2013 – The War on Youth

Summer Institute 2013 - July 15–26

2013 Summer Institute: The War on Youth

In July 2013, MCSPI ran an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary Summer Institute that invited international undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral fellows or doctoral recipients with an interest in youth-related research to work collaboratively with major researchers and public intellectuals to generate new scholarship and innovative modes of public communication related to the research theme: “The War on Youth.” Students explored how young people around the globe in the twenty-first century are growing up in circumstances characterized by a range of precarious conditions that include ecological catastrophes, increasing levels of poverty and debt, the rise of a youth punishment and incarceration mentality, expanding commercial media and advertising networks, widening social inequalities, and under resourced health care and education systems, conditions that are especially dire for youth whose contexts are informed and shaped in different ways by geographic location, wealth, class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and (dis)ability.

The Program

Leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines facilitated seminars, cultural events, and evening panels with the goal of generating interdisciplinary research opportunities that had meaningful public impact and were dedicated to addressing a range of social, political, economic and cultural issues impacting youth. On a daily basis, the program included:

  • Seminars – A class where students and scholars discussed youth-related research.
  • Cultural Events – An engagement of youth-related research and social concerns that were accessed through different forums and mediums.
  • Evening Panels – Informal evening panel discussion that include various academic and non-academic participants who will collectively discuss social issues pertaining to youth.

As part of completing the Institute, students wrote publicly-engaged research papers on a topic related to the War on Youth. These papers will be posted to our website soon.


Henry A. Giroux


Professor, English and Cultural Studies; Global TV Network Chair, Faculty of Humanities, McMaster University.
Henry A Giroux holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Canada. His most recent books include: America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review, 2013); Education and the Crisis of Public Values (Peter Lang, 2012); and Twilight of the Social (Paradigm, 2012).

2013 Facilitators

  • Jennifer Adese
  • John Connolly
  • Brad Evans
  • Jennifer Fisher
  • Bonnie Freeman
  • Melonie Fullick
  • Henry A. Giroux
  • David Theo Goldberg
  • Lawrence Grossberg
  • Sheila Harms
  • Benson Honig
  • Sut Jhally
  • Douglas Kellner
  • Joseph Kim
  • Mariette Lee
  • Rick Monture
  • Simon Orpana
  • Tyler J. Pollard
  • Kenneth J. Saltman
  • Riaz Sayani-Mulji
  • Lisa Schwartz
  • Erika Shaker
  • Paul Ugor



This two-week, interdisciplinary program was designed to provide a space in which a group of students and researchers could work collaboratively with major scholars and public intellectuals from a broad range of disciplines on a topic of serious social and political concern: the “war on youth.”

Today, young people are a significant population impacted by ongoing attacks and the elimination of vital social programs, resources, and social protections. In the aftermath of the 2008-09 global financial crisis, nation-states have maintained tax subsidies for corporate and wealthy interests by cutting back commitments to public spending.  As the social contract and social state are being hollowed out, low income, poor minority, indigenous, and disenfranchised youth in many parts of the world are being deprived of the most basic public goods, extending from quality health care to education.  Young people struggling to contend with a variety of social and economic challenges – from living on or under the poverty line to struggling with mental illness – are less often seen by the public as people who face problems created by inequitable social systems than as “problem youth” whose vulnerabilities warrant punishment and criminalization rather than substantive social investments and care.

In addition, many more young people than ever before face bleak prospects for their futures as they encounter huge debt, long-term unemployment, and extreme uncertainty regarding the stable roles and standard of living achieved by their parents.

Today’s youth must also navigate increasingly complex digital environments, as the influences and effects of digital media and information technologies are still unfolding. Consequently, young people are often immersed in global cultural environments dominated by a hyper-commodified, hyper-sexualized, and evolving virtual landscape that has remade the terrain of where young people live and learn.

The MCSPI Summer Institute 2013 addressed the difficulties regarding how young people might respond to the world they have inherited and will soon be responsible for as they transition into their roles as global citizens. In a world rife with violence and inter-cultural tensions—from the war on terror to mass movements of refugees and popular uprisings through the Middle East—the diverse effects of global precariousness constitute both an assault on the prospect of a sustainable future for all young people, but also a source of hope for social change.

In bringing together undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral fellows or doctoral recipients with an interest in youth-related research, the Institute negotiated new modes of critique and social, political, cultural, and economic alternatives to “the war on youth.” Here, “the war on youth” serves as a provocation and an invocation to explore how the various crises faced by youth can best be understood and countered by scholars across disciplines who are engaged in meaningful and publicly oriented research that connects with local and global communities.

The War on Youth 2013 Summer Institute invited leading scholars and public intellectuals who offered a range of expertise – from Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Youth and Indigenous Studies to those in the fields of Health Care, Psychology, Business, and Neuroscience. A list of the Institute’s facilitators can be here.

More Info

For more information about The War on Youth program please see the program timetable, the profiles of our participating facilitators, or our facilitators’ lecture and interview videos about the war on youth from the Institute.  Any and all inquiries about the program may be sent to the following email address: summerinstitute@mcspi.ca

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