Dialoging for Democracy (2019)


Youth-Nex is celebrating 10 years and proud to host the 7th Youth-Nex Conference! #YouthAct19

On November 12-13th, 2019, the 7th Youth-Nex Conference, “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice” (#YouthAct19), will provide a forum for youth, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers across the country to participate in a robust discussion about whether contentious and contracted historical and contemporary social issues is necessary for the health of our democracy. During this conference we will explore how we engage with issues of human welfare and justice with young people, taking into account their developmental capacities and social identities. Young people themselves are actively making meaning of the world and leading the conversation in many areas of social change, including a number of issues on which youth themselves have pointed out the moral imperative for action (e.g., climate change, gun control, racial and economic justice, immigration). During this conference, participants will discuss the developmental underpinnings of moral reasoning, best practices for engaging adolescents in generative discourse that promotes the development of one’s moral reasoning, and examples of how this is applied in classroom and out-of-school settings to further democratic engagement. We hope you will join us for an engaging, critical discussion. 

Conference Chairs: Johari Harris, Ph.D with Nancy Deutsch, Ph.D.

Download the full PDF of the program.

Download the PDF of presenters' bios.

A reception to celebrate Youth-Nex's 10th anniversary was also held. Check out photos from the event below!

Videos of the Conference


  • Introduction

    Nancy Deutsch, Youth-Nex Director; Robert Pianta, Dean, Curry School of Education; Johari Harris, Conference Co-Chair

  • Connecting Moral Reasoning, Dialogue & Democracy

    Panel 1: Noelle Hurd, Nicholas Burbules, Gabriel Velez, Shawn Brown

  • Moral Reasoning and Social Justice

    Panel 2: Johari Harris, Larry Nucci, Aaron Metzger, Gustavo Carlo, Janie Ward

  • Intersectionality, Moral Reasoning, Social Justice

    Panel 3: Nancy Deutsch, Onnie Rodgers, Stacey Horn, Emma Yackso

  • “Value Neutral” Youth Spaces

    Panel 4: Derrick Alridge, Joyce King, Steve Becton, Steve Whitaker, Uche Chima

  • Generative Discourse in Classrooms and Youth Orgs

    Panel 5: Daniel Fairley, Rob Jagers, Robyn Lingo, Maya Branch, Zachary Bell

  • PYD for Democracy

    Panel 6: Joanna Lee Williams, Derrick Alridge, Melody Barnes, Nancy Deutsch, Patrick Tolan

  • Closing Remarks

    Delilah, Nancy Deutsch

Photos of the Conference


  • Johari Harris, Conference Co-Chair
  • Nancy Deutsch, Director of Youth-Nex
  • Conference Drew from Across UVA and the Country

    Over 100 people attended the conference; the audience was a combination of faculty, researchers, community leaders, youth, graduate, and undergraduate students.

  • Multiple, Engaging Panels

    The conference featured six panels in order to exhibit multiple perspectives on youth and democracy.

  • Several Youth Presentations

    An important facet of the conference was including the voices of young people since they are the focus. Several youths from the community were invited to speak.

  • Youth/Student Performers Included

    Komi Da Homie is a performance artist and student from Togo, West Africa, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

  • Not Your Typical Conference

    Audience members were encouraged to be active participants and ask questions thereby facilitating discussions and critical thinking.

Photos of Youth-Nex's 10th Anniversary Reception


  • Nancy Deutsch, Director of Youth-Nex

    Opening remarks on the history of Youth-Nex and its future endeavors.

  • Importance of Youth Involvement

    Youth-Nex invited youth to participate in the celebration and honor their contributions to the center's success.

  • Community Collaborations

    Shawn Brown, the Rochester Program Director for Teen Empowerment, is one of several community leaders we have collaborated with to promote effective youth development.

  • YN Supports Variety of Faculty Roles

    Chauncey Smith, Assistant Professor of Education; Latisha Ross, Research Associate; Johari Harris, Research Assistant Professor

  • A Multidisciplinary Center

    Youth-Nex works with and supports graduate students from a variety of backgrounds in education, psychology, and clinical sciences.

  • Deeply Committed to the Center

    Patrick Tolan, Founding Director of Youth-Nex, is still actively involved with the center. Pictured with Catherine Bradshaw and Jennifer Hunter.

Media Coverage


Read the articles written about our conference below:


On the left, check out the buzz generated on Twitter by the conference, using #YouthAct19!

About Youth-Nex


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.