Culture and Family Life Lab, Spring 2024

Directed by Dr. Gail M. Ferguson, our lab is studying the impact of 21st Century globalization on cultural, developmental, and family processes including health. We are working to better understand and promote the resilience of children, adolescents, and youth, while supporting and equipping their parents, to recognize and skillfully navigate many cultural influences stemming from local cultures in which they live (via ethnic/racial socialization & proximal acculturation), faraway new cultures (via remote acculturation), and faraway heritage cultures (via remote enculturation). 

We are transnational. We conduct our research and intervention internationally (especially in the Majority World / low & middle-income countries), and in the United States. We often use the African Diaspora as a case study, meaning that we study Black Caribbean immigrant families and African refugee families living in the United States alongside Jamaican families living in the Caribbean to develop new theory, research, and interventions that are culturally tailored to families with African heritage.

We are transdisciplinary. We have active transdisciplinary partnerships with scholars in media/advertising and nutrition.

We are translational. Our basic and applied research studies inform the development of preventive interventions to promote the resilience of globalizing youth and families.

Major research topics in the Culture and Family Life Lab are:

Expressing Solidarity around events in the Middle East

As the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East unfolds, we wanted to reach out to members of our community who may feel heartbroken, angry, or horrified by ongoing violence and loss of innocent life. As members of the Culture and Family Life Lab, we share these feelings and recommit to building a world where children from all national and religious backgrounds can grow up safely. We also recognize that members of the Jewish and Muslim communities, both within our lab and around the world, may be especially impacted by fear of discrimination or hate crimes towards themselves or loved ones at this time. We condemn any such violence and empower individuals to report discrimination or attacks: https://mn.gov/mdhr/intake/consultationinquiryform/. We also encourage members of the University community to seek support (resources on campus) and to offer support and solidarity to those most affected. Finally, we understand the toll of watching global events such as this unfold from afar. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by media coverage, we encourage you to take a look at this resource for supporting your mental health: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/articles/tips-look-after-your-mental-health-during-scary-world-event

– Graduate Students Sarah Gillespie and Tori Simenec

CFL Lab Statement in Support of Black Lives

On Tuesday, February 2, 2022 Mr. Amir Locke was fatally shot by Minneapolis police following a “no-knock” warrant on an apartment where he was sleeping. We recognize and honor the many emotions felt by Mr. Locke’s family and friends, as well as those felt by our community, ranging from grief, to anger, to anxiety, and beyond. At times like this, we especially want to affirm the humanity, value, rights, and dignity of our Black friends, colleagues, students, and families. Black lives matter and Black people are loved

The police killing of Mr. Locke follows a pattern of dehumanizing and violent treatment of the Black community, as well as other communities of color. In Minnesota, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are disproportionately killed by police, including Mr. George Floyd in 2020 and Mr. Daunte Wright in 2021. In the Culture and Family Life Lab, we understand the killing of Mr. Locke to be a sign and symptom of the broader Racism Pandemic (APA, 2020) and Whiteness Pandemic (Ferguson et al., 2021; Learn more), rather than an isolated event. 

We as researchers and members of this community have committed our lives to disrupting structural racism. We are embedded within the Institute of Child Development which supports these efforts (see department statement on anti-racism). At these times, we are reminded that we have much further to go and that we must care for each other to maintain our resilience and resistance on this journey. We direct members of our community to the following resources, which include support for coping with racial trauma and advice for allies.

Check out the latest happenings in the Lab!