Academic journal article Human Ecology

Paradigm Shift

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Paradigm Shift

Article excerpt

For more than 50 years as a faculty member in Human Development, Henry N. Ricciuti was a leader in his field, a powerful advocate for families and youth, a nurturing teacher, and a mentor to fellow professors. Henry's easygoing, avuncular manner belied an incisive intellect. He was the last person to sing his own praises, always modest and self-effacing about his scholarly reputation. If you didn't know what he did for a living, I doubt you'd ever guess that he was one of the era's most important child psychologists.

As a young faculty member, I worked alongside Henry for several years before I realized how highly his work was regarded by fellow scientists. Early in my career, at a National Institutes of Health review section, a committee member mentioned that he was anticipating Henry's latest article. Another colleague joined the conversation, detailing Henry's groundbreaking work in nutrition and children's intellectual development. They went on to describe a host of scholars who had been mentored by Henry as PhD students. I was shocked to discover my dear friend had such a wide influence, but it fit his humble personality to not let on about these achievements.

Henry's accomplishments were numerous, leading the Society for Research in Child Development to honor him in 2001 with its lifetime award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children. His approach to research questions was inherently ecological, long before that adjective came into broad use among developmental psychologists.

Unlike many who studied children's behavior out of context, Henry understood that children's surroundings exerted influences both additively and interactively on their emerging behavior. …

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