Invited Program


Invited Keynote Addresses

Speaker: Marc H. Bornstein, National Institutes of Health
Thursday, October 18; 9:00am - 10:00am; Room: Wyeth Gallery BC
Topic: Character in context

Evolution, the Moral Philosopher?
Speaker: Steve Cole, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA School of Medicine
Thursday, October 18; 3:15pm - 4:15pm; Room: Wyeth Gallery BC

Abstract. What is the best way for humans to live?  This talk considers the possibility that our bodies may form an opinion on that matter, and perhaps arrive at different conclusions than would our conscious minds.  If we think of the human genome as recording millions of years of experience regarding how best to survive and thrive in this world, what do our genomes have to teach us now, and how might we go about listening?

Biography. Steve Cole is a Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the UCLA School of Medicine. His research maps the molecular pathways by which social environments influence gene expression by viral, cancer, and immune cell genomes.  He pioneered the field of human social genomics and collaborates with a wide range of medical, social, and behavioral scientists through his role as Director of the UCLA Social Genomics Core Laboratory.  His research has been supported by the NIH, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, among others, and he is best known for studies on the molecular impact of loneliness and the surprising power of purpose.

Speaker: David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times
Thursday, October 18; 4:30pm - 6:00pm; Room: Wyeth Gallery BC

Biography. David Brooks is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, a position he began in September 2003, as well as an Executive Director of the Aspen Institute. He is a commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Brooks is the author of Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There and The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement. In April 2015, he came out with his fourth book, The Road to Character, which was a No. 1 New York Times best-seller. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Twitter: @nytdavidbrooks

Speaker: Marvin W. Berkowitz, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Friday, October 19; 9:00am - 10:00am; Room: Wyeth Gallery BC
Topic: Schools and character development

Speaker: Stephanie M. Jones, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Saturday, October 20; 8:30am - 9:30am; Room: Wyeth Gallery BC
Topic: Interventions that promote character development

Speaker: Velma McBride Murry, Vanderbilt University
Saturday, October 20; 1:15pm - 2:15pm; Room Wyeth Gallery BC
Topic: Character development in diverse children and adolescents

Invited Views by Two

Topic: Defining and measuring character development
Friday, October 19; 1:15pm - 2:45pm; Room: Wyeth Gallery BC
Moderator: Anthony Burrow, Cornell University
Panelist: Angela L. Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania
Panelist: David S. Yeager, University of Texas at Austin

Invited Data Blitz

Organized After-School Activities and Character Development: A Conversation with Experts on the Field and Future Directions
Thursday, October 18; 10:15am - 11:45 am; Room: Whistler Ballroom
Moderator: Sandi Simpkins, Professor, University of California, Irvine

  • Reed Larson, Professor, Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Illinois
  • Emilie Smith, Janette McGarity Barber Professor, Human Development and Family Science, University of Georgia
  • Richard M. Lerner, Ph.D., Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science, Director, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University

Description. Organized after-school activities and programs are championed as contexts for positive youth development, one aspect of which is youth’s character development. Organized after-school activities have many of the qualities theorized to support youth’s character development including youth empowerment, intrinsic motivation, positive relationships with adults, opportunities to matter, and developmental pedagogy. Several after-school organizations cite the development of character virtues in their mission statements and define their programming around character (e.g., 4-H, scouts). This data blitz brings together three leading experts in the field of activities and youth’s character development across the globe. The panelists will discuss recent advances in this burgeoning area of research. Topics will include, among others: (a) empirical support for theoretically-driven mechanisms explaining how activities influence character development, (b) implications of methodological and analytic choices, and (c) critical future directions for research. For each topic, panelists will share insights from their work and the field in a short flash talk format. In addition to discussion among the panelists, the audience will be invited to discuss their questions and thoughts on this area of research.

Sandra Simpkins, Ph.D. in psychology, is a professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Through her research, Sandra Simpkins examines how youth development unfolds over time and how the contexts in which youth are embedded influence their development. Generally, her work has focused on how families, friendships, and social position factors (such as, ethnicity and culture) shape adolescents’ organized after-school activities and motivation. She received The William T. Grant Young Scholars Award and National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study these issues for Latinx adolescents and families. Her work strives to understand the unique role of SES, immigration, ethnicity, and culture in family functioning and youth development.

