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24 - A dynamic systems approach to the life sciences

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Alan Fogel
Affiliation:
Professor of Psychology University of Utah
Stanley Greenspan
Affiliation:
Professor George Washington University Medical School
Barbara J. King
Affiliation:
Professor of Anthropology College of William and Mary
Robert Lickliter
Affiliation:
Professor of Psychology Florida International University USA
Pedro Reygadas
Affiliation:
Researcher at EI Colegio de san Luis A. C. San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Stuart G. Shanker
Affiliation:
Research Professor of Philosophy and Psychology York University
Christina Toren
Affiliation:
Professor of Anthropology University of St Andrews
Alan Fogel
Affiliation:
University of Utah
Barbara J. King
Affiliation:
College of William and Mary, Virginia
Stuart G. Shanker
Affiliation:
York University, Toronto
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Summary

Each of the chapters in this book points to expanding our understanding of the multiple and complex relationships that surround development through the lifespan. In this chapter, we as the organizing committee of the Council for Human Development give a brief description and overview of the science of dynamic systems that is exemplified in the other chapters in this book. The goal of this chapter is to help people see how dynamic systems research helps us to understand human development and how it can assist in creating relevant policies and funding priorities.

The dynamic systems approach is fundamentally different from existing ideas about simple cause and effect. It begins with the realization that the living world is too complex for any one factor to have a significant effect on an outcome in the absence of many other competing and cooperating factors, all of which change over time. Dynamic systems scientists, such as the authors of the chapters in this book, seek to understand certain aspects of this constantly changing network of mutual influences according to their focus of study. The core of the notion of “system” is that it shows the relation of the “whole” and its “parts.” To think about dynamic systems means that we have always to consider the history of how the system under study – be this a single child with autism or an inner-city neighborhood – changes over time.

Type
Chapter
Information
Human Development in the Twenty-First Century
Visionary Ideas from Systems Scientists
, pp. 235 - 253
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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References

Bergman, L., Cairns, R., Nilssom, L., and Nystedt, L. (2000). Developmental science and the holistic approach. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Fogel, A., Garvey, A., Hsu, H., and West-Stroming, D. (2006). Change processes in relationships: relational–historical research on a dynamic system of communication. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Granott, N., and Parziale, J. (2002). Microdevelopment: transition processes in development and learning. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
King, B. (2004). The dynamic dance. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shanker, S., and King, B. (2002). The emergence of a new paradigm in ape language research. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25: 605–626.Google ScholarPubMed
Toren, C. (2002). Comparison and ontogeny. In Gingrich, A. and Fox, R. G. (eds.), Anthropology, by comparison. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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