Special Section Call for Proposals

Centering Youth in Youth Participatory Action Research

MJCSL is pleased to invite proposals for a special section focused on Youth Participatory Action Research (Volume 30, Issue 2).

We accept proposals for our general call for proposals year-round.

Guest Special Section Editors
  • Joanne Marciano, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of English Education, Michigan State University
  • Katie Richards-Schuster, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Strategic Initiatives and Associate Professor of Social Work, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • Vaughn Watson, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Secondary English Education, Michigan State University
Youth and young adults in the United States and globally increasingly envision, organize, and lead contemporary movements toward justice across a range of formal and informal K-16 within and beyond schools, communities, and university campuses. In doing so, youth demonstrate their participatory, communal, lived civic engagement (i.e, Cohen et al., 2018; Knight, 2015), extending their intersectional identities across contexts of race, gender, sexuality, immigration status, language, and dis/ability. Youth, who we identify as individuals age 15 - 24, aligning with the United Nations definition, have focused attention on structural and systemic racism in #Blacklivesmatter activism. Youth have urged university officials in #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall protests in South Africa to decolonize curriculum, halt tuition fees, and increase government tuition funding; protested gun violence in the March for our Lives; and supported efforts toward climate and environmental justice and indigenous water rights.

Youth critical engagement has prompted educators and administrators to revise curriculum, teaching, and policy across the range of formal and informal K-16 settings (Barnum & Belsha, 2020; Hall, 2015), notably since 2021 and the killing of George Floyd and global coronavirus pandemic raised global attention to systemic racism and social, health, and economic inequities. Yet conventional framings of service learning have rendered less visible the interplay of youth’s intersectional identities, and their social, civic, educational and political contributions as youth’s critical engagement i.e., Brewster, 2019; Donahue, 2018; Lund & Lee, 2021; Mitchell & Chavous, 2021; Mitchell et al., 2012)

This themed issue of the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning centers Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) as a promising approach for building with and extending the interplay of youths’ voices, perspectives, and intersectional identities as youth enact contemporary movements toward justice in the on-going work of and quest for social justice (Marciano & Watson, 2021; Richards-Schuster et al., 2021; Watson & Petrone, 2020). Specifically, we welcome renderings within and across contexts of service learning that foreground such participatory approaches, referred to most commonly as YPAR but also in some cases as Youth Participatory Evaluation or Youth Participatory Research and Evaluation. Such critical teaching and research stances involve the active engagement of young people in creating and developing knowledge about the issues that impact their lives and using their knowledge to take action. It may involve youth-led efforts and youth-adult partnership efforts, among others, and in all cases, centers the meaningful and authentic role of young people within and across the research and knowledge development endeavor. YPAR challenges positivistic notions of researcher objectivity, instead considering youth as producers of knowledge whose lived experiences and perspectives provide valuable insight for examining issues that matter to them (Caraballo et al., 2017; Aldana & Richards-Schuster, 2021; Malorni et al., 2022; Marciano et al., 2020; Richards-Schuster & Plachta-Elliott, 2019; Warren & Marciano, 2018; Watson et al., 2020

The editors invite submissions from educators in school and community-based contexts, researchers, and collaborative teams that include youth. We anticipate that authors may co-compose manuscripts with and / or rendering visible a range of communities, including youth in and out of community and schooling settings; students across elementary, secondary, and higher-education contexts; educators and staff in elementary, secondary, higher education and community settings; teacher educators; youth and adults in community-based organization and community organizing settings, and administrators and policy makers.

  • We are particularly interested in authors who may consider writing process papers taking up such topics as navigating research across youth and adult research collaborators.
  • We anticipate that manuscripts will build with and extend a range of youth, young adult, and educator identities across intersectional contexts of race, gender, language, immigration status.
  • We anticipate that authors may write within and across disciplinary fields including social work, sociology, teaching and teacher education, higher education.
  • Authors may engage the breadth of research approaches – i.e., qualitative case study, phenomenology, ethnography, action research, narrative approaches, mixed methods, and multiple methods.
  • We anticipate that authors may write across theoretical stances including anti-racism lenses, Critical Race Theory, anti-blackness lenses, youth studies lenses, and decolonial stances.

    Authors may take up such topics as:

    • Making visible the process of engaging in participatory research alongside youth and community partners
    • Examining varied research methodologies youth engage in their YPAR work in the range of community-based and schooling settings
    • Considering how youth interact with peers and learn alongside one another as they examine issues of importance to them
    • Attempts by adult collaborators to center youth voice in their approach to supporting youth enacting YPAR
    • Roles and contexts of affirming and extending intersectional youth’s intersectional identities within and across YPAR inquiries with adult collaborators
    • Whether, how, and why youth and adult collaborators navigate issues of power and positionality in their shared attempts at examining and addressing issues of importance to youth

    Before being invited to submit a manuscript, you will first need to submit a proposal to the Special Section Editors for approval.

    • Proposals that do not meet the above requirements will not be reviewed.
    • Proposals should be submitted via email to mjcsl@umich.edu with the subject 'YPAR Proposal attached'.
    • Proposal guidelines are available here.

