The Community Psychologist

A Publication of the Society for Community Research and Action
Division 27 of the American Psychological Association

Volume 52 Number 4 Fall 2019

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Dear friends and colleagues:  I am so pleased to assume the presidency of SCRA, an organization that I have always considered as my professional home, and whose social justice and diversity-focused values have consistently framed my own career and everyday work. And, it was so wonderful to attend the SCRA biennial, which was hosted by National Louis University in Chicago, IL. This was an extremely well-attended biennial, and the busy sessions demonstrated the excitement and enthusiasm for sharing our work with each other. In attending the sessions, it seemed like there were many key ideas that were consistently presented and discussed in the sessions, including the importance of affirming our identities as community psychologists and community practitioners, the need to re-affirm our social justice values and integrate a social justice perspective into our work, and the need for diverse voices and ideas to become better integrated into the community psychology field and in SCRA itself.  

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From the Editors  

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Susan M. Wolfe, Susan Wolfe and Associates, susan@susanwolfeandassociates.com and Dominique Thomas, University of Michigan, tdominiq@umich.edu

We would like to start off by thanking everyone submitted an article for this issue of The Community Psychologist. We would especially like to thank those who graciously decided to talk about their experiences at the 2019 SCRA Biennial at National Louis University in Chicago, IL. Members shared their reflections and presentations. We are sharing six articles from scholars who attended the biennial in June. Following the biennial there have been numerous discussions about the role of SCRA specifically and community psychology in efforts toward social change. These efforts must take place internally and externally; a common thread across the discussions is the alignment of community psychology values with community psychology praxis. We are always welcoming of such conversations taking place through this publication as well.

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Special Feature

Edited by Susan M. Wolfe

The 2019 SCRA Biennial was held in June at National Louis University in Chicago, IL. We asked members to share their experiences, reflections, or presentations in TCP. Six SCRA members responded to our call, and their submissions are presented here.

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The Community Practitioner

Edited by Oyla Glantsman, Depaul University

Update on Community Psychology Practice Council

Written by Ramy Barhouche, M.A.

Since forming over twenty years ago, the Community Psychology Practice Council (CPPC) has been committed to furthering the visibility and impact of Community Psychology practice. The CPPC also continues to make important contributions to the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) while providing a shared space for community practitioners. At this year's Society for Community Research and Action Biennial, in Chicago, the Council members met to review current initiatives in light of our mission and to develop a ‘Strategic Action Plan’ to help recruit, advocate for, and better support fellow practitioners and applied researchers. Meeting attendees also participated in a SWOT analysis to help the CPPC leadership assess the council’s areas of strengths as well as identify areas in need of improvement to ensure that the council’s members feel supported. We are highlighting current initiatives below:

Criminal Justice Interest Group

Edited by Kristy Shockley, University of Massachusetts Lowell 

The Criminal Justice Interest Group Column features the work and ideas of our members. We encourage readers to reach out to the authors if they are interested in learning more or exploring potential opportunities for collaboration. We also invite readers to join one of our upcoming Learning Community Series presentations in which Criminal Justice Interest Group members share their work virtually to foster a learning community. More information, and recording of prior presentations, can be viewed at https://scra27.org/who-we-are/interest-groups/criminal-justice-interest-group/


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The Education Connection

Community Psychology Education: Clarifying our Vision

Written by Simon Coulombe, Wilfrid Laurier University and Mason Haber, Harvard Medical School

Since its establishment as a field and emergence of models of community psychology training from multiple perspectives including approaches to academic training (e.g., Iscoe, Bloom, & Spielberger, 1977) and training and support of practice (Meissen, Hazel, Berkowitz, & Wolfe, 2007), community psychology (CP) education has firmly established its role in training psychologists to address issues related to social justice and community well-being. CP educational opportunities include undergraduate and graduate training programs and other types of professional training opportunities such as workshops, professional conferences, and online training opportunities for beginning and later career professionals around the world.  Unfortunately, many programs and educators in community psychology face significant challenges in sustaining and continuing to develop and refine this important work. For example, recent findings published in The Community Psychologist from a survey by the SCRA Council on Education (COE; Haber et al., 2017, 2018) show that only a minority of community psychology programs are rating themselves as excelling, and many face significant challenges.