Reed W. Larson is a professor in the Departments of Human Development and Family Studies, Psychology, and Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He has conducted 20 years of intensive grounded-theory research aimed at understanding the developmental experiences of young people in youth development programs and the staff practices that facilitate these experiences. The work of Larson’s team served at a foundation for the Susan Crown Exchange’s “Social-Emotional Learning Challenge” and its report: Preparing Youth to Thrive: Promising Practices in Social & Emotional Learning. Dr. Larson has also served as the President of the Society for Research on Adolescence and as co-Editor-in-Chief (with Lene Jensen) of New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. In 2016 he received the John P. Hill Career Achievement Award from the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Dr. Emilie Smith is the Janette McGarity Barber Distinguished Professor and Department Head of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Georgia.  She has directed and been involved in research funded for over 50 million dollars evaluating evidence-based practices for supporting families and communities in the prevention of problem behavior and promoting positive youth development.  She has co-authored a book volume entitled, Preventing Youth Violence in a Multicultural Society and numerous papers on youth and family development, with particular attention to diverse racial-ethnic and social backgrounds.  She is Editor of a Special Section of Child Development, on Positive Youth Development in Diverse and Global Contexts. She is Associate Editor of the American Journal of Community Psychology, and a reviewer for numerous others.  She is a Fellow of Division 27 of APA and has served on the Executive Board of SPR and the Governing Council of SRCD.
Twitter: @DrEmilieSpeaks

Richard M. Lerner is the Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science and the Director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. He went from kindergarten through Ph.D. within the New York City public schools, completing his doctorate at the City University of New York in 1971 in developmental psychology. Lerner has more than 700 scholarly publications, including more than 80 authored or edited books. He was the founding editor of the Journal of Research on Adolescence and of Applied Developmental Science, which he continues to edit.

Lerner is known for his theory of relations between life-span human development and social change, and for his research about the relations between adolescents and their peers, families, schools, and communities. His work integrates the study of public policies and community-based programs with the promotion of positive youth development and youth contributions to civil society.

Invited Symposia

Chair: Yalda T. Uhls, University of California, Los Angeles and Common Sense Media
Topic: Parenting and character development
Friday, October 19; 10:15am - 11:45am; Room: Whistler Ballroom

  • Presentation 1: Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University
  • Presentation 2: Sara DeWitt Henry, PBS
  • Presentation 3: Vicki Katz, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Presentation 4: Yalda T. Uhls, University of California, Los Angeles and Common Sense Media

Studies of Character Development Internationally
Saturday, October 20; 9:45am - 11:15am; Room: Whistler Ballroom
Chair: Frosso Motti, University of Athens
Discussant: Jacqueline Lerner, Boston College

  • Presentation 1: Katariina Salmela-Aro, University of Helsinki
  • Presentation 2: Ariel Knafo, The Hebrew University of Jerusaleum
  • Presentation 3: Frosso Motti, University of Athens

Invited Conversation Roundtables

Confessions from Practitioners involved in Researcher Practitioner Partnerships
Thursday, October 18; 1:30pm - 3:00pm; Room: Whistler Ballroom
Moderator: Deborah Moroney, PhD, Managing Researcher, American Institutes for Research

  • Bela Mote, CEO, Carole Robertson Center for Learning
  • Katie Pastuszek, Executive Director, Philadelphia Outward Bound School
  • Brenda McLaughlin, Chief Strategy Officer, BELL | Building Educated Leaders  for Life

Description. Researcher-practitioner partnerships are key to answering questions that help programs tell their story, improve their programs, or prove their value. The goal of researcher-practitioner partnerships are to make research relevant to practice and create practice driven research. Out-of-school time practitioners and researchers often work together achieve these goals by building authentic researcher-practitioner partnerships. A key strategy in developing these relationships is developing trust and working as partners to achieve shared goals. For this panel, we bring together three practitioner leaders who have successfully cultivated researcher-practitioner partnerships to share lessons learned. The panel includes Bela Mote from the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, Katie Pastuszek from the Philadelphia Outward Bound School, and Brenda McLaughlin from Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL). The purpose of this panel is for practitioners to drive the conversation and offer best practices in developing researcher-practitioner partnerships.

Deborah Moroney is the managing director of the Youth Development and Supportive Learning Environments area at American Institutes for Research. Dr. Moroney’s experience is in SEL and youth development. She has worked with national programs including YMCA of the USA, Boy Scouts of America, and Every Hour Counts. Additionally, Dr. Moroney serves as the principal investigator of city and statewide evaluations including the Partnership for Children and Youth, and School's Out New York City. She is also a member of the Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative for the C.S. Mott Foundation.

Dr. Moroney’s work demonstrates a value in bridging research and practice. She serves on multiple editorial boards and publication committees for peer reviewed journals, and she has authored practitioner and organizational guides using both research findings and practitioner input. Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Moroney was a faculty member in educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Conversation with Funders
Friday, October 19; 3:00pm -4:30pm; Room: Whistler Ballroom
Moderator: Sarah M. Clement, John Templeton Foundation


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