Sara Johnson

Sara Johnson

Academic Leave
(617) 627-4449
26 Winthrop Street
Research/Areas of Interest:

Adolescence and young adulthood; identity development; civic development and engagement; youth contribution; critical consciousness; quantitative methods (including mixture models such as latent class and latent profile analyses); positive youth development


  • PhD, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Connecticut, United States, 2012
  • MA, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Connecticut, United States, 2008
  • BS, Family and Community Services, Michigan State University, United States, 2006


My research is based on two premises: 1. People are active contributors to their own development as well as to the development and functioning of the societies in which they live, and 2. Contemporary Western societies have pervasive and persistent social inequalities that are based on historical and current systems (e.g., racism, sexism) that give advantages to some members of society and marginalize others based on their memberships in various groups.

My research brings these two ideas together to assert that people can do something about these inequalities. I am most curious about young people (adolescents and young adults), and how and why they participate in contribution behaviors that promote equity among all members of society. What kinds of knowledge about themselves (e.g., identity development) and their society (e.g., civic development) promotes young people's engagement in justice-oriented contribution behaviors? What kinds of life experiences facilitate these identity and civic development processes (e.g., relationships with adults and peers who might be role models)? And, lastly, how might these behaviors, processes, and associated life experiences be different for youth who benefit from at least some of the systems of power and privilege that operate in the societies where they live (e.g., White youth, and young men)? For more information about my current research projects, please visit the website of my lab, DICE (Development of Identity and Community Engagement.)