When you hear the word development, you probably think of progress in some area like technology or education. But development also refers to human well-being, a sustainable planet, peace and more. It’s important to understand the different ways in which this term is used and to consider how it can help us solve some of our biggest global challenges.
In the simplest sense, development is progress in people’s quality of life. This is often measured as improvements in a nation’s economy and in people’s health, happiness and freedom. But it can also include other aspects of a person’s quality of life such as their access to food, clean water, education and work opportunities.
The way in which nations define their own levels of development is interesting and complex. Some focus on wealth, which is the main indicator of development. But others look at a range of other international issues such as the quality of a country’s education system, the extent to which it is free from corruption and whether its citizens have adequate access to medical treatment.
Most scholars agree that development is a process of continuous improvement in the organization of society to exploit its opportunities and to face its challenges. Organizational improvements can occur at four different levels: physical, social, mental and psychological.
Some theorists, such as Piaget and Erikson, have argued that there are certain periods or crises in the human life cycle that everyone experiences. For example, they have proposed that adolescence is a time when individuals struggle to find their identity. However, it is hard to show that these psychosocial crises are common to all cultures and societies.