Join | Login

New SPSSI Documentary for Teaching and Research
Michaela Hynie, Susan Opotow

SPSSI’s website has a new feature! In the website section on videos, there is a new, 20-minute documentary launched at SPSSI’s 2010 meeting in New Orleans. It is a SPSSI-made video entitled The Road to Psychology-Community Partnerships: Collaborating on Social Issues for Social Change. At present it is featured on the lower left of SPSSI’s homepage. Here is background on the documentary:

In August 2009, SPSSI ‘s work spearheading a collaborative program for APA Convention in Toronto came to fruition.  This program, Psychology-Community Engagement: Partnering for Social Change, was a collaboration with 10 APA divisions and APA’s Office of Socioeconomic Status in the Public Interest Directorate. Twenty one programs were contributed by the divisions. In them, community members, practitioners, and scholars presented approaches to fostering psychology-community partnerships. These sessions highlighted the theory and practice of partnerships between psychologists and diverse and economically challenged communities working collaboratively to address pressing issues such as immigration, crime, public health and health care, education, mental health, LGBT health issues, racism, and youth engagement, to build stronger and more resilient communities (Boulos, Forward, Fall, 2009).

But what would an initiative on Psychology-Community partnerships be without the voices of the community? To round out this programmatic initiative, SPSSI Program Chair Michaela Hynie (York University) and SPSSI President Susan Opotow (John Jay College, City University of New York) sought to highlight local partnering initiatives as seen through the eyes of community partners. A SPSSI-led pre-conference field trip was born! On August 5th, psychologists from SPSSI and other APA divisions boarded a yellow school bus for a half-day visit, to two culturally diverse, economically challenged Toronto neighbourhoods. The trip was co-sponsored by APA’s Office of Socioeconomic Status in the Public Interest Directorate, the Wellesley Institute, and the TD York University Community Engagement Center (see “Reports from the Toronto APA Convention2009,” Forward, Fall 2009).

In each neighborhood, pre-conference participants visited a local center engaged in the support and/or promotion of community-based research. We heard presentations from representatives of local partnerships, who described their projects, their communities, and their goals. They spoke about the benefits and challenges of establishing and maintaining partnership between communities and psychologists. These partnerships ranged from mentorship initiatives for students and parents, and sexual health initiatives among teenagers, to researching the neighborhood impact of supportive housing for psychiatric survivors.  Most exciting, the presentations were primarily by community partners. It was an opportunity for psychologists to hear and learn from community members about their hopes, expectations, and needs in community-psychologist partnerships.

As our plans unfolded, the number of community partners grew. We began thinking about the wealth of experience and insight we were collecting, and the unique opportunity of hearing directly from the community.  How could we capture the words and experiences of pre-conference participants -- both presenters and attendees – to document their knowledge and experience and share them with others? With SPSSI’s support, we hired a film crew to document the half day pre-conference and prepare a 20-minute documentary that summarized it. We launched this documentary at SPSSI’s 2010 meeting in New Orleans.

The goal of this documentary and supporting material on the website is to provide insight and inspiration to those engaged in, or wanting to engage in, community partnerships. The documentary provides examples of a range of successful partnerships that could be explored in more depth. The website also contains links to additional resources, and will continue to evolve as we receive additional suggestions from SPSSI members. We anticipate the documentary and associated website to be used as teaching tools for undergraduate or graduate classes to introduce students to community based research. They can also be used by psychologists wishing to extend their work as well as by incipient psychology-community partnerships considering how to shape process, outcomes, roles, and relationships. We hope that SPSSI members find the documentary and the website useful.  We especially thank all pre-conference participants for their enthusiasm, suggestions, and insight.

To view the documentary, please visit the SPSSI website:

We welcome additional links and resources, including scholarly material, material for the general audience, and course syllabi or class sessions on community-based research. Please contact Michaela Hynie and Susan Opotow with your suggestions.

Previous Page                                   Contents Page                                  Next Page