About The SECD Lab

Photo by SECD Lab RA

Photo by SECD Lab RA

Who are we?

The Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) Lab is dedicated to conducting action-research in public, private, and religious school settings for the purpose of building children’s skills for facing the tests of life, and not a life of tests. The SECD Lab focuses on understanding the relationship of academic achievement, social-emotional competencies, and the development of character, and a core set of life principles. Additionally, the SECD Lab studies the development of school-based interventions to strengthen social-emotional skills, character, and one’s Laws of Life, as well as to prevent bullying, violence and victimization, substance abuse, and related problem behaviors. We work increasingly on areas of implementation and sustainability of interventions, leadership, and SECD as an issue of educational equity and opportunity.  Finally, our work has recently included the areas of promoting civic engagement among Rutgers University students and supporting disadvantaged students entering Rutgers via the creation of a The Collaborative, Rutgers’ Center for Community-Based Research and Service (engage.rutgers.edu) within Rutgers’ Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Download our SECD Lab Flyer!

From SEL to SECD

We changed our name from the Rutgers SEL Lab to reflect our view that SEL and character must be integrated for the optimal development of children and youth.  To use one analogy, if SEL is thought of as the ship, character is the rudder.  Both are integral and inseparable.  Some refer to this distinction as moral and performance character.


Projects of the SECD Lab focus on students and their school, family, and community environments. We employ a community-based, constructivist, action-research approach to pedagogy. To understand settings and design, deliver, and evaluate interventions, we utilize a developmental, ecological-community psychology approach. Our four main projects are:

  • The MOSAIC Project:  Mastering Our Skills and Inspiring Character in 6 Jersey City Middle Schools
  • Developing Schools of Social-Emotional Competence and Character in New Brunswick
  • The Development, Implementation, and Dissemination of Laws of Life and Related Empowerment-Oriented Interventions around Promoting Youth Competence, Purpose, and Voice, including The Youth Ambassadors Project
  • Online Certificate Programs in School Leadership and Direct Instruction in Social-Emotional and Character Development and Positive School Culture and Climate.

Thank you for your interest. Should you have any questions, please contact us at secdlab@gmail.com


Find out about our most recent pilot.

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Sel Certificate

Find out about SECD Certificates for Teachers and School Professionals working directly with Children and for Current or Aspiring School Leaders

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