New Horizons: Understanding the Processes and Practices of Youth Development


  • Reed W. Larson University of Illinois
  • Hyeyoung Kang State University of New York at Binghamton
  • S. Cole Perry University of Illinois
  • Kathrin C. Walker University of Minnesota



This article presents new horizons for research on youth development by focusing on the challenges youth face in learning teamwork and in coming to terms with diversity. These are both essential competencies for navigating the “real world” of the 21st century. We examine how youth experience these challenges within programs; also how they present second-order challenges to practitioners. The underlying message of this article is that it is essential for researchers to see programs from the point of view of the people in them. Researchers have learned quite a bit of what can be learned from arm’s length: that programs can make a difference in youths’ lives and that certain features of settings are associated with these changes. To go further, researchers need to work side-by-side with practitioners and youth to understand their complex worlds as they experience them.






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