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Faculty & Research

Junlei Li

Saul Zaentz Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education
Co-Chair, Human Development and Education Program

Junlei Li

Degree:  Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, (2003)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Office:  Longfellow 313
Faculty Assistant:  Lily-Esther Stanton


Junlei Li serves the co-chair of the Human Development and Education Program and the Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

His research and practice focuses on understanding and supporting the work of helpers —  those who serve children and families on the frontlines of education and social services. Li studied and learned from a wide range of developmental settings with low resources but high-quality practices, including orphanages, childcare, classrooms, and community youth programs. He developed the “Simple Interactions” approach to help identify what ordinary people do extraordinarily well with children in everyday moments and made that the basis for promoting positive system change.

Li frequently delivers keynote presentations and workshops for national, state, and international conferences focused on improving practices, programs, and policies for children, families, and professionals, with a particular emphasis on early childhood development. He teaches about improving human interactions and supporting adult helpers. He serves on boards and advisory panels, including Child Care Aware of America, Parents as Teachers, Turrell Fund, Head Start National Center for Family and Community Engagement, and various initiatives at the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. Li’s work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers (creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood). He previously served as the Co-Director and Rita M. McGinley Professor for Early Learning and Children’s Media at the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College.

Click here to see a full list of Junlei Li's courses.

Sponsored Projects


Supporting Human Interactions in Early Childhood Education (2019-2022)
Saint Vincent College

The Fred Rogers Center seeks research, development, training, and project implementation collaboration from Dr. Junlei Li and his research team at Harvard Graduate School of Education on a variety of existing and developing public service projects in relation to improving the quality of early childhood education. Project activities, during the contracted period, include the following:A) Design and delivery of presentations and multiple training workshops for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.B) Design and delivery of presentations and multiple training workshops for the Arizona Quality InitiativesC) Design and delivery of professional development institute at the Fred Rogers CenterD) Design of presentations, strategies, and training workshops for the Pennsylvania early childhood initiatives.

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