Youth-Nex holds a series of monthly presentations for faculty and graduate students to informally discuss challenges, interesting new issues, or findings.
Youth-Nex typically hosts scholars each semester from outside the School of Education and Human Development to discuss their research and scholarship. These are open to the public.
Youth-Nex hosts regular conferences that invite faculty, researchers, students, community leaders, and youth to discuss positive youth development. 2023 conference information coming soon!
Youth-Nex Conference Archives
Explore past conference topics, videos and more.
Youth voice has become a popular rallying cry within youth development and education sectors. Yet despite their role as activists and changemakers throughout history, young people are not always supported by the systems and adults around them in enacting their agency. Too often, adolescents are disenfranchised by those settings that have the greatest impact on their day to day lives. This has both immediate consequences for youth, and long-term consequences for society. This conference was organized around the premise that, as a society, we all do better when youth have opportunities to actively engage and influence the systems around them. Youth, educators, youth workers, researchers, and policymakers talked about efforts and constraints in amplifying youth voice and agency across a variety of domains, including health and well-being, education, juvenile justice and social systems, and politics, organizing, and civic life. Attendees also learned about several programs that seek to amplify youth voice and agency and the experiences of youth within those programs. This conference took place from October 25-26, 2022 in Charlottesville, VA.
On November 12-13th, 2019, the 7th Youth-Nex Conference, “Dialoging for Democracy: Youth Moral Reasoning and Social Justice” (#YouthAct19), youth, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers participated 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).
The 5th annual Youth-Nex Conference, 'Youth Of Color Matter: Reducing Inequalities through Positive Youth Development' (#YoCM15), leaders across the country investigated critical questions, dispelled myths, and highlighted youth of color as thriving contributors to their communities.
The United States is growing richer in racial and ethnic diversity, especially among our youth. Yet, amidst these profound changes, gross disparities persist in opportunities and outcomes, and many youth of color continue to be viewed through narrow lenses that reinforce negative stereotypes. How can we, as youth advocates, teens, educators, parents, researchers, and policymakers, use what we know about positive youth development to generate meaningful, measurable, widespread, and sustainable strategies for addressing inequalities?
Conference Chair: Joanna Lee Williams, Ph.D.
In light of the significance of afterschool programming for youths' healthy development, Youth-Nex focused its 4th annual conference on the topic. Titled, "Let's Talk After-School," over 150 invited scholars, youth, educators, practitioners and policy-makers held discussions for two days on October 16-17, 2014.
As one of Youth-Nex's main areas of focus, Out-of-School Time—the availability and accessibility of afterschool opportunities for schoolchildren—plays a key role in the lives of youth. From improving school attendance, decreasing the likelihood of dropping out, to improving decision-making skills, and providing access to physical activity, homework assistance, relationships with supportive adults, and even food security, afterschool programming is vital to youths' ability to thrive.
Conference Chair: Nancy Deutsch, Ph.D.
Behavior undertaken in adolescence shapes a lifetime of habits and health long into adulthood. what can we do now to ensure our children's well-being at this important time of development? Leaders from across the country convened to focus on the physical and mental health of youth in the context of Positive Youth Development. We listened to the latest and best research, exemplary practices, and key policy considerations to inspire each other's work and spark new ideas to improve the well-being of youth in Virginia and throughout the nation.
Conference Chair: Arthur Weltman, Ph.D.
Early in Youth-Nex's development, we saw a need to examine developmental issues of early adolescence, the intersection with educational programming, and best methods to promote effective youth development. To do so we explored the context of middle school in the event titled, "In Between: Middle Schools as Centers for Positive Youth Development." The 2012 conference brought together leaders from across the country including scholars, practitioners, and policy professionals to focus on the future of middle schools in the context of Positive Youth Development. We aimed to foster a multidimensional understanding of critical elements promoting positive youth development specifically in middle schools, including physical and mental health, engaged citizenship, and beneficial relationships.
Youth-Nex held its inaugural conference on positive youth development in October 2011. The conference, 'Forward Thinking: Preparing Our Youth for the Coming World,' brought together leading scholars, advocates, media professionals, and policy leaders for a vigorous and engaging exchange toward formulation of next steps to increase knowledge and inspire action to support youth development in Virginia and across the nation.
Global History of Black Girlhood Conference
The conference, held in the spring of 2017, gathered more than forty scholars, artists and activists to present recent research, creative works, and political organizing that places the emerging field of black girls’ history within a global framework. The conference received funding from several institutes and programs, including Youth-Nex. Presentations focused on black girls’ pasts in Africa, Europe, and the Americas, addressing themes including kinship, bondage, activism, justice, pleasure, play, and representation.
Enhancing the Positive Youth Developmet Perspective: A Developmental Intervention Science Framework
In the spring of 2012, Youth-Nex brought together 23 scholars at the University's beautiful Morven Farm, to advance further scientific knowledge and to formulate a framework for promoting effective youth development. We gathered to provide a research and action base for scientific study that integrates the understanding of developmental approaches to intervention evaluation through the positive youth development lens.
State Bullying Prevention Conference
This public conference was held on bullying prevention for school officials in Virginia. 'Bullying Prevention in the Promotion of a Positive School Climate: Effective Principles and Practices' gathered more than 500 teachers, administrators, law enforcement officials and others from across Virginia seeking the latest information in bullying prevention. The conference was co-hosted by the Virginia departments of Education, Health and Criminal Justice Services; the Albemarle/Charlottesville Safe Schools/Healthy Students Project; the Virginia Department of Education Region 5 Training and Technical Assistance Center at James Madison University; and Youth-Nex.
The Second Annual Bullying Research Network Think Tank: New Directions for Positive Youth Development
Youth-Nex co-hosted a two-day meeting for researchers to discuss bullying prevention through a positive youth development lens, and to advance the best scientific work in the field. Scholars attended 'The Second Annual Bullying Research Network Think Tank,' on June 21 and June 22, at the School of Education and Human Development. The event was sponsored by Youth-Nex and the Bullying Research Network, (BRNET). BRNET is an organization of scholars from around the world who study bullying.