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University of Iowa News Release


March 24, 2009

UI's new Delta Center will explore new ways of studying learning and development

Traits and behaviors are often attributed to genes, but a group of University of Iowa researchers believes the whole story is far more complex. They founded the new interdisciplinary Delta Center (Development and Learning from Theory to Application) to foster innovative approaches to studying learning and development. The center's kick-off events are set for March 26 and 27.

Anchored by the Departments of Psychology and Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Delta Center will focus on research, education and outreach in development and learning.

Delta, the Greek symbol for change, represents the researchers' goal to move beyond traditional scientific approaches for studying learning and development in favor of a viewpoint that embraces life's full complexity. They consider the nature/nurture debate outdated, believing the concepts are too intertwined to separate. In place of the debate, they embrace the complex integration of brain, mind, body, physical environment, social relationships and large-scale social systems.

To date, 33 scholars from psychology, communication sciences and disorders, computer sciences, math, linguistics, Spanish and Portuguese, and engineering are members. The Delta Center is the reincarnation of the Iowa Center for Developmental and Learning Sciences, founded three years ago. This center traces its history back to 1917 and the formation of the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station. Collectively, the full members of the Delta Center have 22 active research grants. Last year they authored 72 publications (with 40 more pending) and three books.

The kick-off schedule is as follows:

--At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in Kollros Auditorium (Room 101 of Biology Building East), Florida Atlantic University's David J. Lewkowicz, president of the International Society for Infant Studies, will present "From Here to There: Developing Systems, Developing Children, and the Science of Change." UI Provost Wallace Loh, Associate Vice President for Research Jay Semel, and Associate Dean Joseph Kearney will provide remarks.

--On Friday, March 27, Don Katz of the Volen Center for Complex Systems at Brandeis University will present the Delta Center Colloquium in Room E104 of Seashore Hall at 9 a.m. His talk is entitled, "Neural dynamics of perception and learning." Communication Sciences and Disorders Distinguished Alumna Dorothy Craven of the University of Hawaii will speak at noon in Room 308 of the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center; and Teresa Treat of the Department of Psychology at Yale University will present the Psychology Colloquium, "Clinical-Cognitive Science: Applications to Disordered Eating and Sexual Aggression," at 2:30 p.m. in Room 307 of the Pappajohn Business Building.

Funding for the events was provided by the Delta Center, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Department of Psychology, and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies through the Laura Spelman-Rockefeller Fund.

For more information on the Delta Center visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: John Spencer, Delta Center/Department of Psychology, 319-335-2482,; Jean K. Gordon, Delta Center/Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, 319-335-8729,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,