Dr. Karras Headshot

Juliana Karras, Ph.D.

( She/Her/Hers )
Assistant Professor
Office hours: By appointment
Email: jkarras@sfsu.edu

Courses taught at SF State

PSY 305GW - Writing in Psychology (Topic: Research within Communities - Participatory Action Research)

PSY 433 - Social, Emotional, and Personality Development

PSY 792 - Proseminar in Foundations of Contemporary Psychological Research

PSY 799 - Supervised Selected Research

PSY 839 - Field Experience in Developmental Psychology

PSY 891 - Advanced Developmental Psychology: Children’s Reasoning about Social Inequality

PSY 891 - Seminar in Selected Problems (Topic: Advanced Research Methods - Evaluation Methods in Context)



Bio and Research

Juliana Karras, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the A.R.C. Lab dedicated to Advancing the Rights of Children through psychological science at San Francisco State University and partners with the Immigration Initiative at Harvard

She completed her: postdoc in Human Development & Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles; Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the Graduate Center City University of New York; and M.A. in Human Development & Social Intervention at New York University. 

Dr. Karras’ work straddles both developmental and social research areas by focusing on the social development of children and adolescents in context. Specifically: the intersection of race, inequality, and civic development; attitudes towards and conceptions of children’s human rights; and ethnic/racial inequality across contexts. The goal of her work is to advance the human rights of children through actionable science by generating empirical knowledge that researchers, practitioners, and policymakers can use to identify and rectify social systems that reproduce inequality in development.


Active projects

Caribbean Children’s Views of Socioeconomic Inequality and their Human Rights with Co-PIs Dr. Martin D. Ruck, Developmental Psychology, The Graduate Center City University of New York and Dr. Christopher Charles, Department of Government and Political Psychology, University of the West Indies. The goal of this study is to examine how adolescents (aged 12-17) in three Caribbean countries—Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago—understand their socioeconomic rights and issues of economic inequality. By elevating children’s voices on economic inequality, findings from this study can help improve the strategies used by researchers, policymakers and educators invested in fostering a more socially just and equitable world.


The 2020 Study (aka Sociopolitical Development amidst Mass Mobilization against Systemic Racism: Examining the Lived Experiences of Immigrant-Origin Youth) launched in the Fall of 2020. Using a phenomenological qualitative approach this study examined how immigrant-origin (I-O) youth experience and engage with the 2020 election season in light of recent economic, political, and social consequences from the pandemic and the social movements against systemic racism. Findings will expand our understanding of how I-O youth engage as political actors (Elisha et al., in press) by examining how the sociopolitical development (SPD) of I-O youth evolves during and after an election year as shaped by the development of their ethnic-racial identity (ERI) (Umaña-Taylor et al., 2014) and critical consciousness (CC) (Diemer et al., 2015).


ISSC (Immigrant-Origin Students and School Climate). Pre-pandemic the goal was to develop, pilot, and scale up climate assessment regarding how inclusive (or not) learning environments are for immigrant-origin students by triangulating multiple perspectives from stakeholders across the educational ecology (i.e., students, educators, staff, administrators, family, community). Our pandemic pivot for this project has been to undertake a systematic literature review of global research regarding how immigrant-origin, K-12 students experience their school climate (e.g., safety, relationships, teaching & learning). The goal is to provide a comprehensive overview of I-O students’ lived experiences across their learning environments with an emphasis on recommendations for future work towards improving school climate for I-O youth—which has become increasingly relevant as xenophobia has increased in recent years alongside global migration patterns which are projected to further increase in the coming decades (e.g., climate refugees).


Selected Publications 

Peer-reviewed publications

Elisha, I., Karras**, J., & Ruck, M. D. (in press). Looking Within: Elevating Black Scholarly Contributions to Empirical Approaches in Human Development. The American Psychologist. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0001055


*Emuka, C. & Karras, J. (in press). Combatting risk with resilience: How bicultural socialization of Black immigrant-origin youth relates to well-being. Journal of Adolescence, Advance Online Publication. http://doi.org/10.1002/jad.12236  


Larios, R., Karras, J., Suárez-Orozco, C., *Baqee, I. (2022). Using an Iterative Approach to Systematically Observe Culturally Responsive Practices Across Classrooms. Urban Education. Advance Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/00420859221139832 

