Youth-Nex Talks Archive

In addition to our Works in Progress Talks and National Conferences, each semester we invite scholars from outside the Curry School to discuss their research and scholarship. The following is an archive of talks.

  • Fall 2021

    Understanding the Well-Being of LGBTQI+ Populations

    September 17th, 2021


    • Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, University of Virginia
    • Dr. Andrew R. Flores, American University
    • Dr. Stephen T. Russell, University of Texas at Austin
    • Dr. Tonia Poteat, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Abstract: This panel discussed the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine consensus study report that identifies the need for heightened attention to the social and structural inequities that exist for LGBTQI+ people. The authors of this report argue for new research on the full range of sexual and gender diversity. Our panelists and authors will highlight the ways in which these issues relate to youth development and education.

    Co-sponsored by the Education Research Lectureship Series, the UVA Department of Psychology, the UVA Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality, the UVA Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the School of Education and Human Development, Cville Pride, and the Serpentine Society.


  • Spring 2021

    Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

    Jean Rhodes, Ph.D., from University of Massachusetts Boston
    February 5th 2021

    Abstract: Although youth mentoring is one of the most popular and frequently suggested volunteer activities in the U.S., programs are not nearly as effective as most people assume. The results of hundreds of evaluations present a disappointing bottom line.Yet, because the term “mentoring” is so intuitively appealing, and because this approach has been backed by such powerful constituents—from former U.S. presidents to Wall Street executives and professional athletes—the field has been granted unusual license to improvise and avoid the consequences of disappointing findings. Programs could do much better. Yet most remain wedded to an outdated “friendship” model that has remained essentially unchanged since the early 1900s. They rest on the assumption that forming close bonds through conversations and activities can promote a broad range of positive outcomes while preventing the progression of problems. In fact, according to a large-scale national survey, the most commonly reported mentor activity is “making time to have fun,” followed by talking, engaging in athletic, cultural, and creative activities. To more effectively promote positive youth outcomes, these friendships should be leveraged to deliver culturaly-responsive evidence-based interventions that address the significant mental health, behavioral, and educational challenges facing today’s mentees. In this talk, I will synthesize years of research and suggest promising new directions for the field of youth mentoring.

    Co-Sponsored by the Education Research Lectureship Series


  • Fall 2020

    Reimagining Youth Work(ers) and the Ongoing Struggle for Racial Justice

    Dr. Bianca J. Baldridge, Associate Professor at University of Wisconsin Madison

    October 2nd, 2020

    Co-Sponsored by the UVA Equity Center, the Center for Race & Public Education in the South (CRPES), the Education Research Lectureship Series, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the School of Education and Human Development


  • Spring 2020

    The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity in Secondary School

    March 2020

    The recent National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report ‘The Promise of Adolescence’ reviews the science of adolescent development, and highlights the developmental opportunities of this age. This panel focused on the implications of this work for the education system and educators who work with students in secondary schools and other formal and informal educational contexts. Featuring three of the scholars who authored the report, the panel presents an overview of the relevant research and its implications for helping educators shape educational settings and practices to optimize learning for young adolescents. The recording can be found here.

  • Spring 2019

    Legalization of Marijuana: Initial findings of the CSU Cannabis Research Group

    Nathaniel Riggs, Ph.D., Professor, Graduate Program Chair, Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University
    April 4th 2019

    Abstract: Dr. Riggs’ Youth Nex Works in Progress talk will focus on the work of the CSU Cannabis Research Group. He will first discuss current cannabis use trends across the country and within Colorado. Next, he will talk about two research to practice partnerships between the Cannabis Research Group and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Department of Education. Dr. Riggs will finish by discussing two ongoing cannabis use research projects. The first tests the efficacy of a brief, online cannabis use reduction intervention for heavy using college students. The second compares Colorado vs. national college student cannabis use trends from pre to post-implementation of Colorado’s legalized adult retail marijuana policy.

  • Fall 2018

    Critical Youth Work Right Now!

    Torie Weiston-Serdan, Youth Mentoring Action Network
    October 17th 2018
    Co-sponsored by Youth-Nex, the Virginia Mentoring Partnership, OAAA/GradSTAR Program, Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs Diversity Programs, and the Office for Diversity and Equity.

    Abstract: Marginalized youth deserve equitable access to meaningful youth development experiences. But many of us are unsure of how to effectively meet their needs. We can be slow to recognize that the shifting landscape of youth work requires bold and sweeping action. We need to think about youth work in innovative ways that include critical analysis of how race, gender, class, and sexuality relate to our programming, goals, and outcomes. Self-work, including equity and diversity training, is necessary to transform youth work. Torie will lead us in a discussion of race theory, exploration of cultural competence and intersectionality, and a critical spatial analysis. She will also guide strategy-building and action steps that we can immediately apply to our specific youth work contexts.

