Dynamics of Youth community platform

Our team

Marije van Braak
I am Marije van Braak, co-chair of the ‘Becoming Adults in a Changing World’ community and assistant professor at the department of Language and Education, faculty of Humanities. I’m passionate about two things: education (whether it is teaching, researching education, chatting about teaching, or musing about educational improvements) and language (how we use language in interaction to achieve things). In my research, that translates into a focus on analysis of interaction in any type of educational setting. In my teaching, I love to consider creative ways of engaging students in all kinds of disciplinary and interdisciplinary thinking – as well as in general questions about finding their way through life. I hope for the community to become a vibrant community of researchers, youth, and all types of non-academic partners who collaborate purposefully to contribute to youth’s transition into adult life, with all the contemporary challenges that come with it. Read more
Jaap Denissen
My name is Jaap Denissen, I am also a co-chair of this community. I work as full professor of developmental psychology at the Faculty of Social Science. My research has explored predictors of how adolescents and young adults establish satisfying peer and romantic relationships, create a mature identity, and achieve other developmental tasks. One cluster of variables that I particularly focus on is personality, i.e. characteristic individual differences in affect, behavior, and cognition. My research already connects different sub-disciplines within psychology (developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology).

Therefore, I am very eager to connect with additional disciplines that are represented at Utrecht University, such as economics, geoscience, and life science. In close connection with other researchers, but also with societal stakeholders and youth themselves, we can really make a difference in uncovering and facilitating how young people become adults in a changing world. Read more
Liam Stephens
I am a postdoctoral researcher with a particular focus on how policies and systems, including formal and nonformal education systems, influence youth identity and purpose. Many factors, including our assumptions about the role of youth in society, what we value as good and successful, and issues of (in)justice come together in policies, systems, and practices that shape the environment in which young people are undertaking the work of defining themselves and their place in society. Examining these assumptions, systems, and practices, is important if we are to create the best conditions for each generation of youth. My aspiration for the Becoming Adults community is that we can help bridge boundaries so that researchers of different fields, practitioners, professionals and crucially, youth themselves, can collaborate increasingly closely in the generation and application of knowledge in addressing pressing social issues. Read more
Rebecca Jacobse
project manager
My name is Rebecca Jacobse and I have been involved with the Becoming Adults in a Changing World community since September 2022. It keeps surprising me how open, visionary and caring this community is. We believe that together we can create a space for different constituencies to grow. My own background is in Social Psychology, with a special focus on Training & Coaching and Social Change in organisations. Besides that, I enjoy connecting with people and organizing events. This all comes together in my role as project manager. In this role I am involved with connecting youth, societal partners and researchers, with the aim of setting up systems that facilitate long term relationships and collaboration.
Anne Kolk
Student Assistant
I am Anne Kolk, and I am excited about my role as a student assistant working with the ToekomstDenkTank. With my academic background in Psychology and drawing from my personal growth journey, I aspire to create a secure space for everyone to share experiences and connect with each other. Together we can discuss what it means to become and be an adolescent in this world. With the help of inspirational activities and meaningful conversations, we will contribute to the knowledge about becoming an adult in this changing world.
Mart Nijsen
Student Assistent
Hello everyone,

My name is Mart, and I'm very excited to join the BACW-team! I'm currently a Liberal Arts & Sciences student majoring in Public Administration at the USBO. In my free time I enjoy playing guitar and running.

In my role as a student assistant, I'll be involved in organizing and facilitating our coffee dates and pop-up meetings, along with assisting in other events. I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you!

Warm regards,
Debora Vos
My name is Debora Vos and I am an intern with the research community Becoming Adults in a Changing World, in which I am mostly working with the ToekomstDenkTank. In my bachelor Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, I have chosen a focus on youth and their development. I am very interested in the way young people grow up and what factors or (social) contexts could stimulate or hinder this development. In addition, I find it important to acknowledge that every young adult and their developmental path is unique and can share their own experiences. Finally, I aspire to focus on youth participation and how we can further stimulate this, to generate more knowledge about growing up in a changing world. I believe that this research community can foster more youth research and knowledge about youth development and I am excited to attribute to this goal.


Giorgia Di Giacoma
Being an intern at the Becoming Adults community shaped me as a person and as a professional. Growing up we forget the different challenges and the uncertainty that adolescence brings. As an intern I had the opportunity to do research for and with young people. I developed a better understanding of challenges faced. I also developed empathy and the ability to listen and understand young voices and actively work for their well-being.
Marith Hekkert
Last year (April to July 2023), I did an internship at the research community Becoming Adults in a Changing World. Right from the start, I felt very welcome in the team. There is a cosy, motivating and safe atmosphere, which makes it nice to work together and work on interesting topics concerning youth. My interest in youth has only grown throughout my internship. It is great to engage with young people, but also with different organisations which are involved with them. The principle of connecting researchers, practitioners and youth is what I like most about this research community. And then to see with how much passion they are working is very admirable!
Danique Wijland
student assistant
I study Communication and Information Sciences, with my focus being optimisation of communication in organisations. Working with Becoming Adults in a Changing World means being able to give young people a voice in important issues, and I find it truly rewarding to see the enthusiasm of the youth in the ToekomstDenkTank when they are given the opportunity to voice their opinions.