Archive for the ‘Conferences and Events’ Category

Written by Jay Deagon PhD
Home Economics Lecturer, CQUniversity
IFHE Member, Asia Pacific Region



IFHE Asia Pacific Members

This is my story about a recent trip to Daejeon, South Korea, to attend the XXII International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) World Congress 2016, Daejeon Convention Centre (Sunday July 31 to Saturday August 6, 2016). The conference theme “Hope and Happiness: the role of Home Economics in the pursuit of Hope & Happiness for individuals and communities now and in the future”. I loved this theme – it aligns perfectly with my personal, professional and research interests.

Arriving in Korea
dsc_0014My first impression of South Korea was… wow… this is hot! I am from South-East Queensland, Australia, where in summer we experience 35 degree heat quite frequently, but the humidity in Korea was something else. I had just come from a 10 degree winter in Brisbane. Heat haze now clouded the view and sweat poured down my neck.

After finding out I had just missed a train, I made my way to the bus terminal to find a bus to Daejeon. I thought, simple, buy a ticket, get on a bus. Alas no. My bus was not scheduled until 5.40pm. Travel tip – when you buy a train or bus ticket in South Korea, you buy an allocated seat – you don’t just jump on a bus.

Friendly people

The next thing that struck me was how extremely friendly and helpful the Korean people are. After being forcibly removed from 3 busses with several curt “next one, next one” from the bus drivers, two lovely humans asked if I was ok. I was obviously hot and flustered at this stage. It was one of these lovely smart humans who asked where I was from and looked at my watch – my watch said 6pm – “see” I said, “I have missed my bus”. Rooky mistake! The gentleman realised that my watch was still on Australian time. He helped me fix my watch. I still had 30 minutes to wait.

Ahhh, blessed air-conditioning. Finally, riding on the bus, I could sit back and survey the landscape. I have experienced Asian drivers before (Hong Kong and Bangkok), I was not surprised at the speed and swerving; however, going through the bridge tolls at 100 kilometres an hour where the sign said 10 klms made me giggle nervously to myself.

Food growing everywhere

dsc_0248-3Along the road I saw that every spare space from Incheon Airport to Daejeon, even between the high-rise apparent blocks, was dedicated to growing food – rice, corn, grapes, green leafy vegetables, and cows. Shade cloth domes and open vegetable patches, together with dilapidated 20ft shipping container homes, were dotted every few kilometres. I couldn’t help reflect how lucky I am to live in a developed country. During the 3 hour journey, I think I fell asleep. All of a sudden, bright flashing lights pierced my eye balls from behind closed lids. Daejeon, I had arrived. Alighting the bus, I asked my driver where to catch a taxi. He pointed to a door. I went through that door. I was completely, disorientated. Saturday night in Daejeon was totally pumping! It was 8.40pm. Buses are very punctual apparently.

My special taxi ride

dsc_0257I rummaged in my bag to locate my hotel reservation form because I knew it was written in Korean. I stood in the taxi line. I jumped in a cab and handed over my hotel reservation. My taxi driver said “no, no, out”. I got out of the taxi with a bewildered look on my face. Again, wonderful Koreans came to my rescue. I obviously looked like an intruder – only person with lily white skin, blonde hair and suitcases in the whole street. The passenger in the taxi behind me put his window down, asked if I was ok and where I was going. I handed him my hotel reservation form which he duly gave to his taxi driver. He then opened his door, got out, put my suitcase in the boot of his taxi, and said “have a good stay in Daejeon”. My hero!

My new taxi driver could speak English. He was also wonderful – he knew where the ICC Hotel was. On our way, he made sure that I knew that the American Basketballer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was Korean – in my brain I’m thinking ummmm Abdlu-Jabbar is American? But I let him have that one. He also told me that many Koreans play for the American Major League in Baseball. We chatted and then he realised that I was not American. I was Australian. This changed everything. “Oh, kangaroos, do you eat them?” Yes – but not often. He said that it was very distressing that Australian people didn’t treat their Indigenous people very well. He was obviously right up there with Aboriginal and Torrs Straight Islander news! He also said something about our Prime Minister along the lines of dsc_0160-3Tony Abbot and stupid. I didn’t argue. I told him that I lived in a special place where koalas lived in my trees. It was my responsibility to look after the wildlife near my home. He was very impressed. I just happened to have some eucalyptus lollies in my handbag. I offered him one – so he could taste what Koalas eat. He accepted my offer and went very silent. I said he could throw it out if he didn’t like it. Quite the opposite apparently, he really enjoy the taste of koala food. 20 minutes later, we arrive at the ICC Hotel. He gets out of the taxi, gets my bags out, opens my door and asks me to stay in Korea more often because I see beauty in everything and that I was a truly beautiful person. I felt rather humbled and blessed and hit by the sound of cicadas!!

