Conclusions

The power of contemporary developmental scholarship lies in its integrative character—across substantive domains of individual functioning (e.g., biology, emotional, cognition, and social behaviors), across developmental periods, across levels of organization (from biology through culture and history), and across basic and applied interests in regard to understanding and enhancing human life. As represented by the scholarship in this volume, contemporary developmental science is not limited by (or, perhaps better, confounded by) an inextricable association with a unidimensional portrayal of the developing person (e.g., the person seen from the vantage point of only cognitions, emotions, or stimulus-response connections). Today, the developing person is neither biologized, psychologized, nor sociologized. Rather, the individual is systemized; that is, his or her development is conceptualized and studied as embedded within an integrated matrix of variables derived from multiple levels of organization.

This integrative, systems-oriented approach to developmental science is certainly more complex than its organismic or mechanistic predecessors (Lerner, 2002; Overton, 1998; chapter by Overton in this volume). However, a developmental systems approach is also more nuanced, more flexible, more balanced, and less susceptible to extravagant, or even absurd, claims (e.g., that nature, split from nurture, can shape the course of human development). Moreover, as elegantly demonstrated by the chapters in this volume, developmental systems offer a productive frame for rigorous and important scholarship about the process of human development and applications across the life span. Together, these advances in the scholarship of knowledge generation and knowledge application serve as an invaluable means for advancing science and service pertinent to people across the breadth of their lives.

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