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Keynote Presentations [clear filter]
Wednesday, June 17


Keynote by Dr. Bruce Ellis "Beyond Allostatic Load: Rethinking the Role of Stress in Regulating Child Development and Resilience"
Beyond Allostatic Load: Rethinking the Role of Stress in Regulating Child Development and Resilience
Speaker: Bruce J. Ellis
How do exposures to stress, such as repeated or chronic childhood adversity, affect social and cognitive functioning? The usual answer to this question highlights impairments to growth, learning, and behavior. This approach emphasizes “What’s wrong with youth?” who come from harsh environments. In this talk Dr. Ellis instead takes a strength-based approach and asks: “What’s right with these youth?” Guided by evolutionary-developmental models of biological sensitivity to context and adaptive calibration, he will discuss how youth who develop in harsh environments specialize their stress physiology, social and reproductive development, and cognitive abilities to match high-adversity contexts. He will also argue that we need to understand the coherent, functional biobehavioral changes that occur in response to stress over time to better understand the potential cost of these changes (e.g., stress-related physical and mental illness).

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Bruce Ellis

As an iconoclast in my youth, and someone who was always attracted to big ideas, I developed a strong interest in evolutionary psychology—the idea that Darwin’s great theory could help explain human psychology and behavior.  I knew that I was on to something when I gave my very first classroom presentation on this topic (in an undergraduate Sociology of Sex Roles class at Cal Poly); it caused such a stir that the profes... Read More →

Wednesday June 17, 2015 9:30am - 10:30am
Alumni Hall/KTS NAB 1st/2nd Floor, King's College


Keynote by Dr. Cindy Blackstock "12 Million Reasons: Taking Action to Support First Nations Children Today"
12 Million Reasons: Taking Action to Support First Nations Children Today
Speaker: Cindy Blackstock
Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter said "there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals." Individual resilience must be built on a foundation of equal opportunity and a profound respect for diversity. In 2007, the Caring Society along with the Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint alleging Canada’s provision of First Nations child and family services is discriminatory. It would take six years before the matter came to a full and public hearing. This historic child rights case will establish one of the most important legal precedents for children’s law in Canada and ensure First Nations families have an equal opportunity to safely care for their children. Between 2007 when the case was filed and 2012, First Nations children have spent over 12 million nights in foster care.

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Cindy Blackstock

A member of the Gitksan Nation, Cindy Blackstock has worked in the field of child and family services for over 20 years. An author of over 60 publications, her key interests include exploring, and addressing, the causes of disadvantage for Aboriginal children and families by promoting... Read More →

Wednesday June 17, 2015 3:35pm - 5:00pm
Alumni Hall/KTS NAB 1st/2nd Floor, King's College
Thursday, June 18


Keynote by Dr. Ann Masten "Resilience in Human Development: Interdependent Adaptive Systems in Theory and Action"
Resilience in Human Development: Interdependent Adaptive Systems in Theory and Action
Speaker: Ann Masten
In her keynote lecture, Professor Masten will discuss contemporary concepts of resilience from the perspective of relational developmental systems theory. The capacity of individuals to manifest positive adaptation in the context of serious challenges will be examined in relation to theory and evidence about the interaction of multiple systems across levels of function, from epigenetic to social processes. Individual resilience will be considered in concert with family, community, and other aspects of ecological resilience. Implications for practice of a dynamic systems view of resilience will be discussed in light of multiple levels of human interaction and the goal of building resilience and improving the odds of recovery from major disturbances that can threaten human potential and development.

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Ann Masten

I study competence, risk, and resilience in development, with a focus on the processes leading to positive adaptation and outcomes in young people whose lives are threatened by adversity. This work aims to build a better science for promoting positive adaptation and preventing problems... Read More →

Thursday June 18, 2015 8:30am - 10:30am
McInnes Room Student Union Building, Dalhousie University
Friday, June 19


Keynote by Dr. Catherine Panter-Brick "Resilience: Biocultural Perspectives on Child and Family Wellbeing"
Resilience: Biocultural Perspectives on Child and Family Wellbeing
Speaker: Catherine Panther-Brick
Resilience-focused work offers us a transformative framework to connect the dots from biology and culture with respect to domains of health and wellbeing. To illustrate this, I draw on research and intervention efforts to foster child and family wellbeing in settings of violence, poverty, or discrimination. These include a global movement to foster positive changes in early child development and to build peace in conflict-affected communities, and novel approaches to parenting interventions to improve family and child outcomes. In my work, I address often-asked questions such as “how is child and family resilience best promoted across cultures?” or “what do we know about family dynamics and child development that provide the best leverage points for intervention?” Resilience has important normative dimensions: communities facing life-long adversity anchor their goals, decisions, and behaviors in systems of meaning and processes of decision-making that go far beyond simple consideration of health outcomes and social functioning. In future work, one challenge includes articulating the cultural ecology and political economy of resilience together with sound understanding of human biological development.

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Catherine Panter-Brick

Catherine Panter-Brick, MA, MSc, D.Phil, is a medical anthropologist, trained in human biology and the socialsciences.  She directs the Program on Conflict, Resilience, and Health at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, and the Anthropology Program on S... Read More →

Friday June 19, 2015 3:25pm - 5:00pm
Alumni Hall/KTS NAB 1st/2nd Floor, King's College


Keynote by Dr. Joop de Jong "Rethinking Resilience in the Aftermath of War and Political Violence"
Rethinking Resilience in the Aftermath of War and Political Violence
Speaker: Joop de Jong
Cultural neuroscience may help us to reconcile the nature-nurture debate by postulating that mankind has developed divergent brains: differences between groups are not necessarily an epiphenomenon of culture imposed on one universal brain. PTSD, for example, may appear to be universal, though research shows that it is not the primary course of reactivity to trauma and it does not capture the diversity in trauma reactions around the globe. With regard to resilience, this same thinking applies. We need to think about resilience as a socio-ecological process that involves wider systems, especially when studying resilience in post-conflict settings. The clinical staging model may help us to achieve this, reinventing our thinking about emotions, complaints, symptoms and psychopathology. It enables us to radically change our thinking about classification and diagnosis, going beyond the DSM. We need, instead, to develop our capacity to measure changes within and between complex systems, ranging from methylation and epigenetics to emotional attachment and political systems. Only then will we determine the most desirable interventions for a socially nested self that relies on family and community for successful development.

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Joop de Jong

Joop de Jong, MD, PhD, is Professor of Cultural and International Psychiatry at VU University, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, Visiting Professor at Rhodes University, S Africa, and staff member of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science... Read More →

Friday June 19, 2015 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Alumni Hall/KTS NAB 1st/2nd Floor, King's College