48th Annual Conference of the Jean Piaget Society

The Dynamics of Development

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 31 – June 2, 2018 Organizers: Paul van Geert, David Witherington, & Jan Boom


The question most central to developmental science is also the field's most elusive: How does human development work? In brief, how do new structures, patterns and levels of organization arise in human development? This question of how—targeting as it does the dynamics of development and the means by which development proceeds— is one that classic systems approaches to psychological development (such as Piaget's) began to address in the first decades of the 20th century. For much of the 20th century, however, developmental science routinely sidestepped dynamic questions, as the field grew increasingly reductionist in its orientation. Nonetheless, recent decades have witnessed a steady revival of emphasis on taking the question of dynamics seriously, yielding a focus on the embodied and embedded activity of individuals in time and context. This entails an understanding of how the real-time activities of people arise from the complex, dynamic relations of body, brain, and environment and of how these real- time activities yield developmental-time changes in people's psychological organization. It involves, in other words, a focus on self-organization and emergence, on nonlinearity and variability. Such renewed interest in developmental dynamics over the last two decades is due in part to the generation of new methods and tools for capturing developmental dynamics and mechanisms at different levels of functioning, and in part to the emergence of new theoretical perspectives for framing the study of dynamics.

The invited program for JPS 2018 will provide a survey of how different contemporary theories address issues of developmental dynamics and of how these theories both differ and share lines of convergence. Of course, as always, we welcome submissions on any topic in developmental science!

A Call for Papers will be issued in the Fall of 2017.

Download the PDF Announcement