Shirley Steinberg’s work puts critical youth studies in the spotlight
Shirley Steinberg and chapter contributor sj Miller celebrate the launch of The Critical Youth Studies Reader at the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia last week. Photo courtesy Liz Meyer
Each year, the American Educational Research Association(AERA) holds its annual meeting and conference, and post-secondary educators from across North America regularly turn out to discuss issues in education, attend workshops and professional development sessions and present papers. This year’s gathering, held last week in Philadelphia, hosted 14,500 delegates.
The AERA event also includes a large book exhibit, and this year, a Werklund School of Education professor’s publication was prominently featured, as Shirley Steinberg, Research Chair of Youth Studies, and Awad Ibrahim introduced their new work,The Critical Youth Studies Reader.
The book, which Steinberg and Ibrahim co-edited, takes the research of more than 60 youth studies leaders in the academic and youth communities and organizes it into four sections which address criticalized youth studies in both historical and contemporary contexts, contrasts and similarities in various marginalized communities and groups, youth in popular culture, and teaching and leadership with youth. The Reader, the first to focus on critical youth studies as a field of research, also includes texts of spoken word poetry written and performed by youth from all over North America.
The book features a foreword by Prof. Paul Willis of Princeton University; the afterword is by Donna Gaines, a professor at Empire State College in New York.
“The concept of critical youth studies differs from traditional youth or adolescent studies,” explains Steinberg. “The criticalization of a topic is a political and social commentary on how race, class, gender, religion, and sexuality work within the topic.”
“The book has the theme of social justice and equity woven throughout.”
Steinberg says that the genesis of The Critical Youth Studies Reader was a conference she sponsored as the Werklund Chair of Youth Leadership in Education in the Werklund Centre for Youth Leadership Education. During the 2013 event, leading experts in youth studies participated in a workshop with Steinberg to conceptualize the book.
With this latest edited publication and four new book contracts for her own authored works, Steinberg has left her role as the director and chair of the Werklund Centre in order to focus on her writing, academic research, community engagement, and public speaking engagements.
“The work done with scholars and youth at the Centre has increased the focus on a critical view of youth studies, culture, and leadership, and I am committed to this new field of studies,” says Steinberg.
“For decades youth have been pathologized as members of society who need to be studied and improved. Critical Youth Studies sees youth as partners in their education and lives, with youth empowerment as the goal.
“This book introduces the field of Critical Youth Studies, but I believe there is much more to be done.”