Changing SEA

Who Are Emerging Adults?

An essay forum by the Changing SEA project, made possible
by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Edited by Tim Clydesdale, Professor of Sociology,
The College of New Jersey

Who are emerging adults? What do we know about them? What do we need to learn? Popular observers make inconsistent claims, labeling emerging adults as smart, successful, optimistic, unmotivated, miserable, and narcissistic. If you are asking where you can find the real story, you have come to the right place. Welcome to Changing SEA.

Here you will find 15 essays on a range of topics related to the lives of emerging adults, written by highly regarded scholars, which synthesize an array of academic articles, summarizing key points and making them accessible and useful for your ministry. We invite you to read these essays, read commentaries on them by ministry practitioners, and post comments of your own — so that this project becomes useful to the widest possible audience. You will also find weblinks to additional information about emerging adulthood on our resources page, which we encourage you to visit as well.

Emerging adults occupy a new phase of individual exploration and uncertainty, which begins at age 18 and extends into the upper 20s. This new phase, following adolescence but preceding full adulthood, is the result of global economic and cultural changes that have made financial independence more difficult to attain, pushed up the age at first marriage, and decreased parenthood. Many see emerging adults through a glass darkly. These excellent syntheses will help you to see them clearly and in all their complexity.

Essay Forum

Changing Sea Project Team

Anthony J. Pogorelc, Ph.D.
Institute for Policy Research &
   Theological College
Catholic University of America

James Youniss, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Catholic University of America

Tim Clydesdale, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
The College of New Jersey

Kathleen Garces-Foley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Marymount University



Advisory Board:

Nancy Ammerman, Boston University
Michael Emerson, Rice University
Gerardo Marti, Davidson College
Stephen Warner, University of Illinois at Chicago



The Institute for Policy
Research & Catholic Studies
ChangingSEA.org