(Conferences to be held in 2012 & 2013)

International Perspectives on Developmental Pathways for Arab Youth Identity

Principal Organizer – Julie Hakim-Larson

The youngest population worldwide is in the Arab region with 60% of the population under the age of 25 and an anticipated increase in this percentage by the year 2050 (United Nations Development Program, 2006; Arab Youth Strategizing for the Millennium Development Goals).  To clarify which aspects of Arab youth development need to be better understood from psychological, legal, and medical viewpoints, the study group at the University of Windsor will bring together a number of international academic and non-academic experts for a two-day symposium. There are several features of the experiences of Arab youth that warrant attention. First, technological advances (i.e., cellphones, the internet, social networking) have exposed Arab youth to many worldwide events, including traumatic ones that may be relevant for their identity formation, even if they have never experienced trauma directly (e.g., National Endowment for the Humanities, 2010;Words and Deeds–Freedom of Expression and Arab Youth). Such virtually instantaneous networking has been implicated as a direct catalyst of youth movements such as the Arab Spring of 2011. What leads youth to be involved?  Second, tensions continue to exist between East and West. Yet, it remains unclear what these tensions mean for the ethnic, religious, and political identities of youth.  How are Arab youth affected by others’ and their own memories of war and conflict?  How might these memories interact with normative emotional conflicts?  Third, in spite of the cumulative cross-generational trauma and the international spotlight on Arab issues, there has been little systematic research on interventions to promote the positive adaptation of potentially affected youth.  Which community groups are well-positioned to work with Arab youth, and how can academics best work with these groups?  Finally, social policy makers need evidenced-based interventions to set their agendas. What guidelines for culturally-aware and informed policies involving Arab youth can be provided by researchers? These are among the many questions the study group will attempt to address during the meeting. Another group goal is to design collaborative research and discuss potential funding sources.  The outcomes of the meeting and the future research agenda will be disseminated in a special journal issue, at major conferences, and through a website that will be created to make the results more accessible to the non-academic community.

Collaborators/Participants: Mona Amer, PhD, Huda Ayyash-Abdo, PhD, Reem Bahdi, LLM, Leila Akoury Dirani, PhD, Cecilia Essau, PhD, Adnan Hammad, PhD, Hikmet Jamil, MD, PhD, Ibrahim Kira, PhD, Brigitte Khoury, PhD, Rosanne Menna, PhD, Sylvia Nassar-McMillan, PhD, Nancy Wrobel, PhD, and Samar Zebian, PhD

Leveraging Knowledge from Developmental Science for P-16 Educational Policy Reforms

Principal Organizers: Bridget Hamre, Jason Downer, Robert Pianta, Stephanie Jones

Current initiatives in P-16 education reform addressing teacher effectiveness, student outcome standards and assessment, and capacity to improve outcomes in STEM disciplines, each offer opportunities for developmental science to influence the lives of children and adolescents. Four core areas of developmental science provide points of intersection with educational policy and provide possibilities for leverage: (1) the transactional nature of social and emotional and academic skill development; (2) the role of executive function processes in academic learning; (3) the contributions of teacher-student relationships and interactions educational trajectories; and (4) the influence of peers on student functioning. The knowledge produced by developmental science in these areas has made too little impact on educational policy and reform.

This project will organize and integrate leadership in educational policy and developmental science so that upcoming educational reforms are more fully informed by developmental science.

Diverse methodological and disciplinary approaches within developmental science will be integrated in discussions and products that: 1) align educational reform in the areas above with contemporary understanding of child and adolescent development and; 2) exploit education reform initiatives for opportunities to advance developmental science. This project launches a strategic initiative of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) to forge stronger connections between developmental science and educational policy and practice. CASTL is uniquely situated to facilitate this work – a research center within the Curry School of Education with interdisciplinary research teams in the areas above (see http://curry.virginia.edu/research/centers/castl). The requested funding supports three initial steps: (1) a 2-day meeting of developmental scientists and educational policymakers; (2) a series of brief publications mapping four intersecting spaces between educational policy and developmental science with implications for informed policy; and (3) a communications network fostering exchange of information between developmental science and education policy. The project meets three of SRCD’s four strategic goals by leveraging an opportunity to advance research-policy connections while including an interdisciplinary team of researchers who focus their work on ethnically and economically diverse populations. We will also coordinate with the ongoing SRCD project focused on bringing a developmental perspective to STEM. The project PI will attend a steering committee meeting for this work over the summer and meet with Oscar Barbarin and Richard Lerner to plan in more detail for collaborations. We expect these to include, at a minimum, inviting leaders of that project to attend the UVA meeting and contribute to associated publications.

Meeting Agenda

CASTL will host a 2-day meeting with established and emerging leaders in educational policy and developmental science. Aims include: (1) informing developmental scientists’ of opportunities for intersection with educational policy; (2) synthesizing research in the four areas described above with explicit implications for teaching, instructional design, classroom processes, and standards for learners;

(3) generating new, interdisciplinary collaborations intersecting developmental science and education; and (4) advancing conceptual, operational, and resource frameworks to support such collaborations. We selected the four focal areas for two reasons: each has a significant body of evidence relevant to current educational reforms, and none has had policy impacts that match the strength of the evidence. The list of invitees includes established scientists working in interdisciplinary areas and who focus work on a diverse range of students and communities. Accomplished junior scholars will facilitate opportunities for collaboration, mentoring, and capacity-building. Finally, we include representatives from federal agencies and foundations that fund developmental and educational research.


Teams of developmental scientists in each of the four areas will prepare a joint research summary highlighting relevance to the education. Educational leaders will write a joint paper on opportunities to exploit intersections in these four areas. Drafts will be disseminated prior to the meeting; subsequently these will be edited and disseminated, including a series of brief publications (e.g., SRCD Social Policy Reports, Educational Researcher, Educational Leadership, Ed Week commentaries).

Communications Network

A sub-group of meeting participants will establish an interdisciplinary communications network to foster contact among developmental scientists and educational policymakers, using email and an on-line portal on the CASTL website

LGBT School Victimization

Principal Organizer – Stephen Russell

Summary coming soon!

Ethnic and Racial Identity in the 21st Century

Principal Organizers – Deborah Rivas-Drake & Adriana J. Umana-Taylor

The current Study Group brings together 12 ethnic/racial identity experts to critically synthesize the theoretical and empirical work on the concepts of ethnic and racial identity (E/RI) in youth.  Although an abundance of literature has emerged on E/RI, there have been limited efforts to bring scholars together to (a) discuss the theoretical complexities of each of these constructs, (b) understand ways in which the (sometimes distinct) bodies of work may inform one another, and (c) synthesize the findings that have practical implications in a way that will inform educators, practitioners, and programs with respect to how ethnic and racial identity may contribute to positive youth development.  There is a need to synthesize the work on E/RI, and convey knowledge about and implications of E/RI for normative development to a broader audience including researchers who specialize in ethnic minority youth development, practitioners, and policy makers whose decisions impact the extent to which services and programs can become culturally-informed.

Neural Plasticity and Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (AgCC)

Principal Organizer – Lynn Paul

Summary coming soon!