YN Working Conference – A Success By All Measures

By Patrick Tolan, Director of Youth-Nex; and Professor at the Curry School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences

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attendees discuss topics at the conference
It was an exciting couple of days. On April 2-3 we were able to bring together 23 invited scholars —many world-renowned leaders in their fields—to U.Va.’s beautiful Morven Farm.

As you read more about the conference, now and over the coming weeks, we hope you will utilize this blog as a point of exchange for thoughts about the conference and for your work relating to PYD. Continue reading

PYD Constructs – What Are Your Thoughts?

By Nancy Guerra, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Delaware

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Youth-Nex Brochure
The presentations at the Youth-Nex conference were truly amazing! There is so much exciting work being done in the field. I hope we can begin to build a science of positive youth development, and the Youth-Nex conference set a high bar for us.

One thing that really struck me, and which is important for my own work and I think for the field, is the need to build consensus around constructs (and measures) that help us conceptualize important outcomes. Many of us work with programs to design and conduct evaluation research, yet we all focus on a separate set of constructs and use different measures. Continue reading

A Salute to SALUD

Nutritionist discusses proper portions with kids

The three researchers had never met before their work creating an intervention for one of Charlottesville’s Latino communities. Diane Whaley, Mark DeBoer and Amy Boitnott, all from different parts of the University, got the idea when one of Whaley’s students who had also worked in the Children’s Fitness Center suggested a collaboration. They joined forces in 2010 through an annual Youth-Nex grant which seeds multidisciplinary U.Va. research efforts to enhance effective youth development.

The following post from Dr. Whaley describes, SALUD, a family-based intervention, designed to teach Latino families skills to facilitate healthy eating and physical activity involvement. Continue reading

Conference Inspires

By John Nesselroade, the Hugh Scott Hamilton Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of Virginia

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John Nesselroade
Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a mini-conference (1.5 days) aimed at furthering the development of an agenda for Youth-Nex, a relatively new trans-disciplinary center at UVA focused on promoting effective youth development.  Center Director Dr. Patrick H. Tolan and Dr. Richard M. Lerner, Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science, Tufts University, who has been my friend and colleague for 35 years, organized the conference. The assembled scholars and practitioners each presented short talks (15 minutes or so) to call attention to some aspect of positive youth development (PYD) the speaker thought should be attended to in the development of an agenda of future Youth-Nex programs.

Having no academic credentials regarding PYD, I was free to make some remarks pertaining especially to general issues having to do with the measurement of abstract concepts (such as PYD) which I did with great relish.  I confess to being something of a skeptic regarding the “positive” psychology movement, in general.  Now that the mini-conference is over, I further confess to being genuinely impressed by both the passion for their topics and the effective youth development concept but also with the concern for maintaining scientific rigor in all aspects of the programming that seemed to be shared by all of the participants.  This was both striking and gratifying to one whose nearly 50 years of scholarly activity have been confined to basic research.  I have every reason to believe that the Youth-Nex venture, with its many compelling implications for the future of our society, will be unusually successful.

John Nesselroade is the Hugh Scott Hamilton Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of Virginia