Scientists in Canada and South Africa join forces to uncover the protective factors that build youth resilience

Dr. Michael Ungar

The Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience and a Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University, Dr. Michael Ungar is leading a five-year, multinational research program called Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments (RYSE). This multidisciplinary, multisectoral team of researchers will be joined by community and industry partners in two Canadian communities (Drayton Valley in Alberta, and Cambridge Bay in Nunavut) and a South African community (Secunda in Mpumalanga).

Dr. Michael Ungar, Resilience Research Centre, Department of Social Work, Dalhousie University
Photo courtesy of Dr. Michael Ungar

Dr. Michael Ungar of Dalhousie University’s Resilience Research Centre and School of Social Work is leading a team of multidisciplinary researchers to carry out a study called Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments (RYSE). 

This international team of experts, ranging from biological scientists to mental health specialists and environmental researchers, is undertaking a five-year study of the resilience of youth who have experienced successive boom and bust economic cycles, and whose lives have been adversely affected by catastrophic events that have impacted their environment.

The team will carry out case studies over a period of several years that will provide important insight into the biological and psychological resilience of young people, families and communities. The study will also conduct a socio-ecological examination of the resilience of the environmental systems with which they interact, the impact of resource extraction industries, and the impact of oil and gas consumption on changing climatic conditions that have the potential to influence young people’s wellbeing.

Dr. Ungar hopes to gather evidence that will demonstrate the protective and promotive factors that enhance young people’s capacity to adapt to changes in their social, economic, and natural environments.

The findings will be used to inform social policy and programming needed to build much-needed social and physical environments that support the well-being of young people living in communities vulnerable to the effects of changing economic conditions and climate change.

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