Session: Young People’s Leadership through Civic Engagement: Lessons from Research to Inform Youth-Focused Practice That Promotes Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

117 Young People’s Leadership through Civic Engagement: Lessons from Research to Inform Youth-Focused Practice That Promotes Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice

Friday, January 12, 2018: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Marquis BR Salon 17 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Communities and Neighborhoods
Suzanne Pritzker, PhD, University of Houston, Katie Richards-Schuster, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Nicole Nicotera, PhD, University of Denver
The proposed roundtable builds on a 2017 SSWR Special Interest Group (SIG) that explored the concept of civic engagement as a core strategy for achieving equal opportunity, equity, and justice. Led by three social work researchers with active research agendas heavily focused on civic engagement among young people, this roundtable will focus specifically on strategies to move research and practice forward in the area of young people's civic engagement.

Youth civic engagement includes processes and outcomes related to youth actively influencing systems that shape their lives. Civic engagement can be social or political in nature and provides opportunities for youth to develop and express their voices, see themselves as leaders with the capacity to effect change, and make decisions about how to contribute to and impact the communities and institutions with which they interact.

Given the challenges and opportunities posed by this particular social, economic, and political moment, leading social work professional organizations have called on social workers to stand up.' The study and practice of young people's civic engagement supports this call and social work's rich tradition of working towards large-scale social justice goals while also building on our ethical imperative to expand meaningful participation among populations whose voices have historically been limited.

Literature consistently finds that young people's civic engagement can be supported in settings where social workers often have a substantial presence, including schools, community-based youth-serving organizations, and residential settings. While there appears to be growing attention to youth civic engagement scholarship in social work research, the body of social work-specific research in this area is still quite limited. A comprehensive review of a decade's worth of social work youth civic engagement literature finds that this research faces substantial methodological weaknesses, with a heavy reliance on conceptual articles and case studies.

The roundtable will commence with a dialogue about the current state of social work research on youth civic engagement. Two presenters who conducted a review of this literature will summarize the existing evidence-base. This is meant to stimulate discussion of current methodologies used to capture and analyze youth civic engagement and strategies to strengthen both the quality and presence of youth civic engagement in social work research. Attendees also will be engaged in discussing current social work practice strategies to strengthen youth civic engagement with an emphasis on creating a stronger evidence-base for practitioners.

This roundtable dialogue seeks to provoke conversation about research and practice challenges and about opportunities to move scholarship forward in this area. Attendees will discuss specific strategies to build collaborations among youth civic engagement scholars and identify opportunities to engage in multi-site studies of promising civic engagement strategies. Conversation also will address strategies to balance the importance of honoring young people's voices and experiences, a key part of how civic engagement promotes equity and justice for youth, while also strengthening the methodological rigor with which youth civic engagement strategies are studied.

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