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Doris lecturer discusses recipe for moral improvement

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John M. Doris speakingBy Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

On April 12, what would have been professor emeritus of human development John L. Doris’ 94th birthday, his son, John M. Doris, delivered the 10th annual John L. Doris Memorial Lecture hosted by the College of Human Ecology’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

Taking its cue from John L. Doris’ work in human development, the Doris Lecture series showcases speakers who study and promote the well-being of children, youth and families.

John M. Doris, professor in the Philosophy–Neuroscience–Psychology Program and Philosophy Department at Washington University in St. Louis, presented “Marking Good: Can We Realize our Moral Aspirations?,” a talk that incorporated the fields of human development and moral philosophy, to a full room at the Cornell Botanic Gardens Nevin Welcome Center.

“The task of making children’s lives better is making them better people, and that’s what I’m going to wonder about with you today,” he said. “Today, I’d like to take some hesitant steps towards articulating a ‘recipe’ for moral improvement.”

Doris set the tone of the lecture with what he described as an obvious fact – some people are better than others. According to Doris, there are individual differences in moral functioning and, therefore, for example, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks would be considered “better” than Pol Pot, the genocidal Cambodian tyrant.

“What accounts for individual differences in moral functioning? Often we think about the question: Is it grace or grit? Are moral differences just a matter of genetic endowment or is it something we can sort of work for and earn?” Doris asked. “If our aspirations are to make ourselves, our youth and each other morally better, then the question is 'how?' Is there some kind of recipe for moral goodness?”

According to Doris, since the time of the Greeks, philosophers have proposed that moral functioning be understood as a skill, like making music or playing chess. But after 2,500 years, the evidence is far from clear on what the acquisition and development of moral skill requires.

Doris pointed out that simple theories are bad theories; there are just too many factors to be considered.

Does intelligence improve morality? Not really. Does reading literature help? No sufficient evidence. Are parents influential on a growing child’s morality, in normal circumstances? Basic parenting differences don’t matter that much. How much does early education and early socialization play in moral development? Modest at best. Does socialization impact morality from a young age? Mixed results.

According to Doris, there is no magic bullet and prerequisites for obtaining moral skills are unclear. There is not going to be one exercise to do to make our children, ourselves and the world better, he said.

“The best we can say, I think, is that many simply small influences make combined influence levels of moral skill,” Doris said. “There may be many not-so-magic bullets, and we want to know what those bullets are and how best we can deploy them. After all, piecemeal solutions are by definition solutions, and probably the best we can do is find little ways to improve moral skill and leverage them as much as we can.”

The lecture’s namesake, John L. Doris, was professor emeritus of human development and founding director of the Family Life Development Center, one of the precursor centers to the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, and served as a resource for extension work, research and teaching on issues of family stress and child maltreatment. Doris joined the Cornell faculty in 1963 and served as director of the center from its establishment in 1974 until his retirement in 1993, though he continued to work on center programs until his death in 2008.

 

 

Doris lecturer discusses recipe for moral improvement - Cornell Chronicle

Making Good: Can We Realize Our Moral Aspirations? - video of Bronfenbrenner Lecture

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2017 Doris Lecture: John M. Doris, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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Making Good: Can We Realize Our Moral Aspirations?
John M. Doris, Philosophy Department, Washington University in St. Louis

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
12:00 PM
Ten-Eyck Room, Nevin Welcome Center, Cornell Botanic Gardens



Some folks are better than others.  But how does one come to be better than another?  Is moral decency a matter of grit or grace -- is the right training enough, or is innate talent also necessary? Since the Greeks, philosophers have proposed that moral functioning be understood as a skill, like making music or playing chess. Yet after 2,500 years, we are far from clear on what the acquisition of moral skill requires; what kind of practice, and what sort of talents, make people good?  In this abridged synthesis of what is known – and unknown -- in expert performance, human development, and moral philosophy, I take some hesitant steps towards articulating a “recipe” for moral improvement.

John M. Doris is Professor in the Philosophy–Neuroscience–Psychology Program and Philosophy Department at Washington University in St. Louis and AY 2016-2017 Laurence S. Rockefeller Fellow, University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.  He works at the intersection of cognitive science, moral psychology, and philosophical ethics, and has published widely on these topics in both philosophy and psychology journals. Doris has been awarded fellowships from Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities; Princeton’s University Center for Human Values; the National Humanities Center; the American Council of Learned Societies; the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and the National Endowment for the Humanities; and is a winner of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology’s Stanton Prize for excellence in interdisciplinary research.  He authored Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior (Cambridge, 2002) and Talking to Our Selves: Reflection, Ignorance, and Agency (Oxford, 2015). With his colleagues in the Moral Psychology Research Group, he wrote and edited The Moral Psychology Handbook (Oxford, 2010).  At Washington University, Doris’ pedagogy has been recognized with an Outstanding Mentor Award from the Graduate Student Senate and the David Hadas Teaching Award for excellence in the instruction of first year undergraduates.

