Margaret Beale Spencer

Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education, Department of Comparative Human Development


Margaret Beale Spencer is the Marshall Field IV Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Comparative Human Development. Before returning to Chicago, she was the endowed Board of Overseers Professor and Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies of Human Development (ISHD) Program in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her adolescent-focused research addresses resiliency, identity, and competence formation processes of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and Euro-American youth. Professor Beale Spencer’s research and programming applications explore youths’ emerging capacity for healthy outcomes and constructive coping methods while developing under generally unacknowledged and highly stressful conditions. Professor Beale Spencer has recently received funding from the Fletcher Fellowship, a grant supporting work that furthers the broad social goals of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. She was also named recipient of the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Distinguished Contributions to Developmental Science by the American Psychological Society, and has also won the Society for Research in Child Development Award for Distinguished Contributions to Cultural and Ecological Research.


Selected Publications

Harris, J. A., Beale Spencer, M., Kruger, A. C., & Irving, M. A. (2019). An examination and interrogation of African American males’ racial identity, prosocial behaviors and aggression. Research in Human Development16(1), 76-91.

Rious, J. B., Cunningham, M., & Beale Spencer, M. (2019). Rethinking the notion of “hostility” in African American parenting styles. Research in Human Development16(1), 35-50.

Velez, G., & Spencer, M. B. (2018). Phenomenology and intersectionality: Using PVEST as a frame for adolescent identity formation amid intersecting ecological systems of inequality. New directions for child and adolescent development2018(161), 75-90.

Spencer, M.B. (2017). Privilege and Critical Race Perspectives’ Intersectional Contributions to a Systems Theory of Human Development. In. Budwig, N. Turiel, E., & Zelazo, P. (Eds.) New Perspectives on Human Development, (pp. 287-312). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spencer, M. B. (2008). Phenomenology and ecological systems theory: Development of diverse groups. In W. Damon and R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Child and adolescent development: An advanced course (pp. 696735). New York: Wiley Publishers.

Spencer, M. B., Noll, E., & Stoltzfus, J., & Harpalani, V. (2001). Identity and school adjustment: Revisiting the “acting White” assumption. Educational Psychologist, 36(1), 21-30.

Connell, J. P., Spencer, M. B., & Aber, J. L. (1994). Educational risk and resilience in African-American youth: Context, self, action and outcomes in school. Child Development, 65, 493-506. 

Spencer, M. B., & Markstrom-Adams, C. (1990). Identity processes among racial and ethnic minority children in America. Child Development 61(2), 290-310.



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