Erikson Institute Awards Honorary Doctoral Degrees to Developmental Psychologist, Family Support Advocate

CHICAGO (May 15, 2010) — Erikson Institute faculty and trustees will award honorary doctoral degrees to Dr. Barbara Rogoff, UCSC Foundation Professor of Psychology at University of California Santa Cruz; and Bernice Weissbourd, founder of Family Focus and a cofounder of the Ounce of Prevention Fund.

The honorary degrees will be presented during the 43rd annual graduation ceremony of Erikson Institute, one of the nation’s leading graduate schools in child development, at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 15, at Union Station. Rogoff will deliver the commencement address to 107 Erikson graduates receiving master’s degrees in child development or early childhood education and one receiving her doctoral degree in child development.

“Through decades of research, Dr. Rogoff has provided new insights into the conditions under which children learn best and implications for how we can improve their education,” said Erikson president Samuel J. Meisels. “Her work sheds light on how culture and community shape development and learning—a theme central to Erikson’s mission.”

“Bernice Weissbourd’s vision and advocacy for children and families has facilitated the growth and development of services throughout our community,” Meisels added. “The programs she started work to support and strengthen families, giving children a sound start in life. Her contributions are enormous.”

Dr. Barbara Rogoff is a developmental psychologist and researcher who studies cultural variations in learning processes, with special interest in Indigenous Central and North American communities where traditional schooling has not been prevalent. Her findings suggest possibilities and challenges of blending informal learning, in which children observe and participate in community activities, with Western schooling approaches. Such a blend is discussed in her book Learning together: Children and adults in a school community.

Rogoff is a fellow of the National Academy of Education, the American Psychological Society, the American Anthropological Association, and the American Psychological Association, and has twice been a fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She has written and co-written several books, including award-winners The cultural nature of human development and Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context.

Bernice Weissbourd is a leading advocate for program development and policies in the family support movement, and has co-written several books and articles on issues in the field. Her efforts to increase awareness of the crucial role of family in a child’s early years include founding Family Focus, a not-for-profit that promotes the well-being of children by supporting and educating their families, as well as their communities.

Throughout her career, Weissbourd has served on numerous advisory boards to guide state and national decisions regarding family support services, including the commission that established Early Head Start. Among many organizations, the Chicago Pediatric Society, Martin Luther King Center, the Brazelton Foundation, and Harvard Club of Chicago have recognized Weissbourd for her influence on matters of welfare reform, violence prevention, mental health services, and education.

Past recipients of honorary Erikson degrees include noted philanthropist and Erikson founder Irving B. Harris and his wife, Joan, a prominent supporter of the arts; Chicago’s First Lady Maggie Daley; National Black Child Development Institute founder Evelyn K. Moore; Lella Gandini, widely known for promoting the approach to early childhood education developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy; and philanthropist Ann Lurie.