Human ecology is the study of relations between humans and their natural, cultural, built, and technological environments. Psychology is a discipline essential to the concept of human ecology, yet the scientific discipline of psychology has disconnected itself from the broader study of human ecology. Recent attempts to decolonize psychology and bring more representativeness into the field brings opportunities for reconsidering this relationship. This talk will consider how approaches to language and cognitive development can be informed by an understanding of human ecology. I will present data on monolingual and bilingual Chinese-, English-, and Spanish-speaking children’s language and literacy development, but also on the worldviews that come with language and discuss not just how children acquire languages, but also how languages acquire children (and adults) as we navigate complex social relationships. Throughout, I will discuss my own and others' experiences with learning language and cultural systems vastly different from our own, and suggest broader emphases on the relations of language to cultural dynamics and to decolonizing and humanizing our discipline.
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