Development is a good change in which people improve their economic, social, or environmental situation. For example, the “developers” of a new housing community might focus on building homes that are affordable to working-class families, as opposed to the homebuilders who focus on luxury development. In the same way, a business might invest in employee development to help them become more motivated and skilled at their jobs.
Some theories of development assume that there is a clear progression from one stage to the next, such as Erikson’s psychosocial stages of human development or Piaget’s cognitive growth. These stages are not universal, however. For example, some cultures don’t have the same expectations for adolescence as those in the United States. Other theories, such as sociocultural theoryExternal link:open_in_new, take a wider view of development. This theory looks at the contributions that the environment, family, friendship groups, and schools make to a person’s development.
Sustainable developmentExternal link:open_in_new is an international goal that includes social, economic, and environmental considerations. The basic idea is that we must be able to meet the needs of the present without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to do the same. A key challenge is reducing greenhouse gases that cause global warming and other climate change. Another major challenge is eliminating poverty. Poverty is not only a social evil in its own right, but it prevents people from meeting most of the other goals of sustainable development. This is why it is the primary target of most aid programs.