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Partnering with Communities on Social Issues: Lessons from Toronto
By Susan Opotow, SPSSI Past President
Easy approaches to making our work relevant to communities are elusive, partly because there are few opportunities for researchers, practitioners, and communities to work together to define problems and discuss solutions. For our annual meeting in August in Toronto, SPSSI spearheaded a collaborative program, “Psychology-Community Engagement: Partnering for Social Change,” that highlighted the theory and practice of partnerships between psychologists and diverse and economically challenged communities. This initiative, led by SPSSI Program Chair Michaela Hynie (York University) and SPSSI President Susan Opotow (John Jay College, City University of New York) included 10 APA divisions and APA’s Office of Socioeconomic Status in the Public Interest Directorate.
A key part of this initiative was a pre-conference visit to two culturally diverse, economically challenged Toronto neighborhoods to showcase a number of local partnering initiatives, with an emphasis on community perspectives on partnership. A film crew accompanied us to create a short documentary that will be posted on SPSSI’s website early in 2010. The documentary is designed to inform the development of partnerships for professionals and community groups, and it will have educational value for graduate courses and professional workshops.
In response to an invitation to describe the visit, several participants wrote thoughtful accounts. In addition, reflections on the work and achievements of the community visits and the APA Convention as a whole are offered by Michelle Fine, Rebecca Boulos, and Sara McClelland in the section of this newsletter, Reports from the APA Convention 2009.
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