The Society for the
Study of Social Issues


Public Policy Report

   by Christopher Woodside, Policy Coordinator

It is my sincere pleasure to introduce myself to you as the new Policy Coordinator for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. 

I greet you with warmest regards in this, my first Policy Coordinator’s Report.  It is with deep pride and great excitement that I have begun the task of working with the Policy Committee and SPSSI leadership to develop a comprehensive, long-term policy agenda for the organization designed to facilitate our goals, and I look forward to remaining in close contact with you through Forward and other communications as projects take shape.

For a brief overview of my previous professional experience in the field, I have a background in non-profit policy work, government relations, and grassroots advocacy, as well as several years of Capitol Hill experience as a congressional aide. Most important, I share SPSSI members’ strong personal passion for social justice and equality, and have a deep desire to see those principles upheld throughout the world. My full biography can be found in the staff section of SPSSI’s website.    

When I joined the organization roughly three months ago, Congress was out of session and a brand new SPSSI policy agenda needed to be formulated. During my first few weeks on the job, significant time and energy were devoted to developing a recommended plan of action that would enable SPSSI to pursue our most central policy and advocacy objectives ? now and in the wake of the November elections.

Moving forward, as we develop and begin to implement our strategies, I continue to place a high premium on communication. To most effectively execute our policy agenda, I will strategize closely with SPSSI Executive Director Susan Dudley,  the Policy and UN Committees, and our new James Marshall Fellow, Jutta Tobias. I also strongly encourage you, SPSSI’s members, to contact me concerning matters of issue expertise, to express interest in becoming more involved with policy and advocacy work, and to contribute to other social justice objectives.  Regular interaction of this nature will help ensure that SPSSI’s policy goals remain consistent with members’ expectations. 

In our policy and advocacy recommendations for SPSSI thus far, we have developed proposals and strategies focused on the organization’s primary goal of using sound science to develop sound policy, while working to expand SPSSI’s profile in Washington, DC, and  to create worthwhile advocacy opportunities for members. 

Among our first objectives will be the identification of several key congressional issue areas in which SPSSI has the potential to contribute most effectively. Once consensus has been reached on these specific policy priorities, we will conduct new policy and advocacy activities aimed at furthering SPSSI’s role in the community as the definitive organizational resource for scientific data to either buttress or oppose social justice-related legislation. 

To briefly cite a few examples of how these new strategies will work: We've recently introduced a new policy-based information communication tool available through the SPSSI website. Members will begin receiving advocacy action alerts with options to participate in various grassroots issue campaigns; and they will learn more about the coalition work that SPSSI plans to undertake with our friends and partners in other psychological and cause-oriented non-profit associations throughout the field.

Other policy and advocacy efforts that we hope to conduct include work with authors and editors of SPSSI journals and other scientific works aimed at transforming our academically oriented publications into shorter, more user-friendly pieces for distribution on Capitol Hill and throughout the policy advocacy community. We will also promote these scientific findings in meetings with Members of Congress and other interested parties and through public speaking opportunities for SPSSI contributors. We will work to refine SPSSI’s database of issue specialists to provide the organization with as up-to-date a resource as possible of members who may be called upon for specific expertise.

Other policy agenda goals include expanding content on the SPSSI website to include new fact sheets and policy statements, a celebration of the organization’s policy-related historical achievements, promotion the members’ work, and timely press statements. Many of these strategies represent new approaches to SPSSI’s involvement in policy and advocacy work.  Some tactics may yield immediate results, while others may take significantly longer to fully shape and refine. Overall, however, it is the goal of all of those involved in implementing this initiative to institute a well-rounded, respected policy program of which SPSSI and its members can be very proud. I am honored to have a role in the process, and I greatly look forward to addressing you again in the near future regarding progress toward our goal.

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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin