Dr. Daniel T. Cook
Department Chair
Professor of Childhood Studies
Adjunct in Sociology

Phone: 856-225-2816
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 116

Dr. Cook’s work focuses on moral configurations of childhood and the child vis-à-vis commercial and economic cultural fields. In particular, he explores the various ways in which tensions between “the child” and “the market” play themselves out in various sites of children’s consumer culture, such as advertising, food, rituals, clothing and media. He is the author of The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer (2004, Duke University Press) and an Editor of Childhood, A Journal of Global Child Research. Along with John Wall, Cook is editor of Children and Armed Conflict (2011, Palgrave) and is sole editor of Symbolic Childhood (2002, Peter Lang) and The Lived Experiences of Public Consumption (2008, Palgrave).  He is also the founding Chair of the Section on the Sociology of Consumers and Consumption of the American Sociological Association and serves on numerous editorial boards of journal and scientific committees of international scholarly organizations.

Currently, Cook is editing the SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies, a proposed five-volume, linked reference resource which will bring together, under one cover, an impressive array of topics, methods and perspectives definitive of contemporary approaches to the study of children and their childhoods. He also is co-editing, along with Spyros Spyrou (European University, Cyprus) and Rachel Rosen (University College London), Reimagining childhood Studies due to be published in 2018 with Bloomsbury Press. Ongoing research includes a study of how children’s market research professionals (e.g., marketers, market researchers, digital developers) and others in the “kids’ space” conceptualize their practices in relation to deployed notions of childhood. He is author of a number of articles and book chapters on childhood theory, consumer society, play, leisure and urban culture.

Bob Atkins, PhD, RN
Director of New Jersey Health Initiatives of RWJF
Associate Professor

Phone: 856-225-6734
Office: 323 Cooper Street

Dr. Atkins has conducted research with nationally representative longitudinal survey data and qualitative data collected in Camden explores the effects of urban poverty on child and adolescent health and development. Atkins’ work explored three questions about the health and development of youth living in high-poverty neighborhoods: 1) What social and institutional processes mediate the relationship of high-poverty neighborhoods to the health and well-being of youth living in those neighborhoods? 2)  How does childhood personality influence the emergence of health-damaging behaviors in adolescence? 3) What do youth in high-poverty neighborhoods do to promote, maintain, or restore their own health?

Dr. Atkins is the co-founder and president of the Camden STARR Program, a non-profit youth development program which sought to improve the life chances of youth living in Camden

Meredith A. Bak, PhD
Undergraduate Coordinator
Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-7009
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 215
Web: https://www.mabak.wordpress.com

Dr. Bak joined the Rutgers-Camden Department of Childhood Studies in 2014 from Franklin & Marshall College, where she was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies. Her research and teaching interests focus on children’s film, media, visual, and material cultures from the nineteenth century to the present. Her research explores historical and contemporary children’s media and material culture and she is at work on a book manuscript about the role of pre-cinematic visual media from optical toys to early pop-up books in shaping children as media spectators. A second project in development considers the history and theory of animate toys from talking dolls to augmented reality apps.

She is currently working on a range of projects, including book chapters on the Give-a-Show Projector, Talking Dolls, and the DC Super Hero Girls toy line. Since joining the faculty at Rutgers-Camden, Dr. Bak’s research has been supported by the Penn Humanities Forum, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rutgers-Camden Digital Studies Center. Dr. Bak is also currently a book reviews editor for H-Childhood.

saradaSarada Balagopalan, PhD 
Director of Graudate Studies
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-6892
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 218

Dr. Balagopalan joins the department as Associate Professor from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi. Her work on postcolonial childhoods foregrounds the tension between children’s work and schooling as a key site where discourses of colonial modernity, the ‘developmental’ nation-state, late capitalism and current transnational efforts around children’s rights play out. One of the founding editors of  Contemporary Education Dialogue, Dr. Balagopalan has published widely on pedagogy, the democratization of elementary education and children’s rights. She is the author of the 2014 book, Inhabiting ‘Childhood’: Children, Labour and Schooling in Postcolonial India (Palgrave) .

