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  • Understanding the Development of the Whole Person
  • John M. Braxton (bio)

This special issue of the Journal of College Student Development commemorates the 50th anniversary of the journal. In tracing the development of the student affairs profession, Elizabeth M. Nuss (2003) points to its "consistent and persistent emphasis and commitment to the development of the whole person" (p. 65). Put differently, the development of the whole person constitutes the core function of the student affairs profession.

The six articles that comprise this special issue center attention on various factors related to the development of the whole person. Moreover, the topic areas addressed by these articles represent key domains of research and scholarship that directly relate to a wide range of areas of practice in the profession of student affairs. The authors of these articles were charged with providing a historical overview, summary of current research and scholarship, and recommendations for future research and scholarship of the topical area represented by their article. Such a charge provides a befitting way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a core academic journal, the Journal of College Student Development.

Because the development of the whole person forms the core function of the communities of scholarship and practice of the profession of student affairs, the first three articles of this special issue center attention on the development of the whole person. Each of these articles strives for theoretical formulations that view students holistically. The development of identity occupies a central position in perspectives on college student development. Chickering and Reisser (1993) view the establishment of identity as pivotal to other forms of student development. In the first article, entitled "Identity Development Theories in Student Affairs: Origins, Current Status, and New Approaches," Vasti Torres, Susan R. Jones, and Kristen A. Renn discuss the current status of theories of college student identity development. In addition to discussing the commonalities among theories, Torres, Jones, and Renn also describe three new approaches which as they put it "make critical a closer examination of how society defines what is the norm in relation to understanding of race, ethnicity, and sexuality" (p. 14). These three new approaches are critical race theory, Latino critical theory, and queer theory. Torres, Jones, and Renn also urge the study of identity using the notion of intersectionality. They point out that intersectionality embraces multiple identities of the individual within the context of social structures of power and inequality In this article, these authors also delineate methodological challenges of studying identity through the lens of intersectionality. Intersectionality as an analytical lens seeks to view the whole student with complex and intersecting identities (social and personal) rather than segmented by race, gender, or sexual orientation. [End Page 573]

In the second article, entitled "Principles of Development and Developmental Change Underlying Theories of Cognitive and Moral Development," Patricia M. King also seeks a more holistic perspective on college student development by forging connections between cognitive and moral development. She forges such a connection by discussing such fundamental elements of development as the construction of meaning about intellectual or moral issues, the processes of development, and similarities in patterns of the type of changes over time. King recognizes content differences between cognitive and moral development, but points to the "striking similarities, suggesting that the development of hearts and minds may be more similar than different, and possibly interdependent" (pp. 39-40).

Marcia B. Baxter Magolda voices criticism against what she calls separate silos of theories of student development. In the third article, "The Activity of Meaning Making: A Holistic Perspective on College Student Development," she describes the principle academic traditions that generate separate rather than integrated concepts to describe student development in the literature of student development. To integrate clusters of theories that emanate primarily to take into account gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, Baxter Magolda uses Kegan's formulations of metapsychology to integrate these separate theories and research directions. She concludes this article by presenting six research directions to construct and refine an integrated holistic perspective on student development.

The remaining three articles concentrate on factors that directly or indirectly foster or impede the development of the whole person: multiculturally affirming environments, the prevention of unnecessary student departure...


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pp. 573-575
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