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Barton J. Hirsch

Barton J. Hirsch

  • Professor Emeritus, Human Development and Social Policy

Research Interests

After-school programs; soft skills and the school-to-work transition; program development, implementation, and evaluation, particularly with respect to positive youth development.


Bart Hirsch is an applied developmental scientist whose work emphasizes program development, implementation, and evaluation in relation to adolescents. His research examined some of the most prominent programs in the country (Boys & Girls Clubs; After School Matters).  The studies are notable for presenting an enhanced vision of the potential of the programs, while acknowledging an array of implementation issues. Two of his books won “best book” awards.

Hirsch is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Community Research and Action. He has served on the editorial boards of leading journals in adolescent development and community psychology and as general editor for Adolescent Lives in Context, a book series from NYU Press.

Hirsch held several leadership positions at Northwestern. As chair of Human Development and Social Policy, he led a major transformation of the program that greatly increased the number of PhD graduates placed in top-tier academic positions. As chair of the executive committee of the School of Education and Social Policy, he guided the School through a series of organizational changes that involved restructuring its academic programs and changes in senior leadership. Hirsch also served several terms as chair of the School’s tenure and promotion committee.

Hirsch enjoyed teaching talented students and seeing them go on to successful careers.  At his retirement celebration, former grad students Nancy Deutsch, David DuBois, and Maria Pagano spoke with appreciation of Hirsch’s mentoring and how he continued to support them long after graduation.


  • BA, Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, 1971
  • PhD, Psychology, University of Oregon, 1979
  • Postdoctorate, Social Ecology, Stanford University, 1981

Awards and Honors

  • 2012 – Social Policy Award for Best Authored Book from the Society for Research on Adolescence for After-School Centers and Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure, published by Cambridge University Press.
  • 2006 – Social Policy Award for Best Authored Book from the Society for Research on Adolescence for A Place to Call Home: After-School Programs for Urban Youth, copublished by the American Psychological Association and Teachers College Press.

Selected Publications

Hirsch, B. J. (2019). A hard outcome for positive youth development programs. in S. Bae, J. Mahoney, S. Maschke, & L. Stecher (Eds.), International developments in research on extended education: Perspectives on extracurricular activities, after-school programs, and all-day schools (pp.135-149). Berlin: Barbara Budrich Publishers. (Download )

Hirsch, B. J. (2017). Wanted: Soft skills for today’s jobs. Phi Delta Kappan, 98, : 12-17.

Hirsch, B. J. (2015). Job Skills and Minority Youth: New Program Directions. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mekinda, M.,& Hirsch, B. J. (2014). After-School Programs in D. DuBois & M. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of Youth Mentoring (2nd edition) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hynes, K., & Hirsch, B. J. (Editors) (2012). Career Programming: Linking Youth to the World of Work. New Directions for Youth Development (Special Issue).

Hirsch, B. J., Deutsch, N., & DuBois, D. (2011). After-School Centers and Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hirsch, B. J., Hedges, L. V., Stawicki, J., and Mekinda, M. (2011). After-School Programs for High School Students: An Evaluation of After School Matters. Technical Report. [A publication version of this report appears as Appendix 1 of Job Skills and Minority Youth, 2015]. (Download )

Hirsch, B. J. (2011). Learning and Development in After-School Programs. Phi Delta Kappan: 92, 66-69.

Hirsch, B. J., Mekinda, M., & Stawicki, J. (2010). More than Attendance: The Importance of After-School Program Quality. . American Journal of Community Psychology: 45, 447-452..

Hirsch, B. J. (2008). After-School Programs: Positive Places in Unsafe Urban Communities in E. Goodenough (Ed.), Where Do the Children Play?  Detroit: Wayne State University Press.