  • Spring 2018

    A Developmental Perspective on Undocumented and Mixed-Family Status Children and Youth

    Carola Suárez-Orozco, Ph.D., Professor of Human Development and Psychology at UCLA and co-founder of Re-Imagining Migration
    January 26th 2018
    Co-sponsored by the UVA Department of Psychology

    Abstract: In the United States, 5.3 million children and adolescents are growing up either with unauthorized status or with at least one parent who has that status. Until recently, little research has provided a developmental lens on the implications of these statuses for youth development. Suárez-Orozco provided an overview of research evidence on multiple domains of development that may be affected by the child or parent’s unauthorized status. Further, she described the contextual and psychological mechanisms that may link these statuses to developmental outcomes. She concluded with recommendations for policy, practice, and research that are based on the evidence reviewed.

  • Fall 2017

    LGBTQ Youth Health & Resilience

    Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at UT Austin
    September 22nd 2017
    Co-sponsored by the UVA’s Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality, and UVA Engaged Youth Initiative

    Abstract: LGBTQ issues and rights have emerged as a major public and political focus over the last decades. Most attention – both in public discourse and in scholarship – has been on the urgent vulnerabilities that characterize the lives of many LGBTQ youth and adults. Yet, in the context of important disparities that demand our attention, most LGBTQ youth grow up to be happy, contributing members of their communities. In this presentation Russell presented a collection of new studies that identifies and documents the role of structural, interpersonal, and personal resources that create and support resilience in the lives of LGBTQ young people. He considered the implications of these findings for efforts to create social change for social justice.

    You Can't Say That: Teachers and Controversial Issues in American Schools

    Jonathan Zimmerman, Ph.D., Professor of History of Education at University of Pennsylvania  
    September 28th 2017

    Abstract: In 2003, during a fifth-grade current-events lesson about the United States’ newly begun war in Iraq, a student asked Indiana teacher Deborah Mayer if she had ever attended an anti-war protest. Mayer told the class that she had driven by such a protest a few days earlier, and had honked her horn in support. Her school board declined to renew Mayer's contract, noting that she had deviated from the board's approved curriculum. And four years later, a federal appeals court upheld the board's decision on similar grounds. Across the country, Mayer's defenders decried the apparent assault on her "academic freedom." But K-12 teachers in America have never enjoyed such freedom in a manner that university academicians would recognize. During wartime especially, school boards and courts have discouraged or blocked teachers from engaging their students in an open, critical dialogue about controversial ethical and political issues. Zimmerman’s talk explored these restrictions, the fate of the teachers who broached them, and the implications of this history for contemporary democracy.

    Personalizing Youth Psychotherapy

    John R. Weisz, Ph.D., ABPP,  Professor of Psychology at Harvard University
    October 13th 2017

    Abstract: Five decades of research have produced scores of empirically tested treatments for youth mental health problems and disorders. These evidence-based treatments (EBTs), most focused on single disorders or problem domains (e.g., depressive disorders), have shown respectable effects in randomized controlled efficacy trials in which treatment conditions are optimized for research. However, the EBTs do not fare as well when compared to usual clinical care with clinically referred youths treated in everyday practice. One reason may be that referred youths are often more complex than the treatments designed to help them. Most young people referred for treatment have multiple problems and disorders, and their treatment needs may shift over time. This challenge may be addressed by flexible, personalizable, transdiagnostic intervention approaches. One example, the Child STEPs Model, uses a modular treatment protocol derived from the psychotherapy evidence base and guided by decision flowcharts. Navigation through treatment is informed by a web-based system that monitors each youth’s treatment response week-by-week. Multisite randomized trials of this system, applied to youths with anxiety, depression, and conduct problems, have shown STEPs outperforming both usual clinical care and standard EBTs, on measures of youth clinical symptoms and diagnosis. STEPs and related approaches may provide a bridge linking the rich evidence base of clinical science to the complexity of referred youths in everyday clinical care. 

    What Now? A Critical Conversation about Community Healing, Black Youth Engagement, Sociopolitical Context, and Policy

    Workshop for Youth Act: Social Justice, Civic and Political Engagement
    October 26th and 27th 2017

    Facilitated by The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) Student Circle

    Abstract: This workshop will offer a healing space for all, yet will focus 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 will focus on the roles of Black college students in activism on their campus and in their communities. We will also discuss strategies to engage in activism on campus, strategies to balance academic demands with social engagement, and we will emphasize the importance of engaging in self-care. We will provide a healing space centered on undoing the residual psychological effects of white terrorism and internalized oppression in Black communities; and provide recommendations to turn the feelings, thoughts, and insights into policy and action steps. 

