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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 51   Number 4 Fall 2018

Research Council

Written by Chris Keys, DePaul University

Building a Structure for Research in SCRA: Launching the SCRA Research Fellows Program

As SCRA became involved with strategic planning following the 2015 Biennial hosted by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the SCRA Executive Committee realized that research was not a central part of the plan. Yet research is part of the air we breathe in SCRA. One of our central principles is scientific grounding for our work. Among other things, we create knowledge. Knowledge and understanding are fundamental to what we do and how we make progress as a field. Further, for our field to be sustainable, we must have active researchers in academic positions who can educate and mentor future generations of community psychologists. AJCP, TCP, Biennial, mini-grants, awards and other SCRA activities are devoted to and/or include specific forms of research in one way or other as an important part of their focus. Yet somewhat surprisingly, we have no complementary structure within SCRA that is broadly committed to research in its many manifestations and researchers in their various activities and career stages. Sustaining and enhancing our knowledge base is central to the mission of SCRA. With these thoughts in mind, in 2016 led by Jack Tebes and Dina Birman, the Executive Committee asked that science be added to the strategy for the Society’s future growth. Jack Tebes, Dina Birman and Chris Keys agreed to develop plans for structuring research more explicitly into SCRA as an organization and came up with the idea of a SCRA Research Council as the vehicle for doing so.

The SCRA Executive Committee formally created the Research Council at its midwinter meeting in 2017. The Council will seek to support and enhance the evolution of a strong scientific base for community psychology. It will aim to facilitate the development of community psychology researchers in a variety of ways through mentoring, grants, networking and professional development activities. It will parallel the vision of other SCRA Councils that seek to focus attention on other dimensions central to community psychology such as education, cultural racial and ethnic affairs, and practice. It will include a broad cross section of SCRA members interested in science- senior, mid-career and junior faculty and students. It will interact with other SCRA groups with shared research interests. Chris Keys was asked to serve as Chair. The planning trio invited a diverse group of inaugural committee members to join them on the Research Council including Fabricio Balcazar, Lauren Cattaneo, Andrew Case, and Noelle Hurd. Jean Hill as Executive Director of SCRA and Nicole Allen as Editor of AJCP are ex-officio members.

The initial effort proposed by the SCRA Research Council is the creation of the SCRA Research Fellows Program. The SCRA Executive Committee affirmed the Research Fellows Program in principle and funded the first year at its 2018 Midwinter Meeting and in its July meeting approved many particulars of the program. Previously, during its first meeting at the Ottawa Biennial, the SCRA Research Council had brainstormed ideas for projects. After some discussion the idea of promoting the success of community psychologists on the tenure-track or in research faculty positions with good access to the tenure track in graduate programs in community psychology seemed like an excellent initial focus. Successful junior faculty in graduate programs in community psychology often become tenured professors for the remainder of their careers. Helping community psychology scholars be successful at this critical early stage can help them have a base from which to contribute to the scientific literature in community psychology for decades. The changing academic landscape has some community psychology programs being founded, some growing and others disappearing. In this context it seems particularly important to support the development of a new generation of community psychology researchers to build on our first 50 years of successful advancement as a scientific field and as an academic discipline.

The SCRA Fellows Program is dedicated to the successful development of the next generation of community psychology scientists. SCRA members who are untenured faculty on the tenure-track or research faculty who if successful will have access to the tenure track in community psychology graduate programs or in graduate programs that include community psychology are welcome to apply for a SCRA Research Fellowship. Currently, two fellowships for between one and two years in length are planned to begin in 2019. Each is expected to include funding of up to $5,000 for research expenses and mentoring by a senior community psychological scientist with complementary research interests and/or extensive research experience. Mentors may provide insights and support for developing research programs, preparing for the promotion and tenure process, and offer career guidance. For more information the program announcement and application form are at the research section of the SCRA website at https://scra27.org/what-we-do/research/.

 

EDITORS’ NOTE: For questions or comments, you can reach Chris Keys at ckeys@depaul.edu.