Karras, J., *Maker Castro, E., & *Emuka, C. (in press). Examining the Sociopolitical Development of Immigrant-Origin Youth During a Season of Social Unrest. Journal of Research on Adolescence, "Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble": Dismantling Oppression Series as part of Special Series: Dismantling Systems of Racism and Oppression during Adolescence, 1-22. https://doi-org.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/10.1111/jora.12777

*Maker, E., *López Hernández, G., Karras, J., *Novoa, A., The New Generation Class, & Suárez-Orozco, C. (2022). “Everyone Collaborated and Came Together”: The Civic Promise (and Pitfalls) of yPAR for Immigrant-Origin Students in an Era of Deportation. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 28(3), 427–439. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000429

Karras, J., *López Hernández, G, *Cabral, P., *Nguyen, S., & Suárez-Orozco, C. (in press). Taking a “Whole” Classroom Perspective: Theorizing Classroom Typologies Using Qualitative Exemplars. Urban Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/00420859211051378

Karras, J., Niwa, E., *Adesina , F., & Ruck, M. D. (2021). Confronting Whiteness: Conceptual, Contextual, and Methodological Considerations for Ethnic-Racial Socialization Research to Illuminate White Ethnic-Racial Identity Development. Journal of Social Issues, 77(4), 1305-1326. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12485

Karras, J., Astuto, J., Niwa, E., & Ruck, M. D. (2020). Trajectories of civic socialization in context: Examining variation among children in African American and Black immigrant families. Developmental Psychology, 56(12), 2293-2308. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0001116

Karras., J., Elisha, I., Ruck, M. D., Tenenbaum, H. R., & Willenberg, I. A. (2019). Does Situation Matter in Conceptions of Children's Rights? An Examination of South African Children's and Mothers' Perspectives. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 27(4), 631-659. https://doi.org/10.1163/15718182-02704002

Karras, J., Astuto, J., Gjicali, K., & Allen, L. (2017). Sample Retention in an Urban Context: Exploring Influential Factors Within a Longitudinal Randomized Evaluation. American Journal of Evaluation, 40(2), 268–290. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214017742719


Editor-reviewed publications

Ballard, P. J., *Maker Castro , E., Karras , J., & Cohen, A. (in press). Critical Consciousness Development in the Context of a Widespread School-based Civics Intervention. In E. Godfrey & L. Rapa (Eds.) Developing Critical Consciousness in Youth: Contexts and Settings.

Elisha, I. M., Karras, J., & Ruck, M. D. (in press). The Civic Implications of Social Inequality: Centering Young People’s Perspectives on Resisting Oppression. To be published in J. L. Chin, Y. E. Garcia, & A. Blume (Eds.) The Psychology of Race and Ethnicity Series: Psychology of Inequity -Volume 3: Strategies and Solutions, Praeger 2023. Courtesy ABC-CLIO.

Karras, J., Ruck, M. D., Peterson-Badali, M., & *Emuka, C. (2022). Being and becoming: Centering the morality of social responsibility through children's right to participate in society. In M. Killen & J. Smetana (Eds.) Handbook of Moral Development (3rd ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003047247-10

Karras, J., Elisha, I., & Ruck, M. D. (2021). Cultivating and Maintaining Good Mentorship. In A. Shanok & N. Elden (Eds.) Thriving in Graduate School: The Experts’ Guide. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. https://www.thrivingingradschool.com/

Karras, J., Pells, K., Morrow, V., & Ruck, M. (2020). Poverty and human rights for children and youth through the lenses of psychology and sociology. In N. S. Rubin & R. Flores (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Human Rights (pp. 191-204). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108348607

Osei-Twumasi, O. & Karras, J. (2019). Dreams versus realities: Graduation Rates of Immigrant-Origin Community College Students. In C. Suárez-Orozco & O. Osei-Twumasi (Eds.) Immigrant-Origin Students in Community College: Navigating Risk and Reward in Higher Education (pp. 175-191). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. https://www.tcpress.com/immigrant-origin-students-in-community-college-9780807761946

Peterson-Badali M., Ruck M.D., Karras J., Huang S. (2019) Rights Knowledge, Reasoning, and Attitudes. In: Levesque R. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Adolescence (2nd ed.). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-32132-5_172-2


*Denotes graduate or undergraduate student as co-author.

**Former last name: Karras-Jean Gilles.