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Natasha Watkins, PhD

Research Interests

Positive youth development, community-based youth programs, service learning, civic engagement, intergroup relations


I completed my graduate training in clinical-community psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research and teaching are guided by a broad interest in understanding and improving the capacity of social settings to promote positive youth development. Specifically, my work has examined how participation in organized, community-based programs fosters ethnic minority youths' civic engagement and intergroup understanding. I also am interested in the relationship between college students' social development and participation in service learning courses and residential learning communities.

Selected Publications

  • Gordon, D. M., Watkins, N. D., Walling, S., Wilhelm, S., & Rayford, B. S. (2011). Adolescent fathers involved with child protection: Social workers speak! Child Welfare, 90(5), 95-114.

  • Gordon, D. M., Iwamoto, D., Watkins, N. D., Kershaw, T., Mason, D., & Judkins, A. (2011). Promoting responsible fatherhood programming: Factors affecting low-income fathers' involvement in child protection services and court-restricted access to their children. Journal of Poverty, 15(2), 184-205.

  • Watkins, N., & Aber, M. (2009). Exploring the relationships between race, class, and middle school students' perceptions of school racial climate. Equity and Excellence in Education, 42(4), 395-411.

  • Watkins, N., Larson, R., & Sullivan, P. (2007). Bridging intergroup differences in a community youth program. American Behavioral Scientist, 51(3), 380-402.

  • Jarrett, R., Sullivan, P., & Watkins, N. (2005). Developing social capital through participation in organized youth programs: Qualitative insights from three programs. Journal of Community Psychology, 33(1), 1-15.

  • Rynczak, D., Hidalgo, B., Lim, N., Watkins, N., & Barr, S. (2005). Teaching service learning courses: Graduate students share what they learn from teaching. The Community Psychologist, 38(5).

  • Larson, R., Jarrett, R., Hansen, D., Pearce, N., Sullivan, P., Walker, K., Watkins, N., & Wood, D. (2004). Organized youth activities as contexts for positive development. In A. Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice: From research to application.  New York: Wiley.


  • 2009-2012  Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2009, PhD Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
  • 2008-2009  Predoctoral Internship in Clinical & Community Psychology, The Consultation Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
  • 2000 BA, Psychology, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN

Courses Recently Taught

  • HDFS 301: Diversity in Individual and Family Life
  • HDFS 343: Assessment and Case Management