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Jennifer Urban

Professor, Family Science and Human Development

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Scholarly Interests and Specialties

•Applied Developmental Science
•Character Development
•Positive Youth Development
•Social Emotional 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 Character Development/Positive Youth Development Programs and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Programs
•Evaluation Capacity Building
•Relational Systems Evaluation


Dr. Jennifer Brown Urban is Professor in the Department of Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University where she also co-directs the Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation. Dr. Urban is trained as a developmental scientist with specific expertise in youth character development and program evaluation. Her scholarship is encapsulated under the umbrella of systems science including both theoretical approaches and methodologies and consists of three strands: (1) Relational Systems Evaluation: the development, testing, and implementation of a relational systems approach to program evaluation and planning to enhance internal evaluation capacity particularly for youth program practitioners and evaluators; (2) Innovative Approaches to Advancing Developmental Science: by developing and promoting a social justice perspective, the use of innovative methods, and professional development resources; and (3) Building the Evidence-Base in Developmental Science: specifically to determine the key features of character development programs that promote positive youth development; and advance the application of character science in multiple contexts to enhance human flourishing across the life span.

Areas of Expertise:
Applied developmental science; positive youth development; developmental systems theories; systems science methodologies; out-of-school activity involvement and the impact on positive and negative indicators of development; ecological factors as context for development; adolescent self- regulation; effective means of integrating research and practice; evaluation and program planning particularly for youth development programs, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs, and public health programs.