Social Justice, Civic and Political Engagement (2017)
The engagement of youth in communities, through both formal and informal civic and political activity, is critical to the continuation of civil society and to values of social justice and equity. Understanding the ways in which young people are engaging in this manner is crucial for informing both schools and out-of-school settings, and for drawing on the capacities of our youth to help engage us in solving the issues that they will be facing in the coming decades.
On Oct. 26-27 2017, the 6th Youth-Nex Conference, “Youth Act: Social Justice, Civic and Political Engagement,” provided a forum for educators, policy-makers, and practitioners across the country to focus on critical questions about a range of issues around youth civics activism and political engagement. The overall agenda of this conference remained constant in light of the events of August 11-12 in Charlottesville. The topics we had planned to cover remained critical in the aftermath. However, we added a special workshop described below and many panelists extended the focus of their talks as it directly related to the events in Charlottesville.
In 2016, we began planning our annual conference, which was to focus on youth political and civic engagement. At the time, we had no idea our town would become a focal point in the battle for racial justice. We had no idea that Charlottesville would become a hashtag.
Behind that hashtag is a tale of two youths.
On the one hand, #Charlottesville is the powerful tale of a group of young people coming together to fight racism, bigotry, White Supremacy, and hatred on their campus. A story of young people who saw what was coming and put their physical bodies on the line in the name of social justice. #Charlottesville is also the tale of a group of young adults so disaffected and disengaged from our civil society, that they had been influenced by extremist groups to take up a mantle of hate. One of these young people was so enraged and emboldened that he took the life of another innocent young person.
Conference Chairs: Valerie Adams-Bass, Ph.D., Chauncey Smith, Ph.D., with Nancy Deutsch, Ph.D.
Download the full PDF of the program.
Download the PDF of presenters' bios.
SPECIAL WORKSHOP WAS ADDED - Facilitated by Association of Black Psychologists - Student Circle (ABPSISC).
"What Now? A Critical Conversation about Community Healing, Black Youth Engagement, Sociopolitical Context, and Policy"
The workshop offered a healing space for all, yet focused on the importance of an Afrocentric approach, amplifying voices of Black students. So while also thinking about allies and collaboration (Jewish, LGBTQ, among others) we focused on the roles of Black college students in activism on their campus and in their communities. We also discussed strategies to engage in activism on campus, strategies to balance academic demands with social engagement, and we emphasized the importance of engaging in self-care. We aimed to provide a healing space centered on undoing the residual psychological effects of white terrorism and internalized oppression in Black communities; and to provide recommendations to turn the feelings, thoughts, and insights into policy and action steps.
Nancy Deutsch, Youth-Nex Director; Robert Pianta, Dean, Curry School of Education; Conference Co-chairs: Valerie Adams-Bass, and Chauncey Smith
Panel 1: Connie Flanagan, Heang Ly, Barbara Ferman, with Nancy Deutsch
The Role of Civics Education
Panel 2: Meg Heubeck, Diana Hess, John Hunter, with Rachel Wahl
Film Presentation: "Erasing Erasure"
India Fenner, Stormy Kelsey from Temple University's Community Collaborative and POPPYN—Presenting our Perspective on Philly Youth News
Youth Political Engagement & Activism
Panel 3: Nathaniel McLean-Nichols, Carrie Mays, Elan Hope, with Chauncey Smith
Panel 4: Judith Torney-Purta, Roderick Watts, Tafadzwa Tivaringe, Aaron Azelton, Gasper Gjeluci, Zin Min Thu, with Nancy Deutsch
Call to Action #1
Zyahna Bryant (Student Activist); Devin Willis (UVA Student, Black Student Alliance), with Chauncey Smith
Integrating Youth Civic Engagement
Panel 5: Jen Danifo, Erin Hoopes, Stormy Kelsey, India Fenner, Sharif El-Mekki, with Valerie Adams-Bass
Policy Approaches-Youth Civic Engagement
Panel 6: Lisa Diaz, Jack Drummond, Aidyn Mills, Kian Thornton, with Valerie Adams-Bass
Call to Action #2
Two of Our Conference Chairs
Valerie Adams-Bass & Chauncey Smith
Youth-Nex Director, Nancy Deutsch
Youth Voices Heard
Carrie Mays was one of several youth presenters who were included in panels throughout the conference.
A Conference Focused on Discussions
A "Q & A" session followed each panel.
Six panels were organized around the conference's focus on social justice, civic and political engagement of youth.
Wide Range of Audience Members
In addition to faculty, researcher, community, and youth attendees, several UVA classes sat in on panels.
The Arts Included
Film presentation, "Erasing Erasure" moderated by Temple University Community Collaborative's POPPYN (Presenting our Perspective on Philly Youth News) members.
An Interactive Conference
Karsten Kim, Curry Youth and Social Innovation (YSI) student, participates in a relationship-building exercise.
Read the articles written about our conference below:
- Charlottesville Tomorrow: UVA Conference Highlights Youth Activism, Civic Engagement
- Radio Dispatch: Valerie Adams-Bass on Youth Act
- UVA TODAY: Activism In Youth: It’s A Good Thing
- Richmond Times Dispatch: Deutsch and Williams column: If hate groups can do it, we can too
- Philadelphia Inquirer: Why this Temple student is organizing a march for black women: 'They matter'
On the left, check out the buzz generated on Twitter by the conference, using #YouthAct17!
Youth-Nex, The UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, is a trans-disciplinary center that aims to expand and apply the science of positive youth development to address fundamental challenges facing societies around the world.