Kate Cairns, PhD
Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-7024
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 213

Dr. Kate Cairns joined the Department of Childhood Studies in 2014 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research investigates dynamics of gender, culture and inequality, with particular focus on the construction of children and youth as the promise of collective futures. She has explored these dynamics across diverse sites, including rural schooling, maternal foodwork, and urban agriculture. Dr. Cairns serves on the editorial board for Gender & Society, is a member of the Common Worlds Research Collective, and is an elected council member for the Consumers and Consumption section of the American Sociological Association.

Dr. Cairns is the coauthor of Food and Femininity (2015, Bloomsbury) and Introducing Sociology Using the Stuff of Everyday Life (2017, Routledge). Her research on food, consumption and mothering has appeared in venues such as Gender & Society, Journal of Consumer Culture, Antipode, and Theory and Society. Past projects include a study of how rural Canadian youth imagine their futures in the context of neoliberalism, with publications in Ethnography and Education, Gender and Education, The Canadian Journal of Sociology, and The Canadian Geographer. In her current research, Dr. Cairns is investigating contemporary efforts to connect children and young people with their food. She teaches courses in children’s geographies, girlhood studies, and gender and education.

Dan HartDr. Daniel Hart
Distinguished Professor of Psychology

Phone: 856-225-6741
Web: https://hart.camden.rutgers.edu/

Dr. Hart studies personality, moral, and civic development in context.  His most recent book, written with Jim Youniss, is entitled Renewing Democracy in Young America, and will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018.  They argue that civic development can be reinvigorated by lowering the voting age for municipal elections to sixteen and by creating opportunities for young people to contribute to community welfare through environmental activism.  

In his applied work, Dr. Hart and his colleagues are working with eleven communities across New Jersey to create opportunities for youth to become civically engaged and to develop leadership skills.  This work is funded by New Jersey Health Initiatives as part of its Next Generation Community Leaders program. 

Wenhau Lu

Wenhua Lu, PhD
Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-6083
Office:  329 Cooper Street, Room 209

Dr. Lu joined the Rutgers-Camden Department of Childhood Studies in 2016, after completing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Silver School of Social Work, New York University. Before that, Dr. Lu earned her MS in science journalism and PhD in health education from Texas A&M University. Dr. Lu’s research centers around child and adolescent health disparities, with a focus on minority and underserved populations. In particular, Dr. Lu is interested in understanding and intervening on behavioral, psychosocial and environmental factors that influence minority and underserved children’s health risk behaviors (e.g., unhealthy food-purchase, lack of physical activity), negative health outcomes (e.g., childhood obesity), and mental health problems (e.g., adolescent depression).

Currently, Dr. Lu is initiating two health disparities research projects to 1) examine factors underlying unmet mental health service needs among Asian American adolescents with mental health issues, and 2) investigate the real-time influence of nutrition environments on adolescent food-purchase behavior in different neighborhoods. Dr. Lu is also the Co-Principal Investigator of a RWJF-sponsored project to evaluate the implementation and impact of RWJF’s Next Generation Community Leaders initiative. Dr. Lu’s research has been published in leading public health journals, including the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, and the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Susan A. Miller, PhD  
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-7025
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 211

Dr. Miller joined the Rutgers-Camden Department of Childhood Studies in September 2009. She is the author of Growing Girls: The Natural Origins of Girls’ Organizations in America (Rutgers, 2007) and a contributor to several anthologies, including Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century (Cambridge Scholars, 2009); Rendering Nature: Animals, Bodies, Places, Politics (UPenn, 2015); and Childhood, Youth, and Emotions in Modern History (Palgrave, 2015). She is also the author of the Oxford Online Bibliography on the History of Childhood in America. Her current research interests include children’s patriotism and nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the ways in which nineteenth-century female reformers and suffragists included younger girls in their political campaigns. Staying true to her graduate training in the history or science, she is also working on an article about Madame Curie and her daughters, Eve and Irène.

Dr. Miller teaches courses on the history of childhood and youth in America, from colonial times to the present, as well as courses on children and war, and youth sports. She is a former high school mathematics and history teacher who now spends her spare time as a volunteer tour guide at Philadelphia’s historic Laurel Hill cemetery.

