Urie Bronfenbrenner

(S.Hand, O.Holman, K.Koback)

external image BronfenKids.jpg

Born: April 29, 1917
Place of Birth: Moscow Russia
Occupation: Psycologist
Death: September 25, 2005
Cause of Death: Long illness he faced at home
Place of Death: Ithica, New York, U.S.A.

Urie Bronfenbrenner is a Russian Native who moved to the United States in 1923 with his parents, Dr. Alexander and Eugenie Kamentski Bronfenbenner. Both of his parents were fairly successful in their own careers. His Father worked at the New York State Institution for the Mentally Retarded, in Letchworth Village, New York as a clinical pathologist as well as a research director. Urie Bronfenbrenner has an extensive education in chronological order from attaining a double major from Cornell University in music and psychology, continuing on to Harvard where he received his Masters in Education and continued on to finish his University education at the University of Michigan where he gladly accepted his Ph.D. in 1942. Due to the time era, not even a span of two days passed after receiving his PhD Bronfenbrenner joined the army to do numerous works in the field of psychology. Directly after World War II came to an end, Bronfenbrenner continued on to work for the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor in Psychology. He enjoyed the field of education in the post-secondary level and continued on as a full time professor at his previous school, the Cornell University in Ithaca New York, where he later called home for his family.

Urie was a devoted family man and preached his ideas of the importance of family in his teaching and work. Upon passing at the age of 88, Urie is the proud father of six children, thirteen grandchildren and one great grandchild.Also leaving his wife of sixty-three years, Liese Bronfenbrenner. He had strong beliefs against societies changing views on materialism and the negative impacts that it had on family values. Bronfenbrenner accomplished many things throughout his lifetime including: a partnership in the Head Start Program, the development of the Ecological Theory and writing a series of fourteen books. http://www.boston.com/news/globe/obituaries/articles/2005/09/29/urie_bronfenbrenner_theories_altered_approach_to_child_development_at_88/

Brofenbrenner’s Ecological Theory

Brofenbrenner believes that development is reflected on the influence of five environmental systems. The five environmental systems are…


Microsystem is environment which surrounds the individual. This includes the family, peers, school, and neighbourhood. The microsystem is where the most direct interactions with parents, peers, teachers takes place. “The individual is not passive recipient of experiences in these settings, but someone who helps to construct the settings.” (Pg 28)


“Is the relation between Microsystems or connections between contexts.”(Pg 28) The individual is going to have different experiences with school and church and family, but there is a connection between all the experiences and this is mesosystem. “For example, a child whose parents have rejected them may have a hard time developing a positive relationship with their teachers.” (Pg 28)


“Involves links between a social setting in which the individual does not have an active role and the individual’s immediate context.” (Pg 28) The example given in the text book is of a working mother whose job makes her travel lots. This would affect the husband’s and child’s experience differently. It may increase conflict in the relationship of the husband and wife, and it may cause less interaction with the child.


“Is the culture in which the individuals live. Cultural contexts include developing and industrialized countries, socioeconomic status, poverty, and ethnicity.” (Pg 28)


“Is the patterning of environmental events and transitions over the life course, as well as sociohistorical circumstances. For example, divorce is one transition. Researchers have found that the negative effects of divorce on children often peak in the first year after divorce. By two years after the divorce, family interaction is less chaotic and more stable. As an example of sociohistorical circumstances, consider how the opportunities for women to pursue a career have increased during the last thirty years.” (Pg 28)

(info above cited from A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development Fourth Edition by John W. Santrock)

Here are a few tables for you to look at:

Here is a link to a youtube video we found interesting and sums up the information we provided!

Urie Bronfenbrenner also played a key role in the development of the Head Start Program.

The Head Start Program is the federal child development program for low-income children and their families. Urie Bronfenbrenner is one of three developmental psychologists on the planning committee whose work led to the development of the Head Start Program. The other two psychologists were Mamie Clark and Edward Zigler. Bronfenbrenner’s ability to translate his ideas into operational research models and effective social policies helped to start the creation of the Head Start Program in 1965. Brofenbrenner convinced these other two psychologists that an intervention would be most effective if it involved the family and the community instead of just the child. In 1979 he continued to develop his thinking into the groundbreaking theory on the ecology of the human development. His research also furthered the goals of Cornell’s Life Course Institute which was renamed the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Institute in 1993. The Head Start Program is one of the most successful and longest running program known to help stop the cycle of poverty in the United States. It has provided understanding about education, health, nutrition and the child’s parent involvement services to low income children and their families. Head Start is a program within the Administration on Children, Youth and the families in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Urie Bronfenbrenner also played a substantial role in the development of the Head Start Program.

They established the Head Start Program because the problem that children from poor families are caught in a constant cycle of poverty needed to be addressed. As well as the issue that the child did not receive adequate support in every aspect of their development needed to be looked at so that the child can mature into a successful citizen. The children are assessed by using the outcome of their academic achievements. However, support for the children’s physical development by having health care and nutrition programs as well as intellectual stimulation are also included in the Head Start Program. Throughout the years there has always been controversy because numerous factors are involved. A big problem they found was that once the child has completed the Head Start Program and entered an elementary school they fall behind because they are not receiving the amount of support that they need in order to continue their development. The parent is seen as the first teacher that a child will have, this means that the preschool teachers should function as an extension of these parents. On the other hand, if the family fails to help the child then it comes the time when society can step in to assist in the forms of programs, like Head Start, where they focus on the child’s basic needs while still providing intellectual stimulation.
The five main sub-programs that are offered by the Head Start Organization are:
-Early Head Start
-Head Start
-Migrant and Seasonal Program Branch
-American Indian-Alaska Native Program Branch
-Family Partnership
If you want to learn more about the above sub-programs as well as what they provide and to learn more about the Head Start Program click the following link: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Head_Start
I also found an article from the American Psychological Association called “Early Intervention Can Improve Low-Income Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic Achievement” to read it click this following link: http://www.psychologymatters.org/headstart.html
Some Facts about the Head Start Program:
-Late 2005: more than 22 million pre-school aged children participated
-6.8+ billion dollar budget for 2005: provided services to more than 905,000 children
57% of who were 4 years old or older
43% 3 years old or younger
- Services provided by 1,604 different programs operating more than 48,000 classrooms scattered across every state & almost every county.
-Average cost of $7,222 per child
-Paid staff = 212,000 people
- Volunteers which are 6 times larger than the paid staff
-Administered locally by non-profit organizations and local education agencies/school systems
- Shriver appointed the planning committee for the Head Start Program which included:
-10 professionals in physical and mental health, early education, social work
-3 professionals in developmental psychology
-Some 20 million children and families participated since the summer of 1965
-Current enrolment approaches the mark of one million annually. This includes the children from birth to age 3 that are in the Early Head Start sub-group.
-They include family support services, home visiting, credentialing process for early childhood workers and education for parenthood.