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Symposium: The Social Contexts of Adolescent Wellbeing

A one-day research symposium
When Feb 07, 2023
from 09:00 AM to 04:30 PM
Where In person - Atrium - Stamp Student Union
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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Organized by MPRC Associate Wade Jacobsen and co-sponsored by the Department of Criminology and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, this one-day symposium will feature two keynote speakers, a panel of seven scholars, and two moderators. They will discuss Adolescent wellbeing from multiple perspectives in a full one-day program that will include numerous opportunities for interaction, questions, and insight.


  • Héctor E. Alcalá, School of Public Health, University of Maryland
    early life adversity and health risks 
  • Amelia Branigan, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
    parental incarceration and sleep health 
  • Angel Dunbar, Department of African American Studies, University of Maryland
    racial socialization and self concept 
  • Wade Jacobsen, Department of Criminology, University of Maryland
    police contact and friendship ties 
  • Cassie McMillan, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University
    school transitions and peer networks 
  • Nolan Pope, Department of Economics, University of Maryland
    teacher effects on achievement 
  • Sophia Rodriguez, College of Education, University of Maryland
    Latino / x immigrant experiences

Session Chairs

Rod Brunson, Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland
Kerry Green, Professor, Behavioral and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland
Jean McGloin, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University of Maryland
Lauren Porter, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland

Keynote speakers

Christopher BrowningChristopher R. Browning, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Ohio State University will discuss “Racial Differences in Activity Space Disadvantage and Everyday Perceptions of Safety: Implications for Understanding Health Disparities”.

Emerging research indicates that the everyday mobility patterns of urban adolescents are more complex than previously assumed in most residential “neighborhood effects” studies. We describe findings from the Columbus, OH-based Adolescent Health and Development in Context (AHDC) study (N=1405) demonstrating the expansive and heterogeneous nature of routine mobility with a focus on Black-identifying youth.  We then consider the influence of intra-individual variability in exposure to neighborhood racial composition and violence for perceptions of safety.  GPS data on the mobility trajectories of youth (ages 11 to 17) over a week-long period are combined with ecological momentary assessments of real-time safety perceptions to identify the spatial conditions under which youth report higher levels of unsafety.  Findings indicate that exposure to higher area-level violence is relevant for safety perceptions among Black youth.  Momentary exposure to residentially whiter neighborhoods also increases perceptions of unsafety, but only for those Black youth who spend more time, on average, in white areas.  We conclude with a discussion of the implications of everyday safety perceptions for understanding health disparities in adolescence.

Dawn WitherspoonDawn Witherspoon, McCourtney Family Early Career Professor of Psychology, Penn State University, will present “What’s Place Got to do with It ? A Cultural-Developmental Approach to Understand the Impact of Place and Race on Diverse Youth and Families.”

In this talk, Dr. Dawn Witherspoon with share her approach to understanding how, for whom, and under what conditions place-based environmental characteristics and exposures impact Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) families and youth. Rooted in a cultural-developmental framework, Dr. Witherspoon will use exemplars from her work, and that of others, to demonstrate the ways in which social stratification specific to place and race intersect to create unique sociocultural contexts for BIPOC families that impact youth development in a variety of ways. The talk will conclude with broad implications and future directions for this line of scholarship.

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