The Study of Development

The process of converting raw land into a functional urban community or rural residential area takes many different professionals to execute. Developers work with architects and city planners to design a plan; civil engineers, soils experts and environmental consultants to address site limitations; market research and financial analysts to determine demand and project economics; attorneys for agreements, government approvals and land sales; surveyors and title companies to provide legal descriptions of property; contractors and construction crews to put architectural plans into action.

The study of development is guided by assumptions about the nature of humans and human growth, which are called meta-theories. These assumptions are usually informed by one or more disciplines, such as behavior genetics, sociobiology, evolutionary, ethological, temperament and personality theories. Some theorists, such as Piaget and Erickson, assume that everyone progresses through a universal set of developmental tasks in a linear fashion. Other theorists, who endorse lifespan or ecological systems approaches, believe that development can take on a wide variety of patterns and pathways, depending on the specific cultural, historical and societal context in which it occurs.

In recent decades, a new understanding of development has emerged that focuses on social and economic improvements in the lives of people around the world. This is known as sustainable development. It includes economic growth, but also eradication of poverty and hunger, access to education and health services, the availability of clean water, affordable housing and more.