SPSSI’s Strategic Plan: Diversity and Inclusion in Science
The one activity that has been the focus of much of the Executive Committee’s attention of late has been the new SPSSI Strategic Plan. I am very proud of our consistency and persistence in developing a plan, which will direct the organization’s activities for the next three years. The SPSSI Strategic Plan speaks largely about traditional SPSSI values and activities but looks at them in a new light. The process of developing and modifying the plan sought out input from as many people as possible allowing for SPSSI leaders, staff, members and even non-member to have a voice in the process. This is, of course,essential for an organization like SPSSI, which stands on its credibility as a source of evidence based information to be used in the enactment of policy in both the public and private sectors. SPSSI influence can only be as effective as is its credibility as an objective broker of scientific knowledge.
For this reason, I’m proud of the SPSSI Strategic Plan because it endorses as its central themes the importance of science and diversity in the policy making arena. The SPSSI Executive Committee sent out the plan for public comment with the following defining statement, “The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) promotes research and education on psychological aspects of critical social issues. SPSSI brings science and evidence to human problems of the group,the community, the nation, and the increasingly important problems that have no national boundaries.”In fact, one of the six central goals of the plan includes the language, “SPSSI will continue to be a source of non-partisan psychological science,building capacity among its members to promote its policy priorities...to promote a more socially just world through its programs.”The letter of introduction went on to state, “A primary goal of this plan is to infuse diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. Diversity and inclusion goals will be broadly construed, made explicit, and serve as one indicator of success of the strategic plan.” And in fact the very first goal of the plan is, “Develop the explicit practice of consciously working toward diversity and inclusion in every aspect of the organization and its work.”
While the goals and objectives in the plan are important for SPSSI’s continued and future success, the balancing of science, diversity,and inclusion is—in my mind—the central challenge for SPSSI in the years ahead. We live in a time when these values are challenged at almost every turn in both the public and private discourse in ways that have surprised reasonable people on all sides of our ideological divides. Our organization can and should stand as a beacon for inclusion of people and ideas from all areas of psychology and indeed from all walks of life. To be influential SPSSI science and the advocacy that follows from our work must be credible. It is too easy for policy makers to dismiss even the best science and most honorable contributions to social justice by attacking the credibility of the source. The more inclusive and diverse is our science and are the policy recommendations that flow from it, the more influential will be our voice at the national, regional and local levels. The SPSSI strategic plan sets out to honor these 2 time-tested values, which have been with SPSSI from the outset. To the extent that SPSSI is able to promote diversity, inclusion,and rigorous science and consider the voices of all individuals who make valid contributions to our enterprise, even those we disagree with, SPSSI will be influential as a source of evidence based policy making. I believe our Strategic Plan has the capacity to move us forward in a direction that values inclusivity in science so that SPSSI can be a model of how to weigh all policy related research to support social justice in both the private on public sectors. As a member of the SPSSI Executive Committee, I look forward to contributing to the task of overseeing that we execute our new Strategic Plan in a way that supports diversity and inclusion in the scientific process.