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Childhood Studies is a rising academic field of study exploring the complex, lived-experiences of children through a multidisciplinary lense. Childhood Studies provokes students to consider critical questions regarding difference, power, privilege and subjectivity while also appreciating children as agents of culture and worthy of rights.

Open to all UVM undergraduates, the Childhood Studies (CHS) minor offers a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to understanding and appreciating children and the social and cultural constructions of childhood. Core courses plus a range of elective courses enable students to individualize their academic experience while drawing on the expertise of faculty from across the university.

Activate Your Learning

  • Explore the current challenges facing children locally, nationally, and globally.
  • Recognize your role as social justice advocate in promoting thriving children, families and communities.
  • Apply knowledge and theory in the real world through civic learning and service learning.
  • Engage with current research.
  • Function as an agent of positive social change and justice.

Coursework (18 credits)

The 18-credit minor includes 9 credits at the 2000-level and higher. Core courses include an existing 3-credit Critical Childhood Studies course (EDEC 1010) and a new 3-credit Advocacy in Action capstone experience course (EDEC3070). Coursework also includes Child Development, Early Childhood Education, and Interdisciplinary electives selected to explore aspects of Childhood Studies from various social science and interdisciplinary perspectives. Students may double dip one interdisciplinary elective withtheir major requirements if allowable by the student’s major.

The curated sequence of coursework begins with EDEC 1010: Movie Night: Critical Childhood Studies that introduce essential themes and approaches to social science inquiry.

Next, students then choose a developmental course with scientific grounding in how children grow and change, develop brain architecture, construct knowledge about the world, and create relationships as the foundation for future learning, behavior, and health.

Students select from a variety of interdisciplinary electives with a civic learning experience and opportunities to explore how children learn and construct knowledge about the world. Electives include courses from fields such as ANTH, CSD, ECSP, ECLD, EDHE, EDSP, GEOG, GSWS, HDFS, PSYS, SOC, and STAT.

The sequence ends with a variable-credit capstone experience (EDEC 3070: Advocacy in Action) where students apply their learning in advocacy of children’s rights, education, and/or welfare. The capstone supports students in conducting inquiry and action research in an area of identified need while working in partnership with community organizations to serve children (such as schools and childcare programs) or on behalf of children to improve public policies (such as The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance).

Course sequence - 18 credits

Introductory Course (required):

  • EDEC 007/1070 D2/S1: Movie Night-Critical Childhood Studies (3 credits)

Developmental Knowledge (choose one):

  • EDEC 063/1630: Child Development (3 credits)
  • HDF 005/1050: Human Development (3 credits)
  • PSYS 150/2400: Developmental Psych: Childhood (3 credits)

Early Childhood Electives (choose one or two)

  • EDEC 1010 D2/GC2: Intro to Early Care and Education (with Civic Learning 4 credits)
  • EDEC 2130 AH1: Creative Arts and Movement
  • EDEC 2510 SU: Science of Everyday Life
  • EDEC 3810: Inquiry-Based Pedagogy

Capstone (required):

  • EDEC 3070: SL/GC2/WIL2: Advocacy in Action (variable 3-6 credits)


  • Lauren MacKillop, M.Ed., C.A.S., Early Childhood Education
  • Kaitlin Northey, Ph.D., Early Childhood Education
  • Kate Cowles, M.Ed., Early Childhood Education
  • Elizabeth Fincher, Ph.D., Early Childhood Education
  • Alexia Buono, Ph.D., Early Childhood Education
  • Additional interdisciplinary faculty participants in ANTH, CSD, Education, GEOG, HDFS, PSYS, SOC, STAT

Outcomes for Students

  1. Students will demonstrate a complex and competency-based view of childhood, including how children are influenced by culture and also function as social agents in their own right.        
  2. Through readings, activities, assignments and field work, students will evidence increased awareness of and appreciation for how socially, culturally and physically diverse backgrounds and experiences shape children’s lives.
  3. Students will develop knowledge and actionable skills in the areas of child development, social science, care and education that is relational, inclusive, multidisciplinary, pluralistic, anti-bias, and anti-racist.
  4. Students will interrogate and advocate for children’s needs and rights in a final capstone experience, by pursuing a community-engaged action research project designed to benefit children.



Contact Us

Please feel free to reach out to the CESS Student Services Office for help!