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Community Labs

Empowerment Implementation Research Lab (EIRL)
(Faculty Investigator: Kelly M. Lewis)

The Empowerment Implementation Research Lab (EIRL) is involved in a variety of activities associated with empowerment implementation research including program design, implementation, evaluation, capacity building, and sustainability with a particular focus on cultural/heritage knowledge development, Diaspora literacy, emancipatory pedagogy, global education, and health and educational disparities.  All EIRL projects integrate clinical and community psychology, education and public health theory and practice as well as participatory and empowerment methodology into understanding and changing large systems and initiatives that impact individuals.  One of the major efforts underway is the Teachers EXCEL project, for which we are currently investigating the feasibility of developing and pilot testing a teacher professional education component of Project EXCEL (Ensuring eXcellence through Communalism, African Education, and Leadership) designed in our earlier work.   Much of our work is done in collaboration with Dr. Joyce King, Benjamin E. Mays Chair in the Department of Educational Policy, College of Education at GSU, and other national and international professionals in education, public health, and business.  

Family and Youth Resilience Lab
(Principal Investigator, Ciara Smalls)

Our lab engages in research in applied settings and generally focuses on the ways that parents, schools, and communities shape child and adolescent development. Given the unique risks facing African American youth, our lab investigates factors that buffer African American youth from risks associated with racial discrimination and economic disadvantage. Our primary investigation centers on the development of several developmental competencies including emotional and behavioral adjustment, academic engagement, health promotion, and racial identity awareness. We also explore the diverse ways that parents contribute to the development of youths’ strengths, by examining parent-child interactions/family functioning, life experiences, and socialization regarding what it means to be an ethnic minority. Further, we examine the role of the larger social context (e.g., schools and communities) in which children live. We take a community centered approach in that families and community members are included throughout the research process. Please visit our website for more information.

Laboratory of Health Promotion Research and Intervention
(Faculty Investigator: John Peterson)

Laboratory of Health Promotion Research and Intervention focuses on applied research and experimental interventions designed to reduce high-risk behaviors that may impair physical and mental health. The HIV behavioral research program attempts to understand the determinants of high-risk sexual behavior and the components of randomized community interventions that are most effective to reduce HIV transmission. Also, the anti-gay violence research program examines how sexual prejudice and social attitudes or beliefs may affect antigay violence and discrimination.

Social Ecology and Development Laboratory

Our lab is engaged in a range of applied and basic research projects generally focused on understanding how social context affects child and adolescent development. One line of research focuses on the immigration context and addresses how the experience of Latin American immigration to the US affects family functioning, the development of identity, and social, psychological and school adjustment. A further question which we hope to begin exploring is how the immigrant experience may differ for young people who arrive to emerging immigrant communities, such as Atlanta, GA as compared to established immigrant communities, such as Los Angeles, CA. A second line of research focuses on the potential of comprehensive interventions designed to promote positive youth development to alter the developmental trajectories of children living in situations of high risk (e.g., poor and/or dangerous neighborhoods). By evaluating the Cool Girls, Inc program we are able to examine the potential for reducing risky behavior (e.g., substance use and teen pregnancy) and increasing competencies (e.g., decision-making skills, intrinsic motivation) in girls who participate in a comprehensive program offering after school academic enrichment, a life skills curriculum, mentoring, as well as field trips and cultural activities.