Course Overview

The course offers a comprehensive exploration of the fundamental concepts and dynamics surrounding family and marriage. It delves into the sociological, psychological, and cultural aspects of these foundational social institutions.

Students will not only learn about family-related theories, but also gain insights into the diverse forms of families and marital relationships, their historical evolution, and the challenges they face in contemporary society. Moreover, students will learn about practical skills dealing with family and marriage issues through various class activities.

All students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion and have the opportunity to request a Syracuse University noncredit transcript.                                                                                       

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about different family-related theories.
  • Understand the historical and cultural evolution of family and marriage structures.
  • Analyze the various types of families and the factors contributing to their diversity.
  • Practice effective communication skills with family members.
  • Apply critical thinking skills to analyze and discuss case studies.

Course Information

Course Prefix and Number: SCN 171

Format: On Campus (at Syracuse University)

Eligibility: Students must be of rising high school sophomore, junior or senior status – or a 2024 high school graduate. 

Credit: Noncredit

Grading: Pass/Fail


  • Residential: $4,095
  • Commuter: $3,166

Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees. Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Information

Summer College – On Campus: Experience what college is really like: take a college-level course, live in a residence hall, have meals with friends in a dining hall, and participate in activities and events on campus.

Course Dates and Details

ProgramCourse DatesClass Time (Eastern Time)Credit/NoncreditStatus
Summer College – On Campus2-Week Session I: Monday, July 8 – Friday, July 19, 2024MTWThF;
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Class times subject to change.

Course Requirements

Required Supplies


  • Marriages and Families Diversity and Change 8th Edition by Marry Ann Schewartz

Instructions on how to purchase the textbook can be found here.


  • Students can bring a pen and notebook or a laptop for notetaking.

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

9 – 9:15 a.m. An opening activity
9:15 – 10:45 a.m. Lecture
10:45 – 11 a.m. Break
11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Lecture
12:45 – 1 p.m. Review and Homework

Students will enjoy course-related movies, videos and discussions through the learning. Besides indoor activities, students will have chances to do outdoor play when the weather permits. 

Faculty Bios

Ying Xu

Ying Xu, originally from Beijing, China, is a four-year Doctoral Candidate within the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Syracuse University. Her advisor is Dr. Merril Silverstein.

Ying earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China. Subsequently, she dedicated 11 years of her life to working with a prominent American non-governmental organization (NGO) in China. This organization provided nurturing, educational, rehabilitative, and various other intervention services to orphans, left-behind children, and immigrant children. Ying visited over 30 Children’s Welfare Institutions and villages in 23 provinces and regions across China, affording her the opportunity to understand the lives and needs of children and families. Her deep-seated passion for comprehending the intricacies of child development and family dynamics ultimately led her to Syracuse University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Human Development and Family Science.

Ying’s research interests encompass the intergenerational transmission of parenting, mental health, and trauma. Her academic pursuits are driven by a heartfelt desire to contribute to the well-being of children and families, and her ultimate life goal is to provide scientific support to them, with a particular focus on those facing underprivileged and challenging circumstances.

As the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, Ying finds immense joy in life’s simple pleasures, including listening to music, taking leisurely walks, and watching movies.