The program provides systematic research training for candidates who want to develop expertise in research on childhood and adolescence and investigate variations in race and ethnicity, gender, and social class and how these interact with risk and resiliency factors in human development. One of the program’s goals is to identify and develop scholars from underrepresented groups who will launch independent research careers through external funding.
The postdoctoral program has three themes:
- Increased knowledge of health disparities (such as depression, positive well-being, behavioral or social adjustment) and possible routes of redress that can be identified through developmental research, with implications for education, behavioral interventions, and health care policy.
- Expansion of the policy-relevant knowledge about childhood and adolescence, which is often the target of local, state, or federal interventions designed for "at-risk" children and youth. Many well-intentioned interventions are characterized by a white, middle-class perspective that often views normative variations in development as deficient, if not deviant. A culturally informed research program carried out by trained researchers from the same underrepresented groups can inform policy makers about variability in developmental trajectories and outcomes as well as about developmental goals that are consistent with the communities' goals.
- Exploration of the importance of the external validity of research results. Although the scientific enterprise pays careful attention to issues of internal validity in the conduct of research, less care is exercised when results of carefully planned and executed studies are generalized to populations other than those that have been studied. Recognizing appropriate limits and designing research that enhances generalizability will increase confidence in what we know, about whom we know it, and under what conditions it will hold true.