75th Anniversary Celebration

Dear Alumni, Friends, Former Faculty, and Intellectual Offspring of the Committee on Human Development/Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago,

We are so thrilled that so many of you were able to come to the 75th anniversary, and we would like to thank you so much for making it a magnificent event. You brought wonderful enthusiasm to the whole weekend. Everyone seems to have had a very good time. UChicago News published an article describing our event.

For those of you who were unable to attend we are very sorry that we missed you. However, there is still a chance to participate even if you were not able to be here in person! We would love to start collecting writings from alumni about CHD. This could be fond memories, a theory that started here, or just comments about how the department has influenced you. These recollections can be about the 75th, or just about CHD in general! Either way we would love to hear from you.

Further, some of the biggest take away messages from the weekend were the desires for alumni to stay in touch with each other and the broader HD community and to keep up with information about the department. We would love to hear how you would prefer to receive HD information. If you would like to let us know just follow the link below to a very short survey!

We hope to compile a yearly news article about the department including visitors, faculty and student work, and an alumni support network. Warmest regards from the 75th Year Organizing Committee:

  1. Rick Shweder (Faculty Representative and Chair of the Organizing Committee)
  2. Margaret Spencer (Faculty Representative and Chair of the Department)
  3. John Lucy (Faculty Representative)

75th Anniversary Video Gallery

CHD Trial Research | LeVine Keynote
The conclusion of the 23rd Annual Comparative Human Development Student Trial Research Conference. This video features opening remarks from Chair Margaret Beale Spencer and Dean David Nirenberg, with the Keynote address being delivered by Professor Robert LeVine titled “Psychosocial Pioneers: The U of C's Committee on Human Development.”

CHD 75th Anniversary | Opening Remarks
Opening remarks to kick off the 75th Anniversary Panel Day. Professor John Lucy speaks first, introducing Dean John Boyer who both give a brief history of the origins of the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.

CHD 75th Anniversary | Former Faculty Panel
Former Faculty members speak regarding their time in the Department and how it influenced their careers. Panelists included Robert LeVine, Diana Slaughter Kotzin, James Stigler, Tanya Luhrmann and David Orlinsky, in chronological order of their time with the department. This panel was chaired by Professor Dario Maestripieri and Professor Guanglei Hong served as a discussant.

CHD 75th Anniversary | Former Post Docs
Former Post Doctoral Students speak regarding their time in the Department and how it influenced their career pathways. Panelists included Rebecca Lester, Bambi Chapin, Timothy Cage Hall, and Joan Miller. This panel was chaired by Professor Eugene Raikhel and Professor Micere Keels served as a discussant.

CHD 75th Anniversary | Senior Alumnus Interview
Richard Shweder interviewing Jeremy Sarchet, AA ‘47, AM ‘49, Ph.D. ’51, and one of the oldest living members of Department Alumni.

CHD 75th Anniversary | CHD PhD Alumni
Graduates of the Department of Comparative Human Development’s Doctoral Program speak about their time in the Department and how it influenced their career pathways. Professor Anna Mueller chaired this panel. Panelists included Nancy Segal, Linda Fitzgerald, Lene Jensen, Lawrence Gianinno, Amy Cooper, Les Beldo, and Mike Kaufman.

CHD 75th Anniversary | Former CHD Chairs
Former Chairs of the Department discuss the creation of the department and how they helped to guide it into the program it has become. Professor Jennifer Cole chaired this panel and Professor Jill Mateo served as a discussant. Panelists included Professor Susan Goldin-Meadow, Professor Richard Taub, Professor John Lucy, and Former Provost Norman Bradburn.


We invite you to view some recollections submitted by former members of the Human Development family. I

My gratitude for the time I spent at the University of Chicago as a graduate student in Human Development, and the deep transformational education I received there, continues even now, fifty years later. When I entered the program I found myself immersed in material of such a broad scope that my mind and heart opened in a way education had never activated in me before.

Studying with Robert LeVine, David Wiley, William Henry, Bernice Neugarten, June Tapp, Robert Hess, Lawrence Kohlberg, among others, was a rare gift of learning creative thinking as well as sound research and intellectual ways of thinking. I was given such a firm foundation in interdisciplinary research and theory that I recognize it foundational to my very being as well as to my work and thinking.

Moreover, I was given total support for my educational needs and creativity and was encouraged to pursue my dissertation and expand its scope with incredible support from my dissertation committee – Bob LeVine, Dave Wiley, and Bill Henry. They mentored me and helped me each step of the way. The kind of support financially and emotionally that I received was essential to my success, as I did my dissertation while I was teaching college at Roosevelt University and had two babies. Bob encouraged me to expand my study, and Dave walked me through very complex statistics. I learned to love computers and punched my own IBM cards (with my children on my lap) often picking up computer output at 10 pm. I loved every minute of my experience.