    Youth Contributions: 

    In addition to the above call, we invite youth authors (ages 15-24) to share their experiences with YPAR in a range of genres (i.e., writing, poetry, photography, art, drama, and music) to be spotlighted on the MJCSL blog.  These submissions will not be part of the peer review process. To be considered for inclusion on the blog, please submit a proposal with a brief (no more than 1 page) description of the genre you plan to use, and potential connections to the themes of the special section (you do not need to address every question):

    • Why do you participate in this kind of research? 

    • What approaches have you taken (for ex., what methods or methodologies have you used) when participating in YPAR projects?

    • What do you learn with peers when interacting and engaging issues of importance to you in your YPAR projects?

    • What approaches do you take to center your voice and the voices of your peers, or how do you encourage adults to center youth voice in your YPAR projects?

    • When working with youth and peers in your YPAR projects, what roles or settings support or extend the range of your intersectional identities?

    • In addressing issues of importance to you, how do you navigate issues of power with peers and adult collaborators in your YPAR projects?

    Youth Proposals should be emailed to mcjcsl@umich.edu with the subject 'Youth YPAR proposal'.

    Special Section Timeline: 

    • December 1, 2023: Proposals due (Submit online here)

    • December 20, 2024: Invitations for full manuscripts shared with authors

    • March 1, 2024: Full manuscripts due  

    • March 15-May 31, 2024: Peer Review Process

    • May 1, 2024: Youth Submissions Due 

    • July 1, 2024: Selection of Articles and Authors Notified of Revision, or if not deemed acceptable

    • August 15, 2024: Author revisions due

    • September-October 2024: Copyediting, Layout & Copyright Approvals

    • November 2024: Publication of special section 

    For interested authors, the guest editors can be available to provide additional support to prepare your manuscript. Any questions can be addressed to mjcsl@umich.edu


    Barnum, M., & Belsha, K. (2020). Protests, donations, lesson plans: How the education world is responding to George Floyd’s killing. https://www.chalkbeat.org/2020/6/2/21278591/education-schools-george-floyd-racism

    Blakemore, B. (2018). Youth in revolt: Five powerful movements fueled by young activists. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/youth-activism-young-protesters-historic-movements

    Brewster, K. R. (2019). Transformative and transformed: Examining the critical potential of service learner positional identities.
    Equity & Excellence in Education, 51(3–4), 347–361. 

    Caraballo, L., Lozenski, B. D., Lyiscott, J., & Morrell, E. (2017). YPAR and critical epistemologies: Rethinking education research. Review of Research in Education, 41(1), 311–336.

    Cohen, C., Kahne, J., Marshall, J., Anderson, V., Brower, M., & Knight, D. (2018). Let’s go there: Race, ethnicity, and a lived civics approach to civic education. GenForward at the University of Chicago.

    Donahue, D. M. (2018). Service‐Learning in Higher Education by, for, and about LGBTQ People: Heterosexism and Curriculum Shadows.
    The Wiley International Handbook of Service‐Learning for Social Justice, 123-144.

    Hall, M. (2015). The symbolic statue dividing a South African university.

    Lund, D. E., & Lee, L. (2021). Engaging Community Partners as Co-Educators in Teacher Education: Reflections from Pre-Service Teachers on a Justice-Based Service-Learning Program. Multicultural Education, 28, 32-40.

    Malorni, A., Lea III, C. H., Richards-Schuster, K., & Spencer, M. S. (2022). Facilitating youth participatory action research (YPAR): A scoping review of relational practice in US Youth development & out-of-school time projects.
    Children and Youth
    Services Review
    , 136, 106399.

    Marciano, J.E.
    , Peralta, L. M., Lee, J. S., Rosemurgy, H. Holloway, L., & Bass, J. (2020). Centering community: Enacting culturally responsive-sustaining YPAR during COVID-19. Journal for Multicultural Education, 14(2), 163-175. 

    Marciano, J. E., & Watson, V. W. M. (2021). “This is America”: Examining artifactual literacies as austere love across contexts of schools and everyday use.
    The Urban Review, 53(2), 334-353. 

    Mitchell, T. D., Donahue, D. M., & Young-Law, C. (2012). Service learning as a pedagogy of whiteness.
    Equity & Excellence in Education, 45(4), 612-629.

    Mitchell, T. D., & Chavous, T. (2021).
    Centering social justice in the scholarship of community engagement. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 27(1), 1-4.

    Richards-Schuster, K., Wernick, L. J., Henderson, M., Bakko, M., Rodriguez, M. A., & Moore, E. (2021). Engaging youth voices to address racial disproportionality in schools: Exploring the practice and potential of youth participatory research in an urban district. Children and Youth Services Review, 122, 105715.

    Warren, C., & Marciano, J. E. (2018). Activating student voice through youth participatory 
    action research (YPAR): Policymaking that strengthens urban education reform. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 31(8), 684–707.

    Watson, V. W. M., Oviatt, R. L.,
    Flennaugh, T., Byrd, C., Deloach, R., Jackson, S., & Pugh, J. (2020). “This research that we are doing is just the beginning of the conversation”: Undergraduate researchers examining transition experiences. The Journal of College Orientation, Transition, and Retention.

    Watson, V. W. M., & Petrone, R. (2020). “On a day like this”: How a youth epistemological approach can shape English education.
    English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 19(3), 245-251.