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Mission and Activities

Child and Adolescent Development is the primary focus of the research and teaching of the faculty affiliated with this multidisciplinary center, located at Brown University. Child and Adolescent Development is an interdisciplinary field that studies processes by which infants, children and adolescents proceed through life in individual ways characteristic of our species. The driving questions of stability, change, and transformation set this area of enquiry apart in the investigation of dynamic processes that underlie behavioral, cognitive, social and affective growth learning and maturation. Where students of adult behavior are interested in identifying basic principles of behavior, students of development are interested in identifying how basic behavior processes change over time in both species-typical and individual ways. Furthermore, the influences of social and cultural context are viewed as critical elements of these dynamic systems.

The Center was founded in 1967 as the Child Study Center and has a long history of sponsoring research informed by a variety of disciplines, including longitudinal studies of infant growth and development, social adaptation through childhood and adolescence and educational reform. Research conducted by faculty affiliated with the Center in recent years includes studies of language, social and cognitive development, learning, sleep, the cultural and structural bases of developmental processes, and parenting and family functioning. Studies include both normative populations and children at risk due to physiological and/or social disadvantage. A distinguishing feature of child development research at Brown is its integration of basic scientific scholarship with research that bears direct implication for practitioners and policy makers.

At Brown, scholarship in child and adolescent development is distributed across many departments, including Anthropology, Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, Education, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Psychology, and Sociology. A key mission of the Center is to provide a setting where faculty and students from all units at Brown may collaborate in addressing major issues in human development.

  1. The center facilitates communication and collaboration among faculty and students interested in developmental research and training - a collaboration that crosses departmental and disciplinary boundaries and creates links between the campus and the medical school.
  2. The center serves as a resource for programs for students interested in learning about human development both on campus and at the medical school. These currently include the Human Development track of the Education Studies concentration, administered by the Education Department, which includes courses from several social and life science departments. In addition, the Center sponsors pre- and postdoctoral training that provides a solid basis for pursuing careers in Psychology, Education, Pediatrics and a variety of other human service fields. Through grants obtained by faculty and the Solsbery Fellowship Fund students can obtain funding to conduct their own research and/ or work closely on a variety of ongoing research projects.
  3. The center sponsors an annual colloquium series that brings faculty from within and outside Brown and occasional conferences on topics of interest to the campus community and the broader community beyond Brown. In 2001, as an example, a 2 day conference on "Genetic Influences on Human Behavior and Development" provided the basis for a book shortly to be published by Erlbaum Publishers.