Ecological Study of Children’s Lives

Although all of our work is driven by a desire to have a direct impact on children’s lives, not all of it is designed with an immediate practical intent. We often find it necessary to carry out research because we identify a gap in our understanding without knowing in advance how or where our findings might impact policy or practice. We use the term “ecology” to refer broadly to the study of the relationship of children to their environment in all of its complexity, including the natural, social, and built dimensions. This necessarily also involves us considering the political and economic forces on children’s lives, and an openness to incorporating theory and methods from all relevant disciplines of the social and environmental sciences.

Examples of past research include a study of how children’s out of school lives have changed over one generation in one small New England town (Link to the CERG page on Revisiting Childhood); how parents struggle to manage children’s safety in their homes (Link to Selim Iltus’ CERG monograph); and children’s changing use of the environment in New York City (link to Pamela’s dissertation/CERG monograph?).

No girls allowed!” One of the many great changes emerging from the longitudinal study of how childhood has changed in a New England Town is the degree to which children today build their own play places.