Undergraduate Community Psychology Practice

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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 51 Number 2 
Spring 2018

Undergraduate Community Psychology Practice

Creating Space for Networking, Support, and Developing Undergraduate Community Psychology Pedagogy

Written by Lauren F. Lichty, Jen Wallin-Ruschman, & Eylin Palamaro-Munsell

A movement has grown within SCRA to attend to the practice of community psychology (CP) teaching, research, and action within primarily undergraduate institutions. While there is often discussion of the importance of increasing the visibility of CP in undergraduate education to support graduate programs in the field, less attention has been given to the pedagogical and research-related practices of those working with undergraduates. Over the past two years, several discussions have taken place over the SCRA listserv, at regional conferences, at the 2017 Biennial, and in the American Journal of Community Psychology about the need to develop a community of practice within the field that centers on undergraduate settings. These community psychologists explicitly named the need for a place to share best practices and dialogue on difficulties within undergraduate settings (e.g., Lichty & Palamaro-Munsell, 2017).

The Community Psychology Practice in Undergraduate Settings Interest Group was approved by SCRA in 2017. The dedicated undergraduate interest group convenes individuals who identify as undergraduate-focused practitioners in their teaching and/or research. We serve as a space to identify unique challenges and opportunities related to undergraduate CP work, make specific calls for training and support within SCRA and beyond, and build a network for resource sharing among those interested in developing CP teaching and learning as well as applied research with undergraduates.

We are building a community and developing strategies for sharing expertise and promoting scholarship of teaching and learning in primarily undergraduate settings. We hope to increase undergraduate students’ identification with community psychology and support meaningful work with undergraduate students; particularly supporting students working in the community directly after receiving their bachelor's degree. Additionally, we aspire to make space for the voices and experiences of undergraduate CP practitioners who may otherwise feel unheard within SCRA, where the experiences of our colleagues located at research-intensive universities typically get centered and prioritized.

Through a founding member survey, we learned interest group members come from diverse institutions, including community colleges, HBCU’s, small liberal arts colleges and large research-intensive universities. Moreover, our colleagues represent all different academic career stages (from student through full professor). We are excited by the diversity of individuals represented and interest in undergraduate CP practice. We look forward in working together as we consider the impact of undergraduate training beyond simply being a pipeline to graduate school.

Over the last year, the group promoted a special issue in the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice focused on undergraduate community psychology co-edited by Eylin Palamaro-Munsell and interest group co-chairs Lauren Lichty and Jen Wallin-Ruschman. We began informal networking and support through conference calls and listserv communication and launched a CP Speaker’s Bureau to support connections between undergraduate classrooms and CP practitioners around the globe. In the spring, we are excited to host our first webinar currently titled, Undergraduate Community Psychology Research and Mentoring with Maria Felix-Ortiz, Ashlee Lien, and Elizabeth Thomas. Stay tuned for more on this exciting opportunity to learn from the practice of other community psychologists. Please contact Jean Hill to be added to the Undergraduate CP Listserv.

References

Lichty, L. F., & Palamaro‐Munsell, E. (2017). Pursuing an ethical, socially just classroom: Searching for community psychology pedagogy. American journal of community psychology, 60(3-4), 316-326.