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CWFR Mission

The mission of the Center for Work and Family Research (CWFR) at Penn State is to promote excellence in research and education on issues at the intersections of work, family, and community. Established in January 2002, the Center encourages interdisciplinary collaboration on a broad array of research topics and approaches to the study of work and family from the vantage points of work organizations and of employees and members of their families, broadly defined. The CWFR facilitates research on professionals as well as low-income workers, women and men, and parents as well as nonparents.

Currently, one substantive, research thread focuses on implications of parents' work situations for family dynamics in dual-earner families with school-age children and adolescents. Another examines faculty members who are juggling family responsibilities and work, a study that combines a national survey with an ethnographic study involving "shadowing" faculty throughout the workday. Soon the CWFR will include a focus on the work circumstances of rural families with young children, as part of a new program project focused on children growing up in rural communities in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Research and graduate education are tightly intertwined. The CWFR involves graduate students from across campus in the life of the Center in the hope of stimulating the next generation of researchers in this area. By pulling students together from different disciplines, the Center hopes to encourage them to be open to interdisciplinary collaboration from the very beginning of their careers.

The goals of the CWFR, and the activities the Center has launched to address those goals, are as follows:

Promote Innovative, Interdisciplinary Research in the area of Work and Family
CWFR encourages and supports interaction and collaboration among Penn State faculty from different departments, colleges, and disciplines on research pertaining to work and family issues. Activities include:

  • Ongoing Faculty Study Group
  • Development and nurturance of groups with specific work-family foci
  • Speaker Series
  • Support for faculty travel to relevant meetings
  • Support for faculty research in the form of graduate research assistantships
  • Faculty Fellows Program - an opportunity for faculty to have a reduced teaching load in order to prepare a research proposal. The Center provides space for the fellow and consultation on proposal development.
  • Annual Penn State National Symposium on Family Issues - a two-day conference on a family topic of interest to scholars from multiple disciplines, program development staff, and staff from state and federal agencies.

Provide Opportunities for Graduate Research Training
One way to encourage innovative research is to train the next generation of work and family researchers to think across disciplines. Each year CWFR graduate assistants are recruited from departments across the university. They work with faculty in their home departments on work and family research, as well as on Center activities. The Center is also investigating relevant graduate courses from across the university. The CWFR will pull this information together and disseminate across departments in order to encourage graduate students to develop coherent expertise in the area.

Connect Faculty and Graduate Students to Companies and Organizations Interested in Work-Family Issues
As the CWFR grows, it will seek relationships with companies, consulting firms, unions, community organizations, policy makers, and state and federal agency staff with interests in work and family issues. Developing these relationships will help the Center identify important areas of future work-family research, explore possible sites for field research, and disseminate what we know.


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