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Faculty: Richard Weissbourd
How can we develop more effective interventions for at-risk children? This module will address this question with a focus on children in poverty and children suffering social and emotional risks. Students' primary work will be to develop a proposal for an intervention that they will then present to Boston and Cambridge city leaders and city leaders from other nearby towns. Students may select an intervention designed to improve students' academic performance, to reduce children's social or emotional risks, or to promote social, emotional or moral development. The module will consider not only whether these initiatives ameliorate deficits and troubles, but whether they nurture strengths and resiliency; new models of resiliency will also be examined. Attention will be given to the different sources and different expression of risk and resilience across race, class, and culture. For each of the interventions, we will explore several questions: How convinced are we--based on the available evidence--that the intervention will, in fact, be effective? In what sense is the intervention effective? For example, what kinds of children are helped by these interventions, how much are they helped, and who is left behind? What is the "theory of change," and what are the major ingredients of the intervention? What are the factors, including political factors, that determine whether a city leader supports an intervention? How can interventions best be sustained over time? What determines whether interventions can be effectively scaled up? Classes will consist of discussion, lectures, and guest speakers involved in interventions but will also be devoted to students presenting their proposals at various stages. Prerequisite: Prior knowledge and background in theories of risk and resilience and experience with program development and interventions is helpful.