Bridging Developmental and Cultural Psychology: New Synthesis in Theory, Research and Policy

This project was coordinated by principal organizer Dr. Lene Jensen of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, brought together scholars in October of 2008 at Clark University for a two-day study to bridge the disciplines of developmental psychology and cultural psychology. At the meeting, the scholars addressed the timely issue of how to integrate key insights and findings from developmental and cultural psychology. The study group explored alternatives to the developmental psychology ‘one-size-fits-all' model and cultural psychology's ‘one-for-every-culture' models. It examined to what extent the distinction between ‘structure' and ‘content' of human thought and behavior capture insights from both disciplines. Bridging the two disciplines may offer new alternatives to the persistent issues of universalism and relativism. One outcome of the meeting will be a book edited by Lene Arnett Jensen entitled Bridging Cultural and Developmental Psychology: New Syntheses in Theory, Re­search and Policy to be published by Oxford University Press in mid-2010.

Strengthening Africa's Contributions to Child Development Research

This is the project of principal organizers Dr. Kofi Marfo, University of South Florida, Tampa, and Dr. Alan Pence, University of Victoria, Victoria BC. This conference stemmed from the recognition that research and experience from Africa are underrepresented in the global child development database. African institutions and researchers have limited support for activities and limited opportunities for dissemination. In keeping with the goals of the Association of African Universities, Association for Development of Education in Africa, and SRCD, this invitational conference in Victoria B.C. brought together scholars to explore the status and needs of the child development field in Africa. The conference, held in February of 2009, produced a two-pronged strategy to establish a long-term, multi-site research program and to prepare and mentor new generations of child development researchers. Participants shared divergent perspectives on indigenizing child development research, presented insights from African research and practice initiatives, and identified networking and capacity building needs. This conference, along with a follow-up conference on the African continent, resulted in a plan to support selected African institutions and researchers and increase African scholars' active involvement with SRCD conferences and publications programs.

An Interdisciplinary Study Group on Child Development in Native Cultures

This study group was coordinated by Drs. Michelle Sarche, Paul Spicer, and Nancy Whitesell, University of Colorado, Denver. This conference also addressed under-representation in developmental science literature. In particular, Native American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) children and families have generally not been included in child development research. This conference in Aurora, Colorado in the fall of 2008 organized and established a collaborative group of researchers focusing on the development of Native children. The group synthesized the current knowledge and identified knowledge gaps concerning AI/AN children and adolescents. They identified steps needed to develop a research agenda and engaged international collaborators to understand commonalities among native populations who are minorities in their homelands. Together, participants began to define a common agenda for advancing science, policy, and practice related to child health and development in Native communities. Plans were made to draft collaborative manuscripts to educate the broader child development com­munity on current knowledge of Native children’s development and on issues encountered in conducting research with Native children and communities (e.g., extensive community-based participatory research, collaborating with sovereign nations).

Workshop on the Development of Institutionalized Children

This workshop was pursued by principal organizer Dr. Robert McCall, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A fundamental question in developmental science is the influence of early experience on later development. This question relies in part on naturalistic experiments that provide data on children with deficient experiences reared in orphanages. The purpose of this workshop project was to promote international and interdisciplinary collaboration among specialists in research on the development of institutionalized children and those placed in alternative care arrangements, as well as to stimulate mutually beneficial engagement among research, practice, and policy professionals. A study group comprised of international scholars from six disciplines met in May of 2009 in Leiden, Netherlands to review the literature and analyze data on issues pertaining to the consequences of early institutional rearing. At the conference, vigorous exchanges occurred not only among researchers in different disciplines but between researchers and practice and policy professionals. Plans were made to communicate research findings as well as best practices to appropriate organizations that deal globally with children in institutions and alternative care arrangements.