The Department of Comparative Human Development

is an interdisciplinary department at the critical edge of thought and research in the social sciences. We believe that social life is too complex and too exciting to be left within any single discipline. Consequently, we bring together anthropologists, biologists, linguists, psychologists, sociologists and methodologists whose methods and theories cross individual social science disciplines. Faculty and students' research examines issues of central concern to socio-cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, comparative education, behavioral biology, language and thought, cultural and developmental psychology. In addressing those issues, we highlight shifting categories such as gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and ability.

  • Comparative: To understand is to compare. 'Comparative' means attention to likeness and difference. Work in the Department looks at how practices, ideologies, capabilities, and behaviors vary across time, between cultures, and between species.
  • Human: What makes us human? Research in the Department explores the socio-cultural, psychological and biological processes that humans share with, and that distinguish them from, each other and from non-human animals.
  • Development: This complex and vexed term highlights change over time. It raises debates about cultural values and provokes disagreement about desired states. Work in the Department critically examines understandings about development in relation to both societies and individuals, and it analyzes practices and policies that may promote or prevent it.

Students in the Department have pursued innovative and successful careers in anthropology, biology, education, human development, psychology and sociology.