Join Us at the 2017 NCFR Annual Conference

Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Ph.D., Chair, Conference Program Committee, [email protected]
Fall 2017 NCFR Report

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I hope you are all busy making your plans to attend “NCFR 2017” in Orlando this November—it will be a conference to remember! The theme for this year’s conference is “Families as Catalysts: Shaping Neurons, Neighborhoods, and Nations.” It has struck me over the past few years that far too often the dialogue and rhetoric we hear about families in our society focuses upon the economic and social “costs” of families. For example, the costs of basic family needs such as child care, health care, schooling, parental leave, and elder care are at the core of much social and political debate. We spend much less time considering all the ways families maintain and sustain our society.

At the 2017 NCFR conference, the goal is to challenge scholars, practitioners, and policy makers to reframe the narrative on families and ask: How do families, all types of families, contribute to the cultural wealth of neighborhoods, communities, schools, workplaces, states, and nations? Simply put—what are families worth? Families play key roles in the healthy development of children, both directly, through care and nurturance, and indirectly, by shaping the social contexts that affect families and children. How do family relations and functions advance the lives of individuals as well as build stronger schools, communities, workplaces, and nations? How do families function as catalysts, at multiple levels, for a vibrant, healthy, and well-functioning society?

How do families, all types of families, contribute to the cultural wealth of neighborhoods, communities, schools, workplaces, states, and nations?

To that end, we have some exciting plenary speakers who have been asked to address how families shape everything from disability policy to neighborhoods, to the vibrancy of our economy, and to laws and policies around immigration.

  • Michael Bérubé is Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature at Pennsylvania State University. In his talk “The Journey from Normal,” he will describe his own experiences as the father of a child with Down syndrome. He will address the critical role families play in pushing for, shaping, and creating disability policy.

  • Lee Badgett is a professor of economics and director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law. Her plenary address will highlight how contributions of families are built into the fabric of our economy, even when they’re not always visible. The title of her talk is “Controversial Contributions: Calculating the Economic Benefits of Families.”

  • Linda Burton, Dean of Social Sciences and James B. Duke Professor of Sociology at Duke University, and longtime NCFR member, will recount in her plenary talk the case study of 7-year-old Andre, a biracial respondent, whose family network she has followed in a 30-year ethnographic study of the family life course, race, and poverty. Her provocative talk is entitled “When Ethnography Comes Home to Roost; Andre, the Life Course, and My Family’s Intervention.”

  • Andre Segura, staff attorney at the Immigrant’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Manijeh Danesphour, a professor and family therapist who specializes in working with immigrant and refugee families, will take on a topic of tremendous debate and trepidation in the United States: immigration. The aim of this plenary session is to provide an overview of current macro-level policy and laws in the United States that directly affect the lives of immigrant and refugee families and to gain a better understanding of how these policies have both intended and unintended effects on families and children.

In addition, we have outstanding symposia planned that highlight the outstanding research and outreach being conducted by NCFR scholars. I want to thank all of the NCFR section chairs who went above and beyond the call of duty to pull together an exciting, provocative, and exceptional program—your efforts are reflected in the conference’s quality and breadth.

I also want to extend a special invitation to students to come hear the best interdisciplinary research on families in the world, and to participate in our special workshops and sessions for new professionals.

Finally, thanks to the NCFR staff and leadership team for dedicating countless hours to this conference, to make NCFR the premier family research organization it is.

I look forward to sharing an inspirational and exciting conference with all of you this November.