Grey rectangle with orange and dark green threads and the name Trisha Swed. On the right is a picture of Trisha Swed. Medium length red hair with a green shirt.

Dissertation Watch: Towards an Ecosystem of Youth Leadership Development

Dr. Trisha Swed, a recent alum of the PhD in Leadership and Change, has published her dissertation entitled, Towards an Ecosystem of Youth Leadership Development.

The study aims to understand how youth leadership development programs can be more inclusive and promote a broader range of leadership values, qualities, and behaviors by focusing on young people who have previously been disaffected by leadership development programs. The study design was intended to provide a creative space for youth to engage in meaningful conversations about their evolving concepts and expectations of leadership. Using critical youth participatory action research, Swed engaged a group of youth cohort members in a process where they co-created a new youth leadership development program while addressing their identified challenges and needs. 

Findings from this study highlight the importance of adults in youth programs and provide insights toward an ecosystem approach to youth leadership development. Practitioners, funders, and community leaders can create more inclusive and meaningful youth development opportunities and programs by understanding the youth program’s ecosystem. 

For Swed, this dissertation topic dovetailed with her longstanding interest in youth development. Her recent work has explored ways youth leaders can implement community change through dialogue, conflict processes, philanthropy, and informal education. She is a leadership development practitioner and consultant with experience teaching and researching communication and education. She has also been working in communal education for eleven years and has a record for helping communities start new programs and improve existing ones throughout the United States and Israel. In one of her joint projects, Resolution Partners Program, Swed supports building programs and community experiences which encourage intergenerational learning and repairing relationships between Philadelphia Police and systems-involved youth.

Swed teaches in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, and she also teaches in the Department of Communication at West Chester University. She has been teaching for seven years. In 2022, she was acknowledged as an Instructor Extraordinaire at Temple University. 


Read more about Dr. Swed and her dissertation Towards an Ecosystem of Youth Leadership Development here.