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From Our Editor

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

We are at an exciting and thoughtful time of year for SPSSI members. Our upcoming conference will convene soon on the theme of “Frontiers of Justice: Using Psychological Science to Reinvigorate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The presidential election coupled with ongoing discussions about the state of our country and the world has us eager to connect with one another over our shared SPSSI values. With these concerns in mind, this issue of The Forward will focus on political participation, broadly construed. 

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From Our President:
Coming Together

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

It’s hard to believe that in only a couple short weeks, our SPSSI family will reunite in Philadelphia for our annual conference June 21-23 (plus pre-conferences on June 20th!). Many of our veteran conference attendees will reconnect after a year or more apart, and we will welcome new members and attendees into the fold. Our annual conference is such a special occasion—unlike any other in psychology, in my opinion—because of the unique blend of intellectual rigor, passion for social issues, and comradery that exemplifies SPSSI’s values and goals. 

This year’s event, organized by the incredible team of Drs. Germine (Gigi) Awad and Sarah Hermann, looks to be another exceptional meeting. We are already breaking early registration records and are optimistic that this will be the largest SPSSI conference ever! We are thrilled to feature provocative and inspiring keynote addresses from Helen Neville, Linda Tropp, and Sara McClelland, who will surely challenge us to reconsider some of the most pressing social justice and scientific issues of our time. I’ll be speaking about fascism and intersectionality on Saturday night, and I hope you’ll join me for a reception after the address. If we’ve never met, please introduce yourself. I know I can speak for the entire SPSSI Council and Executive Committee when I say that we want this meeting not only to be a reunion but a genuine meeting, where people make exciting connections with future collaborators and friends. 

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From Our Director of Policy and Communications:
Politics and Scholarship Will Never be Mutually Exclusive

Sam Abbott, Director of Policy and Communications, SPSSI

As we approach the 2024 Election in the United States, one feels the national temperature creeping ever higher. Like me, you may feel tempted to bury your head in the proverbial sand and wait for it all to blow over, but such a response is a privilege few can afford. Indeed, SPSSI was founded on the belief that psychologists and social scientists have a responsibility to engage and inform the public about the social and political issues of the day. But how to do that—particularly in a charged environment like a college campus responding to student protests or under political regimes skeptical, if not outright hostile, to the principles of academic freedom—is not an easy question. 
Scholars are often led to believe that being political is antithetical to the values of academia and the scientific process. This is, of course, an impossible standard. Political power structures shape the very choices we have available to us in ways we cannot ever fully comprehend, and the political implications of each of our decisions likewise reverberate in thousands of untraceable directions. Politics shapes what is funded and published. It influences our normative definitions and standards. It determines who even has the right or ability to sit at the table with us and engage in research. While we must strive not to be partisan, politics and scholarship will never be mutually exclusive.

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Spring 2024

In This Edition

From the Leadership & Committees

Conference, Editor, & Award Updates

Political Participation

Forward edited by Kala Melchiori


Upcoming Deadlines

Gordon Allport Prize
June 15

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Policy Work Grants

September 1

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Resources Award 

September 15

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