Dr. Cynthia García Coll gives lecture on Latinx youth and families

Dr. Cynthia García Coll gives lecture at April 4, MSU event. Photo courtesy of Dane Robinson.

Dr. Cynthia García Coll gives lecture at April 4, MSU event. Photo courtesy of Dane Robinson.

On April 4, Cynthia García Coll, Ph.D., gave a lecture, Studying Human Development in Context: The Case of Latinx Youth and Families in the U.S., sponsored by the MSU Youth Equity Project, The Diversity Research Network, the Chicano/Latino Student Association and the Julian Samora Research Institute of University Outreach and Engagement.

“My key takeaway for the MSU community is the importance of having diverse points of views, especially in the social sciences, and conducting research and interventions with deep knowledge about the communities, perhaps as partners, in both research and intervention,” Dr. García Coll said.

Dr. García Coll is the Charles Pittz Robinson and John Palmer Barstow professor emerita at Brown University and an adjunct professor in Pediatrics at the University of Puerto Rico. She is renowned in the field of developmental science, known for conceptual models attuned to systemic influences of racism, discrimination, and culture among minoritized populations. She has published over 100 articles, chapters and book volumes and winner of numerous awards. She is a champion of strengths-based perspectives of marginalized youth and families.

“The representation of people of color in the academic literature continues to portray us as defective and in need of intervention. However, the theories and paradigms used for intervention are based on research done in WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democracies) populations. Some are more harmful than helpful,” Dr. García Coll said.

Linda Halgunseth, Ph.D., HDFS associate professor, appreciated Dr. García Coll’s emphasis on culture, and how it is practiced and evident across all contexts ranging from families, schools, and neighborhoods to federal laws, political policies, and social services; and hence, child developmental researchers should consider context in all of their work. Additionally, hosting Dr. García Coll was personally meaningful to Dr. Halgunseth.

“Dr. García Coll’s research was pivotal to my career. She blazed a trail that had not existed previously in mainstream developmental science so that researchers like myself could pursue in graduate school and beyond. Because of her work, I apply a cultural lens and strength-based perspective in my research on parenting from families of historically minoritized backgrounds in the U.S.  Dr. Cynthia Garcia Coll is the very definition of a role model and a trail blazer in child development.”

Photo courtesy of Dane Robinson.

Photo courtesy of Dane Robinson.

Dr. García Coll has had a wide-reaching impact on research and policy.

“Dr. Cynthia García Coll has spent her career transforming our scholarship and the scope of our knowledge,” said Emilie Smith, Ph.D., lead for the MSU Youth Equity Project and professor in the MSU Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “She continues to embody the strength and vigor to use her research to speak truth to power in support of Latinx and diverse youth and families.” 

Photo courtesy of Dane Robinson.

Photo courtesy of Dane Robinson.

Dr. García Coll represents scholarship in action, especially when it comes to U.S. policy that impacts Latinx families.

“She, along with Dr. Halgunseth and a host of others, were among the scholars whose science spoke up and out about the child separation crisis among Latinx families at the border,” Dr. Smith said. “A strengths-based perspective of people of color is the crux of her scholarly work and advocacy.” 

 

By Katie Frey