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SPSSI Policy Update


 SPSSI Policy Update


After what seemed like an interminable campaign season, U.S. elections are over and Congress returns to Capitol Hill today to work on, among other things, passing an FY 2016 budget. (Prior to recessing, Congress passed legislation to fund the government through December 9. Unfortunately the funding is at a rate lower than FY 15 operations for most federal agencies.) After the Lame-Duck Session and the New Year, committee assignments will shuffle as new Members of Congress rotate into key positions on the committees that oversee everything from appropriations to science to education. 

With regard to the U.S. presidency, APA and a number of other scientific associations have added their voices to a recent Washington Post piece entitled "What will President Trump mean for science?

SPSSI is eager to ensure that our field continues to inform public policy during the next Administration. As we heard on the campaign trail, issues like bias in policing, sexual harassment, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, gun violence, LGBTQ rights, and climate change continue to be issues of great concern. Fortunately, SPSSI members have a lot to say on these and other topics! 

SPSSI Action in Congress….

SPSSI Hosts Congressional Seminar on LGBTQ Non-discrimination....On October 25, Drs. Kim A. Case and Kevin Leo Yabut Nadal spoke before an audience of 100 congressional staffers and other policy professionals to share the science behind discrimination of LGBTQ individuals, and to discuss how public policy might address such discrimination. 

SPSSI Participates in Rally Hill Day to Promote NIH-Funded Research….On September 22, SPSSI joined 300+ organizations in rallying on Capitol Hill to promote NIH-funded research. Over the course of one day, members of participating organizations visited the offices of 250+ Representatives and Senators to ask for a $2 billion increase for the annual NIH budget. Are you an NIH-funded SPSSI member? Contact SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll to learn how you can help inform SPSSI’s policy advocacy in Washington.

News from the Administration….

New Resource: Social and Behavioral Science across the Federal Government....The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), of which SPSSI is a member, has just released a new report that catalogs federal departments and agencies that fund, use, or otherwise support social and behavioral science research. The report includes agencies and departments that may be more familiar to researchers (e.g., NSF, NIH) in addition to those that may be less familiar (e.g., USDA, HUD, EPA). 

White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team Releases Annual Report….The Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, a cross-agency group of applied behavioral scientists, program officials, and policymakers provides policy guidance and advice to Federal agencies. Among other projects, the team has worked to ensure that low-income children obtain and retain access to free or reduced-price school meals through expanded automatic enrollment and improvements to the application process.

White House Issues Executive Order on Agency Use of Behavioral Sciences....In September, OSTP Director John Holdren issued a memorandum to illustrate how federal departments and agencies can follow through ont he Executive Order, which calls on agencies to identify promising opportunities to apply behavioral-science insights to federal policies and programs. It is organized around four key aspects of federal policy where research and practice show that behavioral factors play an especially strong role in program outcomes: (1) determining access to programs, (2) presenting information to the public, (3) structuring choices within programs, and (4) designing incentives.

Census Report Shows the Recovery is Taking Hold for Americans Across the Economic Spectrum….In September, the U.S. Census released a report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage in 2015. According to the report, real median household income increased by 5.2 percent between 2014 and 2015 while the official poverty rate decreased 1.2 percentage points while the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased. Learn how these changes in poverty rates have impacted your state and district at Center from American Progress' interactive map.

2015 NSF Merit Review Report Now Available… Among the report’s findings: NSF made more than 12,000 awards in fiscal year 2015, 9.6 percent more than in FY 2014 and mostly to academic institutions; last year 35,000 scientists, engineers, and educators reviewed grant proposals for NSF; and the grant proposal success rate was higher for women than men but the proportion of female principal investigators remained low, as is their representation in academia.

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Announces Inclusion of sexual and gender minorities as a health disparity population for NIH research. This announcement recognizes that SGM populations have less access to health care and higher burdens of some diseases, unique health challenges, and face barriers to health and well-being because of stigmatization, hate-violence, and discrimination.

News from the Supreme Court....

Supreme Court hears “indefensible” death penalty case where race linked to violence....Duane Buck was convicted in Texas of murder and sentenced to die after a psychologist testified that he was more likely to commit violent crimes in the future because he is black.

Supreme Court hears case on racial bias in jury deliberations....This case tests the constitutionality of widespread rules that bar courts from examining evidence of racial bias in jury deliberations.

News from the United Nations....

An Invitation from PCUN to All Psychologists....The Psychology Coalition of Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) Accredited at the UN invites all psychologists to access and help to disseminate the UN 2030 agenda entitled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Further, we urge psychologists to integrate the framework and one or more of the sustainable development goals and their related targets into their teaching, research or practice.

New UNDP Report Calls for "Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa"....The report, recently released by the United Nations  analyses the political, economic and social drivers that hamper African women’s advancement and proposes policies and concrete actions to close the gender gap. These include addressing the contradiction between legal provisions and practice in gender laws; breaking down harmful social norms and transforming discriminatory institutional settings; and securing women’s economic, social and political participation.

From the NY Times: United Nations Picks Power Feminist (Wonder Woman) for Visible Job (Mascot). Weigh in about your thoughts on this pick to SPSSI Communications Director at 

SPSSI Members Speaking to the Media….

From the Huffington Post: Trump Won By Following this Psychological Formula by Michele Gelfand

From the New York Times: We’re All A Little Biased which features SPSSI members 

From the New York Times: Lessons in the Delicate Art of Confronting Offensive Speech with features SPSSI members

SPSSI on Social Media….

Be sure to like SPSSI on Facebook where you'll be the first to here about news from SPSSI on hot topics and SPSSI members in the media.

Test your Implicit Bias, read about challenging offensive speech, and be the first to hear about SPSSI events like the recent Congressional Lunch Seminar on LGBTQ non-discrimination.

Read responses to the UN's appointment of Wonder Woman as an Ambassador of Gender Equity from SPSSI Members.

Fellowships & Training Opportunities….

Applications Now Being Accepted for SPSSI James Marshall Public Policy Fellowship....The Fellowship provides support for a post-doctoral level fellow to work full-time for one year (September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018) in the U.S. Congress. Applications are due by February 1, 2017. Click here to learn about this year's fellow, Rashmi Nair. 

Applications Now Being Accepted for APA Congressional & Executive Branch Fellowships…The APA 2017-2018 Congressional Fellowship Program offers two psychologists the unique opportunity to spend a year on Capitol Hill working in a U.S. House or Senate office. The APA Executive Branch Science Fellowship is an opportunity for a research psychologist to work in a federal agency on issues ranging from science policy to research administration. Past placements have included the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Justice, and U.S. Agency for International Development.

NIH Department of Bioethics Fellowship Opportunities Available for Fall 2017…The program application deadline for the post-doctoral fellowship is December 31, 2016 and January 15, 2017 for the pre-doctoral fellowship.

2017 SPSSI Policy Workshop and Advocacy Day...In collaboration with Divisions 27 and 56, APAGS, and the APA Public Interest Directorate, SPSSI will be hosting a Policy Workshop and Advocacy Day July 31 - August 2, 2017. This event will immediately precede the 2017 APA Convention in Washington, D.C. We will share more information on this event in early 2017, including information on how to register. 

Other Resources....

Journal of Psychology & Society Releases Special Issue on the Intersection of Psychology and Human Rights....This special issue provides an array of work occurring at the nexus of human rights and social psychology, with particular emphasis on the variety of methodologies and theories that can be employed to understand how human rights are understood, constructed, and enacted in social contexts. The issue includes an paper by SPSSI UN/NGO Representative member Yvonne Rafferty on trauma as an outcome of child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.