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New video: Judith Smetana on adolescent-parent relationships

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Video from the 2016 John Doris Memorial Lecture, Adolescent-Parent Relationships: Developmental Processes and Cultural Variations, by Judith Smetana of the University of Rochester is now online. The lecture was held on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

 

 

About the talk:
Adolescence is often seen as a difficult time for both adolescents and their parents. Although current psychological research suggests that problems during this developmental period are often overstated, adolescent-parent relationships do go through significant transformations that pose challenges for the family. In her talk, Judith Smetana discusses findings from an ongoing program of research focusing on normative changes in different aspects of adolescent-parent relationships, including conflict and disagreements between parents and teenagers, adolescents’ disclosure, secrecy, and information management with parents, and adolescents’ and parents’ beliefs about parents’ legitimate authority to make rules about adolescents’ lives. She describes research with American families from diverse backgrounds and families from different cultures and discusses the significance of these findings for adolescent development and family functioning.

 

doris smetana eckenrode

L-R: Ellen Doris, Judith Smetana, and John Eckenrode.

About Judith Smetana:
Judith Smetana is professor of psychology and Director of the Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Rochester, where she has held the Frederica Warner Chair of Human Development. She obtained her B.A. with highest honors in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, she moved to the University of Rochester, where she has received several mentoring and leadership awards. Dr. Smetana’s research focuses on adolescent-parent relationships and parenting in different ethnic and cultural contexts and on children’s moral reasoning and behavior. She has published numerous articles and chapters on these topics. Her authored books include Adolescents, families, and social development: How children construct their worlds (2011), and several edited volumes, including the Handbook of Moral Development (2006, 2014), and Adolescent vulnerabilities and opportunities: Constructivist and developmental perspectives (2011).

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2016 John Doris Memorial Lecture

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Adolescent-Parent Relationships: Developmental Processes and Cultural Variations
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Judith Smetana
Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester

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2016 Doris Lecture: Judith Smetana, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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JUDITH G SMETANAPROFESSORCLINICAL & SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

Adolescent-Parent Relationships: Developmental Processes and Cultural Variations
Judith Smetana, University of Rochester

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
12:00PM
Nevin Welcome Center, The Plantations



Adolescence is often seen as a difficult time for both adolescents and their parents. Although current psychological research suggests that problems during this developmental period are often overstated, adolescent-parent relationships do go through significant transformations that pose challenges for the family. In her talk, Judith Smetana will discuss findings from an ongoing program of research focusing on normative changes in different aspects of adolescent-parent relationships, including conflict and disagreements between parents and teenagers, adolescents’ disclosure, secrecy, and information management with parents, and adolescents’ and parents’ beliefs about parents’ legitimate authority to make rules about adolescents’ lives. She will describe research with American families from diverse backgrounds and families from different cultures and discuss the significance of these findings for adolescent development and family functioning.

Judith Smetana is professor of psychology and Director of the Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Rochester, where she has held the Frederica Warner Chair of Human Development. She obtained her B.A. with highest honors in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, she moved to the University of Rochester, where she has received several mentoring and leadership awards. Dr. Smetana’s research focuses on adolescent-parent relationships and parenting in different ethnic and cultural contexts and on children’s moral reasoning and behavior. She has published numerous articles and chapters on these topics. Her authored books include Adolescents, families, and social development: How children construct their worlds (2011), and several edited volumes, including the Handbook of Moral Development (2006, 2014), and Adolescent vulnerabilities and opportunities: Constructivist and developmental perspectives (2011).

