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Kala Melchiori



From Our Incoming 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.
Our leadership offers resources and guidance for us as psychologists, scholars, and community members. SPSSI President Patrick Grazanka  highlights SPSSI’s upcoming conference and recently released Resource Guide on “Psychologists’ Response to the Violence in Gaza” and a Virtual Series Issue (VSI) on “Vicarious Conflict and the Ongoing Violence in Israel and Palestine” (“Coming Together”). Our Policy and Communications Director, Sam Abbott, shares insights about SPSSI’s role in political engagement and recent questions of academic freedom in light of widespread campus protests (“Politics and Scholarship Will Never be Mutually Exclusive”).

Many of our readers are interested in young adults’ political participation. Member Ben Blankenship shares practical ideas for encouraging students’ political participation with classroom strategies and welcomes more discussion on the topic on X (formerly Twitter) with the hashtag #SPSSIForwardVote (“From Apathy to Action: Using Psychology to Energize the Student Vote”). Sadia Malik, member of the Internationalization Committee, shares how the political climate in Pakistan has impacted political engagement, especially for young women (“Obstacles to Political Participation for Youth in Pakistan”).

Climate change continues to be an important policy priority for SPSSI. Member Sheri R. Levy discusses her recent work in Social Issues and Policy Review, tackling climate change as a “crisis multiplier” that necessitates a human rights-based approach to policy interventions (“Climate Injustices”). Elizabeth Zick also reports on a recent event hosted by the SPSSI UN Climate Team on gender-based violence and climate change (“SPSSI UN Climate team hosts a side event on Gender-Based Violence and Climate Change at the 2024 NGO Committee for the Status of Women forum”)

It is also critical to examine how we engage in political processes. VSI editor Roxanne Moadel-Attie takes a historical look at the U.S. Census and other forms of political participation (“Roots of American Democracy in Civic Duty and Political Participation”). Ebony Gabriel, member of the Graduate Student Committee, examines the history of voting rights (and suppression) and advocates for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (“The Accessibility of Voting”). Pierce Ekstorm discusses his recent research on how we interpret and respond to politician misconduct (“Accounts and Accountability in American Politics”).

This issue also includes updates from several of our committees, journal editors, and award recipients, including:
Linda Tropp, the recent recipient of the Kurt Lewin Award for outstanding contributions to the development and integration of psychological research and social action (“Kurt Lewin Awardee: Linda Tropp”)  
Harold Takooshian, looks back at 40 years of SPSSI-New York (“SPSSI-New York Regional Group: 40 years later”)
Martin Ruck, editor of the Journal of Social Issues, discusses the journal’s decision to include author positionality statements (“Journal of Social Issues: Rationale for Adding Positionality to Author Biographies”)
Our SPSSI conference co-chairs, Sarah Hermann and Germine “Gigi” Awad, discus the upcoming SPSSI conference, including the policy and graduate student preconference workshops (“SPSSI Summer Conference 2024 Preview”)

I hope you find this issue as informative and inspiring as I did, and I hope to see you soon in Philadelphia!


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