University of Calgary

Professor spearheads network for critical youth studies

UToday HomeApril 23, 2013

By Betty Rice

Shirley Steinberg, professor of youth studies in the Faculty of EducationShirley Steinberg, professor of youth studies in the Faculty of Education, says sharing and exchanging information at a conference is an important step toward giving the field of critical youth studies a greater profile.Kids these days. Everyone seems to talk about what they do or don’t do; how they act or how they act up; what to do with them or whether to just leave them to their own designs.

To this point, very little work has been done to seriously make a collaborative effort to understand the next generation and to look for ways to include youth in the dialogue about themselves.

Shirley Steinberg is hoping to change that. The professor of youth studies in the Faculty of Education is spearheading a network for critical youth studies. “This field is in its infancy,” explains Steinberg, who is also the director and chair of the Werklund Centre for Youth Leadership Education. “It’s been articulated loosely in different nations, but there’s been no attempt to link a global network of progressive scholars and community workers to this field.”

Steinberg believes the first step in building strength in the discipline is to connect Canadian academics, those who work with youth in a variety of capacities, and the youths themselves in an open dialogue.

She’s organized a one-day conference, Critical Canadian Youth Studies, set for May 31, which will bring together those already working in the area and those who would like to learn more about it. Academics from across Canada will present their work and conversations with participants will follow.

“It’s not often youth, youth cultural and social workers, and academics come together to participate in a program like this,” she says, “and we’re inviting anyone with an interest in critical youth studies to join in the discussion.

Following the May conference in Calgary, Steinberg will take the development of critical youth studies even further, when she begins the work of organizing a large-scale 2014 conference that will include international participants to further develop network in the field. Also in the works: International Journal of Critical Youth Studies, to have its inaugural issue in the late fall of this year; and The Critical Youth Studies Reader, edited by Steinberg and Awad Ibrahim of the University of Ottawa.

“Youth studies covers, at its core, issues of social justice, equity, democratic citizenship, interdisciplinarity, and collaborative scholarship,” says Steinberg. “And getting together to share and exchange information about what we know — about, for, and with youth — is the first important step in giving this field of study the profile it seserves.”

For more information on the May conference and to register, visit:


Follow UToday on Twitter.
Check the UToday website for news about events, people and trends at University of Calgary.
Follow what’s happening on campus using our interactive calendar.