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Engaging Communities in a Culture of Sustainability

Written by Julie Pellman, New York City College of Technology

Climate change is a threat to our ecosystem, humanity, and the biodiversity of the planet. The impact of climate change is far reaching: the loss of sea ice and rises in sea level, extreme weather, food and water shortages, droughts and famine, increased incidence of infectious diseases and other health concerns, changes in animal and plant habitats, loss of biodiversity, lower crop yields, and psychosocial effects of displacement and forced migration on individuals and communities (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018). Climate disruption is an area of great concern that community psychologists should become significantly more involved in (Riemer & Reich, 2011). There is a need to create social structures that support pro-environmental norms and values and that empower ordinary citizens with tools that will enable them to become involved in action for the environment. 


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Community Psychology’s Next Wave: Introducing the Committee on Gender and Justice

Written by Susie Paterson, Collaborators Consulting Group and Dominique Lyew, Vanderbilt University

The Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) has gone through many changes in relation to issues of women and gender. In the early years of SCRA, little attention was given to women’s and feminist issues, and most of the division’s leadership was white and male. For the first five years of its existence, no women served on the Executive Committee, and it wasn’t until 1979 that a woman served as Associate Editor for the flagship journal. The Committee on Women was only established as a Standing Committee in 1986, twenty years after SCRA was officially formed (Bond & Mulvey, 2000). Many women within community psychology fought for decades to establish a feminist presence within the field. Today, women make up the majority of the Executive Committee and for the first time, we have a woman editor of the American Journal of Community Psychology. While visibility was central to early feminist community psychologists’ work, we no longer contend with a lack of women in leadership.


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Interested in LGBT issues? Check out the SCRA LGBT Interest Group

Mary T. Guerrant, PhD, State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill, Guerramt@cobleskill.edu

Are you interested in hearing more about LGBT issues or ongoing projects, resources, and opportunities? The SCRA LGBT Interest Group was formed to increase awareness of the need for community research and action related to issues that impact LGBT people; and serve as a mechanism for communication, collaboration, and support among community psychologists who are either interested in research/service/policy related to LGBT people and communities, and/or who identify as LGBT. We recently hosted a session at the APA Convention in August and the SCRA Biennial Conference and are currently developing a series of resources related to LGBT issues in teaching, practice, and research. Email jeanhill@scra27.org to join our listserv and stay up-to-date on these and other happenings with the group. 

Looking for a way to be more involved with the group? We are currently looking for someone interested in stepping onto the committee as chair – no prior experience with the group is required, just an interest in LGBT issues and a willingness to lead the group. Graduate students and early career psychologists are especially encouraged to considering serving in the role.  Additional open leadership positions will be shared through the listserv as they become available. Responsibilities include monthly meetings and a willingness to support LGBTQ research and advocacy. If you have questions about the chair role or are interested in serving, email Corey Flanders at cflander@mtholyoke.edu. Meet some of our current group leaders and read more about their diverse interests and expertise below.


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Living Community Psychology

Written by Gloria Levin, Glorialevin@verizon.net

“Living Community Psychology” highlights a community psychologist through an in-depth interview that is intended to depict both personal and professional aspects of the featured individual. The intent is to personalize Community Psychology as it is lived by its diverse practitioners. Prior columns are available online at http://www.scra27.org/publications/tcp/tcp-past-issues These past columns contain a wealth of life advice gleaned from over 60 profiled community psychologists, from graduate students to retirees, representing an invaluable resource for community psychologists.

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Hate Crimes, Gun Violence, and Extremism: The Role of Community Intervention and Positive Intergroup Contact

Written by August Hoffman, Metropolitan State University

It just doesn’t seem to ever end. Mass shootings, violence and conflict have become recurrent and consistent themes within our society and media today that are splashed everywhere. Earlier in the year (March 15, 2019) over 49 people were murdered in Christchurch, New Zealand by several extremists harboring anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views. During these attacks the perpetrators even had the audacity to film their crimes and livestream them as they occurred. Within the United States, back to back mass shootings occurred on August 3 and August 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. While the motivation behind these crimes may vary, they typically involve a direct hatred that is projected at immigrant populations combined with an immense fear of an unknown and precarious future. More importantly, recent reports that examine the motivating factors among perpetrators of hate crimes and ethnic violence cite a lack of individual meaning or purpose within their own community. Many alienated individuals (i.e., the “Lone Wolf”) keep journals or manifestos that meticulously describe their hatred for others. For example, the August 4, 2019 El Paso shooter wrote shortly before his shooting spree: “My whole life I have been preparing for a future that . . . does not exist” (Star Tribune, August 6, 2019). 


