Youth Purpose: How Adolescents Develop Meaningful Direction

Conference Date: 
March 10, 2010

A Preconference Roundtable hosted by The Center on Adolescence in conjunction with the 2010 Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) Biennial Meeting in Philadelphia. The Roundtable facilitated collaboration among a community of scholars dedicated to understanding how young people direct their lives. Introductory remarks were provided by William Damon, Center Director, and Jeffrey Arnett, Clark University.

Discussions were led by current and former Center on Adolescence members, Youth Purpose Research Award recipients, and other scholars in the field of Youth Purpose and Positive Youth Development. Over fifty participants engaged in stimulating conversations and poster discussions. A range of topics was discussed, including methods used to study youth purpose, the impact of social context on purpose development, the role of spirituality in purpose, and evaluation of programs that aim to foster youth purpose. Attendees included graduate students, faculty and professionals. It was truly inspiring to see the many different ways purpose is taking an important place in research on adolescent development.

Participant responses:

  • "I really enjoyed the meeting and made a number of good purpose-contacts. It was a very worthwhile experience, and I gained quite a bit by participating!"
  • "...the round-table really offered "food for thought" and new ideas for research for me."
  • "This was, by far, the most stimulating and productive pre-conference session I have ever attended. The format allowed for deep, meaningful dialogue among the participants, and we were able to make connections with others doing similar work that I think will lead to really exciting collaborations."
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