Childhood studies the basis for new research institute

The study of childhood issues from a multi-disciplinary perspective is at the essence of a new research institute established by the University of Lethbridge.

The Institute for Child and Youth Studies will bring together researchers from several disciplines who are increasingly adding child and youth studies projects to their research portfolios. The University of Lethbridge Board of Governors approved the new research institute at its October 11, 2012 meeting.

The Institute for Child and Youth Studies (I-CYS) formalizes a concept developed by a multi-disciplinary group of faculty members who hosted the successful Childhoods Conference at the U of L in May 2011.

Their efforts attracted researchers, professional practitioners and guests from around the world to consider the state of child studies. This was the start of a number of discussions, research partnerships and joint projects that eventually led to the establishment of I-CYS.

"Virtually every academic discipline touches on children and youth, but the information and the expertise is not often connected," says Dr. Janay Nugent, a history researcher and one of the six U of L faculty members involved in the process to launch the institute.

"We are aiming to bring people together for research collaborations, and to contribute to the broader community through partnerships with local agencies and policy-making organizations," Nugent adds.

"Our long-term plans include establishing a multi-disciplinary workshop series and a triennial conference devoted to understanding the role of children and youth in society, developing undergraduate and graduate degrees in Child and Youth Studies, as well as encouraging post-doctoral research."

This is the ninth Research Institute to be established at the U of L. David Hill, the U of L's recently-appointed Director of Centres and Institutes, says the Child and Youth Studies group will be a welcome addition to the cross-campus collaborations that are already taking place.

"In order to grow our research profile and move new ideas forward, we are encouraging our people to work together in different ways. There are many positive outcomes I see in bringing this group – and the people they attract – into the U of L family to further research in this very critical area, and I look forward to working with them to establish this institute."

An advisory committee is also to be established, with input from researchers, community agencies, First Nations, Metis and Inuit groups as well as undergraduate and graduate students. There is also a provision in the organizational structure for affiliate researchers from other universities in Canada, international scholars and professional practitioners working with children and youth.

Six U of L researchers from the U of L will form the initial directorate. They include: Dr. Louise Barrett, Psychology; Dr. Elizabeth Galway, English; Dr. Heidi Macdonald, History; Dr. Jan Newberry, Anthropology; Dr. Janay Nugent, History; Dr. Amy von Heyking, Education.