Adolescent Changemaking: Critical Consciousness, Sociopolitical Development, and Beyond

  • Full Day Pre-Conference
  • 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • $50.00

The Adolescent Changemaking Pre-Conference will bring together scholars, practitioners, and youth to discuss the state of adolescent changemaking theory and methods. In this pre-conference, we will synthesize and problematize our current knowledge, foster collaborations, promote data sharing, and create space for scholars to share their own research findings, research quandaries, and research practices to advance scientific knowledge and practical application in this subfield. This pre-conference will foreground collaborative conversations, knowledge sharing, and youth voice. 

Over the past two decades, researchers and practitioners have been increasingly interested in understanding the how, why, what, and when of adolescent changemaking. This research has been grounded in Critical Consciousness, Sociopolitical Development, and Empowerment frameworks. To build on this momentum, the Adolescent Changemaking Pre-Conference will bring together scholars and scholar-practitioners from across the US and beyond to discuss and share what we know about the current state of our field and the important next directions for research and co-creation of knowledge with adolescents. Activities will include collaborative conversations and knowledge sharing through roundtable discussions featuring authors from three new books on adolescent critical consciousness and social justice pursuits: Young Black Changemakers and the Road to Racial Justice (Wray-Lake, Hope, & Abrams, 2023); Developing Critical Consciousness in Youth: Contexts and Settings (Godfrey & Rapa, 2023); and Critical Consciousness: Expanding Theory and Measurement (Rapa & Godfrey, 2023). We will also hear from local youth activists in our Young Change Makers Panel and from Drs. Josefina Bañales and Dr. Alexandrea Golden in our Youth Voice and Youth Engaged Research talk.

Josefina Bañales, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Community and Applied Developmental Psychology Area at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research examines how racially and ethnically minoritized youth develop beliefs, feelings, and actions that challenge racism (i.e., youth critical racial consciousness development). In collaboration with youth, schools, parents, and community organizations, she co-creates opportunities that facilitate youths’ critical racial consciousness development. Dr. Bañales infuses her personal experiences as a Mexican American woman who is a first-generation high school, college, and doctoral student from the Southwest side of Chicago with her community-engaged research with youth of color in schools and community organizations. Dr. Bañales loves hot, black coffee, singing, and walking at a very leisurely pace.


Erin B. Godfrey, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and Director of NYU’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change. Dr. Godfrey’s scholarship integrates theoretical perspectives and empirical research from developmental, community, and social psychology to address the psychological processes that underlie youth’s responses to systemic oppression, the psychological consequences of these responses, and how systemic oppression is enacted, or disrupted, in the immediate settings and contexts youth inhabit. Her research hopes to identify meaningful solutions, in close partnership with communities, focusing on promoting equity for minoritized young people and their families. Dr. Godfrey employs critical and intersectional frameworks in her approach to these questions, examining how multiple forms of power, privilege, and marginalization intersect to inform people’s, settings’, and systems’ responses to and enactment of inequity and their ensuing consequences for well-being. She has authored close to 75 articles, chapters, and community-facing reports on these issues, co-edited multiple books on youth’s critical consciousness development, and has been featured in popular news outlets. 

Alexandrea R. Golden, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Memphis. Her scholarship focuses on the resilience and positive development of racially-minoritized youth who experience racism with a focus on Black adolescents. Her work focuses on three interdisciplinary lines of research including: (1) school racial climate, (2) peer racial socialization, and (3) critical consciousness. Dr. Golden is committed to empowering marginalized youth and amplifying their voices and experiences through her translation and community-engaged research and practice.



Elan C. Hope, Ph.D. is the Program Area Director for Research and Evaluation at Policy Research Associates, Inc. (PRA). PRA is a woman-owned small business with a mission to “create positive social change for people and communities through technical assistance, research, and training.” As Director of Research and Evaluation, Dr. Hope develops and provides oversight on research projects and uses her area’s research findings to inform and strengthen PRA’s technical assistance efforts. In her research, Dr. Hope takes an assets-based approach to understanding individual and community factors that promote well-being for adolescents and young adults, particularly structural barriers to wellness. Dr. Hope uses qualitative and quantitative methods to examine factors related to behavioral health and well-being, including racial identity, critical consciousness, socialization, and activism.  


Luke Rapa, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Education and Human Development at Clemson University. Broadly, Rapa studies how contextual, sociocultural, and sociopolitical factors—including socioeconomic disadvantage, structural constraints, and societal inequality—shape key developmental and psychological processes and promote or constrain individual’s development and adaptive functioning. His research examines how individuals critically analyze societal inequities and develop critical consciousness and how youth navigate structural constraints and marginalizing systems to promote positive social change, achieve success, and experience well-being. He is currently an associate editor of Applied Developmental Science and recently co-edited three books: Disproportionality and Social Justice in Education (2022); Developing Critical Consciousness in Youth: Contexts and Settings (2023); and Critical Consciousness: Expanding Theory and Measurement (2023).