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Joining Forces to Strengthen Youth Research

The Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, located at the University of Zurich, is expanding. In addition to conducting research on child and youth development, the Center will focus on theory and methodology in the fields of psychology, sociology and economics. With this interdisciplinary approach, the Jacobs Center is poised to become one of the world’s leading institutions in the area of youth research. The Jacobs Foundation and the University of Zurich are contributing a total of some 70 million Swiss francs over the next 20 years to finance the new center of excellence.

To explore the many aspects of child and youth development, the newly expanded Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development will bring together a variety of research efforts. Scholars will investigate how social, psychological and economic factors affect the development of children and youth. Youth research encompasses individual, institutional and societal factors. “The development of future generations is an important concern for society. Children and adolescents benefit from research on the conditions that promote successful, productive development, and ultimately society does as well,” says Otfried Jarren, interim rector of the University of Zurich. Rather than focusing exclusively on basic research, the Jacobs Center will also put into practice the methods and interventions developed at the Center. In a new feature, initiatives designed to promote positive development will be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis.

Beginning on August 1, 2015, the new center of excellence, which will continue to be known as the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, will be managed by the Faculties of Arts and of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology of the University of Zurich. Three professorships and three assistant professorships for interdisciplinary youth research will be created in the disciplines of psychology, sociology and economics, and outstanding researchers will be recruited to fill those positions. The Center will also emphasize support for young researchers – PhD candidates and post-docs – who will be encouraged to explore new areas of study.

Years of investment in youth research

Since its founding in 1989, the Jacobs Foundation has funded research that has produced significant insights and fundamentally improved the lives of children and young people worldwide. “This year, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we will be collaborating with the University of Zurich to expand the Jacobs Center into a world-class research institution,” says Johann Christian Jacobs, chairman of the Jacobs Foundation’s Board of Trustees. To position the Jacob Center as a central player in international youth research, the Jacobs Foundation and the University of Zurich will be investing a total of some 70 million Swiss francs in the Center over the next 20 years. “The Center will provide a scientific foundation for our work as a leading foundation in the field of child and youth development,” says Jacobs.