Language is Fate

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20 Years of Researching the at Risk Youth of Palestine

Brian Barber has been researching the well being of Palestine youth for 20 years.

Professor Barber narrated his continuous research program on the youth and society of Palestine Wednesday evening at Hodges Library.

Barber is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Youth at UT and works in the Department of Child and Family Studies in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

“The Evolution of a Research Career on Children and Families at Risk” is the fourth and last of a lecture series given by Barber.

Over 20 years were spent on his research project. However, in 2009 Barber received a $1 million research grant from a foundation in Switzerland. He was able to travel back to Palestine and collect more data from the citizens.

Barber’s lecture drew a crowd of around 15 people. During his lecture, he asked the audience to name two people—one who is doing well, and one who is not.

“What is the definition of someone doing well?” Barber asked.

The answer to this question varied from person to person. Some said that it was financial, while others said that it was physical.

Barber and his research team asked the people of Palestine the same question.

According to Barber, the people of Palestine based someone’s well being mostly on politics.

“The project included a lot of very tedious work,” said Barber, “it also required a lot of time because you, mostly myself, would have to take a lot of breaks from coding all the data.”

Throughout the seminar, Barber referred to his list called the “Principles of Scholarship.” The list includes:

  1. Extend yourself
  2. Respect instincts
  3. Know the territory
  4. Specialize
  5. Listen
  6. Be skeptical

“My research was successful because I employed all of these principles,” said Barber.

Barber encouraged those who want to pursue a career in research to follow the principles of scholarship and says that if they do, they will be successful.

A full narration of Barbers journey and discoveries of his work can be found in his books: Adolescents and war: How youth deal with political violence; Picking up the pieces of war: Joint efforts for youth well being, Volumes 1-5, One heart, so many stones: The story of Palestinian Youth.