Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War: Global Perspectives

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Course Date: 15 September 2014 to 27 October 2014 (6 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

How do children overcome hazardous experiences to succeed in life? What can be done to protect young people at risk from trauma, war, disasters, and other adversities? Learn about the importance of fostering resilience in children at risk.


Estimated Workload: 3-5 hours/week

Course Instructors

Ann Masten

Ann Masten is the Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She has studied competence, risk, and resilience in human development since she came to the University for her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Professor Masten has conducted research with children and families who have experienced many kinds of adversity, including homelessness, war, migration, and disaster, as well as ordinary school children who have experienced stressful but common adversities such as poverty or family violence. Her publications on resilience in children are among the most cited in the literature. She is Past-President of the Society for Research on Child Development and a 2014 recipient of the Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society. Her book, Ordinary Magic: Resilience in Development, will be published in 2014 by Guilford Press. 

Course Description

Children around the world experience severe adversity in different forms, including maltreatment, disaster, war, and terrorism. Some children manage to adapt and recover, showing resilience, while others do not. What do we know about resilience and how to protect child development in the face of potentially life-altering adversities? This course will examine the global literature on resilience in children and youth, with a focus on core concepts, methods scholars use to study resilience, highlights of lessons learned from half a century of research, and applications to promote resilience in children whose lives are threatened by extreme adversity.

Course materials will examine multimedia biographies as well as research studies on the effects of common and rare traumatic experiences on child development. Both classic and contemporary studies of risk and resilience in children facing the following kinds of adversities will be included

  • natural disasters (eg, tsunami, hurricane, earthquake)
  • political violence and war (eg, child soldiers, refugees)
  • terror attacks (eg, 9/11, Beslan school)
  • compound mass-trauma events (eg, 2011 earthquake - tsunami - nuclear plant meltdown)
  • child maltreatment
  • severe poverty or privation

The course also will highlight new frontiers of research on the neurobiology of resilience, cultural protective processes, and preventive interventions to promote the capacity for resilience in young people.

The course has been designed for relevance to students and professionals from multiple disciplines, diverse backgrounds, and different regions of the globe. Participants completing the course will gain a basic understanding of concepts and methods of research on resilience in children and youth, major findings from the first half-century of science on this topic, and a broad framework for applications of this growing knowledge to improve the lives of children threatened by hazardous circumstances. 

Syllabus

Course content will address these topics among others

  • the origins and meaning of resilience in research on human development
  • methods and models of research on resilience, including case studies
  • effects on children of natural and technological disasters
  • resilience in children exposed to war and political violence
  • roles of families, schools, culture, and community in promoting resilience of children
  • enduring controversies and new horizons in the study of resilience

Format

The class will consist of six major topics, one per week. Each week will include a series of short lectures or video presentations, approximately 10-18 minutes each.  In addition, there will be one or two readings and “active learning” assignments, such as completing a brief interview or survey, commenting on readings or films, and engaging in a forum discussion online.

Course Workload

3-5 hours/week

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