PYD & Social Justice: a conversation with Dr. Corliss Outley

As the final speaker in our PYD & Social Justice conversation series, Dr. Corliss Outley, well, outdid herself! Her style was thoroughly engaging and her ideas convincing and compelling.  The participants (and those who will watch via the recorded video!) could have listened for another hour at the least.  Her vision, values, and voice are truly assets for the study of PYD and social justice

Dr. Corliss Outley delivered an honest talk that both opened my eyes and challenge my unchecked biases. As a child development scientist, I will ask myself more questions when conducting research with youth who are challenged by racism and other structural inequalities: 1. Did scholars of color already produce answers to my questions but their knowledge was not acknowledged by the ‘mainstream’ academic world? 2. Did I include significant factors in the ecology of children of color or children living in poverty? 3. Am I using “norm”, which is generated from middle-class White families, to understand youth from a completely different background? I hope these questions can keep my unchecked bias checked during research. 
Dian Yu, Ph.D., Tufts University

It has been an incredible experience to attend this speaker series. Dr, Outley was the perfect capstone because she reminded us about everything we have heard and what our responsibility is as a research lab studying the lives of children and youth. We have already started to integrate and be more intentional in much of our work as a result of the series.
Elizabeth Dowling, Ph.D., Tufts University

For me, a central theme in Dr. Outley’s remarks was the importance of intellectual humility. I was trained at IARYD and am now one of the developmental scientists “taking over” the recreation / leisure field. When I joined the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management department at Penn State, an overview of the field and its differences from developmental science like the one Dr. Outley provided would have been an immensely helpful orientation. As it stands, listening to her explanation helped me to better understand and respect my new colleagues’ perspectives and why they may differ from a developmental science approach. Dr. Outley also reminded us that as researchers we have the necessary skills to find and cite the work of the scholars of color who have been leading the movement toward a more socially just society for decades. Not having previous familiarity with these topics or authors is no excuse for white researchers to continue to cite the same “old boys club” of scholars. Finally, Dr. Outley highlighted the importance of white researchers engaging in true collaborative partnerships with both the communities in which we do our work and our colleagues of color. Doing so means making sure that communities are able to actually use our research in ways that matter to them, and partnering with co-investigators (rather than consultants) who have relevant cultural experience when working with communities that are not our own. All of this advice requires white developmental scientists working in community settings to recognize the limits of our expertise and move beyond what is familiar to us, genuinely valuing the differing expertise of others and cultivating our intellectual humility. 
Jennifer Agans, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University

I was so very sad to have had to miss this final conversation, but after watching the recording I was struck so strongly by the discussion! While I wasn’t there live, I would still like to join everyone in thanking Corliss for her participation in this series. These conversations will definitely remain a valuable resource as time moves forward, and I appreciate the time given in helping make them happen!
Lori Campbell