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Sarah Herrman


From our Incoming Editor

Sarah Herrmann, Assistant Professor, Weber State University

As we begin another semester in our new pandemic reality, I have been considering the ways in which our lives—and our classrooms—have changed in the last year. It is a difficult time for so many, but there have also been some unexpected benefits to teaching virtually. When I resume teaching in two days, I look forward to seeing my students (and their kids and pets) on Zoom. I’m glad to be able to reach nontraditional and rural students who were previously unable to access courses we only offered in person. I enjoy the discussion and excellent questions posed in the chat. I can’t wait for the chorus of “thank you’s” that conclude each class. Once we are vaccinated and safe in the near future, these are some of the norms that I hope we will get “back to normal.” 

This issue of The Forward highlights the challenges and opportunities in teaching, research, and policy we face in the current environment. SPSSI President Keon West encourages us to seize on this year’s conference theme, “Changing the System,” to reshape the systems we occupy through research, teaching, and action. 

We also receive reports on the continuing efforts of SPSSI Committees, including: 

  • Communications Committee: Asia Eaton highlights social-justice themed webinars on anti-fat and weight bias, disinformation during the presidential election, honoring black women, and reproductive justice research methods.  

  • Early Career Scholars Committee: Adriana Espinosa and Emily Fisher provide an update on including conference planning and the Michelle Alexander Award.  

  • Policy Committee: Linda Silka discusses the ‘research-to-impact’ barriers and the ways that SPSSI members are working to put their research into practice through policy.  

  • SPSSI New York: Harold Takooshian and Elaine Congress reflect on the New York-area lockdowns of 2020 and webinars on topics such as reducing post-election stress.  

  • United Nations Committee: Laura Lopez-Aybar and Priyadharshany Sandanapitchai discuss a statement authored by the SPSSI United Nations NGO team entitled “Alleviating the Psychological Effects of Water Stress on Children, Families, and Communities” for the 54th session on the Commission on Population and Development. 

This issue also features a column from SPSSI’s Policy Director, Sarah Mancoll, on the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on K-12 education. These include issues of declining enrollment, complications with distance learning, and how we move forward under a new presidential administration to ensure that children stay on track. 

Additionally, this issue highlights the winners of SPSSI’s 2020 Teaching Awards. We invited the winners of the Outstanding Teaching Award, the Two-Year College Award, the Action Teaching Award, and the Action Teaching Grant to submit articles pertaining to their teaching philosophies, awarded activities, or their thoughts on virtual teaching at a time when so many of us are outside the classroom, including:  

  • Rupert Nacoste: Teaching Neo-Diversity 

  • Lisa Kirby: Navigating the “Hidden” Terrain: Mentoring First-Generation College Students 

  • Vicki Burns: Utilizing Social Action Projects in the Virtual Classroom 

  • Jessica Cundiff & Leah Warner: Leveraging Experiential Learning to Teach About Gender Bias 

  • August Hoffman: Improving Community Connectedness through Green Environments: A Natural Approach to Improved Health and Psychological Well-Being 

Lastly, I want to highlight an article from Chris Aberson on the Unofficial Biographies project, which aims to elucidate some of the obstacles to academic success that are not revealed in scholars’ official bios.  

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