Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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The concept of human development is central to the preoccupations of educators and individuals concerned with their own maturation and fulfilment. It is also central to the declared concerns of policy-makers and those concerned with social development and learning. There is however no agreement on what is meant by the term and little recognition of the variety of meanings associated with the term (and its synonyms) in different sectors of society. Each group implicitly rejects concepts of human development favoured by others, usually without any understanding of what is implied. As a consequence reports on human development tend to stress relatively narrow ranges of meanings thus failing to recognize the variety of concepts with which people identify, consider meaningful or reject in their search for growth and fulfilment in life, however misguided their understanding from others' point of view.


The section contains brief descriptions of 1,407 concepts of human development. Entries are included on explicit concepts of human development and on therapies, activities or experiences in which a particular understanding of human development is implicit. The entries do not include subjective experiences described in the following section.


The information used was obtained from a wide range of specialized reference books as well as from reports published by intergovernmental organizations. A detailed description of the method is given in the commentary.


A keyword index to entries is incorporated into the index for Volume 2 (Section X)

Entries in this section are also cross-referenced from the section on Human Values and Wisdom (Section V) on the basis of value words in the body of the text of the human development entries (constructive value words, Section VC; destructive value words, Section VD).


Bibliographical references, by author, are given in Section HY.


Detailed comments are provided elsewhere.


Many of the concepts of human development do not lend themselves to brief verbal description, particularly where their proponents sharply distinguish them from other concepts that could well be described using the same words. In editing the descriptions no attempt has yet been made to clarify such difficulties.

Possible future improvements

In addition to refining entries and extending the range, consideration could again be given to the possibility of including specific bibliographic references as was done for the previous edition.