Development makes us who we are. Human beings undergo a protracted period of growth and change during which interactions between the organism and the environment give rise to increasingly complex and specialized systems, and these, in turn provide the foundations for subsequent developmental change. The scientific study of development began a century ago with foundational work by Darwin, Baldwin, Piaget and Vygotsky. The field is now a modern, interdisciplinary science. Developmental science has uncovered the processes at work in the emergence of a wide range of systems, including cognition, perception, action, motivation, language, social competence, emotion, self regulation, interpersonal relationships, social cognition and morality. Developmentalists recruit a diverse set of empirical tools, including experimental psychological methods, neuroscientific techniques, quantitative analysis of observational data, quantitative use of interview and survey data, cross cultural and cross population comparison, and computational and statistical modeling. This research has yielded central insights into both the general paths by which these systems unfold and the ways in which outcomes can vary across individuals. These approaches address fundamental developmental issues, which pertain to the origins, emergence, maintenance, sequence, and change of phenomena over time. In essence, these dimensions reflect what it means to study ontogeny, the evolution of the individual from infancy to adulthood This field has informed our understanding not only of basic developmental mechanisms, but also of disorders and the interventions that can address them.
The University of Maryland is ideally constituted to provide state of the art, cross-disciplinary doctoral training in developmental science. Across campus there is impressive strength in developmental science in faculty, graduate programs and training opportunities. In 2006, the Graduate School approved the formation of the Field Committee in Developmental Science. The central goal of the field committee is to enhance cross-disciplinary graduate student training within the participating programs by promoting integration between them. The committee does not replace or subsume existing graduate programs. Rather, it provides a common set of training activities that diverse programs can draw on to maximize the interdisciplinary breadth of doctoral training.
Melanie Killen, Professor of Human Development & Quantitative Methodology