The ICC Hotel

dsc_0020-3I checked into my hotel. My room looked like the builders had finished it the day before. I spied a personal propelling harness and window breaker next to my bed. This didn’t instil much confidence in my new home. At least I only had to propel myself out the window and down three floors. I pitied the people in the Lotte Hotel next to me, in case of fire, they had 20 floors to drop down. I tried to put thoughts of a fiery death from my mind. I was hungry. I went for a walk. The streets were now deserted. It was still HOT and HUMID and 10:00pm! What to eat? I went for a walk and found a…… STARBUCKS. I wasn’t expecting that. Passionfruit and mango smoothie and a cheesy bagel for dinner it was. So much for my promise to my sister that I would eat exotic Korean food at every opportunity. Ooops. Sorry Sis. Exhausted from a long flight, 5 hour stopover in Changi Airport, another long flight, a long bus trip, I slept like log for the next 12 hours.

Catching-up with the Aussies

dsc_0102-3Breakfast – I hear Australian voices and I see faces from all over the world gathered in the hotel restaurant!! Yay! I have arrived. Greeted by my friends Andrew McVittie (Gold Coast) and Tony Worsley (Melbourne) I had breakfast in good company. IFHE Conference has begun. BUT first thing first, I asked Andrew “where can I get a good coffee that isn’t Starbucks?” The Goat Head became my daily coffee stop before heading off to conference. Excellent coffee, excellent staff.

photo10My first moments at conference was about registration. Quick, easy, paid for and painless. I also registered for the Welcome Dinner, a technical tour and the home visit. I didn’t actually know what any of these things were, I just had spare money, so I booked and paid for them. I also picked up a little gem called “Guide to Korean Cuisine” that I thought might come in handy. In my registration bag, I was given hard copies of the Abstract Book and the Program Schedule. What to do and see first?

Exploring Daejeon – also known as “Heatwave Sunday”

dsc_0015-3Sunday– Andrew McV and I decided that since we were not involved with IFHE Executive Committee Meetings or Program Committee Meetings, we would go exploring Daejeon. Into a cab to the KTX Train Station we went. Andy’s mobile phone went off with a very loud siren. We ignored it because the message he received was in Korean. That was a mistake. Walking our way down the street, we saw a pet shop with birds in cages on the footpath, I said jokingly “canaries, if they are still alive, the air quality must still be ok”. I found a global ATM so that I had money for a bottle of water. We found an 1909 elementary school museum (which was closed) with pots of growing herbs, fruits and vegetables. We ate a gooseberry each – it was so bitter – I had to spit it out. Andy and I walked down some other random street until I realised that I couldn’t walk anymore. It was too hot and I couldn’t breathe. We hailed a taxi and headed off to the Science Museum.

The science museum was built in 1993 as part of the Expo Science Park. Where once a state of the art expo precinct with monorail, international zone, corporate zone and fun park zone. The name of the World Expo was “The Challenge of a New Road of Development”; unfortunately, the whole area is now in disrepair. The monorail track is falling apart and building have been abandoned or knocked down. So sad. We also realised that Daejeon was not built to receive English speaking visitors. We had a very tricky time interpreting signage. Most of the places in the Science Museum were closed – it was Sunday.

