Global Child Development


The majority of the world’s children live in the global South, yet less than 10% of developmental science research has studied communities that account for 90% of the world’s population. There is thus a desperate need to better understand child and adolescent development outside of the United States and Western Europe. In this course, we will begin to do this by exploring what is currently known about children’s health, nutrition, and motor, cognitive, language, social, and emotional development across the globe. Where the research is limited, we will consider if and when research in the global North can be informative regarding child development in the global South. As we do this, we will discuss various bioecocultural approaches to better map out the connections between multiple factors at multiple levels impacting children’s developmental outcomes. Such holistic, multidisciplinary approaches will lay a foundation for sustainable, context-appropriate, community-based projects to better understand and reduce the aversive effects of multiple environmental risk factors on the development of children across the globe. These approaches will also help us  understand and build upon the opportunities afforded by different contexts. Readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary research in developmental and cultural psychology, psychobiology, anthropology, sociology, and public health, with a critical eye toward understanding both the usefulness and the limitations of this research in light of the populations studied and the methodologies employed. We will also read the literary work of both classic and contemporary authors from the global South to better understand these contexts. Conference work will provide the opportunity for students to focus on a particular context of young children’s lives in greater detail. This may include fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center or in another setting with children.