Join Us at the 2018 NCFR Annual Conference

Bahira Sherif Trask, Ph.D., Chair, Conference Program Committee
/ Fall 2018 NCFR Report

Families and Cultural Intersections in a Global Context: Innovations in Research, Practice, and Policies

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Our theme for this November’s annual conference could not be timelier: a focus on cultural intersections in an increasingly interconnected and diverse world. As we are seeing in the United States and other countries around the world, migration and globalization are creating new points of contact between cultures. At times these intersections are perceived as a welcome addition, enriching local environments. However, this is not always the case. In the United States and other high-income countries, we are witnessing an increased tendency for policymakers and government leaders to stress nationalistic beliefs. And at times, these values are translated into policies that are detrimental specifically to families. A recent example is the policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the U.S.–Mexico border.

For our discipline to be relevant and contribute to the betterment of our society and other societies, we must address these types of issues at every level: we need to emphasize and disseminate our empirical research on child, youth, and adult development and on family relationships across the life span. Furthermore, we need to advocate for policies that strengthen all families. Contemporary families live in a complex, increasingly intertwined, and culturally diverse world. They themselves represent many forms and types. However, they have in common that they need supportive policies that take into account changing circumstances. We, as Family Scientists, have the knowledge base that can help create environments and circumstances that assist families as they navigate complicated contexts and situations.

Our 2018 program will address the issues created by cultural intersections head on. Special and invited speaker symposium sessions will highlight research on families in Western and non-Western contexts, culturally and socially marginalized families, and families that live at or embody cultural intersections. They will also focus on innovative evidence-based best practices, programs, and pedagogies that promote family resiliency and well-being in varying settings and draw attention to and critically analyze policies that support and strengthen all types of families, including the most vulnerable.

Moreover, we are fortunate to have an extraordinary group of plenary presenters at this year’s conference. They include the following:

Nora Spinks, chief executive officer, Vanier Institute of the Family, Ottawa, Ontario, has dedicated her career to creating innovative policies and programs focusing on health and well-being, caregiving, workplace flexibility and work–life harmony, having served as an adviser and consultant to leaders in business, law, labor, government and community. She is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Canada 125 Award for Exemplary Community Service, the Workplace Wellness Pioneer of the Year Award, and the Learning Partnership Volunteer of the Year Award. Ms. Spinks will speak on the topic of “Perspectives on Family Diversity in Canada.”

Dominic Richardson, Ph.D., is a senior education specialist at UNICEF, Office of Research, Innocenti, where he leads research on issues of equity in education and the relationship between schooling, school outcomes, and child well-being. Dr. Richardson previously worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Social Policy Division on child well-being, evaluation of family policies, and studies of extreme poverty and vulnerability. Dr. Richardson has led or coauthored several reports on comparative child and family well-being, including How’s Life for Children? in the OECD’s How’s Life?, Doing Better for Children, and Doing Better for Families publications, as well as UNICEF Innocenti Report Cards 7, 9, and 14. Dr. Richardson presentation is “Child Well-Being, Poverty, and Family Policy Across the Life Course: Lessons From High-Income Countries.

Carola Suárez-Orozco, Ph.D., is a professor of human development and psychology at UCLA and cofounder of Re-Imagining Migration. Her books include Children of Immigration, Learning a New Land, as well as Transitions: The Development of the Children of Immigrants. She has been awarded an American Psychological Association (APA) Presidential Citation for her contributions to the understanding of cultural psychology of immigration, has served as chair of the APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration, and is a member of the National Academy of Education. Dr. Suárez-Orozco will speak on the topic of “Growing Up in the Shadows: Living in Undocumented and Mixed-Family Status.”

Andrew Cherlin, Ph.D., is Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Public Policy and Department Chair in the Department of Sociology at John Hopkins University. He has served as the president of the Population Association of America (PAA), received the Distinguished Career Award from the Family Section of the American Sociological Association, was a Guggenheim Fellow, and received the Irene B. Taeuber Award from the PAA, in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in demographic research. Dr. Cherlin’s presentation is Degrees of Change: An Assessment of Marriage and the Deinstitutionalization Thesis.”

Conferences are ultimately only as good as the individuals who attend and present at them. This year we are fortunate to have a wide variety of strong, relevant proposals that promise to shed light on some of our world’s most pressing family-related issues. I thank all of you for submitting such germane, exciting proposals, and I extend much gratitude to the section chairs for the many hours of behind-the-scenes effort they have put in to review and organize the various sessions. Moreover, the fantastic staff of NCFR has pulled together what promises to be an excellent conference. Working closely with them, I have observed firsthand how they attend to every detail with great interest and care. I thank them for their commitment to our discipline and their extreme helpfulness and caring.

I extend a warm welcome to the students and new colleagues who will be joining us, and I hope that you make NCFR your academic home. Every year I am heartened to be with colleagues who care about the same issues that I do and who are conducting such important work to support families. I look forward to meeting all of you in San Diego and hope that we are able to have the kind of productive discussions and collaborations that will continue to move our discipline forward!