Lawrence Aber is Albert and Blanche Willner Family Professor in Psychology and Public Policy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, and University Professor, New York University, where he also serves as board chair of its Institute of Human Development and Social Change. Dr. Aber earned his Ph.D. from Yale University and an A.B. from Harvard University. He is an internationally recognized expert in child development and social policy and has co-edited Neighborhood Poverty: Context and Consequences for Children (1997, Russell Sage Foundation), Assessing the Impact of September 11th 2001 on Children Youth and Parents: Lessons for Applied Developmental Science (2004, Erlbaum) and Child Development and Social Policy: Knowledge for Action (2006, APA Publications). He served as Director of the National Center for Children in Poverty from 1994-2003. He is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Children's Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa; and served as consultant to the World Bank on their project, "Children and Youth in Crisis". From 2003-2006, Dr. Aber chaired the Advisory Board, International Research Network on Children and Armed Conflict of the Social Science Research Council, in collaboration with the Special Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF. In 2006, Dr. Aber was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Commission for Economic Opportunity, an initiative to help reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity in New York City. Currently, he conducts research on the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on children's development in South Africa (in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council), and on school- and community-based interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee).
On the Front Line of Violence Reduction: Generating Evidence for School-based Strategies to Promote Children's Development in Conflict-affected Contexts
Schools are the front line of strategies to reduce violence by 50 percent in the next 30 years, given both the increasing number of children around the world attending school and the potential for education to promote the skills necessary for children's – and nations' – prosperity and peace. Nowhere is the need for school-based strategies to reduce violence more urgent than in conflict-affected contexts (CACs), where over 32 million children lack access to the quality education that can mitigate the severe consequences of conflict for children – and potentially help break the intergenerational transmission of violence– through the effective provision of safe and supportive spaces that promote children's academic and socioemotional development. While organizations are increasingly implementing programs to improve access to and quality of education in CACs, there remains a "stunning lack of evidence" as to what works. To address this, we report evidence from collaborative efforts with the International Rescue Committee to implement programs with a socioemotional learning focus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lebanon. Attention is given to understanding process and impacts in context, while identifying common elements of programs across contexts that can be used to guide the development of effective and scalable programs.