dsc_0035So where do you head on a really hot day in Daejeon? To the kids water park? Yes. To the indoor atrium? Yes. We visited the atrium, where it is nice and humid so that exotic plants and animals could live comfortably. We were reminded that it does also snow in Daejeon. In summer though, luckily the atrium had air-conditioning! We saw all manner of native Korean and imported fish, frogs, beetles, snakes, orchids, figs and plant life. It was time to head back to the hotel for lunch. It was 1:30pm. Right in the middle of the day. We later found out that the siren alert Andy had received on his phone was…. a heat wave warning. I wish I had known earlier. We walked passed a pool installation with about 200 hundred locals and not a single person was swimming. Everyone was sitting very quietly in the shade. Very little noise. No play. Just hot people too hot to swim. That is a heatwave day. Andy and I walked 6.5 kilometres, without water, without shade, in jeans, on asphalt… silly silly silly. My parents had taught me better than that. It was by sheer force of will that we made it back to the hotel without me crying and/or passing out. Shower, lunch, sleep, time for dinner! Back to the Goats Head for ham and cheese Paninis and beer. Beauty!

Friends for Life

dsc_0405-3Day 2. Conor Fennel, my Irish Home Economics friend, who had fallen in love with Australia and stayed, was at breakfast. I was so excited to see him. I had met Conor 4 years ago at the IFHE World Congress in Melbourne. We were instant friends then and still are now. We share a love of Home Economics. You know when you make a good friend, you meet years later and it feels like no time has passed at all. He is one of those friends. The only thing different was that Conor was taller, or I had shrunk. Let’s stick with Conor being taller. I listened to Conor talk about his Home Economics work with Indigenous kids in a very remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. Many Home Economists are passionate and service-oriented people. Home Economists make positive differences and Conor is a shining light of hope and happiness in the world.

Conference Time!

1470017290866Time for the real conference to begin. I sat in as an observer in the IFHE Council Meeting. I listened to annual reports being delivered from the many various sub-committees. I heard
about profits, losses, and staff changes in the IFHE head office in Bonn, Germany. I learnt about United Nations initiatives that the IFHE had been involved in, and read some of the draft IFHE Position Statements on UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The IFHE has special consultative status with the UN and it is good to know that we make a positive impact. I’m proud to be a member of such an auspicious organisation. As an observer, I witnessed a significant moment where after a brief discussion by Donna Pendergast about our official home economics publication, a motion was proposed and carried that the International Journal of Home Economics (IJHE), of which I am on the Editorial Board, become an open access journal. This is significant because IFHE members have now agreed to open our Journal for knowledge sharing beyond our profession. The researcher in me is very excited by this development. Open access to the journal provides a wider reading audience. Another exciting announcement was commencement of the International Certified Professional Home Economist (IPHE) accreditation. This was extremely well received news and I look forward to putting in my application as soon as pilot testing complete. Finally, it was announced that the next IFHE World Congress will be held in Georgia, Atlanta, United States.

At a concurrent session to the Executive Committee meeting, the Pre-Congress Conference was held. Keynote Plenary speakers updated delegates on the current status and future directions of Home Economics curriculum in Finland, Australia, Japan and Korea. Much to the delight (horror) of audience members, Donna Pendergast also spoke about all things Australian, including our deadly spiders and snakes.

Halls, walls and tables


My luck bag

Throughout the entire Congress, hundreds of poster displays were available for delegates to peruse and gain insight into some fascinating and poignant research projects currently underway in Korean and around the world. In the halls, on the walls, in rooms and open spaces, the Daejeon Conference Centre (DCC) was transformed into a Home Economists dream – filled to the brim with pre-school, primary, secondary and university student displays, local textiles, food, equipment, Korean culture and customs. A big hit with the international delegates was an opportunity to be dressed in a Hanbok – traditional Korean clothing and have their photo taken. Delegates were given many gifts, including Lucky Bags filled with cookies, fans, and hand-drawn badges made by local primary school students. It was obvious that the Korean teachers were very proud of their students. Delegates were also encouraged to taste test food and drink from a wide variety of Korean companies including coffee, teas and alcoholic beverages. I particularly liked the banana sake.

Korean Volunteers 

dsc_0127-3I would like to give an honourable mention to all the volunteers at the DCC. They made the conference run so smoothly. Everyone was pleasant and helpful. To the Organising Committee, you should be very proud of every single one of your volunteers. They did an amazing job.

