In 1996, the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Studies became the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. The Department offers degree programs for undergraduates and graduate students who seek to enter the fields of education, behavioral science and human services. It also offers a doctoral program in Applied Developmental Science. In addition to providing students with experience in its laboratory school, curriculum lab, and other on-campus facilities, it places importance on the practice of field work with children in a wide range of settings. The department attracts researchers from around the world, while also maintaining a focus on serving families of young children in the greater Boston area.
In 1996, the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Studies became the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. The department, already prominent in its field, grew between this date and the early 2010s in number of faculty members and lecturers, in courses offered, and in programs that serve students, researchers and families in the greater Boston area.
One landmark event that occurred during the period soon after the department's name change was the endowment of the Bergstrom Family Chair in Applied Developmental Science in 1997, which was described by Sol Gittleman in An Entrepreneurial University: The Transformation of Tufts 1976-2002 as "the nation's first professorship explicitly framed in ADS terms."
The department's facilities include the Eliot-Pearson Children's School, the Tufts Educational Day Care Center, and the Evelyn G. Pitcher Curriculum Lab. Students complement their course work with activities that take place in these facilities and, according to the course catalogue for the academic year 2010-2011, with field work with children in a "wide range of applied settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics, day care centers, educational television studios, museums, and juvenile courts."
Undergraduates can choose either a major or a minor in Child Development. There are three Masters programs and a doctoral program in Applied Child Development. The catalog for 2000-2001 described ADS as "an emerging, interdisciplinary field that generates and uses theory and research about human development to improve the lives of children, youth, and families around the world." Students can follow a number of tracks throughout their education in Child Development, the three most common being preparation for a career in behavioral science, a career in human services, and a career in education. For those seeking the latter, the department offers a pre-K to 3 teacher certification program, and an elementary school teacher program in cooperation with the Department of Education. Another joint program is the M.A. in child and family policy, offered with the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy.
As of 2011, the department runs a number of research centers, institutes and special programs, including: Center for Applied Child Development, Center for Reading and Language Research, Child & Family, WebGuide, Developmental Technologies Research Group, Healthy Families Evaluation Program, Home-School Connection ProgramInstitute for Applied Research in Youth Development, The International Adoption Project, Tufts Adoption and Development Project
Information about these programs can be found on the department's website.
Every two years since 2001, the department, in partnership with the Communication and Media Studies Program, has presented the Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children's Media. These awards are nicknamed The Abbys, in honor of educator and co-founder Abigail Adams Eliot.
The Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development's mission is "to contribute to a more just, caring and inclusive society."