Research Scientist

Jenna Sethi is a full-time Research Scientist at Search Institute. A participatory youth-centered paradigm informs the way Jenna works with research partners to fully understand their objectives and culture to ensure project goals are shared and co-constructed.

Jenna has over 20 years of experience as a youth worker and over 10 years of experience conducting qualitative research.  She received her master’s degree in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Education from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at University of Minnesota (Family, Youth and Community track).

In her role as a research scientist at Search Institute, Jenna designs and implements research protocols and instruments, data collection methods, and analysis procedures as part of a mixed-methods team. Her work informs program implementation and improvement in schools, youth development, and community settings as well as reporting to practitioner, policy and academic audiences. Jenna is also a member of the Community Faculty in the Youth Studies program at the University of Minnesota.


  • Qualitative research
  • Practice-based research
  • Social justice youth development
  • Critical/culturally relevant pedagogy

The Developmental Relationships in my Life:

  • “I feel lucky to have many developmental relationships in my life including friends, family, and colleagues. I have been married for 15 years and have a wonderful 10-year-old and 8-year-old that keep me on my toes!”

Selected Recent Publications

  • Roehlkepartain, E. C., Pekel, K., Syvertsen, A. K., Sethi, J., Sullivan, T. K., & Scales, P. C. (2017). Relationships first: Creating connections that help young people thrive. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.34486.09282
  • Sethi, J. K. (2014). Co-creating community change: responding to violence through youth media practice (doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from
  • Johnston-Goodstar, K., Richards-Schuster, K., & Sethi, J. K. (2014). Exploring critical youth media practice: Connections and contributions for social work. Social work, 59(4), 339-346.
  • Johnston-Goodstar, K. & Sethi, J. (2013) Native Youth Media as Social Justice Youth Development. Journal of American Indian Education.


  • Ph.D., Family Youth and Community, Curriculum and Instruction, The University of Minnesota
  • M.Ed., Youth Development Leadership, The University of Minnesota
  • B.A., Music Cello Performance, Concordia College

Peer Reviewed Presentations

  • Johnston-Goodstar, K., Sethi, J. (2015). Countering Structural Violence through Youth Media Pedagogy, American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.
  • Johnston-Goodstar, K., Sethi, J, Orozco, L. (2014). “Do I want to Work with You?:” Reflecting and Learning from Community-Engaged Research Conference, University of MN.
  • Johnston-Goodstar, K., Sethi, J., Dagget, J., & Wilson, R. (2013) Critical Media Literacy for Young Activists, Free Minds Free People Conference, Chicago, Il.
  • Johnston-Goodstar, K. & Sethi, J. (2013).  Critical Media Literacy as Social Justice Youth Development, American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.
  • Johnston-Goodstar, K., & Sethi, J., & Hartley, G. (2012). Native Youth Development: An exploration of critical media with Native American Youth, 43rd annual National Indian Educators Association Conference, Oklahoma City, OK.