Promoting Character Development Among Diverse Children and Adolescents:
The Roles of Families, Schools, and Out-Of-School-Time Youth Development Programs

October 18 - 20, 2018 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Organizers: Richard M. Lerner, Tufts University and Deborah Lowe Vandell, University of California-Irvine

Parents, schools, and out-of-school programs are united in an interest in identifying the contexts of youth that are associated with positive development. With increasing frequency, this interest is focused on a key indicator of such development: Character. Embodied by the vision of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, that “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” the growing interest in character development is predicated on the aspirations of parents and of youth-development practitioners that enhancing children’s character will benefit both individuals and civil society.

Following on a 2016 meeting at the National Academies of Science Measuring Character Development, the 2018 Special Topics Character Development Meeting seeks to bring together developmental scientists, philosophers, educators, and practitioners to advance theory, research, and program practices pertinent to understanding character development as it occurs within and across the key settings of youth development. The program is expected to feature, among other topics, findings from longitudinal studies of character, work by biologists and epigenetic researchers who study social genomics and the mutually influential relations between individual and context, and practitioners within family, school, and out-of-school settings whose programs seek to promote character development. Other topics will include sessions that focus on the development of measures of character development that reflect both change-sensitive and context-specific aspects of character, including its cultural variation, and evaluation strategies for assessing programs designed to promote character virtue development.

Thank you to our sponsor, the John Templeton Foundation.

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