Time to Add to Calendar 2021-10-25 09:00:00 2021-10-26 16:00:00 29th Annual National Symposium on Family Issues State College, PA or virtual TBD Population Research Institute css7@psu.edu America/New_York public
Location State College, PA or virtual TBD
Photo of dozens of Rohingya children in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Environmental Impacts on Families: Change, Challenge, and Adaptation

Families are embedded in larger contexts that have implications for family relationships and well-being. A large body of research by family scholars has documented the impacts of multiple dimensions of the broader social environment−including cultural, economic, and political contexts−on family functioning. Less attention has been paid to how dimensions of the physical environment may affect families, including factors that protect families and promote their resilience in the face of change and challenge. Toward stimulating novel interdisciplinary and translational research on families, the 2021 National Symposium on Family Issues will examine the role of the physical environment in family relationships, behaviors, and well-being, with a focus on three key dimensions: environmental disasters, climate change, and the built environment.

Registration is required. The Symposium is open to everyone.

NOTE: The decision to hold an in-person or virtual symposium will be made in September and we will notify registrants. Current Penn State policy states that all individuals are required to wear masks inside all university buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

The symposium will be livestreamed and recorded for viewing. More details to come.


Monday, October 25, 2021

9 am-noon (ET) Session 1: Environmental Disasters

Aerial view of houses surrounded by muddy flood water.The first session will focus on the social, demographic, and health impacts of environmental disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis, on communities, families, and children. A focus will be on the role of individual and community resilience in long-term recovery from disasters. Speakers will also address the role of government programs and policies in helping individuals adapt, and the efficacy of evidence-based interventions in post-disaster contexts.

  • David Abramson, Clinical Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Science, New York University School of Global Public Health
  • Elizabeth Frankenberg, Director, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Tara Leytham Powell, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


1:30-4:30 pm (ET) Session 2: Climate Change

The session addresses the intersection of environmental conditions, socioeconomic disparities, and community resilience that is shaping new realities for and constraints on families. Speakers will advance understanding of how environmental change impacts maternal and child health, family functioning, and adaptation across diverse communities around the world. Speakers will consider ways in which climate change has altered family life and opportunities as well as issues of environmental justice.

  • Audrey Dorelien, Assistant Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Affiliate, Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota and Kathryn Grace, Associate Professor of Geography, Environment, and Society, Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota
  • Amanda Carrico, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Shanondora Billiot, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions, Arizona State University


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

9am-noon Session 3: The Built Environment

Photo of a ghetto with a rundown building on a corner, graffiti, and trash.This session will focus on the ways in which dimensions of the built environment−from the proximal environment of homes to neighborhood and larger community environments−have effects on the health and well-being of youth and families. Speakers will consider the ways in which features of home environments get under the skin to affect youth physical and mental health, how food access and physical activity opportunities in the community serve to promote youth and family health, and the effects of neighborhood development programs on reducing health disparities among children, adolescents, and families.

  • Kim Ferguson, Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, Roy E. Larsen Chair, Department of Psychology, Sarah Lawrence College, and Gary Evans, Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Ecology, Cornell University
  • Andrew Binet, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Urban Planning and Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Mariana Arcaya, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Laurie Lachance, Associate Research Scientist, Department of Health Behavior & Health Education and Director of Evaluation, Center for Managing Chronic Disease, School of Public Health, University of Michigan


The Family Symposium will be livestreamed even if the event is held in-person. More details to follow.

A recording of the Family Symposium will be available on Oct. 27-29. More details to follow.

Registration is required for attending the event and viewing the livestream or recording. Registration is free for Penn State affiliates. If the Symposium is held in person, there will be a fee for those who are not Penn State affiliates and attend in person: $25 for students/post-docs and $50 for all others. There is no fee to livestream the Symposium or watch the recording, but registration is required.


Symposium Sponsors

The Symposium on Family Issues is sponsored annually by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R13 HD048150) along with Penn State’s Population Research Institute and Social Science Research Institute.

Also see:

Family Symposium Homepage
Family Symposium Book Series

Contact Person Carolyn Scott
Contact Email css7@psu.edu
Event Type