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New & Launching Projects

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Science (AIMS)

This project focuses on the social changes resulting from technological advancements, especially surrounding artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and data analytics. One stream of this research explores the impacts of AIMS on widening technology and skills gaps for young people transitioning to adulthood. This began with a the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to host a workshop with social scientists, philanthropic practitioners, and curriculum leaders. This grant revealed the inequities for people and organizations that are not yet part of AIMS.


Another stream of this research focuses on the philanthropy of AIMS (such as this). Using AIMS techniques, this project aspires to create an open access and interactive data tool that compiles information on philanthropic funding of AIMS initiatives.

Global Youth Development Network (GYDN)

This project is in the initial phases of a multi-year plan to build an international network of people and organizations that are engaged in studies informing youth development. defines 'positive youth development' as a prosocial approach to enhancing the lives of young people by engaging youth in meaningful experiences with community organizations, ultimately building toward leadership capacities.


Researchers consistently find links between religiosity and prosociality, with many young people having learned to engage in community organizations through participating in religious congregations. Yet, the majority of this research is in Western countries. This project seeks to avoid Western biases by gathering research from under-studied world regions to better understand youth within their 'glocal' contexts.

Next Generation Philanthropy (NextGen)

This applied project connects scholarship to practice by partnering with organizations such as the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance (IPA)Three Pillars Initiative (TPI), and Spring Oath. These programs aim to grow lifelong philanthropists through engaging youth in grant-making, informal helping, or other actions intended to build civil society. From an individual and life course development perspective, engaging youth in philanthropy is an important part of fostering a love for giving to others. From an organizational and community perspective, engaging young people can be an important way to bring changes to philanthropic organizations and communities.


One short-term goal of this project is to design a study that will both aid a community partner in evaluating youth outcomes and build a dataset for students to analyze.

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Existing Projects & Datasets

Transition into Adulthood (TAS)

The Transition into Adulthood Supplement (TAS) is part of the broader data collection efforts of a project called the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The PSID is a long-standing and large-scale U.S. social science research project. The Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan collects the data in partnership with hundreds of researchers, resulting in thousands of publications. The TAS followed young people from their childhood years into early adulthood


Here is an annotated bibliography that 13 students and I co-authored to summarize all 100 publications that analyze the transition to adulthood data (PSID Bibliography search, selecting TAS). Of these publications, 79 are articles in peer-reviewed journals, 6 are book chapters, and 15 are doctoral student dissertations. 

Emerging Leaders Study (ELS)

The Emerging Leaders Study (ELS) aimed to investigate and contribute to the formation of emerging adults as productive, multicultural leaders. The ELS returned to the same sample of respondents studied longitudinally in the NSYR study (see below), and resurveyed former participants to collect updated data after young people had more fully transitioned into adulthood. Data include topics such as: school, work, family, romantic relationships, philanthropy, media, morality, and religion. The study also included a random control experiment on charitable giving.


The struggles that many young people had as they transitioned to adulthood prompted myself and 6 colleagues to write a book about how to navigate college. This book exposes the often-unwritten rules of college in order to foster greater equity in who succeeds, and to help students of a wide variety of backgrounds become leaders.

National Study of Youth & Religion (NSYR)

The National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) was a longitudinal survey that tracked young people from their teenage years through to early emerging adulthood. The nationally representative survey began with 3,290 English and Spanish-speaking teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, and their parents. The same group of young people were then resurveyed three years later when they were 16 to 21 years old, again when 18 to 24 years old, and again when 23 to 29 years old. The data can be downloaded here from ARDA. The data include giving, volunteering, action, helping.


Among the many publications resulting from this project, here are a few that I authored or co-authored: Souls in Transition book, Lost in Transition book, JSSR article, Journal of Adolescent Research article, and an applied project (pubs 1 and 2).

Science of Generosity (SciGen)

The Science of Generosity (SciGen) was a global research initiative that included a regranting award process to support 14 projects. In addition to the funding process, the project collected data through a nationally representative survey of about 2,000 adult Americans, ages 23 years and older. A subset of the survey participants were also interviewed in-person, along with household participant observations.


Here is the cumulative book summarizing all the findings resulting from this initiative. Results from all the projects are grouped according to different levels of analyses, starting with individual generosity, up to relationships and social groups, onward to organizations, communities, and nations. With colleagues I focused on the U.S. in this book on American Generosity and NVSQ article on social networks of giving.


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