The Social Construction of Childhood: Perspectives on Self, Others, Society and Human Rights (Spring, 2017)

Martin Ruck (The Graduate Center, Psychology)
Erika Niwa (The Graduate Center and Brooklyn College, Psychology)

Tuesdays, 2-4pm

COURSE WEBSITE (requires log-in)

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine how the social construction of
childhood, both across time and context, shapes children’s perceptions of self, others, and
society. This team-taught course will utilize multiple disciplinary lenses, from developmental psychology, sociology, child studies, and anthropology, as well as critical theory and international policy. Using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, United Nations General Assembly, 1989) as our overarching conceptual framework, we are grounded by our fundamental belief that the perceptions and lived experiences of children and youth are inextricable from the complex worlds that they inhabit, extending from the most proximal contexts (including families and schools) to the most distal contexts (including policy, institutions, and cultural beliefs). Furthermore, inequality and oppression play a key role in these processes. Specific attention will be paid to examining the complex intersections of individual development and multi-level ecological systems as they shape a range of developmental domains – including perceptions of children’s rights, civic engagement, and identity development – in the face of continuing inequality and oppression.

This seminar-based course is grounded in student participation. Students will play an active role in the course via class dialogues, in-class presentations, and being lead facilitators of class discussions. Thus, the collaboration of the students with each other and with the instructors will build the framework for the course.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309