During my time in Human Development, my clarity on my life path became clear and I moved away from academia and pursued postdoctoral training as a clinical psychologist so I could use my skills helping people directly from a multidimensional and interdisciplinary perspective. Through the years of private clinical practice, I have continued to study, write, and learn. The foundation I received in Human Development continues to inform my work affirming its seeds in current times. To say that the pioneers in Human Development with whom I studied remain great inspirations and mentors pales in light of creative brilliance they shined for us all, at that time.

Without Bob LeVine and David Wiley’s support, I would not be where I am in my life today. I am ever grateful and their influence is always present in my thoughts and work to this day.

My thoughts about my late Human Development Professor Robert D. Hess, and others, can be found in this talk.

When I passed my prelims I left for a year to study in Israel. When I returned there was some hint that something with those exams had changed, but I did not know what--I was filled with anxiety. Then I learned that the change had been to award honors. Oh, what a great day that was!

I have been teaching now, for 37 years, at the university level. In my work with graduate and undergraduate students, I am still struck, frequently, by how deeply my teaching moments are imbued with lessons I learned from my mentors at HD. For example, in my own work with students, I emphasize the need to examine human behavior on multiple levels (thank you, Martha McClintock). I stress the need to read Piaget carefully and appreciate his understanding of the infant's experience (thank you, Ken Kay). I stress the need to observe nonhuman primate behavior (thank you, Stuart and Jeanne Altmann). I urge my students to reach out to observe other cultural groups (thank you, Rick Shweder and, especially, Dan Freedman).

I remember an eternally helpful and patient advisor, Professor Jill Mateo. I remember 5 crazy summers wrestling squirrels in the Eastern Sierra, and I remember a department willing to let me embrace a very loose definition of "human" development. Here's to the next 75 years!

Choosing to Study at Chicago in the 1960s: After a BA in Psychology from Stanford (1959) and a year in a clinical psychology doctoral program, I wanted a more interdisciplinary program. I entered The Committee on Human Development in Fall of 1960.

My Research Focus at Chicago: In 1961 I was offered a position as a research assistant studying children’s “political socialization.” It involved a professor and a doctoral assistant from political science as well as a professor of human development and myself. I had to develop skill in interviewing children, writing survey items that they could understand, and designing statistical analysis. This was an early “mixed method” study. Our interdisciplinary team collected survey data from 12,000 US elementary school children, but the two professors couldn’t agree about the analysis and two books were written. Interpreting the data from a psychological point of view required presentation of results in a new way in The Development of Political Attitudes in Children (co-authored with Robert Hess, 1967). We chose graphic visual data presentation to emphasize development from grades 2 through 8 within different groups (e.g. by gender). The graphs were made with tape pasted on typewritten forms and then photographed. I wrote my dissertation about "structural aspects of children’s political attitude-concept systems.” I had to manage 12,000 IBM cards using a card sorter before sending them with my programmer to the computer center; he carried them in his bicycle basket!

Memorable Faculty Members: I learned about Piagetian theory from Helen Koch, who stood ramrod straight and lectured without notes for 50 minutes. I learned how sociology differed from social psychology from Joan Moore. Don Fiske from Psychology was an excellent mentor, always able to identify exactly the problem I was having with a statistical method or an argument. My most memorable classmate was Mike Csikszentmihalyi. We had offices next to each other (mine full of IBM cards and his with paintings made by subjects in his dissertation).

Outside of Academe: A recent book called Social Categories in Everyday Experience notes that experiences in early adulthood form “identity stories” which are formative in future personal and professional choices. Many of my ideas about context and social behavior originated when I was living in Pilsen on the near West side. It was rapidly becoming Hispanic in the early 1960s, when I lived there while commuting to Hyde Park. Here I learned about real life concerns like welfare checks that didn’t last for a month, sweatshop employment, and domestic violence. In the mid-1960s I organized a children’s choir that traveled around the city to give concerts (among the first of its kind). I also gave folk concerts with my guitar. I sang Finnish songs learned as an exchange student and a variety of other folk-social-protest songs. I made $50 in one night at a Hyde Park coffeehouse, a lot of money in 1962. At one HD party I and some classmates wrote a song whose first verse was as follows: “Welcome to Human Development, the in-group calls it HD; we study the aged and the ageless; eventually that’s what we’ll be.”

Career as a Whole: I am still in the same research field after more than 50 years, have won two awards from APA and was elected as a member of the National Academy of Education in 2014. Over my 47 years as a faculty member I mentored forty students to the PH.D. (at IIT, in the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago and at the University of Maryland’s Department of Human Development -- from which I retired in 2014)