Public Policy Report
Alex Ingrams, Policy Coordinator
The first quarter of 2012 has been an exciting one for me in my role as SPSSI Policy Coordinator. The office engines have been given a boost by a couple of talented researchers majoring in psychology, Jaclyn Escudero (George Washington University), and Cody McNamara (UCLA). More interns seeking to apply their psychology knowledge to hands on policy work will join later in the summer. The core part of my efforts has been spent developing the capacity of Central Office, SPSSI members, and other scientists to apply their knowledge and research to social policy issues in a timely and effective way.
The Policy Development Form for SPSSI grant and award winners – launched at the end of 2011 – is now in full throttle. Since then I have spoken with fifteen different award recipients about their research and the goals that they have to build and hone the policy impact of their work. Several have delivered drafts or plans for research briefs, fact sheets, and press releases that can be used in the future to inform policy makers and the public about the results of their research. The Form has also enabled me to achieve two other objectives: (1) educating myself about what social psychologists are discovering so that I can become a better advocate; and (2) offering opportunities for researchers, and particularly students, who want to find out more about participating in SPSSI’s efforts.
A chief focus of my science communication work has been the continuing distribution and discussion of the Special Projects Initiative research. This initiative includes the work of Meg Bond (University of Massachusetts Lowell) on best practices in recruitment and ethnic diversity of community health center employees; Marta Elliot (University of Nevada Reno) on the experiences of recently returned veterans in higher education; and Rebecca Stotzer (University of Hawaii) on LGBT hate crime incidence and legislation. The initiative’s goal of reaching policy makers in key government, legislative, and non-profit organizations is nearly coming to full fruition. We have received a great deal of interest in the findings and have created and released a number of research reports. One noteworthy piece of feedback I frequently receive is not just how important these findings are but how pioneering the research is. Policy makers not only recognize the limited data currently available in these focus areas, but also recognize the need for more so that the desired level of policy change can be achieved.
A final component of my science communication work took place in April when I hosted a webinar series, The Science of Policy Communication, featuring many notable researchers including SPSSI members, Linda Demaine (Arizona State University) and Peter Ditto (University of California Irvine). The series addressed challenges and opportunities for policy makers who seek to bring findings from psychology into their work. In addition, the series offered some ideas for how to become more effective in communicating to colleagues as well as the general public when discussing social science research findings. The webinar recordings can be watched on the SPSSI website here: SPSSI Videos
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