University of Maryland faculty are working to bring a major in human development to the campus for the fall 2019 semester.
The major will address both child development and psychological development throughout the individual's lifetime, said D.J. Bolger, the point person on the major and a professor in this university's Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology.
"It's a major that focuses on, 'How do we develop?' both looking at things like brain development but also looking at things like physical and emotional development as well as psychological development," he said. "It looks at a lot of different factors of how they work together to determine the outcomes and achievement in life."
Human development is already a minor at this university with more than 200 students, Bolger said.
"We learned from our minors and the people who work in our labs and they ask, 'Do you guys have a major?'" he said. "I say … 'Keep your fingers crossed but not yet.' So there is a clamoring, many of them are in my minor, but many of them are the students we work with every day in our labs and in our different I-Series programs."
The major, which Bolger said has been 10 years in the making, will be run through the education college. Right now, Bolger said he is awaiting letters of support from the psychology and family science departments before it can be approved by the college.
Afterward, it would require approval from the University Senate, university President Wallace Loh, the Board of Regents and the Maryland General Assembly.
The major will likely include an introductory course, as well as two other gateway requirements focused on learning and development throughout the lifespan, Bolger said.
Other courses in the major will likely focus on adult, infant and adolescent development, creativity, language development and educational psychology, he said. Some of these courses are already being offered at this university, Bolger said, and will be incorporated into the major.
Yutian Pan, a senior psychology major who plans to graduate in the fall, said the major sounded appealing and could be helpful for students interested in psychology research.
"I took a class in developmental psych, and that's actually very interesting. You get to learn how a baby develops, like how they operate," Pan said. "Actually I think about how this can be related to our daily lives. One day you're going to have your own child. … You can use what you've learned to guide them."
The major will also include an internship requirement, Bolger said, and research methods courses including statistical analysis.
Students could work within the laboratories the department already has for the internship, Bolger said, or help conduct research in the field.
"Many of us are doing programs in Baltimore and other places on the effects of poverty, and so we're out in the neighborhoods working with families and collecting all sorts of data," Bolger said. "So these are just some of the other kinds of great opportunities that we have within the department.
Maddie Reichbart, a sophomore education major, said the major intrigued her, and would fit in nicely with the psychology and childhood development courses she is already required to take, but she wouldn't be likely to take it on as an entire major, she said.
"It would kind of show how the development you do as a child would continue to build as you grow into an adult — to see how students develop, and how that affects them," she said about how it could help students in the education field.