Paul B. Baltes Legacy Symposium
May 3, 2007
To honor its late colleague, Paul Baltes, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, the University of Virginia’s Department of Psychology and the Institute on Aging held a symposium May 3, 2007 to review his legacy. Speakers included Anne C. Petersen, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Denise C. Park, University of Illinois, Margie Lachman, Brandeis University, and Angeline Lillard, University of Virginia.
- Opening Remarks and Welcome
R. Ariel Gomez, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies
John R. Nesselroade, University of Virginia
- Educating for Wisdom
Angeline Lillard, University of Virginia
- Implications of Selective Optimization With Compensation for Childhood and Adolescence
Anne C. Petersen, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
- Psychosocial Pathways to Healthy Aging: A Lifespan View
Margie E. Lachman, Brandeis University
- Neuroimaging Cognitive Aging: New Answers Yield Urgent Questions
Denise C. Park,University of Illinois
- Graham B. Spanier, President
- The Pennsylvania State University
- Ulman Lindenberger, Director
- Max Planck Institute of Human Development, Berlin
In Memorium: Paul B. Baltes (1939 – 2006)
Paul Baltes was one of the premier researchers, scholars, and academic administrators in behavioral science and was probably the most influential developmental psychologist on the international scene at the time of his death. His broad scientific agenda was devoted to establishing and growing the life--span orientation of human development--an area that he, more than any other scholar of modern times, shaped into its current form.
Paul's writings embraced theory, method, and substance. In the last few years of his life Paul added a new face to his activities by involving himself with the popular press via interviews and essays dealing with key aspects of aging and culture. He was the principal life-span theorist. His substantive work on wisdom, adaptation to age—related change (with Margret Baltes before her untimely death in 1999), the elaboration of old age, the permanent incompleteness of human architecture, and biocultural co-constructivism of the human brain all reflect his visionary quest to understand human development. He recognized the interdependence of theory and method and promoted their joint improvement in such conceptions as the multidimensionality and multi-directionality of change and the simultaneous regard for gains and losses. The published version of Paul’s doctoral dissertation became a citation classic and had a lengthy and dramatic effect on shaping developmental research design. The Berlin Aging Study (BASE) and the ADEPT (Penn State) and PRO-ALT (Berlin) projects are markers for excellence in empirical research that Paul leaves behind.
The obvious part of Paul’s scientific legacy resides in over 250 publications covering numerous aspects of developmental psychology—very broadly defined. Their impact is attested to by numerous awards and honors, among them Paul’s election to some of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world. He was a founding member of the European Academy of Sciences, a member of the Berlin--Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and a member and vice--president of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina. In this latter role, Paul led the way to explicit recognition of the humanities by this prestigious body of natural scientists. In 2000, Paul became a member of the Order Pour le mérite for scientists and artists. He was also a foreign member of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Honorary doctorates were bestowed on Paul by the Universities of Geneva , Jvyäskylä, Stockholm, and Berlin’s Humboldt University. Paul won numerous international awards including the American Psychological Association's Distinguished International Contributions to Psychology Award and the Novartis Prize for Gerontological Research awarded by the International Association of Gerontology.
Paul’s amazing program—building successes were the products of a rare combining, in one individual, of matchless scientific and administrative expertise. From a key role in shaping the Life-Span Developmental Psychology program at West Virginia University as a young faculty member (1968-1972) through leading the Human Development and Family Studies Division at The Pennsylvania State University to eminence as Director (1972-1978) until his years as a Max Planck Institute Director paid off in the emergence of a first—rank research institution—The Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Human Development, Berlin, Germany (1980-2005) Paul labored effectively, both by precept and example, As an MPI Director, Paul fostered numerous scientific and scholarly interactions between that institution, the universities of Berlin, and American universities to advance the national and international visibility of all. In this effort he was highly successful and these programs will succeed him for years to come. He was appointed Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Advanced Study Fellow at the University of Virginia in 2003 with the special charge to build and strengthen UVA’s international relationships. His efforts brought UVA into MaxNet Aging and the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE) with the MPI, the University of Michigan, and Berlin’s Humboldt and Free Universities. Paul was in Charlottesville, participating in a LIFE Academy when the last stage of his illness overtook him.
John R. Nesselroade
University of Virginia
Portions of this content have been excerpted from American Psychologist, 2007 Oc Vol. 62(7) 696. Copyright © 2007 by the American Psychological Association. Reproduced with permission. No further reproduction or distribution is permitted without the written permission of the American Psychological Association.