Welcome Dinner

dsc_0231Wow, Daejeon knows how to put on a party and welcome international guests! Congratulations to the Organising Committee. Many dignitaries and honoured guests were present at the Welcome Dinner including Carol Warren, IFHE President (2012-2016), Mee Sok Park, IFHE Vice President (2014-2018) and Chairperson of the IFHE 2016 Organising Committee, The Honourable Eun-hee Kang, Korean Minister for Gender Equity and Family, His Excellency Sun-taik Kwon, Mayor of Daejeon Metropolitan City, Kae-Kyung Chung, President of the Korean Home Economics Association (KHEA), Jaesoon Cho, President of the Korean Home Economics Education Association (KHEEA), and a representative from The Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies. The Grand Ballroom was abuzz with music, dancing, laughter, good and healthy food and friendship. In a very interesting video presentation, delegates were educated about the history of Korean language and culture. The Taekwondo troupe provided some exciting and heart stopping moments.

A Jackman Family Home Economics Adventure


An honourable attendee mention is required. A whole family (except for the oldest brother who couldn’t make it) adventured together to Korea for Congress. Anita Jackman and her three sons Mitch, Lochie and Billy, are all very involved in Home Economics in South Australia. At the Melbourne IFHE Congress in 2010, they made a promise to each other to adventure as a family every 4 years to attend World Congress. Such an inspiration! Well-done and congratulations Anita for inspiring your boys to become the next generation of Home Economists.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony didn’t disappoint. We were woken by a drum troupe and dancers. Each delegate was provided with a translation device. I must take a moment to congratulate the translators. They were of exceptional quality, nothing was lost on translation and they ensured that everyone at Congress enjoyed all the speeches and speakers. It was wonderful to hear the Mayor of Daejeon, Kwon Sun-taik, state that “happiness and peace in humanity begins with a happy family.” My favourite quote from the Opening Ceremony Keynote speakers was that the IFHE Congress 2016 was the Olympics of Home Economics. Carol Warren’s opening address was an inspiration where she encouraged Home Economists to use social media to spread the word and work of Home Economics via hashtag #IFHE2016. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were certainly alive with messages before, during and after Congress.

Hope: Because We Must

dsc_0243-3After he gave us all an opportunity to stretch our arms and clear our minds, we were honoured to hear Professor Peter O’Connor from the University of Auckland, Faculty of Education and Professional Studies, speak about the Pedagogy of Hope. I do not believe there was a dry eye in the grand ballroom. His inspirational story about the “A Tea Spoon of Light” project which was conducted with primary school students and teachers in the wake of the Christchurch Earthquakes was hope personified. Exceptional action research that engages people and provides hope in the worst of times. After congress, Peter and his wife headed to the Syrian refugee camps to use drama with refugees. A truly inspirational human.

After the Opening Ceremony delegates broke out into concurrent sessions.

Technical Tour Option 2: Korean Folk Village & Korean BBQ

dsc_0289Finally, I was going to have a Korean BBQ. Everyone keeps talking about it. We drove about 2 hours from Daejeon to first visit a Korean Folk Village. We made traditional Korean masks (male or female). I made a man mask for my son. We didn’t really get much time to look around the Village before we were off to the museum. I love history. The story of pottery making and written documents were most fascinating. I found an old Singer Sewing Machine and portraits of the Kings. Next we travelled to a back street, I don’t even know where we were, and ushered up some 1470186545342unlikely narrow stairs. My companions and I took our shoes off and entered a banquet room. We were treated to kimchi, blueberry mayonnaise salad, stingray kimchi, bulgogi (beef), glass noodle salad, sesame seed and rice soup, roast pork, tempura pumpkin, octopus and potato omelette, seaweed and mushroom soup, and burnt rice in hot water for dessert. It was truly and amazing culinary experience. I enjoyed every mouthful.




Keynote speaker Professor Robert Mayer (I’m sorry I missed this one) spoke about lessons in humility and hope from the perspective of consumer policy. Donna Pendergast then led the Best Paper session where it was announced that after a double blind peer review process, authors Ji Hyun Kim and Julia Torquati from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, USA were the successful authors with their paper entitled “Does Parental Financial Assistance assist Young Adults to be Financially Healthy? Effects of parent-child relationship qualifiers on financial outcomes and happiness”.

