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Keeping adults in mind: Meet David Green, OISE’s young new Provostial Fellow

October 20, 2020

By Perry King

Photo of David Green

David Green's research aims to determine ways to navigate the issues that emerging adults face to ensure all involved achieve better and healthier relationships—and, he wants to bring an anti-racist and equity lens to the analysis.

David S. Green’s journey to University of Toronto campus and a prestigious Provostial Fellowship has been driven by a single principle that undergirds how he operates in his life and work: understanding.

Green, who began his two-year fellowship stint in August, has always wanted to bring positive change and help others further their own learning and development. Based in OISE’s department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, Green will be researching about emerging adulthood (EA) – a critical period of development that occurs between the ages of 18 to 29. He chose this research focus because several aspects of EA seem to be “overlooked” in the literature, he says.

“We’re not sure that this stage of development is applicable to certain ethnic groups or even in certain countries,” says Green, who earned his PhD at the University of Guelph in 2018. “But it is something that we need to pay attention to – and especially with the economic challenges, children staying home much longer, the issues parents having with them.”

The aim, for Green’s research, is to determine ways to navigate the issues that emerging adults face to ensure all involved achieve better outcomes – that is, better and healthier relationships. And, Green wants to bring an anti-racist and equity lens to the analysis.

“A lot of time the literature is focused on the predominant white population,” he says. “We want to focus more attention at the racial and ethnic differences, so that we can help families in these contexts – who may be faced with even more difficult challenges that we can help them overcome.”

Green’s fellowship will be based in the lab of OISE Professor Abby Goldstein. As part of his fellowship, Green will undertake ongoing work in which he is interested. Postdoctoral fellowships like these are meant to encourage continued development – which help trainees move into the next phase of their career as independent researchers. “He's collected really interesting qualitative interview data and so he’s continuing to be involved in analyzing that data and publishing from this work,” says Goldstein, the Canada Research Chair in the Psychology of Emerging Adulthood.

Within the lab, which specializes in the psychology of emerging adulthood research, Green will be involved with several ongoing projects focusing on emerging adulthood. He will contribute in several key ways, she says. Dr. Green will provide a cultural lens to the data and extend the work beyond the North American context – to incorporate perspectives about emerging adults and their parents from Afro-Canadian and Caribbean communities, “which I think will be really incredible,” she says.

As well, Goldstein recently received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant to look at policies in place around mental health and postsecondary students. “David's going to be involved in that project, which is a newer project,” she says. “It is critical that we have an equity lens for this project. It’s a qualitative research project, which is a new area for me, and David has a lot of experience in qualitative research.”

It’s a wealth of experience that comes from years of experience working with young people. Completing his undergraduate and graduate work in Jamaica – studying theology, education, and counselling psychology, respectively – Green has always had a passion for knowledge and wants to transfer and develop that knowledge. He started taking research seriously while serving as a high school counsellor in Jamaica and working with clients in private practice.

As a scientist-practitioner, Green saw promise in counselling psychology and built his professional profile in a space that peaked his interests. That pursuit led to a PhD at Guelph and he is currently in the process of becoming registered as a psychotherapist (qualifying) in Ontario.

Moreover, guided by the scientist-practitioner model, Green has a passion for excellence in teaching. He is an interdisciplinary constructivist educator who is guided by a cultural approach, intentionality, active learning, and reflective practice. In recognition of his excellence in teaching, he received the 2020 Casey Cosgrove Teaching Award of Excellence from the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, University of Guelph.

As a mentor, community leader and someone with a certain amount of privilege, Green wants to develop a range of competencies “so that I can reach into the lives of persons from across the developmental spectrum,” he says. “What happens is that, in the context of working in communities where persons have been disadvantaged, being able to connect with persons regardless of their age and stage in life, becomes very important because the need to empower becomes a critical part of the work.”

And as he was looking for postdoctoral opportunities – he considered working stateside, and elsewhere within Canada – the Provostial Fellowship at U of T showed promise. He applied, and reached out to Professor Goldstein to learn more. Goldstein thought that Green’s background and credentials were big pluses.

“My first impression was that he was incredibly bright and insightful and was exploring research questions that I thought were innovative and incredibly timely and critical in terms of our own thinking about equity, anti-racist practices and just broadening our overall conceptualization of family relationships to better consider context and culture,” she says.

Goldstein finds the study of Afro-Caribbean families to be an understudied area of the field, “that research has been very much focused on white middle-class families, so I saw a really nice alignment in terms of beginning to expand the research that we’re doing.”

With an intersectional approach to this field of research, Green wants to have an impact on policy – beginning with the Goldstein lab’s current focus on university policies on leaves of absences. He wants to see how leaves of absences affect students and families – specifically academic futures but also psychological and mental health challenges they all face.

Ultimately, Green wants to be a helping hand and a catalyst for change in the lives of young people. Through knowledge and understanding, he believes that they can be empowered to use every opportunity to create other opportunities to maximize their potentials.

“I started out really wanting to help persons to understand who they are and to use that understanding to maximize their potential and providing the resources to help them to do that,” he said.

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