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Our Commitment

The HDFS department is committed to cultivating inclusion and strengthening diversity in all forms as described in the University Diversity Plan. Our diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice goals include:

  • Develop and coordinate active recruitment and retention programs for undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty from diverse backgrounds, historically excluded groups, and/or with interests in issues related to identity, diversity, and justice.
  • Promote HDFS research that aims to understand marginalized populations, the needs of underserved groups, and diversity in development, and apply such knowledge to address real-world issues.
  • Grow the knowledge base and awareness of cultural competence, systems of oppression, and principles of inclusion among faculty, graduate students, administrative professionals, and classified staff.
  • Invite diverse perspectives to contribute to departmental activities and leadership.
Outside group photo of the DEIJ Committee


Our research focuses on varied topics such as emotion regulation, healthy aging, peer mentoring, healthy development of children with disabilities, interventions for substance abuse, and positive intergenerational family relationships. The below researchers are just a few in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies who are exploring topics related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.

Melissa Fenton’s research aims to reduce behavioral health disparities in historically underserved adolescents and young adults. Her main research focus is on preventing behavioral health problems among rural adolescents and young adults. Additionally, she studies the behavioral health and well-being of LGBTQ+ adolescents and young adults. She led a recent study examining the associations between regional levels of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. and depressive symptoms among LGBTQ+ college students in a nationally representative sample.

Program director of our Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Program Toni Zimmerman supports and leads the program’s mission to train students to provide ethical, multiculturally-informed, evidence-based, and systemically oriented therapeutic services for a diverse population of individuals, couples, and families within a variety of professional settings. Students provide mental health services to mentees in the Campus Connections program, which helps youth in the community experiencing adversity.

Ana Gutierrez-Colina’s research aims to improve the health and well-being of youth and families from historically underserved and marginalized backgrounds. Her interests are at the intersection of socioemotional, cognitive, and contextual factors that underlie health behavior and health behavior change. She studies how health barriers such as depressive symptoms function as mechanisms and potential intervention targets for core health behaviors (sleep, physical activity, eating) with a focus on Hispanic youth and families living in rural areas.

Led by investigators Deborah Fidler and Lisa Daunhauer, the Developmental Disabilities Laboratory uses developmental science to understand how individuals with differing abilities learn and grow. The lab researches how areas of strength and vulnerability emerge during the earliest years of development, and how to identify children who are at risk for additional difficulties and diagnoses. They use the information they generate to create new approaches and innovations for families, caregivers, service providers, and educators.


We support diverse youth, families, and older adults and promote positive mental and behavioral health outcomes.

RAM Scholars is an inclusive college program for adults with an intellectual disability who would like to build career-related skills. The program offers inclusive training with individualized support in the field of agricultural sciences and related STEM fields to individuals with intellectual disabilities who are 18 years or older.

We provide services that promote the well-being of children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families while creating a safe environment that honors diverse backgrounds, family forms, and experiences. We do not discriminate or refuse services to anyone on the basis of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

The Prevention Research Center is a trans-disciplinary center committed to studying the development, implementation, and evaluation of effective intervention programs that promote individual and family health and wellness and aim to reduce the risk for problems such as substance misuse, physical and mental health issues, and violence. The four divisions of the PRC are Healthy Schools, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Healthy Aging, and Community-University Partnership.

Teaching & Learning

This is a sampling of Human Development and Family Sciences courses with DEIJ content. We also have a new concentration for “Leadership and Advocacy,” which guides students who are preparing for leadership in organizations that promote the optimal development of individuals and families, with a focus on equity and inclusion.

HDFS 434 - Risk and Resilience Across the Lifespan

This course covers why some individuals are at high risk for poor developmental outcomes, and why certain individuals fare well despite such risks or adversities. Strong developmental emphasis because resilience is viewed as a process, the results of which may not be manifest for years. There is an ecological emphasis because protective and vulnerability factors often reside in families, schools, neighborhoods.

HDFS 403 - Families in the Legal Environment

This course covers the intersection of individuals, children, families and the legal system, including the balance between the right to privacy and government intervention, and social disparities in the legal system. Topics include: establishing the legal parent relationship, adoption, the rights of children and parents, marriage, divorce, dependency and neglect, family violence, disability and estate planning, juvenile delinquency, legalities of gender, and landlord/tenant and housing policy.

HDFS 360 - Leadership Through Peer Mentoring

This course works directly with the HDFS peer mentoring program, which is one-to-one peer mentoring with first-year, underrepresented HDFS students to support their successful transition to the university and department.

HDFS 317 - Disabilities in Early Childhood Education

This course covers recommended practices for fostering development of young children with disabilities, knowledge of atypical development in early childhood (birth through grade 3); practices for assessment, intervention, adapted instruction and materials; and inclusive environments to facilitate children’s attainment of educational goals.

New Leadership and Advocacy Concentration

Get Involved

We value and encourage participation by students of diverse backgrounds in our department activities. Check out these opportunities for ways you can get involved.

For our first-generation students and/or students of color, this year-long program will provide you with a supportive community to help you successfully navigate your transition to college. If you are already a student in HDFS, you can apply to be a mentor in this program.

Campus Connections is a powerful campus-based therapeutic mentoring program for youth, ages 10-18, who have experienced adversity. In our program, youth are paired in one-on-one mentoring relationships with undergraduate Colorado State University students through a 3-credit upper division course (HDFS 470A). Apply to be a youth or a mentor in this program.

Student Outreach and Undergraduate Leadership is a student-run organization that is aimed at developing leadership among HDFS students. Members work with the community through a variety of leadership and service projects gaining valuable skills along the way.

Gerontology Club opens opportunities for intergenerational connections and conversations to residents and students alike. The club seeks to volunteer with older adults and local organizations as well as to learn about issues and disparities in aging.

  • 32% First-Generation Students
  • 31% of Students Identify as Diverse
  • 15% Non Traditional Students

HDFS Diversity News