This proposal requests an additional five years of support for the Penn State Family Issues Symposium, an annual interdisciplinary conference designed to focus attention on under- studied issues that are important in terms of understanding family structure and functioning and their impact on the development of children and youth. The proposal builds on a sixteen-year tradition of annual symposia that have been co-organized by faculty from Penn State's Population Research Institute (Booth and Landale), Department of Human Development and Family Studies (Crouter - former PI), and Social Science Research Institute (McHale) with additional intellectual and financial support from numerous other departments and centers and NICHD. The goals of this proposal are: (1) To promote interdisciplinary dialogue and to stimulate research on family issues. (2)To promote scholarly excellence. (3) To identify promising issues in the field of family studies that are not receiving sufficient attention from researchers and which would not ordinarily be covered by professional societies, foundations, or government agencies.
The health relevance of the symposium proposal is multi-fold. All of the themes involve health relevant components in that they focus on individuals who are disadvantaged in some way. It may be inadequate income, low access to educational opportunities, living in risky family environments, or limited access to health care. Disadvantage is usually accompanied by stress which over a period of time often leads to compromising the immune system in ways that lead to pathology. A section of each symposium is devoted to policy implications and interventions that may ameliorate the condition and thereby lead to better health.