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Steve Van Bockern

Honorary Doctorate


Steve van Bockern

BA (Hons), MEd, EdD

Honorary Doctor of Laws

A former teacher and school principal, Dr. Steve Van Bockern is an eminent academic known for reaching out to the community. Van Bockern and his colleagues pioneered the incorporation of Indigenous perspectives and wisdoms with contemporary psychological research. He is renowned for his work with at-risk youth as well as with gifted children.

In 1990, Van Bockern co-authored the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future, which has had a worldwide impact on educators working with marginalized young people. It has sold more than 300,000 copies and has been translated into four languages.

Along with his colleagues, Van Bockern created the not-for-profit organization Reclaiming Youth International in 1997. Currently serving as the organization’s Dean, he focuses on strength-based approaches to encourage positive youth development. This methodology is embodied in what has become known as the Circle of Courage™, a model that integrates Indigenous philosophies of child-rearing with contemporary research and the heritage of early pioneers in youth work. It is based on the notion that all youth need a sense of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity.

The Circle of Courage™ model has been used throughout the world by schools and youth organizations to build caring environments for all children. It provides educators with a variety of skills and techniques to help them manage inappropriate behaviors and crisis situations in a positive manner. The approach gives at-risk, marginalized youth a chance to succeed via guidance, attention and training they otherwise might not have received.

Van Bockern is also a friend to The University of Winnipeg. He has taught courses in the Faculty of Education and has presented at many conferences hosted by the University.

At present, Van Bockern teaches at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He serves as Dean of the Black Hills Seminars, is a senior trainer for Response Ability Pathways programs, and is co-editor of the journal Reclaiming Children and Youth.

The University of Winnipeg is pleased to present Dr. Steve Van Bockern with an Honorary Doctor of Laws for his dedication to helping at-risk youth and for his pioneering work, which is steeped in ideals that echo the University’s own values of inclusion, integration of Indigenous perspectives, and community.