Margaret Beale Spencer


Member Since: 2009

Margaret Beale Spencer received a PhD in Child and Developmental Psychology from the University of Chicago, Committee on Human Development. Her identity-focused cultural ecological theory-development activities (i.e., Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory) and adolescent-focused developmental research efforts address resiliency, identity, and competence formation processes of ethnically diverse youth. The program of research and human development theorizing evolves from her initial early-, middle-childhood and youth-focused research efforts. Her cumulative human development research foundation, which supports all aspects of her current work and its application as programming, emanates from several decades of thematic research emphases. The programmatic research history includes: Processes of basic African American child development; varying levels of impoverished youth and their responsiveness to monetary incentive-based programming; resiliency enhancement and reactive coping processes of male youth; and the multi-strategy assessment of neighborhood settings as the context for youth development, more generally. Spencer’s research and collaborative applications are based on the perspective that all humans are vulnerable (i.e., all possess both risks and protective factors). Its resiliency emphasis maintains an investigation of youths’ emerging capacity for constructive coping and healthy outcomes while developing under varying types and levels of challenging conditions. She has published approximately 125 articles and chapters, completed four edited volumes, and received funding from over three dozen federal and philanthropic agencies. Spencer has presented major invited lectures (e.g., 2008 Clayton Lecture, University of Pennsylvania; 2008 Ridley Lecture, University of Virginia; the 2007thAmerican Educational Research Association [AERA] Brown Lecture; and 2001 Lois Bloom Lecture, Pennsylvania State University). In addition, she has been the recipient of numerous honors: Elected (2009) Membership into the National Academy of Education; American Psychological Association [APA] Senior Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest; APA Fellow Status of Divisions 1, 7, 15, and 45; Inaugural Fellow status of AERA; and the 2006 Fletcher Fellowship, which recognizes work that furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education Decision of 1954. She joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, Department of Comparative Human Development and the College, and the Committee on Education (January 2009) as the Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education.

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