James Youniss, Ph.D.
Wylma R. & James R. Curtin Professor Emeritus
Dr. Youniss is a Research Professor of Psychology and formerly held the Curtin Chair at The Catholic University of America. One of the foci of Dr. Youniss’ research is the manner in which young people become politically engaged.
Within this, a foremost issue he examines is community service, as done through established, cause-oriented non-profit associations, and how this form of involvement becomes a source of knowledge of political traditions and of encouragement to become virtual members. One of the effects of this process is that it allows the youth involved to understand their service as more than just immediate material action; thus, serving food to homeless people at a soup kitchen becomes an act of social justice in a Biblical sense, or a political statement etc.
This work has led Dr. Youniss to study the broader issue of civic development, and he co-edited Engaging Young People in Civic Life (Vanderbilt University Press, 2009) that focuses on the policies that can enhance the civic engagement of young people, with contributors from the fields of political science, civic education, developmental psychology and sociology.
He has also written three recent articles: “Civic Education: What Schools Can Do to Encourage Civic Identity and Action” (Applied Developmental Science, 2011, 15(2), 1-6); “Service, Public Work, and Respectful Citizens” (Liberal Education, 2011, 97(2) 28- 33); and “How to Enrich Civic Education and Sustain Democracy” Chapter in “Civics 2.0: Citizenship Education for a New Generation” (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Press, in press).
On March 25, 2011, he gave an address at the University of Teacher Education in Central Switzerland, Zurich titled, “What We know About Effective Service for Youth Development”. On March 28 and 29, 2011, at the University of Wuerzburg and Mannheim University in Germany, he gave an address on “Conditions for Designing Effective Service for Youth”.
On October 20, 2011, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC he gave an address titled “How to Enrich Civic Education in Our Schools”.