The Catholic University of America

James Youniss

 Wylma R. & James R. Curtin Professor Emeritus

 Research Professor of Psychology



James Youniss has been studying normal developmental processes in children and youth for over four decades. His initial work was focused on cognitive development, but after a sabbatical year in South America in 1971-72, he took up the study of social development with focus on the contributions of parents and peers within the larger cultural context. This work led to interest in moral development and eventually to political development in youth. For the past decade, Youniss, his students, and colleagues, have looked explicitly on the role that direct civic action, for example, community service, plays in generating political awareness, a sense of agency, and social responsibility. Throughout his career, Youniss's work has been facilitated by excellent students who have gone on to have productive academic and research careers, and by cooperative colleagues at CUA and other universities. His work has been supported by government agencies and private foundations and has brought honors such as a special fellowship from NICHD, a lifetime award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, a senior fellowship from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and a Fellowship from the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2001-02.


Ph.D. 1962, The Catholic University of America

M.A., 1960, Hollins College

B.S., 1959, Marquette University



Metz, E., & Youniss, J. (2005). Longitudinal Gains in civic development through school-based required service. Political Psychology, 26, 413- 437.

Reinders, H., & Youniss, J. (2006). School-based required community service and civic development in adolescents. Applied Developmental Science, 10, 2- 12.

Hart, D., Donnelly, T. M., Youniss, J., & Atkins, R. (2006). High school community service as a predictor of adult voting and volunteering. American Educational Research Journal, in press.

Courses Taught

Seminar in Social Development: Issues in Social Construction

Seminar in Piaget's Theory

Social History and Concepts of Development

The Psychology of Adolescence