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Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict


Each year, hundreds of thousands of adolescents around the world are exposed to or participate in political conflict. Until now, much of the programming on behalf of conflicted youth has been based on incomplete science and untested assumptions. The Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict was established in 2005 with the aim of becoming an authoritative source and training agent for the potential joint role of scholarship, programming, practice, and policy in serving the needs of adolescents involved in political conflict around the world. Visit the center’s website for more information.

Phoot of a young boy


The center was founded on the belief that much can be done to better understand young people’s experience of political conflict and to strengthen efforts to assist them in leading constructive lives. The center engages in research, interventions, program evaluations, and dissemination of information about youth and political conflict. The goal of all our work is to provide research-based information for practitioners and policymakers who seek to address the
needs of this unique population.

Current and Past Projects 

The center has several ongoing projects including, “From Rally to Revolution, The Impact of Political Conflict on Youth, Healing Transitions, and Caring Across Communities.”

Young man with face paint attending a rallyFrom Rally to Revolution is a study of Egyptian youth during and after their historic 2011 revolution. Funded at $450,000 by the Jacobs Foundation of Switzerland, the two-year project has three parts: 1) repeated, intensive interviews with a diverse group of youths from Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez; 2) a film documenting the lives of these youths; and 3) a national survey. In general, the project studies and documents the transitions to political activism and civic engagement that Egyptian youth have experienced. Find out more about CSYPC Director Brian Barber’s experiences at his blog. View a mini documentary of this project.

Man holding up hand written sign that reads Where's our money?The Impact of Political Conflict on Youth is a three-year (2010–2013) multiphased, multimethod study funded by the Jacobs Foundation at $1,000,000, being conducted by Barber, Associate Faculty Clea McNeely, and doctoral student Carolyn Spelllings. The aim of the overall project was to conduct a systematic, comprehensive long-term follow-up of a cohort of Palestinian youth now that they have reached adulthood (ages thirty to forty). The project makes use of a life event history approach that maps patterns of critical events that have occurred in the lives of the respondents since their historically high levels of involvement in political conflict as adolescents during the first intifada (1987–1993). Using a resource model, the study will assess the degree and patterning of loss (and gain) of critical resources across the transition to adulthood.

A large group of people attending a rallyHealing Transitions is a community-based participatory project that integrates research and service learning to support the adaptation of Burundian refugees in Knoxville to life in the United States. Healing Transitions is coordinated by faculty member Denise Bates with the assistance of up to sixteen students each semester. In collaboration with the refugee community, Healing Transitions has been progressively developing necessary and culturally relevant interventions for these families.

A photo of 6 young men taking at night against the backdrop of a city
Caring Across Communities
is a national demonstration project of school-based mental health services for refugee and immigrant children funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This project is being lead by faculty member Clea McNeely and doctoral student Katharine Sprecher. The goal of this comparative case study is to identify the critical components that make services appropriate for and accessible to refugee children and their families.

Opportunities for Student Involvement

The center offers a variety of opportunities for students to get involved, and we welcome anyone who is interested in involving themselves through research, practicum experiences, and/or service-learning.


Contact Us

Photo of Brian Barber, PhD

Brian Barber
Director, Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict
2110 Terrace Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37916
865-946–0990 (fax)
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