Students of human development seek understanding of psychological, social, biological, and spiritual change over the life course. Change can take the form of growth, maturation, loss, and/or impairment, as well as enrichment of human potential. Concentrations may encompass the life cycle or may focus on a particular age group (prenatal and infants, children and/or adolescents, adults or elderly), population (women, men, transgendered), situation (grieving and loss, incarceration, or disability) or theme (health, environment, cultural differences).
All concentrations should place these studies within contexts such as family, relationships, community, society, culture, and/or the natural environment.
Students of human development have an opportunity to pursue and integrate personal, academic and professional goals. Many students find that what they learn enables them to:
- Better understand themselves and others.
- Enhance their ability to work with people in various capacities.
- Prepare for more advanced or graduate study.
Students of human development must demonstrate coverage of the following topics either through a study, a series of studies, components within a study or college-level knowledge through the PLA process. Students should obtain a broad foundation of knowledge in these topics before progressing to advanced studies, covering a range of theoretical perspectives and explanatory models about the process of human development across the life span. They should plan to explain how they have obtained knowledge in these topics in the rationale essay submitted with their degree plan.
- Biopsychosocial development: 1) an understanding of biological, physiological, and neurological change over time, 2) an understanding of cognition, emotion and the behavior of individuals across the lifespan, 3) an understanding of interpersonal processes and social relationships, 4) an understanding of social and cultural influences on development and 5) (interactions of the above) an understanding of how the social, psychological and physical influence each other across the lifespan, contributing to change over time
- Individual differences: an understanding of characteristics, influences, and developmental outcomes (such as a study in personality theory or abnormal psychology), as well as human diversity (the range of differences in human experience and how that influences development)
- Contexts for development: an understanding of the micro-level contexts for change (such as relationships and family), as well as an understanding of the macro-level contexts (such as community, culture, and society)
- Methodologies for inquiry: an understanding of the body of principles, approaches and techniques employed by a particular branch of knowledge, which may be either quantitative or qualitative; should encompass hypothesis development, systematic data collection and analysis and research-reporting conventions.
Note: One concentration title within human development has particular meaning in the wider academic community: psychology. A psychology concentration is expected to meet the rigors of the discipline, including methodology and specific studies. Students planning a psychology concentration should consult Advice for Students Developing Concentrations in Psychology.