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Nicholas Kristof to give Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture Oct. 2

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Nicholas Kristof

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, a writer for The New York Times known for his work exposing social injustice, will speak on campus Monday, Oct. 2, at 5 p.m. in Call Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Kristof will deliver the Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, who taught at Cornell for more than 50 years and is considered by many to be the father of translational research.

Kristof’s lecture is titled “A Path Appears: Promoting the Welfare of Children.” The talk will draw on his work in promoting gender equality around the world and on public health and poverty with a focus on children. His reporting has documented the living conditions of people across the globe and advocated for human rights.

“Nicholas Kristof is the perfect person to help us celebrate the centennial of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s birth,” said Karl Pillemer, director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development. “Urie and Nicholas share an interest in protecting the rights of children and in the ways citizens and policymakers can act positively to change our society for the better.”

Bronfenbrenner’s work at Cornell included developing theory and research designs at the frontiers of developmental science, finding ways to apply those theories to use in policy and practice, and communicating his findings to the public and to decision-makers.

His research was among the first to demonstrate the environmental and social influences on child development and was critical in helping the U.S. government develop the Head Start program, which provides early childhood education, nutrition and parenting support to low-income families.

The Bronfenbrenner Center in the College of Human Ecology capitalizes on translational research as a means to more closely link the twin missions of research and outreach.

Kristof holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University and a law degree from Oxford University, England, which he attended as a Rhodes scholar.

Nicholas Kristof to give Bronfenbrenner Centennial Lecture Oct. 2 - Cornell Chronicle

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2017 Bronfenbrenner Lecture: Karen Matthews, Thursday, June 15, 2017

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Karen Matthews

Biological Pathways in Childhood Poverty, Health, Well-being, and Behavior
Karen Matthews, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Thursday, June 15, 2017
9:00 - 10:00 AM
G71 MVR Hall



There are strong and ubiquitous social gradients in childhood health. This talk will examine underlying biological explanations for social inequalities in child health and lay out some strategies for improving research on these pathways. Professor Matthews will review several physiological systems including HPA axis, cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory, and the sympathetic nervous system. She will then go in detail about sleep, the brain, and metabolic dysregulation including obesity. Ideas for future research will focus both on additional physiological parameters as well as measurement and research design issues.

Dr. Karen Matthews is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is Program Director of the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program.  Her work addresses the psychosocial and biological pathways connecting sociodemographic factors and poor health; development of cardiovascular behavioral risk factors in childhood and adolescence; the influence of menopause on women’s health; and the role of stress-induced physiological responses and sleep in the etiology of heart disease and hypertension.   Dr. Matthews is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.  She has previously served as Editor-in-Chief of Health Psychology, and as President of the American Psychosomatic Society and the Health Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA).  Dr. Matthews has won a number of honors, including the 2005 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology and awards from the American Heart Association, APA Health Psychology and Pediatric Psychology Divisions, Society of Behavioral Medicine, North American Menopause Society, American Psychosomatic Society, and the Association of Psychological Science.  She received her B.A. degree from University of California at Berkeley, her Ph. D. from the University of Texas, Austin, and a Ph.D. (Honoris Causa) from University of Helsinki, Finland. 

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Revisiting Urie’s role as Head Start turns 50

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Lady Bird Johnson at an early Head Start event

A recent Cornell Chronicle article on Urie Bronfenbrenner's involvement in the founding of the National Head Start Program begins,

Testifying before Congress in 1964, Cornell developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner urged lawmakers to fight “poverty where it hits first and most damagingly – in early childhood.”Intrigued by his work, Lady Bird Johnson invited Bronfenbrenner to tea at the White House, where he shared his findings on early childhood programs he had observed abroad. In January 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, Sargent Shriver empaneled 13 experts – including Bronfenbrenner – to develop a federally funded preschool program for the nation’s poorest children.

Urie BronfenbrennerThe article goes on to detail Urie's unique contributions to the formation of the influential program:

Among Head Start’s architects, Bronfenbrenner stood out for his dynamic systems theory of human development – which became synonymous with the field of human ecology and inspired the renaming of Cornell’s College of Human Ecology in 1969. A champion of field-based observations in children’s homes, schools and neighborhoods, Bronfenbrenner upended the conventions of mid-20th century developmental psychology, which had taken a decontextualized, sterilized approach.