    Getting Under the Skin: Exploring Physiological Indicators of Program Engagement in the Early Adolescent Coping Power Program

    Jessika Bottiani, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Virginia, Amanda Nguyen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Virginia, Elizabeth Bistrong, M.Ed., Doctoral Student at the University of Virginia, Catherine Bradshaw, Ph.D., Professor and the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the University of Virginia
    November 16th 2017

    Abstract: Advances in wearable technologies highlight the potential of physiological measures as an emerging, objective approach to assess youth engagement in preventive interventions; however, limited research has examined how discrete indicators of physiological arousal, such as heart rate variability and galvanic skin response, correspond to engagement. In this Youth-Nex Works-in-Progress talk, we will present initial study findings on how physiological measures of arousal corresponded with traditional measures of youth and clinician rated engagement across 10 sessions of Coping Power (Lochman & Wells, 2004), a school-based, indicated preventive intervention that targets youth with aggressive behavior problems using a clinician-facilitated, weekly small group format. Implications for the utility of physiological measures to assess youth engagement in preventive interventions, as well as challenges that arose in the preparation of these data for analysis, will be discussed. 

  • Spring 2017

    The Science of Hope and Why it Matters for Children and Families in Poverty

    Valerie Maholmes, Ph.D., CAS, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 
    February 24th 2017

    Abstract: Maholmes will review the factors that promote hope and resilience in poor children and families and will explore the focal question: "Are We Wired to Hope?" Case studies will be presented of individuals who experienced adverse events in childhood, but seem to fare well despite their circumstances. The session will conclude with a discussion on the "cost of resilience" and evidence-based strategies that help families manage the day-to-day complexities of their lives and achieve their most fundamental goal of providing a better life themselves and for their children.

    Natural Mentoring Relationships: Why They Matter and What We Can Do To Encourage Their Formation

    Noelle Hurd, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia
    March 3rd 2017

    Abstract: Using a resilience framework, my research to date has demonstrated the potential of natural mentoring relationships (i.e., naturally-occurring, supportive, intergenerational relationships between youth and nonparental adults) to influence positively the psychosocial outcomes of adolescents and emerging adults. This presentation will focus on current and future directions of my research. These directions are guided by the following primary research questions: 1) What are key moderating and mediating factors that determine the success of these relationships in promoting more positive developmental outcomes? 2) How do the broader contexts within which youth are situated influence the formation of natural mentoring relationships? and 3) How can we intervene to encourage the onset of natural mentoring relationships among youth who are lacking these supportive ties? 

  • Fall 2016

    Natural Solutions To Tackling Behavior and Performance in Urban Schools

    Jenny Roe, Ph.D., Distinguished Profesor of Psychology and Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago 
    September 2, 2016

    Abstract: The talk highlights the benefits of green space access in school settings for behavioral and performance outcomes. It presents two studies both carried out in deprived schools in Central Scotland; the first compares the effect of indoor versus outdoor education (delivered in a forest setting) on a range of well-being outcomes in teenagers; the second study explores the benefits to memory recall in early years pupils from curriculum tasks carried out indoors versus outdoors in a range of playground settings.

    Enhancing the Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning of Preschool to High School Students Across the United States

    Roger P. Weissberg, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago  
    December 2nd 2016  

    Abstract: During the last decade, there have been significant advances in social and emotional learning (SEL) research, practice, and policy. This talk will highlight key areas of progress and challenges as we broadly implement school-family-community partnerships to foster positive behavioral, academic, and life outcomes for preschool to high school students. My goal for this presentation is to provide a foundation to foster group discussion about future priorities for the next decade.

  • Fall 2015

    No Longer Bogged Down: Examining the Effects of a Youth Sports-Based Job Training Program from a Capabilities Perspective

    Erin Murphy-Graham, Ph.D., Associate Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley
    November 5th 2015

    Abstract: Murphy-Graham will discuss findings from a mixed-methods randomized control study of the A Ganar program in Honduras, a country plagued by gang-related violence and one of the highest homicide rates in the world. The overall goal of A Ganar is to change the lives youth called ninis (because they neither work nor study, ni trabajan ni estudian) through their re-enrollment in the formal education system or by helping them to gain stable employment. A Ganar (which means “to win” or “to earn” in Spanish) is a youth workforce development program “wrapped up in a soccer ball.” In using the metaphor of sports, the program hopes to reach out to young men and women and instill a number of character skills including conscientiousness, sociability, and perseverance. Drawing upon the capability approach (Nussbaum, 2011) Murphy-Graham will explores the ways in which the program fosters central human capabilities, particularly affiliation, emotions, and play, and thereby enables program participants to feel that they are no longer “bogged down” (estancado). In light of new research stressing the connections between character skills and personal and social prosperity, this study hopes to contribute a deeper understanding of their importance.

