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Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War: Global Perspectives (Coursera)

How do children overcome hazardous experiences to succeed in life? What can be done to protect young people at risk from trauma, war, disasters, and other adversities? Learn about the importance of fostering resilience in children at risk. Children around the world experience severe adversity in different forms, including maltreatment, disaster, war, and terrorism. Some children manage to adapt and recover, showing resilience, while others do not. What do we know about resilience and how to protect child development in the face of potentially life-altering adversities?

This course will examine the global literature on resilience in children and youth, with a focus on core concepts, methods scholars use to study resilience, highlights of lessons learned from half a century of research, and applications to promote resilience in children whose lives are threatened by extreme adversity.

Course materials will examine multimedia biographies as well as research studies on the effects of common and rare traumatic experiences on child development. Both classic and contemporary studies of risk and resilience in children facing the following kinds of adversities will be included:

– natural disasters (eg, tsunami, hurricane, earthquake)

– political violence and war (eg, child soldiers, refugees)

– terror attacks (eg, 9/11, Beslan school)

– compound mass-trauma events (eg, 2011 earthquake – tsunami – nuclear plant meltdown)

– child maltreatment

– severe poverty or privation

The course also will highlight new frontiers of research on the neurobiology of resilience, cultural protective processes, and preventive interventions to promote the capacity for resilience in young people.

The course has been designed for relevance to students and professionals from multiple disciplines, diverse backgrounds, and different regions of the globe. Participants completing the course will gain a basic understanding of concepts and methods of research on resilience in children and youth, major findings from the first half-century of science on this topic, and a broad framework for applications of this growing knowledge to improve the lives of children threatened by hazardous circumstances.



Origins and Landmark Studies in the Science of Resilience in Children

The first module of this course provides an introduction to the course and to the science of resilience. Video lectures discuss the meaning of resilience and the origins of resilience science. Participants will begin to think about case examples of resilience from their own experience and plan for a resilience interview. In the forum discussions, participants will introduce themselves, discuss the meaning of resilience and its importance in their work. Participants also will nominate favorite films and books about true stories of resilience.

Graded: Self-Report for Completing Active Learning Assignment 1

Graded: Week 1 Quiz


Methods and Models of Research on Resilience (including case studies)

This module highlights the models and methods used in resilience science, including person-focused methods and variable-focused methods. The case study of Dr. Maddaus continues and the case of resilience in early childhood is presented.

Graded: Case study of Mike Maddaus: Self-report for Completing Active Learning Assignment 2

Graded: Week 2 Quiz


Effects on Children of Natural and Technological Disasters

This module focuses on what has been learned from research on children who experience disasters, including the effects on children and patterns of recovery. Participants will watch a video interview with an expert on children in disaster and additional videos on damage and recovery following the F5 Joplin tornado. Participants will also complete a survey on disaster experiences.

Graded: Disaster: Self-report for Completing Active Learning Assignment 3

Graded: Week 3 Quiz


Resilience in Children Exposed to War and Political Violence

This module highlights what has been learned about the effects of war, terror, and political violence on children and youth. What are the effects of these violent experiences on young people? What has been learned about resilience? We will examine the provocative literature on youth who voluntarily get involved in political conflicts or war. The concluding lecture considers new approaches to peace-building and what might be done to promote peace through interventions with children. This week also features 4 special topics on resilience in young people who experienced the trauma of war and conflict. Choose one or more of the special topics and watch these moving stories of survival. Post your thoughts in the special topics discussion forums on each of these options. If you have time, watch them all. These accounts of resilience are very compelling.

Graded: Week 4 Quiz


Roles of Families, Schools, Culture, and Community in Promoting Resilience of Children

This module summarizes the findings on protective factors for resilience in children. Professor Masten presents her ideas about the adaptive systems that account for most of the capacity for resilience in children, what she has called “ordinary magic.” The roles of families, schools, and culture in resilience are discussed.

Graded: Protective factors around the world: Self-report for Completing Active Learning Assignment 4

Graded: Week 5 Quiz


A Resilience Framework for Action, Enduring Controversies, and New Horizons in the Study of Resilience

In video lectures this final week of the course, Professor Masten presents a general resilience framework for designing interventions and programs to promote resilience. She also discusses enduring controversies in the study of resilience and new frontiers, including the neurobiology of resilience and growing research on the role of culture in resilience. The course concludes with highlights about growing global work on resilience and final “take home” messages from the course.

Graded: Week 6 Quiz

Graded: Final