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Regional Network News

Edited by Christina Smith, University of Chicago and National Louis University – Regional Network Coordinator

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Research Council

Edited by Chris Keys, DePaul University

SCRA Research Council Selects the Second Scholar Cohort

Written by Chris Keys, DePaul University

The SCRA Research Council has been focused both on recruiting, reviewing, and selecting the second cohort of SCRA Research Scholars and on taking part in the SCRA Biennial in ways that promote the research capacity of SCRA and our members. By way of background, the SCRA Research Council was founded in 2017 and decided a good way to begin supporting community research would be to help untenured community psychology faculty enhance their research programs and become tenured. Such scholars may become tenured faculty, contribute to community research literature, and mentor future scholars for decades to come. In winter 2019 the SCRA Executive Committee (EC) committed $5,000 to support two Scholars, a 50% cut compared to 2018 as part of the Society’s financial cutbacks. In addition to modest financial support for two Scholars, all Research Scholars receive mentoring assistance from one or more accomplished senior researcher(s) in community psychology.  The Research Council is delighted to announce the outcome of the 2019 cycle of Research Scholar applications and their review. Council members carefully considered the large number of talented applicants who submitted their materials this spring. Then the Council selected five very promising assistant professors in community psychology graduate programs or programs including community psychology that are featured in this column to be in the second cohort of SCRA Research Scholars.

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Self-Help and Mutual Support Interest Group

Edited by Thomasina Borkman, George Mason University and Ronald Harvey, American University in Bulgaria

GREETINGS AND INTRODUCTION FROM THE NEW CHAIR

Written by Ronald Harvey, American University in Bulgaria

I am happy and honored to accept the chair duties of the Self-help and Mutual Support interest group.  Tehseen Noorani has been instrumental in keeping the group alive and well over the past two years. I want to thank him for his service. I also wish to thank the members of the group for your continued interest and participation!

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Student Issues

Edited by Joy Agner, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and Erin Godly-Reynolds, University of North Carolina Charlotte

This column presents a message to student members from the incoming and outgoing student representatives.

From our Members

Edited by Susan M. Wolfe, Susan Wolfe and Associates

Fan Activism and Community Psychology

Written by Jennifer Fletcher, Concordia University  

As the area of community psychology expands so does the need for different areas of research and interest in the field. Fan activism is a new area of interest that looks at how organized communities of fans come together to take action in promoting diversity, education and other focal community psychology topics. Fan activism is defined as groups of fans fighting to see a change in the world using their popular culture topic (Brough & Shresthova, 2012). These groups of fans are known as fandoms (Hellekson, 2018) and have been found to be socially and politically active (Brough & Shresthova, 2012). The largest fan activism movements are the Harry Potter Alliance, which focuses on promoting education and equality through the stories of Harry Potter (thehpalliance.org/what_we_do, 2015) and The Racebending Movement which was formed over the live action The Last Airbender movie when the producers white-washed the cast. The group continues to push for diversity in Hollywood movies (racebending.com, 2019). Nerdfighters is another group that is fighting against inequality while taking action for diversity (nerdfighteria.com, 2019). 

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Book Review

A Book Review of Introduction to Community Psychology: Becoming an Agent of Change, Edited by Jason, Glantsman, O'Brien, and Ramian

Written by John P. Barile and Anna S. Pruitt, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa   

We are pleased to review the first Open Access (Creative Commons Attribution) community psychology textbook, Introduction to Community Psychology: Becoming an Agent of Change, edited by Leonard Jason, Olya Glantsman, Jack O’Brien and Kaitlyn Ramian. An Open Access textbook for undergraduate students is strongly aligned with the core principles and values of our field. Accessible directly through an internet browser and available as a download, such a text removes cost barriers and facilitates wide distribution to a diverse audience. In line with its goal to increase access to knowledge resources, this textbook’s overarching theme is the equitable distribution of resources as necessary for addressing social problems that affect communities and individuals. Overall, the book meets its proposed goal to provide students with the tools and theories necessary to examine and address social problems.

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SCRA Announcements

Edited by Susan M. Wolfe       

A New SCRA Student Initiative

It is important to highlight a new SCRA student initiative regarding free memberships. This initiative is not limited to SCRA student members in the Midwest but is available to all students. 

In a recent SCRA Listserv message, Brad Olsen shared the information below.

In an effort to be more supportive of undergraduate students, and encourage more of them getting connected to community psychology, I am sharing news here about an exciting new initiative. SCRA has created a membership category of Student Associate.

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