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This publication focuses on the challenges faced by modern societies as they seek to plan for competing in the global economy, educating the population for new competencies, maintaining the social fabric for nurturing and socializing the next generation, and providing opportunities for the health and well-being of all citizens. Emphasis is placed on the need for understanding the processes of human development as a vital component of the planning process, noting that such an understanding starts with recognizing the social nature of the human species and the powerful impact that social environments have on human development. The first section of this report explains how contemporary social structures and practices affect individual and collective development. Topics explored include: (1) basic needs for positive human development during infancy, early childhood, transition to school, puberty, and adulthood; (2) the impact of the social environment on human development; (3) information technology and the creation of new learning opportunities; and (4) the necessity for linkage and integration in developing a conceptual framework and a common language. Subsequent sections of the report examine in greater detail the current dilemmas of modern technological societies, developments in the human sciences that inform any attempts to make important decisions, and the relevance of this information to economics and health. Other topics discussed are the social cost of failure, family sociology and behavioral epidemiology, and building a new framework for understanding the determinants of human development. Contains 70 references. (SM)

Descriptors: Cognitive Development, Cultural Context, Developmental Stages, Foreign Countries, Individual Development, Information Technology, Labor Force, Learning, Policy Formation, Program Development, Research Methodology, Research Needs, Social Change, Social Development, Social Environment, Social Influences

Autor: Canadian Inst. for Advanced Research, Toronto Ontario.


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