By John Nesselroade, the Hugh Scott Hamilton Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of Virginia
Related posts available under YN Working Conference April 2012
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