Human beings are unique in undergoing an exceptionally long period of development that takes place in a wide variety of contexts (e.g., dyadic relationships with caregivers, the family, the school, the peer group, the work place); and all of these contexts and the ways in which they influence development vary as a function of culture. Although we do not, by any means, fully understand the process of development in its extraordinary complexity or the myriad ways in which culture contextualizes this process, we are making progress in describing the fundamental psychological phenomena of infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and in understanding how they change over the course of development and under the influence of culture.
Our course will be devoted to a discussion of theory and research in the study of culture and development. We will begin with a consideration of the nature of the developing human being and the way in which development is conditioned by the enculturation process as one in which children become progressively more like-minded with their cultural group(s) through the internalization of shared ways of thinking, speaking, and acting. This will be followed by an analysis of the ecology of human development as the multiple nested contexts (e.g., family, village/city, classroom/work group, peer group, culture, time) within which development takes place. We will then proceed to discuss the nature of culture and cultures, the human ability to create narratives, the relevance of literacy/literacies to the process and content of narrativity, and the way in which the developing mind, the multiple contexts of development, cultures, narrativity, and literacies come together to help us forge identities.
Following this, we will proceed to three more focused discussions of aspects of child development and family life that vary widely with culture and subculture. To facilitate these discussions we will view a series of video presentations of cultural variations in infancy, preschool, and adolescence. Finally, we will conclude with each member of the course making a short (20 minutes or so) presentation on the topic chosen for the final paper.
Full syllabus not yet available.