Urie Bronfenbrenner (April 29, 1917 – September 25, 2005) was a Russian American psychologist, known for developing his Ecological Systems Theory, and as a co-founder of the Head Start program in the United States for disadvantaged pre-school children.
Urie Bronfenbrenner was born on April 29, 1917 in Moscow, Russia, as the son of Dr. Alexander Bronfenbrenner and Eugenie Kamenetski Bronfenbrenner. When Urie was 6, his family moved to the United States. After a brief stay in Pittsburgh, they settled in Letchworth Village, the home of the New York State Institution for the Mentally Retarded, where his father worked as a clinical pathologist and research director.
After his graduation from Haverstraw High School, Bronfenbrenner attended Cornell University, where he completed a double major in psychology and music in 1938. He went on to graduate work in developmental psychology, completing an M.A. at Harvard University, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1942. Twenty-four hours after receiving his doctorate he was inducted into the Army, where he served as a psycholothe U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Immediately after World War II, Bronfenbrenner worked briefly as Assistant Chief Clinical Psychologist for Administration and Research for the Veterans' Administration, before beginning his work as Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Michigan. In 1948, he accepted a professorship in Human Development, Family Studies, and Psychology at Cornell University. In the late 1960s to early 1970s, Bronfenbrenner served as a faculty-elected member of Cornell's Board of Trustees.
With his wife, Liese, Urie Bronfenbrenner had six children. At the time of his death, Bronfenbrenner was the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Human Development and of Psychology in the Cornell University College of Human Ecology. Bronfenbrenner died at his home in Ithaca, New York, on September 25, 2005, due to complications from diabetes at the age of 88.