Chaired by Amanda McCloat from St Angela’s College, Sligo, Ireland, I then sat in on the Young Professional Network (YPN) session to hear several speakers provide a glimpse of the future of Home Economics. This group of young professionals (young in age and the young at heart) is a bright hope for the future – we are in good hands.

korea-2016-jayWednesday afternoon – my time to present had come. Room 104: Home Economics Education for Happiness Block 4 13:30~15:00. I presented with amazing company. First, Kathryn McSweeney from St Angela’s College spoke about her research into perceptions of Home Economics in Ireland and how these perceptions impact student outcomes. Donna Pendergast surprised us with a formula for Happiness – yes – there is a formula. Dr Jaydsc_0396 Deagon (that’s me!) spoke about spiritualty and its links with crisis, hope and happiness in the content of Home Economics, and finally, Mary Magdalene Stevenson-Yong from the National Institute of Education in Singapore talked about how Home Economics can fulfil its mission of empowering individuals to experience, create and contribute toward happiness for all. I was honoured to be in this company.

Home Visit

dsc_0410-3I heard from many delegates that the Home Visit was the highlight of their World Congress experience. I sat in a big room and waited for my family to find me. I was left sitting on my own for about 15 minutes. Then a young lady asked me if I was Jay Deagon? I said yes. She was surprised. She was expecting a man. SURPRISE! I walked to the carpark and met her father. He was also surprised to see that I was a woman. SURPRISE! Again! We drove to their apartment complex about 15 minutes from the DCC. I was immediately struck by the sheer number of high density housing that surrounded me. Approximately 20 x 15 story apartment blocks in neat rows. In the between buildings were playgrounds, schools, walkways, gym equipment and convenience stores. My family’s names were Jang Eun Young (daughter), Kang im-seon (mother), and Jang Jae hun (father). They had img_20160803_202255written me a “Welcome” sign on the table. I felt so blessed to be in their home and sharing a meal.

Jang Eun Young translated most of our discussion. Kang im-seon was very interested to hear about what we ate in Australia. I showed her a photograph of a Pavlova – she loved it. My host family put so much food in front of me – I was nearly bursting. I told me hosts that my “belly was full and so was my heart”. I got big hugs and presents from them. I am honoured to have spent time in their company and promised to send them a gift from Australia – a bottle of vegemite and one of my Father’s painting of a beach with waves from Queensland.

Thursday – going home day for me.

Concurrent sessions were all busy and full. Unfortunately, I had to leave to come back to Australia before the Closing Ceremony and final day of the conference. I watch Tweets on my train ride back to Incheon Airport of my friends having an amazing time. Everyone on
stage. Everyone represented. I was pleased to see my Nigerian friends awarded for their cultural performance. As I sat in a very empty airport, I felt full in my heart at having experienced such an amazing journey. Many wonderful memories, created by many wonderful people. Thank you IFHE for another life changing experience.


I’m looking a little worse for wear but our CQUniversity Home Economics Graduates look amazing!

I arrived in Brisbane on Friday night to my family waiting for me. I was so happy to see them and tell them of my adventures. 6am Saturday morning I was back on the road for CQUniversity to attend my local Home Economics Institute of Australia Queensland (HEIAQ) conference. I cannot get enough of Home Economics! I am proud to be a Home Economist at this time in history.


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International Federation for Home Economics Press Release


21st March 2016

World Home Economics Day

“Home Economics Literacy: Skills for Families and Consumers”


Since 1982 the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) has celebrated World Home Economics Day (WHED). The purpose is to promote the significance of Home Economics and the Home Economics profession. The theme for the WHED 2016 is: “Home Economics Literacy: Skills for Families and Consumers”. The aim of the WHED 2016 is to communicate the major role Home Economics literacy has in contributing to family and consumer wellbeing and quality of life.

“Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong
learning. It is fully essential to social and human development in its
ability to transform lives. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it
is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, one’s
income, and one’s relationship with the world” (UNESCO, 2016).

The concept of Home Economics literacy is the multidisciplinary expression of several literacies such as food literacy, health literacy, financial literacy, consumer literacy and environmental literacy. Home Economics literacy connects elements such as knowledge, skills, culture, systems, and behaviours to enhance quality of life. The IFHE promotes the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the UN 10YFP on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education Sustainability is a consistent thread that is applied in Home Economics education.

