McKenna Parnes

Undergraduate Discipline


MSEd, University of Pennsylvania. MS, Suffolk University. Special interests include promoting positive child and youth development, developing and evaluating interventions to increase youth access to social support, and understanding the impact of adversity during childhood on youth physical and psychological well-being. SLC, 2022–

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022


Risk, Resilience, and Opportunity in Child Development: A Systems Lens

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

What are the factors that impact how children and youth respond to environmental stressors? Uri Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems model offers a framework for understanding how the social environment influences development. Bronfenbrenner proposed five systems; namely, the individual, the institutions that children and youth interact with directly such as family and school, settings that indirectly impact young people, broader cultural values, and changes that occur over time. We will look at the dynamic interactions among these factors in promoting resilience and access to opportunities. We will pay particular attention to how exposure to adverse childhood experiences may differentially impact youth, depending on certain risk or protective factors. We will also explore how additional sources of stress may emerge from oppressive social contexts, such as socioeconomic inequalities or individual and structural racism, which may account for adversity exposure in historically excluded populations and give rise to continuity of exposure to stressful events throughout the lifespan.