14 April 2023 • Alums President’s Forum Series: Behind the Screen with Carrie James ’92

Author, Research Associate and Principal Investigator at Harvard’s Project Zero Carrie James ’92 to join the President’s Forum Series to discuss the insights of her research, which explores young people’s digital, moral and civic lives.

When it comes to teens and technology, what are adults overlooking?

A lot, according to Behind Their Screens: What Teens are Facing (and Adults are Missing), the 2022 book coauthored by Project Zero Research Associate and Principal Investigator Carrie James ’92.

James will return to campus for the first President’s Forum Series event of the semester, where she will discuss what she and her colleague and coauthor Emily Weinstein found in the course of their research. The book draws on perspectives from more than 3,500 teens, combining stories and data to reveal what young people are up against — and what teens need adults to understand. James' address will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19 in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center. 

“William Smith alumna Carrie James’ work is timely, innovative and poignant,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “Her research at Project Zero combines data analysis and sociological research methods with deep curiosity about the human condition, and her fascinating book offers important insights about how we might engage with technology going forward. I very much look forward to what will be an enlightening and thought-provoking conversation.”

The President’s Forum events are free and open to the public. 

Founded at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1967, Project Zero (PZ) operates a range of programs “to understand and nurture human potentials — such as learning, thinking, ethics, intelligence and creativity — in all human beings.” James and her colleagues study “the nature of such potentials, the contexts and conditions in which they develop, and the practices that support their flourishment,” according to the PZ website.

A sociologist by training, James has led research and educational initiatives focused on ethical issues in digital life, civic engagement and participatory politics in a connected age, and cross-cultural online learning experiences. A core feature of her work is the design of classroom curricula and pedagogical tools using a design-based research approach. For many years, she worked closely with PZ colleagues, conducting research on digital ethics.

James serves as the Director of Design Based Implementation Research for the Democratic Knowledge Project K-12 at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics (ELSCE) at Harvard University. With Emily Weinstein, she co-directs the PZ projects Digital Dilemmas and Reimagining Digital Well-Being With and For Youth, which emphasize approaches that center teens’ perspectives and experiences, and involve them as co-designers of interventions to support their digital well-being.

In addition to Behind Their Screens, James is the author of Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap (The MIT Press, 2014) and numerous articles in peer-reviewed education and media journals. She holds a B.A. in sociology from William Smith and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from New York University. She is the parent of two technology-loving kids, ages 12 and 16. Follow her on Twitter at @carrie_james.

Established in the winter of 2000 by President Gearan, the President's Forum Series brings a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty and staff, as well as with interested community members.

This talk was previously scheduled for March 15 but was rescheduled due to weather.