The Society for the
Study of Social Issues

SPSSI Policy News RSS Feed - October 17, 2008

By Christopher Woodside

Advocacy Outreach Effort! UPDATED!

SPSSI Releases Policy Fact Sheet on Issues of Democracy and Disenfranchisement in Voting, Begins Work Disseminating Information to Key Advocacy Groups

Recently, with the assistance of editor Kevin Lanning of Florida Atlantic University, SPSSI developed a fact sheet summarizing research from the current “Democracy and Disenfranchisement” issue of JSI.  The studies included in this issue of the Journal span from wide-ranging investigations of the social psychology of voting to a variety of suggestions for improving the fairness of and participation in future elections.

To coincide with the completion of this document, SPSSI has staged an advocacy push targeted towards dissemination of this information to voting advocacy groups including such organizations as The League of Women Voters, FairVote, NAACP, The Fortune Society, and many others. 

In the case of The Fortune Society, the fact sheet will be shared with 2,500 voting rights supporters within that group’s advocacy community.  SPSSI will continue to work with policy leaders at these, and other organizations to promote the JSI findings, and to use them to positively influence fair elections.


UPDATE:  The Maryland and Washington, DC ACLU Legislative Office has confirmed that on Saturday, October 25, they may be distributing the JSI Democracy and Disenfranchisement fact sheet to attendees at a Voter Education/Citizen Advocacy Session scheduled to take place at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD. 

The ACLU grassroots training session is a free event, open to the public, and is likely to draw a substantial crowd.  Dispersal of our voting rights document at this event would constitute excellent exposure for SPSSI, and additionally, we are optimistic that the ACLU will now use our policy documents again for future advocacy projects.

For more information on this event, please visit:

To access the SPSSI Fact Sheet on Democracy and Disenfranchisement, and other materials of interest to advocates on voting behavior, please click here.    

News Item!

Connecticut Supreme Court Reverses Ban on Gay Marriage

Earlier this month, in a 4-3 decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed a state ban on same-sex marriage.   As of October 28, Connecticut will officially become the third state to legalize gay marriage (the other two are Massachusetts and California).  As the issue deals directly with the state constitution, the ruling cannot be appealed, and Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell (R) has reluctantly agreed to uphold the high court’s decision.  Connecticut gay rights groups and gay rights supporters nationwide are celebrating this profound victory, but remain wary of the timing, as it leaves Connecticut-based anti-gay rights groups a solid month before the November elections to attempt to rile up support for a constitutional convention aimed at flipping the divided court.

More Information:

Constitutional Convention Defined:

Call for Experts

SPSSI Seeks Members with Research Expertise on the Psychological Impact of Economic Crisis

SPSSI has been invited to suggest possible expert witnesses to testify at a hearing on the impact of the current economic crisis on everyday Americans to be Chaired by Henry Waxman of the House Ways & Means Committee.  We are in the process of trying to identify SPSSI members who have done research that bears directly on the issue—including, for example, the areas of consumer affairs, poverty, and/or in workplace and employment issues.

If you are interested in being considered as a witness, please contact SPSSI Policy Coordinator Chris Woodside at as quickly as possible with a copy of your CV highlighting relevant publications, and it will be forwarded along to the House committee members.  Alternatively, if you know of another expert who, in your opinion, would be a strong choice, SPSSI would be greatly appreciative if you could forward along their contact information as well. 

*Please note that members not chosen to testify in front of Congress may still be contacted at a later date regarding additional opportunities to offer their expertise on the current economic crisis in forums such as advocacy events, academic panels, discussion groups, etc.


SPSSI Seeks Members with Research Expertise on Psychology and Education Equity

SPSSI is currently in the process of identifying policy priorities to be addressed during the upcoming 111th Congress.  As part of this examination of relevant social justice issues, we are developing an agenda for addressing matters of education equity during the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and in other areas of federal and state level education policy.

Members with relevant expertise in education equity who would like to contribute to the ongoing discussion, please contact SPSSI Policy Coordinator Chris Woodside at

More Information on NCLB:

Event Alert!/Request for Feedback

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Prepares for Launch

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Coalition will officially launch January 14-16, 2009 in Washington, DC.  The Launch of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition will serve as an opportunity for SPSSI and our members to learn more about the future of the Coalition and its potential areas of activity. 

Opening the Launch, on the evening of January 14th, will be three speakers, including Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and former President of Ireland.  The following day-and-a-half will be devoted to paving the way forward, and will include presentations, training workshops, and planning meetings.  To learn more, please access the Launch Agenda.  All scientific associations, professional societies, and science academies, as well as individual scientists, are welcome to attend the Launch.  There is no registration fee.

We encourage our members to review the Coalition materials and to contact Policy Coordinator Chris Woodside at with questions, comments, and/or concerns regarding our organization’s potential involvement with this initiative.  If you are planning to attend, please let us know.

More Information: 

Event Alert! 

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition Hosts Outreach Event

In advance of the January 2009 launch of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, the working group on Service to the Human Rights Community plans to hold this, its first outreach event.  In furtherance of the working group’s objective of highlighting the significant ways in which science and scientists can contribute to human rights work, the event will feature scientists and human rights practitioners who have worked together to engage current human rights challenges.

Science Serving Human Rights: Making It Happen is a free event, open to the public, scheduled for Thursday, October 23 from 3-5:30pm in the AAAS Auditorium in Washington, DC.  SPSSI members interested in attending should register online as soon as possible.  Additionally, members whom feel that their current research fits with the overarching theme of the working group are encouraged to contact SPSSI Policy Coordinator Chris Woodside at about potential involvement in similar upcoming discussions.

Event Alert!

Fifth Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research Upcoming

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is finalizing plans for the 2008 Brown Lecture scheduled to take place on October 23 at 6pm in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC.  The Brown Lecture was established to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision and is designed to feature the important role of research in advancing understanding of equality and equity in education.  The speaker this year will be Stephen Raudenbush of the University of Chicago.

To attend this event, please RSVP:  (202)-238-3234 or


Call For Experts

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