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Applied Behavioral Science celebrates 50 years on campus

Friday, October 17, 2014

LAWRENCE – In 1964, a group of scholars at the University of Kansas had a unique vision to establish a program that would address practical solutions to some of society’s toughest behavioral problems. The Department of Applied Behavioral Science was born, and on its 50th anniversary, the community is reflecting on its illustrious history with a unique celebration.

Originally called the Department of Human Development and Family Life, the department is recognizing this important milestone by reuniting alumni, faculty and friends of the program. The anniversary event and reunion will take place Friday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 26, in Lawrence.

Throughout the weekend, attendees will discuss the future of the department and reflect on its past. A variety of speakers will present on the vast areas of the department’s alliances and contributions with topics including the Bureau of Child Research/Life Span Institute, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, the Clinical Child Psychology Program, Behavioral Neuroscience programs and the role of international students in the program.

“The department’s past, present, and future are its alumni, faculty members, graduate students and friends,” said Edward Morris, chair of the applied behavioral science department. “The anniversary is a reason to rejoice with them and whoop and holler just for the fun of it."

Students and faculty in this discipline work to understand human behavior and solve societal problems through critical thinking and applying unique solutions. Currently, the department is addressing issues such as addiction, developmental disabilities, autism, community health and development, organizational behavior management, early childhood development, physical disabilities and truancy prevention.

Since its founding half a century ago, the department has pioneered translating research into practice and founded the industry’s leading publication, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The department continues to be a leader in research funding and has garnered more than $10 million in awards, providing opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate research. Additionally, the Work Group for Community Health and Development is a World Health Organization Centre and one of four department centers in the Life Span Institute.

The Department of Applied Behavioral Science is part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, which encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit.