PYD & Social Justice: Conversations with Thought Leaders

Feb. 25 – Apr. 22, 2021

The positive youth development (PYD) approach to children and adolescents is predicated on the ideas that 1. every young person has strengths, 2. key contexts of life (e.g., families and communities) have resources that can promote positive development, and 3. the alignment across time and place of the strengths of youth and contextual resources promotes youth thriving.

The virtual series of conversations with leading scholars advancing the integration of PYD research and application with efforts to advance social justice focused on if and how these ideas can be used to understand and enhance the lives of marginalized youth and promote equity and social justice, especially among youth who have experienced adversity, trauma, and disparities because of systemic racism, white privilege, and threats to their health, education, economic well-being, and safety.

The thought leaders who participated in this series work productively to address these issues in the service of promoting positive development among diverse youth. They discussed their views about the PYD-social justice relation, the ways in which their research addresses their views, and the implications of their work for future research and for applications to programs and policies aimed at promoting PYD and enhancing social justice, equity, and inclusion among diverse, marginalized youth. Each conversation included a Q & A period with audience members.

Thursday, February 25: Dr. Oscar Barbarin

Recording available

Dr. Oscar Barbarin is Professor of the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland. Dr. Barbarin is the former Lila L. and Douglas J. Hertz Endowed Chair, Dept. of Psychology, Tulane University. He earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Rutgers University in 1975. He has served on the faculties of the Universities of Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina. His research has focused on the social and familial determinants of ethnic and gender achievement gaps beginning in early childhood. He has developed a universal mental health screening system for children pre-K to-8. He was principal investigator of a national study whose focus was the socio-emotional and academic development of boys of color. His work on children of African descent extends to a 20 year longitudinal study of the effects of poverty and violence on child development in South Africa. He served as Editor of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry from 2009-20014 and on the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development 2007-2013.

Reading Material:
Barbarin, O. A., Tolan, P. H., Gaylord-Harden, N., & Murry, V. (2020). Promoting social justice for African-American boys and young men through research and intervention: A challenge for developmental science. Applied Developmental Science, 24, 196–207.

Tuesday, March 2: Dr. Keshia L. Harris

Recording Available

Dr. Keshia Harris is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. She earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Human Development from the University of Chicago. She is a developmental psychologist who studies child and adolescent development, educational inequality, and colorism among Black and Latinx youth in the U.S., Brazil, and Colombia. She has conducted quantitative and qualitative data collection with high school seniors in Salvador, Brazil and Cartagena, Colombia on issues concerning educational inequality and colorism and has studied race based traumatic stress.

Reading Material:
Harris, K.L. (2018). Biracial American Colorism: Passing for White. American Behavioral Scientist, 62(14), 2072-2086.

Thursday, March 11: Dr. Velma McBride Murry

Recording Available

Dr. Velma McBride Murry is University Professor of Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Department of Human and Organizational Development, and University Professor of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Department of Health Policy. Professor McBride Murry has conducted research on African-American parents and youth for over a decade and identified proximal, malleable protective factors that deter emotional problems and risk engagement in youth. Using this information, she designed and implemented two randomized control trial, family-based preventive interventions programs, the Strong African American Families (SAAF) Program and the Pathways for African American Success (PAAS), and both have demonstrated efficacy in the enhancement of parenting and family processes as well as intrapersonal protective processes among youth that, in turn, dissuaded them from engaging in health compromising behaviors. Professor Murry is the President of the Society for Research on Adolescence and has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Reading Material:
Barbarin, O. A., Tolan, P. H., Gaylord-Harden, N., & Murry, V. (2020). Promoting social justice for African-American boys and young men through research and intervention: A challenge for developmental science. Applied Developmental Science, 24, 196–207.

Gaylord-Harden, N. K., Barbarin, O., Tolan, P. H., & Murry, V. M. (2018). Understanding development of African American boys and young men: Moving from risks to positive youth development. American Psychologist, 73(6), 7

Tuesday, March 16:  Dr. Aerika Loyd

Recording Available

Dr. Aerika Brittian Loyd is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California-Riverside. She earned her Ph.D. from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development of Tufts University.  Dr. Loyd is an interdisciplinary, community-engaged developmental scientist, who employs psychology, human development, and prevention science theories to understand how intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and identity inform health and development for youth and young adults of color (e.g., African American and Latinx). The ultimate goal of her research program is to provide recommendations for culturally informed youth practice, prevention, and policy.

Reading Material:
Loyd, A. B., & Gaither, S. E. (2018). Racial/ethnic socialization for White youth: What we know and needed directions. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 59, 54–64. 

Loyd, A. B., & Williams, B. V. (2017). The potential for youth programs to promote African American youth’s development of ethnic and racial identity. Child Development Perspectives, 11(1), 29–38.