  • Spring 2015

    Seven Fears and Countless Opportunities for Adolescents in the Digital World

    Candice L. Odgers, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Public Policy, Psychology and Neuroscience and Associate Director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University
    January 23rd 2015

    Abstract: Many adults fear that adolescents’ seemingly constant interactions with their mobile devices are interfering with their ability to communicate, develop close friendships, and even sleep. Adolescents are indeed spending a great deal of time on their devices; 80% now own a mobile phone and send, on average, 50 text messages per day.  But are mobile devices really ruining our kids?  This lecture will evaluate the fears and opportunities surrounding adolescents’ use of new technologies and share findings from our research using mobile phones to track the daily experiences, emotions and behaviors of adolescents. The opportunities and challenges that mobile technologies present for youths, researchers, educators and parents will be discussed.

    Youth Development in Physical Activity Contexts: Promoting Social, Psychological, and Physical Assets

    Maureen R. Weiss, Ph.D., Professor in the School of Kinesiology, and Adjunct Professor in the Institute of Child Development, at the University of Minnesota
    February 27th 2015

    Abstract: Millions of children and adolescents participate in a variety of structured (organized sport, school physical education, motor development programs) and unstructured physical activities (play, recess, recreation). In my presentation I will summarize the knowledge base and share my line of research on physical activity as a context for promoting social, psychological, and physical assets and healthy outcomes. Using a positive youth development approach, I first discuss robust findings on social assets, including social relationships and moral development. Second, I review the evidence base on psychological assets, including self-perceptions, emotions, and motivational orientations. Third, I discuss the unique set of physical assets that can result from engaging in youth development programs, such as movement literacy, lifetime sport skills, physically active lifestyle, physical fitness, and physical health. Throughout, I translate research to offer evidence-based best practices for promoting positive youth development through physical activity. Finally I identify areas for future research that might provide more definitive evidence of the potential for sport and physical activity to promote positive youth development.

    Unequal Childhoods, Unequal Adulthoods: Small Moments and Large Consequences

    Annette Lareau, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania
    April 9th 2015
    Co-sponsored by the U.Va. Field Methods Workshop, The Department of Sociology, the Curry School of Education, and Youth-Nex

  • Spring 2014

    Outcomes in Early Adulthood for Serious Adolescent Offenders

    Edward Mulvey, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School
    February 28th 2014

    Abstract: Mulvey discussed findings from the Pathways to Desistance study, a longitudinal project following 1,354 serious adolescent offenders for seven years after their appearance in court. We know that many adolescents greatly reduce their criminal offending as they make the transition into early adulthood. Yet we know very little about what developmental processes or system interventions promote more positive outcomes in this group during this time. The influence of a variety of factors was discussed such as findings about the role of institutional placement and service provision, employment, and perceptions of the legal system. Policy implications of the study findings to date were also discussed.

    Learning the City: Early Experiences with Travel and the Development of the Cognitive Map

    Andrew Mondschein, Ph.D., AICP, Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia School of Architecture
    March 28th 2014

    Abstract: Information about opportunities in the city – jobs, services, recreation, etc. – is acquired through everyday travel, yet we understand relatively little about cognitive maps are shaped by factors such as transit and auto use, walkability, and neighborhood character. Spatial learning is likely to be particularly important as children and adolescents build persistent relationships to different environments and types of travel. Early urban engagement and exploration could facilitate improved access to a range of opportunities over the long term, particularly for populations impeded by limited auto access and sparse nearby opportunities.

  • Fall 2013

    Punishment and the Adolescent Brain — The Role of Developmental Science in Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions About Juvenile Offenders

    Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Temple University
    October 17th 2013

    Abstract: In the past eight years, the United States Supreme Court has issued landmark opinions in three cases that involved the imposition of harsh sentences on juveniles convicted of serious crimes. In these cases, the Court drew on scientific studies of adolescent brain and behavioral development in concluding that adolescents, by virtue of their inherent immaturity, are not as responsible for their behavior as adults. This lecture will discuss the Court’s rationale in these cases and the role that scientific evidence about adolescent development played in its decisions.