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The Development of Youth Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement

The Advancing Education in Muslim Societies of (IIIT) hosted Professor Laura Wray-Lake on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, as part of its Human Development webinar series. The title of the talk was, “The Development of Youth Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement.” It attracted participants from a variety of countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

Prof. Wray-Lake is Associate Professor of Social Welfare and Human Development & Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University in 2010. She has coauthored Pathways to Civic Engagement among Urban Youth of Color (Wray-Lake & Abrams, 2020). In 2020, she was awarded a Mid-Career Award for Research Excellence from the Society for Research on Adolescence.

In her presentation, Prof. Wray-Lake shared her research and suggested that social responsibility values are an important component of youth civic engagement. Social responsibility motivates youth towards civic action which in turn strengthens their sense of communal responsibility. While civic engagement by itself can be used for oppression and darker elements, when paired with social responsibility, it can lead to the greater good. Prof. Wray-Lake noted that there is a decline in social responsibility among younger youth but as they get older they invest more in the quality of their relationships with others as well as organized activities that foster social responsibility. She also added that involvement in religious/spiritual activities is an important developmental contributor to social responsibility values.

During the Question-and-Answer session, Dr. Ilham Nasser, Director of Human Development Program, engaged with Prof. Wray-Lake to explore various aspects of social responsibility, including personal responsibility, the qualities of civic engagement among older people, and shared with her and the audience how social responsibility and civic engagement were among the constructs in AEMS’ Mapping the Terrain study.

The recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

The Development of Youth Social Responsibility and Civic Engagement

About Professor Laura Wray-Lake

Dr. Laura Wray-Lake is an Associate Professor of Social Welfare and Human Development & Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University in 2010. Dr. Wray-Lake’s program of research aims to explain the development of civic engagement across adolescence and young adulthood and identify factors that enhance youth civic engagement. This interest is grounded in the assumption that adolescents and young adults hold abundant potential to act as positive change agents and address society’s problems on local, national, and global scales. She has published over 60 research articles and book chapters, and her work uses multiple methodologies and takes developmental, cultural, and contextual perspectives in studying youth civic engagement. Recent work includes a SRCD Monograph (Wray-Lake & Abrams, 2020) that presents an in-depth qualitative examination of civic engagement among urban youth of color. She has received grant funding from the National Science Foundation, Templeton Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. In 2020, she was awarded a Mid-Career Award for Research Excellence from the Society for Research on Adolescence. Dr. Wray-Lake currently serves as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Research on Adolescence and as an elected member of the Executive Council of the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Dr. Laura Wray-Lake