For Bronfenbrenner, it wasn’t enough to look narrowly at children. To understand the effect of a mother’s employment on a child’s development, for example, he urged investigators to consider the child’s age, the quality of daycare in the mother’s absence, her attitude toward her work, the family’s race and income level and the father’s employment status and attitude toward his partner’s work and family duties.

50 years later, recalling a founder of Head Start - Cornell Chronicle

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Income inequality linked to higher rates of child abuse and neglect

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BCTR director John Eckenrode is lead author of a new article, Income Inequality and Child Maltreatment in the United States, published in February in the journal Pediatrics. Eckenrode, who also serves as director of the BCTR's National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN), co-authored the article with NDACAN researchers Elliott Smith, Margaret McCarthy, and Michael Dineen. The article reports findings from a study comparing substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect with nationwide county-level data on income equality and poverty, covering 3,142 U.S. counties. The study concluded,

Higher income inequality across US counties was significantly associated with higher county-level rates of child maltreatment. The findings contribute to the growing literature linking greater income inequality to a range of poor health and well-being outcomes in infants and children.

In a Cornell Chronicle article on the findings, Eckenrode is quoted, saying,

... reducing poverty and inequality would be the single most effective way to prevent maltreatment of children, but in addition there are proven programs that work to support parents and children and help to reduce the chances of abuse and neglect – clearly a multifaceted strategy is needed.

Support for the study came from the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Income inequality and child maltreatment in the United States - Pediatrics
Child abuse and neglect rise with income inequality - Cornell Chronicle
Child abuse rises with income inequality, Cornell study shows - Ithaca Journal
More kids struggle where the income gap widens - Christian Science Monitor
Rising child abuse linked to rising income inequality, study reports - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kids may suffer in gaps between haves and have-nots - Reuters

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2013 Iscol Lecture: Leila Janah, Monday, September 30, 2013

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Samasource: A Sustainable Solution to Global Poverty
Leila Janah, Samasource

Monday, September 30, 2013
7:30 PM
Kennedy Hall, Call Auditorium



Come hear the story of how the award-winning  non-profit Samasource was founded and find out how Samasource survived during its most rapid and tumultuous period of growth: the start-up years. Learn from Leila Janah, Samasource Founder and CEO, who went from being a student of international development and budding travel writer to a world-renowned technology leader. Beyond the media hype and the awards Samasource has received in its relatively short existence for their global poverty solution, Leila will share with us her experiences of the fast and furious, iterative process of building a company with real revenue streams. Beyond inspiring to be driven by social mission, Leila will delve into the fundamental secret of social entrepreneurship: survival hinges on getting things done and never giving up. And because there is no road map, recognizing that getting lost along the way is usually when you end up finding yourself… and your product.

Leila Janah is the founder and CEO of Samasource. She serves on the boards of CARE, OneLeap, and TechSoup Global and as an advisor to mobile shopping app RevelTouch.

Prior to Samasource, Janah was a Visiting Scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice and Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. She was a founding Director of Incentives for Global Health, an initiative to increase R&D spending on diseases of the poor, and a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners (now Booz & Co.). She has also worked at the World Bank and as a travel writer for Let’s Go in Mozambique, Brazil, and Borneo.

She is the recipient of a 2011 World Technology Award and a 2012 TechFellow Award. She received a BA from Harvard.

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2012 Bronfenbrenner Lecture

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Reducing Poverty-related Disparities: Science and Policy à la Bronfenbrenner
November 2, 2012

Pamela Morris
Department of Applied Psychology, New York University

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2010 Iscol Lecture

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The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World
September 27, 2010

Jacqueline Novogratz
Founder and CEO, Acumen Fund

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2012 John Doris Memorial Lecture

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What the U.S. Can Learn from Britain's War on Poverty
March 26, 2012

Jane Waldfogel
School of Social Work, Columbia University

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