Lauren J. Silver, PhD 
Associate Professor of Childhood Studies  

Phone: 856-225-7008
Office:  329 Cooper, Room 212

Lauren J. Silver is Associate Professor of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ. Dr. Silver joined the Rutgers-Camden Department of Childhood Studies in 2009 and is also an Affiliate Scholar of the Center for Urban Research and Education. She is a critical ethnographer whose work lies at the intersection of the sociology and anthropology of youth, feminist methodologies, and analyses of urban systems. Her scholarship centers on the lives of young people who experience structural violence through poverty and social constructions of race, gender, and sexuality; it is deeply connected to the urban places where she lives and works.

Dr. Silver’s book, System Kids: Adolescent Mothers and the Politics of Regulation (2015, University of North Carolina Press) is based on two years of ethnographic research with youth of color and explores their identity work and service negotiations in a large, urban child welfare system. She is currently completing fieldwork for her next project: Youth Pathways Across Camden: Narratives in Urban Schooling. Dr. Silver’s research and teaching interests include: youth identities, urban education, gender & education, child welfare, and comparative urban ethnography.

Lynne Vallone, PhD
Professor of Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-225-2802
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 204

Dr. Vallone was the chair of the Department of Childhood Studies from 2008 until 2011 and again from 2013-2016. She is the author of Disciplines of Virtue: Girls’ Culture in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (1995, Yale UP) and Becoming Victoria (2001, Yale; a cultural biography of the young Queen Victoria) and the co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature (2005, Norton), Virtual Gender: Fantasies of Subjectivity and Embodiment (U of Georgia P), The Girl’s Own: Cultural Histories of the Anglo-American Girl, 1830-1915 (1994, U of Georgia P), and The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature (2011, Oxford UP). In 2011, The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature was awarded the Children’s Literature Association’s best edited book prize. Dr. Vallone has a forthcoming book (January 2018, Yale University Press) titled Big and Small: A Cultural History of Extraordinary Bodies. This book historicizes the idea that size and scale help to organize the ways that we behave and look at the world. She is currently general editor of the Palgrave series Literary Cultures and the Child.

John Wall, PhD
Professor of Religion and Childhood Studies

Phone: 856-745-6532
Office: 429 Cooper, Room 306
Web: https://johnwall.camden.rutgers.edu

John Wall is Professor of Philosophy and Religion, as well as Childhood Studies, at Rutgers University Camden. He is the author of Children’s Rights: Today’s Global ChallengeEthics in Light of Childhood, and Moral Creativity, as well as co-editor of Children and Armed ConflictMarriage, Health, and the Professions, and Paul Ricoeur and Contemporary Moral Thought. He is an internationally recognized expert on post-structuralist ethical theory as well as philosophies of childhood and children’s rights. He co-wrote the proposal that created the first Ph.D. program in Childhood Studies in the United States and was co-founder and chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Childhood Studies and Religion Group. He has taught at Rutgers University Camden since 2000, including courses in Children’s Rights, Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Childhood, Religion and Contemporary Culture, Biomedical Ethics, and Evil. He was awarded a Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence and a Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He grew up in England, earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, and now lives in Philadelphia.

Department Staff

Joann Schroeder
Phone: 856-225-6741
Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 100

Associate Faculty, Childhood Studies

Joseph Barbarese, Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing
Children’s literature, creative writing, poetry, essays

Laurie Bernstein, Associate Professor of History
European women’s history; Adoption law, foster care, and custody battles and dependent children in Soviet Russia

Holly Blackford, Assistant Professor of English
19th/20th Cent. American Literature, Children’s Literature, Meanings that children create from literature

Cati Coe, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Care across the lifecourse, nationalism, politics of culture, educational anthropology, West Africa

Lauren Grodstein, Associate Professor of English
Creative writing, narrative nonfiction, and English literature

Charlotte N. Markey, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Health Psychology, Psychology of Eating-Related Behaviors, Psychology of Adolescence, and Child Development

Naomi Marmorstein, Associate Professor of Psychology
Psychopathology in children and adolescents

Margaret Marsh, University Professor of History
Reproductive Medicine and Technology, Reproductive Sexuality, Women’s and Gender History, the History of Medicine in the United States

Jane A. Siegel, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
Impact of incarceration on children; family factors in crime and delinquency

Carol J. Singley, Professor of English
American Literature, Children’s Literature, Literary & Cultural Representations of Childhood, Kinship and Adoption.

Tetsuji Yamada, Professor of Health Economics
Health economics, health care services, access to health care services, health disparity, health behavior & health education, and cost benefit/effective analysis