The IFHE calls for:

  • All active Home Economists around the world highlight the theme
    of the WHED to show the importance of Home Economics
    competences to manage everyday life.
  • Governments consider the strengthening of the Home Economics
    discipline in school-based education as the basis for self-determined
    and sustainable lifestyles.
  • Home Economics professionals around the world promote the
    contribution of Home Economics literacy to achieve the
    Sustainable Development Goals.


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King & Amy O'Malley 2011

Getting my postgraduate King & Amy O’Malley Scholarship in 2011

I recently attended the World Home Economics Day celebrations of the Home Economics Institute of Australia (Queensland) division.  It was really inspiring to see the new King & Amy O’Malley Scholarship recipients. I have received two of these awards and I know how hard they are to get and how much it means when you receive one. The board has recognised you as a visionary and you are the future of home economics. I am deeply encouraged! I am a member of the HEIA and also a member of IFHE. I encourage everyone to become a member of their local association – it keeps you connected to local people and ideas but I also strongly recommend becoming a member of the IFHE because it connects you to the world in profound ways. With this said, I noticed something at the HEIA brunch and this is what had prompted me to write this article.

I think that there may be a general misunderstanding about who I am and what I do – because I am not a teacher. A significant number of people do not see the important role that home economics specific research and professionalisation has for the quality of life of the home economics profession. Because we have traditionally been an interdisciplinary subject, we borrow our information from other disciplines – food and nutrition is a good example. Very little research has been carried out on home economics populations (teachers, students, clients) and the effectiveness that home economics has on teaching and learning about food and nutrition. This means that there is a severe lack of literature to inform, not just home economists, but everyone else (politicians, policy makers, nutritionists, doctors etc etc) about home economics and positive relationships and the empowering nature it has with food literacy. Mostly, it is anecdotal evidence. Good stories will not persuade governments to hand over money and resources.

Without the evidence-based research to back up our claims, it is very difficult to convince politicians about the essential work that we do – hence we are overlooked and do not receive funding or recognition. Take the physical health dimension as a comparison. I read a review of literature which found that 79% of research reported physical health studies… only 1% of research reported related to the spiritual health dimension. Physical health is easy to see and measure – spiritual health is not so simple to see and measure. Physical health gets all the attention – spiritual health gets marginalised. The same is happening with home economics. Home economics is equally as important as physical health. However, home economics is overlooked because there is very little research. This is the very problem that my doctoral work is tackling. My research is twofold: home economics is my target research paradigm and spiritual health and well-being my topic.

In this regard, I strongly encourage undergraduates and teachers to pursue home economics specific postgraduate work – we need the research! The more people who ask to complete postgraduate studies in home economics – the more demand on the universities to include home economics in their programs and employ qualified home economists – the more distinction and funding home economics receives – the more home economics teachers we have in schools.  Simple… isn’t it?

For this reason, my work and the work of leaders in the field such as Donna Pendergast is extremely important. The world we live in now is very very different from twenty years ago. Today is fast paced, technologically facilitated, political and economically driven. If Home Economists do not keep up with the pace, we all suffer. One lecturer at my old university believes that home economics will always be here – and I agree with her – but it is not longevity that is at stake – quality of life for home economics is the issue.

My mission for many years now has been to boost the research base of home economics. Also, I advocate for home economics to non-home economists. No point in me preaching to the converted! We know what we do… yet, other’s have preconceived notions about home economics that are usually misinformed or incorrect – so they are the people who I target. Anyone who knows me knows that my mission in life is to educate others about home economics.

I am pleased to say – that I am having small successes all over the world. The HomeEcConnect website is doing a good job at getting the message out there. By Home Economists interacting with the HomeEcConnect social networks in a public space we are doing our part to secure a better quality of life for home economics. To those who already participate, I salute you. To everyone else who looks but doesn’t participate – it is time to jump on in!

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Written by Jay Deagon @HomeEcConnect, June 2012.

