Development is the process of change that occurs in an individual or a society, including physical and cognitive changes. It also encompasses the social and emotional growth of individuals and their relationships with others. It is the central focus of human development, a discipline that examines the ways in which people grow and change throughout their lives.
Some theorists assume that patterns and pathways of developmental change are normative and universal, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Other theorists, especially those who endorse lifespan or ecological systems approaches, believe that people’s development is more complex and can take a variety of different forms, depending on the cultural, historical, and societal context in which they develop.
A related concept is sustainable development, which encompasses a wide range of goals that go beyond the simple increase in economic wealth and per capita income. These include reducing poverty, improving health, education, and living standards, and protecting the environment. Sustainable development is also concerned with ensuring that the benefits of development are shared equitably, and that no one is left behind.
For example, in the workplace, workers are increasingly seeking companies that provide opportunities for on-the-job training and professional development. This can improve their communication skills, make them more flexible and adaptable to change, or enhance their leadership abilities. In this way, development can help to improve the quality of work and life for the whole team. A development project is the act of creating something new, such as a block of apartments or a shopping centre.