Carolina Consortium on Human Development is not a degree-granting unit. Predoctoral Trainees are recruited and selected from participating doctoral programs at the constituent universities. Cooperative arrangements have been established with each of the affiliated academic units to ensure that the CCHD program guidelines are compatible with the policies and practices of each of these institutions and departments.
Our Predoctoral Fellowship Program is unique in that it typically provides formal support (i.e., NICHD sponsored Fellowships) for one year in the final years of doctoral training. We find that this is an optimal point for involvement in the program because after several years of study the graduate students are well prepared for the undertaking, and they have time for the intense participation of our demanding program. However, participation in CCHD training activities (i.e., Consortium Proseminars, developmental seminars, CCHD sponsored workshops, and involvement in research activities conducted by the Mentor faculty) is available to promising candidates throughout their graduate studies (including the initial years). Typically, this leads to a mutual selection process such that by the time a possible candidate reaches the final stages of his or her predoctoral training (i.e., completing the qualifying exams, developing a dissertation proposal), it is apparent to the faculty which individuals best fit the program. The selection of candidates is based, therefore, not only on their academic record, but also on their interest in developmental science and opportunities for interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration. For a quick guide to the program, see CCHD Predoctoral Fellowship Quick Facts.
There are four key features to the Consortium Predoctoral Training Program
Consortium Predoctoral Advisory Committee
Consortium and Individual Courses. Each of these components is outlined below
Consortium Predoctoral Advisory Committee
Each predoctoral Fellow establishes an Advisory Committee upon entry into the program. The functions of this committee are to provide support, direction, and evaluation during the planning and completion of the dissertation project and to give additional guidance on career development issues. The Advisory Committee must consist of at least three members of the Mentor faculty as well as one of the Training Directors. Usually, there is considerable overlap between this committee and the doctoral dissertation committee formed in the Fellow’s home school or department. In keeping with the collaborative spirit of the Consortium, no requirement of the training program or the Fellow’s Advisory Committee can be inconsistent with the standing regulations and practices of the cooperating schools and departments. Therefore, the Fellow’s home department and the dissertation committee determine all degree requirements.
Predoctoral Fellows are required to participate in all semesters that they are enrolled in the program. Indeed, many students take part in the Proseminar prior to their tenure as NICHD appointees. The high level of voluntary participation by students is indicative of the popularity of the Proseminars. Debates and heated discussions among faculty, Fellows, and visiting speakers are not infrequent and naturally help to maintain the high levels of engagement among our young scholars. To provide a forum for extensive Fellow-centered discussion, the predoctoral Fellows meet with the postdoctoral Fellows in a companion class with each week’s speaker prior to his or her presentation at the Consortium Proseminar. This afternoon class provides a context for Fellows to explore theoretical and methodological questions within the context of the work of each week’s speakers. Each semester begins with two sessions devoted to reading and discussion of basic tenets of developmental science. From our evaluations over the years, we have found that this class has been highly successful for both Fellows and speakers alike.
The Consortium strongly encourages predoctoral Fellows to have significant research experience in two laboratories (following the postdoctoral training model), and the predoctoral Fellows are encouraged to become involved in the collaborative interdisciplinary research at the Center. However, rigid adherence to the requirement for breadth can impede the Trainee’s progress toward completion of the dissertation. The Advisory Committee assists each Fellow in the development of a research training program that is consistent with his or her knowledge base and prior experiences. In line with the aims of the program and the expertise of the training faculty, it is expected that the dissertation will reflect the experiences and/or issues raised in the specialized advanced training in human development. The Advisory Committees monitor and evaluate the students’ research progress. Such efforts require the careful balancing of the spirit of free intellectual inquiry, the rigors of ensuring the timely completion of departmental requirements, and the additional demands of preparing students to be placed successfully in postdoctoral and/or faculty positions.
Consortium and Individual Courses
In addition to the Proseminar and developmental seminar meetings, Fellows may elect to participate in advanced seminars that are taught by Consortium faculty members. Again, the Mentor faculty is sensitive to the fact that an overload of coursework can impede rather than facilitate scientific training. The decisions on course enrollment are made jointly by each Fellow, the Trainee’s faculty Mentor, and the Advisory Committee.