In March 2012 I attended Interdisciplinary.net’s 2nd Global Conference on Spirituality in the 21st Century in Prague, Czech Republic. It was amazing. Here is a little summary of my trip:

Every time people ask me about my research they mainly struggle with two concepts… first, they do not know what “Home Economics” is… beyond “cooking and sewing”, and second, their eyebrows do strange wiggling things when I say “spiritual health and well-being”. For the first time in five years when I mentioned my research at the conference in Prague – I only got strange eyebrow twitches from mentioning Home Economics. For many of the conference presenters, spirituality research forms part of their everyday practice. I finally found a group of like-minded people I could relate to on an Interdisciplinary level. “Excellent!” *she thinks* “now, all I have to do is educate them about Home Economics”. So I started by explaining that Home Economics was a global community of practitioners. Some were surprised by this. Then I introduced them to the International Federation for Home Economics Position Statement. I highlighted an overarching purpose of Home Economics by explaining that Home Economists are concerned about “the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities”. On completing my presentation several people approached me and said “I will never look at Home Economics the same way again”. Success!!! So, what did I say that made a difference? I pointed out some synergies between Home Economics and spiritual health and well-being.

A very brief summary of my presentation: Synergies between Home Economics and Spiritual Health and Well-being

“Thumbs up” for Home Economics!

For my research, spiritual health and well-being is a fundamental aspect of the human condition as well as planetary health. Spiritual health and well-being is an umbrella concept that (may or may not) inspire us to pursue quality relationships with self (individuals with self-awareness), others (families and communities), the living and non-living environments (sustainability) and the Transcendent domain (human beings living within a local and global (or “glocal”) reality or realities). Most people can relate to the first three without a problem – it is the transcendental domain that causes said eyebrow twitching. For my research, the transcendental domain is that “place” or “an essence” or “matter and energy” or “God” or “Gods” or “ancestors” or… or… or… the place where “faith” and “hope” meet reality. All the stuff that binds everything and everyone together – all the unexplained stuff – all the spaces in between – “the Mystery bit” – you know what I’m talking about – that “thing” that scientists, religious, secular and mystical people and philosophers have been searching for, for thousands of years and never resolved to anyone else’s satisfaction. The point being, regardless of your belief system – this proposed framework is capable of transversal inclusivity and diversity and is respectful of all humans.

Other outcomes of the conference

  • Spent some quality time discussing Spiritual Health and Well-being with Dr John Fisher and John Hochheimer. Dr John Fisher is the originating author of the Four Domains Model of Spiritual Health and Well-being and the SHALOM survey which was used as the theoretical foundation of my PhD. John Hochheimer was our conference facilitator, academic, New York D.J. and general all round legend.
  • I made invaluable collegial friendships and other contacts with international researchers in the field of spirituality and spiritual health and well-being.
  • I was exposed to so many alternative perspectives about spirituality research. To name a few – chronic illness, space exploration, psychology, drug, sex and alcohol counselling, architecture, radio, music, film and television, family studies, primary and secondary school education, Atheist, Christian and Buddhist philosophy.
  • Successfully advocated for Home Economics to a non-Home Economics specialist international audience.
  • I am contributing a book chapter in an upcoming eBook – due for publication later in the year.

Will keep you posted about the Book Chapter to be published. In the meantime – click here for a draft version of the presentation.

Other random fun stuff I learnt about Prague:

Order the chicken!

The food was filling. When you order “the chicken” – you got a whole corn-fed chicken.

Sand shoes are a must in Prague

Sensible people wear sensible shoes on the streets of Prague. Cobble stones and high heels do not mix – lucky I love my sandshoes!

Prague is obviously an old city because the town planning has a LOT to answer for! The streets are narrow and don’t necessarily go anywhere. I got lost more than once.

Charles Bridge, Prague

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge has a lot of religious statues. People rub certain statues for “good luck”. The strangest one being where a man jumped off the bridge and committed suicide – how can that be considered good luck?

Public transport is pretty good – if you could read and translate the street signage.

Overall – a very successful visit to Prague to advocate for Home Economics to an international audience, share my research with interested and interesting people and generally a great fun adventure was had.

Final note: A special thank you must go to the Home Economics Institute of Australia (HEIA) for their financial support as a demonstration of their commitment to research in the field of Home Economics. Special thanks also must go to the Griffith Graduate Research School for granting me an International Conference Travel Scholarship.

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Is our message clear enough, convincing enough, loud enough? I do like this question ever so much! I cannot recommend highly enough the benefits of coming to World Congress. I am looking forward to learning more about the voices behind Home Economics, adding my own voice and inspiring you to add yours. In today’s technological noise can Home Economists really stay “quiet leaders” any longer?


How do the skills and practices of home economics contribute to health and sustainable living?

What happens when communities lose these skills or no longer value them?

How can we work to enhance the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities globally?

Is our message clear enough, convincing enough, loud enough?

Create a professinoal that you envision, Innovate for a strong future. Join us in Melbourne for IFHE World Congress 2012.

Write a comment and tell us what you plan to do at Congress.

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Written by Jay Deagon @ HomeEcConnect

Sending you all wishes of peace, health and happiness for 2012. Welcome to a New Year!

Did you know that the year 2012 is the 4709th Chinese year? Just reflect on that for a second – in Chinese culture it is not the year 2012 – it is the year 4709. By the way, in case you were wondering, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon and Chinese New Year starts on 23 January 2012 in China’s time zone.  Sometimes I forget that there is a very big world out there to explore! So many different cultures – each with their own histories, beliefs, customs, languages… the diversity of Earth’s people is really quite awe-inspiring and if we think about it – one of the few things each of us has in common is our uniqueness.

I came across an excerpt from a book Keeping the Nation’s House: Domestic Management and the Making of Modern China by Helen M. Schneider © University of British Columbia Press 2011. This excerpt available on The China Beat blog site gives a fascinating insight into the evolution of jiating jingji (household economics) in China. Worth a read if you are interested in cross-cultural perspectives and the history of home economics.

The Home Economics & Spiritual Health and Well-being Survey is still open, please spare a few moments to complete it and forward it on – your unique insights are invaluable.

Congratulations also go out to Home Economist James McIntosh for his adventures on the Silk Road!

Are you coming to the Global Wellbeing IFHE XXII World Congress in Melbourne, 16-21 July 2012? I have recently received confirmation that I will be presenting two individual papers at the Congress. Exciting times ahead! I look forward to sharing and networking with you all in 2012.

Don’t forget to register at www.HomeEcConnect.com.au or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

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Written by Jay Deagon @HomeEcConnect

IFHE World Congress 2012: Global Wellbeing

Registration for the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) World Congress is now open.  The Congress theme is Global Wellbeing… an apposite concept in uncertain times. This is a pertinent topic for the home economics profession.  We work closely with frontline issues such as food security, nutrition and malnutrition, textile production, ethical consumerism, living environments, health and well-being.  Home economics provides essential knowledge about how these issues affect the everyday quality of life for individuals, families and communities.  The IFHE World Congress takes place every 4 years in different parts of the world. In 2012 it is Australia’s turn to host this event in Melbourne.


Recently, the host city, Melbourne, was voted in the “top three” most liveable cities in the world. Certainly worthy of a visit!  Coming together as a global profession, the IFHE World Congress represents a collection of global perspectives and insights into action areas, industry, current research and grassroots educational practice.  Attending the Congress will also provide many opportunities for networking and for experiencing different cultures and educational contexts. This is the professional (and I suggest personal growth) opportunity of a lifetime.

For further information about the IFHE or the 2012 IFHE World Congress visit their websites.

It is definitely worth being a member of the IFHE and your local Home Economics association.

Funding available to assist European home economists attend World Congress: announcing the Training European Professional Awards

The European Association for Home Economics (EAHE) have announced that they are offering two €1000.00 bursaries to assist European Home Economists (graduate students or practitioners in Home Economics) to attend and participate in the IFHE World Congress taking place in Melbourne, Australia from 16th-21st July, 2012. Eligible applicants must be a European Citizen with European Citizenship, and “for the avoidance of doubt”, this opportunity is “not confined to just the European Union”.

For further information about the Award, please contact James McIntosh james@jamesmcintosh.co.uk

Download full details and the application form here →
as Word – IFHE European bursary application 2012
or PDF – IFHE European bursary application 2012.

I look forward to seeing you at the Congress!

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