Our Visiting Honorary Research Fellows

Professor Deborah Johnson – Visiting Fellow

Deborah is Professor of Family and Child Ecology at Michigan State University and completed her PhD at Northwestern University, Evanston, USA.  Her research focuses on status-based, race and culturally-related development, parent socialisation and parent/child relations in early and middle childhood.  Much of her work has been in the area of racial/ethnic identity development and racial socialisation.

Over the past 10 years she has been an invited speaker and delegate at over 100 international forums focusing on areas including mental health, cultural security, racism, child development, family ecology and cultural and racial elements of development. She has also been a consultant to several US state and federal government departments and sits on several key committees advising on family and development issues.  Deborah has designed and implemented a large number of community outreach programs promoting the mental health of African-American and migrant young people and families.  These programs have focused on combating racism, poverty, children at risk, improving education outcomes and stress and trauma.


Dr James Bruce – Visiting Fellow

James is a clinical psychologist in private practice at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Centre, Chicago, USA.  Over the past thirty years he has worked actively in mental health promotion for Indigenous American and African-American youth and families.  His clinical expertise covers a wide spectrum including family therapy, cross cultural therapy, children at risk, juvenile justice and crime prevention.  He has published in the areas of academic achievement, attention deficit disorder and cross cultural approaches to therapy.

James has adapted the Preventing Long-Term Anger and Aggression Program (PLAAY) for specific use in clinical settings with African-American youth in detention.  PLAAY is a multi faceted program geared specifically for African-American youth with violent histories.  The varied components of this program focus on assisting youth in identifying, expressing, self-monitoring and reducing the frustration and anger accompanying immediate awareness of failure.  The goal is to build on their ability to tolerate frustration as they develop and implement adaptive alternatives for managing frustrating circumstances.  The adaption of the PLAAY program has demonstrated some significant success at pilot stage and there are indicators of suitability for use in preventative context.


Professor Margaret Beale Spencer – Visiting Fellow

Margaret is the Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (PVEST) serves as the foundation for her gendered and race-ethnicity focused research, which addresses resilience, identity, and competence formation processes for diverse youth both in the United States and abroad.

In addition to Margaret’s ongoing program of research, she frequently collaborates with groups for the purpose of applying the research findings to settings which address youths’ emerging capacity for healthy outcomes and constructive coping methods.  As the basic evaluation research activities of intervention collaborations occur in challenging contexts, the outcomes of the collaborations have significant implications for understanding not just the “what” of human development but the “why” of particularly developmental trajectories.  The life-course coping knowledge accrued promotes new lines of scholarly inquiry.  Thus, in addition to the ongoing research, as a recursive process, the outcomes of application opportunities have implications for Margaret’s ongoing theory-building efforts.


Professor Michael Chandler – Visiting Fellow

Michael is a developmental psychologist, Professor Emeritus and Distinguished CIHR Investigator working in the Department of Psychology at The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.  His research interest includes socio-cognitive development, young people’s developing ‘theories-of-mind’ and the cross-cultural study of the process of identity formation.  His ongoing program of research explores the role that culture plays in setting the course of identity development by shaping young people’s emerging sense of ownership of their personal and cultural past and their commitment to their own and their community’s future wellbeing. 

Michael is deeply involved in the study of Canada’s Aboriginal youth, and how their struggles to achieve a sense of coherent personal and cultural identity impact on a range of health outcomes and other measures of socio-emotional wellbeing.  In particular, he has studied the phenomena of youth suicide as it manifests itself in Canada’s First Nations youth and (internationally) among other Indigenous groups.


Professor Jim Ife – Visiting Fellow

Emeritus Professor Jim Ife has a longstanding interest in both community development and human rights. He was Professor of Social Work and Social Policy at The University of Western Australia and Curtin University, before being appointed the inaugural Professor of Human Rights Education at Curtin University, a position he held until his retirement in 2006. Hi has also held the position of President of Amnesty International Australia. Jim now lives in Melbourne, where he has honorary professorships at Deakin University and Victoria University, and is actively engaged with community development through Borderlands Cooperative. His most recent books are Human Rights from Below: Achieving Rights through Community Development (2010) and Community Development: Community-based alternatives in an age of globalisation, 3rd edition (2013). Jim is currently Mentor to Associate Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker in relation to the Aboriginal Community text book to be published by Cambridge University Press.


For more information on our Research Fellows please email info@pindipindi.org.au