Leiden University: Gravitation grant for research into growing up successfully

The ‘Growing Up Together in Society (GUTS)’ consortium is led by Eveline Crone, Professor of Neurocognitive Developmental Psychology in Leiden and Professor of Developmental Neuroscience in Society at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and coordinated by Erasmus University Rotterdam. ‘Growing up successfully is a puzzle,’ Crone explains. ‘Research into brain development in young people is mostly individually focused. In society too, we still attach a great deal of value to individual scores, such as CITO scores [assessments of pupils’ attainment, ed.] or admission requirements. But a child does not grow up individually; it is part of systems of family, friends, school and social norms. That is why it is of great value to bring together knowledge about this.’

Interdisciplinary research
The consortium of psychologists, sociologists, child psychiatrists and neuroscientists, which also includes the University of Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam, AmsterdamUMC, Leiden University, the University of Groningen, Utrecht University, Radboud UMC Nijmegen and the Netherlands Institute for Neurscience, has been working for five years. ‘People think interdisciplinary cooperation is easy, but you really have to learn to speak one another’s language and trust one another. That is what we have invested in and that is how you achieve breakthroughs.’

More than scores
This research really will benefit young people, says Crone. ‘The coronavirus crisis has taken its toll. Catching up isn’t enough. It’s about growing up successfully and that means more than scores alone; it’s also about well-being and your contribution to and involvement in society.’ A unique aspect is the addition of youth panels, young people themselves thinking about what is important for their generation. The research focuses on learning together in education, social networks (friendships) and young people who have been in contact with the law at an early age. There is also a focus on social inequality.

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