After 18 years as a professor of applied developmental and educational psychology in the Lynch School of Education and nearly three decades of researching child development, Jacqueline Lerner has been awarded a $1.96 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to fund a three-year longitudinal study on moral development in youth.
Upon submitting a short proposal for the project to the John Templeton Foundation-a funding catalyst that largely promotes the study of character and virtue development-Lerner was invited by the foundation to submit a long-form proposal and was then selected to receive a grant that would fully fund her three-year project.
Lerner’s longstanding accomplishments analyzing positive youth development and her innovative approach to assessing, measuring, and defining children’s moral knowledge have left an indelible mark on the field of child psychology and have led to breakthrough developments in the understanding of morality-based decision making in youths.
Having developed the “Five Cs” model of positive youth development in a former study backed by the National 4-H Council in 2002, Lerner expands both her own catalogue of published research and the University’s place in educating students in applied psychological development.
Lerner’s research on youth self-regulation and adolescent virtuous behavior is regarded by many as being at the forefront of its kind, and rightly so, given her extensive list of publications on the subject.
The size of the grant and the study itself will allow Lerner to lead a team of about 15 to 20 members, including post-doctoral researchers, current doctoral students, undergraduates, and data analysts-and doing so will aid parents, teachers, and mental health specialists in fostering a positive environment for children.
Focusing more specifically on character development, Lerner’s new study will not only provide outlets for other professors, child psychologists, and other practitioners of mental health to understand youth development more completely, but will also directly promote positive youth development.