Thursday, March 25: Dr. Miriam (Mimi) Arbeit

For security purposes, a recording of this session will not be made available.

Dr. Mimi Arbeit (she/her/hers) is an assistant professor of psychology at Suffolk University and Principal Investigator of the Youth Equity & Sexuality Lab, focused on promoting adolescent development and fighting fascism, white supremacy, and cis-hetero-patriarchy. Having earned her Ph.D. from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development of Tufts University, her current projects investigate how sexual violence prevention practices can address threats posed by male supremacists, and how adults can interrupt far-right and fascist attempts to recruit youth into their ranks. She’s honored to support and collaborate with antifascist community organizers in Charlottesville, Boston, and beyond, and supported media strategy across a network of antiracist activists fighting back against the 2017 white supremacist attacks on Charlottesville. She works to integrate antifascism with youth development theory and practice. Her recent article in the Journal of Youth Development (Arbeit et al., 2020) offers a plan for how youth development practitioners can stop fascist recruitment of youth through prevention, intervention, and counter-recruiting youth into movements for social justice. 

Reading Material:
Arbeit, M.R., Burnham, S. L. F., de Four, D., & Cronk, H. (2020) Youth practitioners can counter fascism: What we know and what we need. Journal of Youth Development, 15(5), 37-67.

Ph.D. In Applied Developmental Psychology

Tuesday, March 30: Dr. Emilie P. Smith

Recording Available

Dr. Emilie Smith is the College of Social Science Distinguished Senior Scholar at Michigan State University. Her work seeks to understand the ways in which families, schools, and communities interact to affect development, racial-ethnic identity, and socialization among youth of diverse socio-economic and geographic backgrounds. Given the importance of out-of-school time in juvenile crime, and the increasing demands on families for work-life balance, her research uses rigorous, randomized trials and multilevel methods to examine the role of evidence-based practices in fostering quality community-based programs that prevent problem behavior and promote parenting and positive youth development. Her work illuminates sustainable family and community approaches that reduce disparities and increase equity, drawing upon connected technologies and interdisciplinary partnerships. Her scholarship is at the cutting edge of Human Development and Family Science. Dr. Smith is one of the most recognized scholars in this field and has served as a distinguished professor in top-ranked HDFS departments.

Reading Material:
Smith, E. P., Witherspoon, D. P., & Osgood, D. (2017). Positive youth development among diverse racial-ethnic children: Quality afterschool contexts as developmental assets. Child Development, 88(5), 1063–1078.

Witherspoon, D. P., Daniels, L. L., Mason, A. E., & Smith, E. P. (2016). Racial-ethnic identity in context:  Examining mediation of neighborhood factors on children’s academic adjustment. American Journal of Community Psychology, 57, 87-101.

Yu, D., Smith, E. P. & Oshri, A. (2019): Exploring racial–ethnic pride and perceived barriers in positive youth development: A latent profile analysis, Applied Developmental Science, 1-19.

Thursday, April 8: Dr. Michelle Boyd-Brown

Recording Available

Dr. Michelle Boyd-Brown is a Research Scientist at the American Institutes for Research.  She earned her Ph.D. from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development of Tufts University. A former SRCD Congressional Fellow, she served in the federal government for several years, where she used her expertise in Positive Youth Development to help create the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs subgroup focused on Positive Youth Development. Her current research includes a focus on understanding and enhancing youth-specific pathways of thriving among marginalized children and adolescents.

Tuesday, April 13: Dr. Celina Benavides

Recording Available

Dr. Celina Benavides is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Services at California State University-Los Angeles. She earned a Ph.D. in Positive Development Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Benavides conducts research in two related topic areas: (1) the educational outcomes of students of color, and (2) the role of schools and communities in supporting the positive development of adolescents and young adults, namely through civic engagement initiatives and fostering purpose.

Thursday, April 22:  Dr. Corliss Outley

Recording Available
PPT Available

Dr. Corliss Outley is a professor in the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences at Clemson University. She earned a Ph.D. in Recreation and Natural Resources Management from Texas A & M University. Her research examines positive youth development outcomes during the out-of-school time hours, particularly focusing on racial/ethnic identity and cultural behaviors, health disparities, social justice, and built and physical environmental influences. She is a “community engaged scholar” who focuses on improving sociopolitical systems and environments to reduce inequalities through the application of strengths-based empowerment approaches to youth engagement.

Reading Material:
Outley, C. W., & Blyth, D. A. (2020). Race, Antiracism, and Youth Development: From Awareness to Sustained Action. Journal of Youth Development, 15(5). DOI 10.5195/jyd.2020.1005 | ISSN 2325-4017 (online)