamilies, families facing fertility issues, LGBTQ families, multiethnic families, interfaith families, and families with a member with a disability.
In response to these important issues currently surrounding families, Colaner and Horstman created the IFDC. The IFDC is an interdisciplinary working group of researchers examining issues facing modern families. The IFDC acknowledges the legitimacy of all family relationships as pillars of the community, and strives to give these families a voice at the university, community, state, and national levels.
The IFDC serves as a hub for innovative research on families created through diverse pathways. Currently, there are 12 researchers from 9 departments across 5 MU colleges as well as several graduate students who have joined the IFDC. Creating interdisciplinary ties is important for fostering research collaboration among the many researchers at Mizzou studying pressing issues of family diversity.
This year, the IFDC is building momentum by reaching out to and involving researchers of family relationships from all over campus and the community. They are creating ties through important community organizations such as Cub Hub, a service that offers childcare free of charge to student-parents in the community. One of their current projects is to create a working database of potential participants for the diverse research efforts of members of the Institute.
For more information about the IFDC, please check out the website at https://ifdc.missouri.edu/. On the website are details about the IFDC, along with write-ups about the current members, information about and news concerning current research studies in diverse families, resources for diverse families, and contact information.
IFDC Co-Founders and Research Associates
L to R: Jessica Rick, Ryan Maliski, Leslie Nelson, Dr. Colleen Colaner, Dr. Haley Horstman, & Lexie Hays