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From Our Incoming Editor

Kala J. Melchiori, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, James Madison University

As we begin a new year and, for many of us, a new semester with new students, it is also a time to reimagine how to forge ahead with the complex realities of our identities, communities, and society. Our classroom spaces can be radical sites of inquiry where we can center students and contextualize thorny social issues with a generation of future leaders. Our organization is one that “runs to the noise,” (to borrow a phrase from Michelle Obama) – SPSSI seeks out situations that challenge us to apply the evidence and untangle contentious social problems. In this issue of The Forward, our contributors encourage us to reflect, resist, and recharge our efforts as activists, teachers, and scholars who run to the noise.

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From Our President:
Doing Psychology in
Times of Change and Crisis

Patrick R. Grzanka, SPSSI President, Divisional Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Psychology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Since our last edition of SPSSI’s Forward, many professional organizations within and beyond psychology have issued statements about the violence in Palestine and Israel that have sparked intense and often painful conversations. Many of the statements issued were received as empty political gestures; many performed a kind of ‘both-sidesism’ that were unsatisfying to all; and even well-crafted and researched statements placed organizations and their leaders in defensive postures. Institutional statements have also resulted in coordinated political attacks on prominent leaders in education, perhaps most notably Dr. Claudine Gay, the first Black president of Harvard University. 

Rather than hastily make such a statement, alienate our members, and join the chorus of institutional pronouncements, which typically do not have the effects they name (see Sara Ahmed’s [2006] classic analysis of institutional diversity statements), I have convened a task force to develop a positional statement on the violence in Gaza that is focused on providing you, our members, with resources to inform how you respond to the war in your professional lives as educators, researchers, policy makers, consultants, therapists, and advocates. I have convened a diverse group of thoughtful scholars I trust to take care in identifying resources that will help all of us make sense of the multifarious consequences of the conflict, which extend far outside the Middle East and implicate generations worth of trauma, displacement, and harm. I look forward to sharing this with you in the coming weeks

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From Our Director of Policy and Communications:
Policymakers Need Help,
Not Homework

Sam Abbott, Director of Policy and Communications, SPSSI

In our popular imagination of U.S. politics, few represent the underbelly of Washington better than the lobbyist. Confined to the steakhouses or cigar-filled back rooms of Capitol Hill, lobbyists wield their power, money, and influence to undermine the American people in favor of special interests. Right? 

But lobbying also serves an essential, less-nefarious function: providing policymakers with the information they don’t have the time or expertise to gather on their own. For policy-engaged academics, learning some simple “lobbying” practices can help get your research in front of the right eyes.

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Winter 2024

In This Edition

Editor’s Column
From Our Incoming Editor

From the Leadership

Doing Psychology in Times of
Change and Crisis

Patrick Grzanka

Policy Updates
Policymakers Need Help,
Not Homework:
Sam Abbott

Embarking on
Social Change:
A Clinician and
as the
2023 Dalmas A. Taylor
Memorial Summer
Minority Policy Fellow:
Ty A. Robinson

Social Issues from Student Perspectives (SISP)
2024 Graduate Student Committee Themes and Initiatives:
The Importance of Diversity,
Equity and Inclusion—and
How Accessibility and Retention
Are Often Left Out:
Chelsie Burchett and
Leslie Vernon-Dunnigan

Connecting Implicit Bias
in Pain Perception
to the Maternal Mortality Crisis:
Minnie S. McMillian

Teaching Awards

Outstanding Teaching &
Mentoring Award Winners

Change cuts deep
(in the heart of Texas):
Salena Brody

Teaching philosophy grounded in ancestors, imagination,
Queerness, and community:
Daniela Dominguez

Innovative Teaching
Award Winner

Teaching Intersectionality
to Address Social Issues:
Natalie Sabik

Action Teaching
Award Winner

Accept the occasional anecdote:
Bettina Spencer

Action Teaching
Grant Winner

Teaching About
Historical Trauma
in a Localized Context:
Michele M. Schlehofer

Teaching Resource
Prize Winners

Social justice assignments:
A perfect opportunity to leverage students’ strengths?:
Régine Debrosse

Teaching about
White Privilege
in Psychological Research:
Sally L. Grapin

Using Class Presentations
to Examine Science
and Policy:
Evan Smith

SPSSI Teaching
Grant Winners

Abnormal No More:
A DARN Conference on
Teaching Disability
in Psychology:
Carolyn Shivers
and Kathleen Bogart

Committee Updates
SPSSI’s Year In Review 2023,
UN Representative:
Rachel Quintas

SPSSI-New York Regional Group:
Harold Takooshian

SPSSI Communications Committee Updates—SPSSI Blog Highlight!:
Ashley Votruba

Forward edited by Kala Melchiori