Youth-Nex Happenings

Youth-Nex hosts a series of programs and events throughout the year that vary in content, structure, and audience. Our events range from large-scale national conferences to lectures from visiting scholars, to informal gatherings of Youth-Nex faculty and students. Talks, Panels & Webinars are open to all. Grad students will have time with each speaker and should email [email protected] for more info.

Visit the events page for all upcoming programming.

We also invite you to visit our YouTube channel, where you can find many presentations, keynote addresses, and panel discussions from our events.

Youth-Nex on YouTube

Youth-Nex Programming

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Youth-Nex holds a series of monthly presentations for faculty and graduate students to informally discuss challenges, interesting new issues, or findings.

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Youth-Nex Talks

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.

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Youth-Nex Conferences

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.

Graphic of a microphone plus a superhero laid over a softened image of young people huddled together looking at the camera

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.

Video Recordings

Twitter Chat

Silhouette of students standing and holding signs

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). 

Video Recordings

Twitter Chat

Youth-Nex 2017 Conference Logo

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.

Conference Chairs: Valerie Adams-Bass, Ph.D., Chauncey Smith, Ph.D., with Nancy Deutsch, Ph.D.

Video Recordings

Twitter Chat

Student panelists at Youth-Nex conference

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.

Video Recordings

Twitter Chat

Students holding weather balloon

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.

Video Recordings

Conference Publication

Twitter Chat

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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.

Conference Publication

Video Recordings

Twitter Conversation

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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. 

Conference Publication

Video Recordings

Students carrying backpacks walk away from camera at school

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. 

Video Recordings

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.