 

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Nevin Welcome Center parking lot. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at pmt6@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

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2015 John Doris Memorial Lecture

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Implementation Research in State Systems for Children with Behavioral Health Needs
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood
School of Medicine, New York University

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2015 Doris Lecture: Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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Implementation Research in State Systems for Children with Behavioral Health Needs
Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood, New York University

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
12:00 PM
Nevin Welcome Center, The Plantations



Dissemination-Implementation science has emerged over the past decade replete with conceptual models and studies of barriers to the successful implementation of evidence-based programs. This work has been of limited usefulness to state systems that are undergoing massive changes due to changes in the healthcare system. These changes target accountability, costs, and outcomes of state services. In the rush by state health and mental health authorities to accommodate these changes, services for children and adolescents are being largely overlooked. Yet ironically the most direct way to address system problems is through redesign of prevention and intervention services for children. This entails closing the gap between evidence-based care and its implementation in real world settings. A body of research is emerging that identifies system-level, organizational-level, and individual-level (child and family) interventions that can dramatically improve services and outcomes for children and adolescents. Approaches include evidence-based framing, strategic collaborative interventions, quality metrics, and data driven feedback systems. In her talk, Dr. Kimberly Hoagwood will provide examples of each and recommend a research agenda to accelerate practical progress.

Kimberly Hoagwood is Cathy and Stephen Graham Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. She is Director and Principal Investigator of an Advanced Center on Implementation and Dissemination Science in States for Children and Families, located at New York University and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (P30 MH090322), called The IDEAS Center. She co-directs the Clinic Technical Assistance Center with Dr. Mary McKay, funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Previously Kimberly was Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, specializing in children’s mental health services research. She also works with the division of Children, Youth and Families at the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) as a Research Scientist. Before coming to New York, she was Associate Director for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and oversaw the portfolio of research on child and adolescent mental health, from basic to applied studies. This gave her a broad perspective on research gaps and on ways to connect different areas of science through interdisciplinary theory and methods. She served as the Scientific Editor for the Office of the Surgeon General’s National Action Agenda on Children’s Mental Health with Dr. David Satcher.

Kimberly is Principal Investigator on several other major grants and subcontracts, all focused on improving the quality of services for children and families. Her special emphasis is on parent activation in children’s health services, as well as the organizational and policy contexts for children’s mental health services.

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2014 John Doris Memorial Lecture

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School-Based Prevention of Behavior Problems: Integrating and Advancing the Evidence Base
Monday, April 7, 2014

Catherine Bradshaw
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

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2014 Doris Lecture: Catherine Bradshaw, Monday, April 7, 2014

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School-Based Prevention of Behavior Problems: Integrating and Advancing the Evidence Base
Catherine Bradshaw, University of Virginia

Monday, April 7, 2014
12:00pm
102 Mann Library



This event is free and open to all, no registration required. Lunch will immediately follow the lecture.

Schools are an important context for children's development and the prevention of behavioral and mental health problems. In addition, the importance of school climate has been linked with a range of positive behavioral and academic outcomes for students and staff. In her talk, Catherine Bradshaw provides an overview of some evidence-based approaches for the prevention of problem behavior through schools. She draws on data from several large-scale randomized controlled trials of prevention programs, such as the Good Behavior Game and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and efforts to scale-up these programs state-wide. Dr. Bradshaw also considers the importance of implementation science and coaching supports to better understand what works for whom, under what conditions. Her findings will be presented from a series of studies funded by Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, United States Department of Education, Institute of Education Science, and the William T. Grant Foundation.

Catherine Bradshaw, Ph.D., M.Ed., is a Professor and the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia (UVA). Prior to her current appointment at UVA, she was an Associate Professor and the Associate Chair of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She maintains an affiliation with Johns Hopkins as the Deputy Director of the CDC-funded Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Co-Director of the NIMH-funded Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Early Intervention. She holds a doctorate in developmental psychology from Cornell University and a masters of education in counseling and guidance from the University of Georgia. Her primary research interests focus on the development of aggressive behavior and school-based prevention. She collaborates on research projects examining bullying and school climate; the development of aggressive and problem behaviors; effects of exposure to violence, peer victimization, and environmental stress on children; and the design, evaluation, and implementation of evidence-based prevention programs in schools. She presently collaborates on federally supported randomized trials of school-based prevention programs, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and social-emotional learning curricula. She also has expertise in implementation science and coaching models. Dr. Bradshaw works with the Maryland State Department of Education and several school districts to support the development and implementation of programs and policies to prevent bullying and school violence, and to foster safe and supportive learning environments. She collaborates on federally-funded research grants supported by the NIMH, NIDA, CDC, and the Institute of Education Sciences. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Research on Adolescence and the editor elect of Prevention Science. She is a coeditor of the forthcoming book, Handbook of School Mental Health (Springer).

 

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2013 John Doris Memorial Lecture

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School-Randomized Experiments to Improve Children’s Academic and Social-Emotional Outcomes: Lessons from U.S. and Congo
April 9, 2013

Lawrence Aber
Psychology and Public Policy, New York University

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