Jennifer Brown Urban

Jennifer Brown Urban headshot

Program Specialty

Scholarly Interests and Specialties

  • Applied Developmental Science
  • Positive Youth Development
  • Developmental Systems Theories
  • Out-of-school Activity Involvement and the Impact on Positive and Negative Indicators of Development
  • Ecological Factors as Context for Development
  • Effective Means of Integrating Research and Practice
  • Evaluation and Program Planning Particularly for Youth Development Programs
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Programs
  • Public Health Programs

Professional Association Memberships

  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • Society for Research on Adolescence
  • Society for the Study of Human Development
  • American Evaluation Association
  • Eastern Evaluation Research Society

Reviewer for the following professional journals

  • Science
  • Applied Developmental Science
  • Journal of Youth and Adolescence
  • Journal for Research on Adolescence
  • Journal of Adolescent Research
  • Research in Human Development
  • Evaluation and Program Planning
  • Prevention Science

Editor of the following professional journals

  • Child Development (Associate Editor)

Other Types of Reviews

  • Reviewer, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Handbook on Child Development and Poverty
  • Application Reviewer, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowships
  • Grant reviewer, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Reviewer, American Psychological Society conference poster presentations

Leadership Positions in Professional Organizations

  • Executive Board, Activities Chair, Society for the Study of Human Development
  • Steering Committee, Society for the Study of Human Development
  • Advisory Group, Teen Dating Violence Project, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice

Work With Schools and Other Agencies

  • With funding from the John Templeton Foundation, Dr. Urban is currently evaluating Inspire>Aspire: Global Citizens in the Making Values Poster program (I>A). This program was developed by Character Scotland and is a promising character education program that last year reached approximately 55,000 youth across the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries. The fundamental purpose of I>A is the translation of inspiration into transformative and enduring aspiration by asking youth to reflect on their life experience and research inspirational figures. This includes reflecting on their personal values and qualities as active, confident individuals; connected, responsible citizens; sustainable, effective contributors; and flourishing successful learners. A systems evaluation approach is being used to conduct a thorough program review, which will lead to the articulation of a detailed and testable theory of change for the next programmatic iteration of I>A. Dr. Urban is also conducting a process evaluation of I>A, which includes measures of implementation variability and pilot measures of key outcome variables such as future-mindedness, goal setting and selection and purpose.

  • Dr. Urban is currently collaborating with the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE) on a National Science Foundation funded project that aims to develop and test a novel approach to program evaluation and planning that integrates theoretical and methodological thinking and tools from systems science (William Trochim, PI, Jennifer Brown Urban, co-PI). A systems evaluation approach considers the complex factors that are inherent in the larger system in which a program is embedded. In addition, our systems evaluation approach focuses on enhancing the internal evaluation capacity of programs and organizations, particularly those operating in informal STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education contexts. Our research is focused on assessing whether our approach to systems evaluation is associated with high quality evaluation plans and logic/pathway models and an increase in evaluation capacity for practitioners working in multiple STEM education systems.

  • Dr. Urban is currently collaborating with colleagues at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill and Duke University to study factors affecting successful transition to adulthood for youth with mental illness who have significant functional impairments and are disconnected or are at risk of becoming disconnected from health and social services. We are working with Durham, North Carolina's public mental health care for Building Every Chance of Making It Now and Grown Up (BECOMING), a program to improve the system of care for transition age youth with serious emotional disturbance in Durham, North Carolina.