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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 52   Number 4 Fall 2019

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). 

These fan activist groups are only a few of the organizations that use fandoms to create political engagement, promote activism, and bring awareness to social justice issues. The mission statement of SCRA is about promoting research and social action while empowering communities and their members (scra27.org, 2019). The goals of fan activism align with community psychology goals and SCRA’s mission statement. Fan activism is a new area of research that should be studied through the community psychology lens as it can help further the mission of community psychology itself. 

Please feel free to email me regarding this new topic idea for community psychology research at jenniferafletcher95@gmail.com.

 

References

Brough, M. M., & Shresthova, S. (2012). Fandom meets activism: Rethinking civic and political participation. Transformative Works and Cultures, 10. doi: 10.3983/twc.2012.0303

Hellekson, K. (2018). The fan experience. In P. Booth (Eds), A Companion to Media Fandom 

and Fan Studies (pp. 65-77). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

Racebending Movement. (2019). Retrieved August 5, 2019, from http://www.racebending.com/v4/about/

The Harry Potter Alliance. (2015). Retrieved November 7, 2018, from https://www.thehpalliance.org/

The Nerdfighters. (2019). Retrieved August 5, 2019, from https://nerdfighteria.com/

Online Educational Resources: Our Journey to Becoming Agents of Change

Written by Jack F. O’Brien, Kaitlyn N. Ramian, Olya Glantsman, and Leonard Jason, DePaul University

The Journey

One barrier to pursuing higher education, as well as to raising awareness and growing the field of Community Psychology, is the exponentially increasing cost of textbooks. High quality online educational resources (OERs) are just one way to decrease the financial burden on students while also increasing awareness of and accessibility to the field by giving away pertinent knowledge to a wide range of audiences. The movement toward online educational resources is positively transforming the traditional classroom. Some of the benefits to students and instructors include free and easy access to information and the ability to continuously update the information in the text. This movement may also very well help the field of Community Psychology as it allows for greater dissemination of the Community Psychology-related information. 

Two years following the grassroots crowdsourcing and solicitation process, the team ended up growing to over 50 authors and created 19 chapters that cover a wide variety of topics. Introduction to the Field of Community Psychology: Becoming an Agent of Change provides readers with an overview of the field, the methods and theories, frameworks for understanding communities, intervention and prevention strategies used by community psychologists, tools for creating change on multiple levels, and guidance on the various paths one can take as a community psychologist. In addition, there are chapter lecture slides and quizzes to assist students in learning, as well as for instructors to use in the classroom. 

Since we did not have the traditional waiting time that a publisher requires for processing, we were able to pilot the textbook with two undergraduate classes at DePaul University in the Spring of 2019. The invaluable feedback from the students allowed us to create improvements to the book’s content (e.g., adding titles to the case studies and alternating embedded videos with links to outside video sources) and format while still amidst the publication process. It was our goal to ensure that the textbook would be enjoyable for students, and to educate them on the field in a way that was easy to engage with and understand. Because this is a free open-access resource we believe that anyone can start becoming an agent of change today with a simple click of a link

Biennial Conference Reception

The free, open-access Introduction to Community Psychology online textbook was publicly released on a rolling basis. After the nine month process of computer coding, editing, formatting, and revising, this team of over 50 individuals was elated to be able to unveil this completely free resource with the public at our very own Biennial Conference in June of 2019. We could not have asked for a better reception at National Louis in Chicago, Illinois. 

During the many sessions that directly and indirectly centered around this textbook, we received many positive reviews, as well as encouragement from the members of the field. These sessions also prompted important discussions on themes such as inclusion and sustainability. Several individuals asked us to translate the book into other languages. A significant number of faculty and graduate students expressed interest in implementing this textbook in their upcoming courses. This response prompted much urgency to finalize the associated supplemental materials (i.e., PowerPoint Presentations and test banks). With help from the Vincentian Endowment Fund, we were able to create business cards and flyers which served to be beneficial promoting technique. However the session, unveiling the textbook itself, was a litmus test for the future use of the textbook, which appears to be very bright. 

 Following the conference, our team was successful in getting this innovative resource adopted by several credible open access educational resource repositories, such as MERLOTBCcampus, and OER Commons. We are also happy to report that this textbook was linked within the Community Toolbox, and that our fellow SCRA members wrote a review of this book for the Community Psychologist. Rachel Storace mentioned that she posted information about our textbook on social media, and within a day, theFacebook post reached 1,157 people, was shared by 20, and was opened by 59 people. On Twitter, it reached 184 people. It was clear the information shared in the Windy City spread far and fast to others in our field and beyond it. 

American Psychological Association Convention Reception

The symposium “The Future of Higher Education: An Exploration of Online Educational Resources” further assisted our pursuit to increase awareness of the importance of these types of resources and the visibility of our field. It was our intent to provide audience members with the historical background of the OER movement, advantages, methods to overcome potential shortfalls, as well as the avenue in which our team paved in order to achieve our current product. 

This presentation attracted a wide array of professionals both from and outside of the field, including instructors, past-presidents of professional societies, and directors of programs.   Many of the attendants, including one director of a Nursing program, came because they realize the new direction for education and want their program to use OERs. Topics around copyright laws brought meaningful discussion around the values of Community Psychology and the visibility of our field. At the conclusion of our time, we were proud to share a review of this textbook from an influential Community Psychology educator and an important contributor to the field’s development:

“The authors and editors of this free online text make full use of the internet communication capabilities. This text brings together diverse and disparate perspectives, weaving together writers who might not otherwise have the opportunity to work together. This is a community product drawing on expert researchers and practitioners who have expertise in their topics. The chapter authors reads like a ‘who’s who’ in the field. The authors are recognizable  among the experienced and among the newer contributors to community psychology. These partnerships make for a grounded but ‘cutting edge’ quality to the topics covered.  

The process and the format for the text assume currency of content and the possibility of frequent updating. The time lag between writing and final text can be long. These online chapters have the advantage of a shorter delay between creation and ‘publication.’ In turn, readers on the internet have come to expect immediacy to what they read. This in itself makes the text appealing.  

The cost of the text also makes for increased appeal. Free is a great price for 

students. This actualizes the Seymour Sarason’s ambition for giving away community psychology expertise… This free online text has demonstrated what is possible.”

Next steps

Following the convention, we received notification from multiple of our platforms showing an uptick of reads. Researchgate is just one of many repositories that track usage data and it currently shows 287 reads! And it is being used beyond the U.S., with readers from Chile, Zimbabwe, Peru, and Australia. In addition, there is now a total of 25 instructors adopting the textbook this academic year, and we are sure that many more are using it outside of academia. In the past few weeks we have begun working with the NOBA Project on adapting the introductory first chapter of the textbook into a module. Our module would join the NOBA project’s extensive library of psychology-specific educational materials as the first Community Psychology specific text. One other exciting note, there are three teams from both the United States and abroad who are currently working on translating the first chapter into Spanish, Arabic, and French. 

We are also in communication with instructors who are using the textbook this Autumn and later in the academic year. The supplemental quizzes and lecture slides have been emailed to professors for use in the classroom, and we have fielded questions regarding student and instructor usage. We want the textbook adoption process to be as collaborative and educator-friendly as possible while keeping the channels of communication open. To that end, please email us at openaccesscptextbook@gmail.com if you or someone you know are interested in learning more about the online textbook.

What started as a small seed of an idea grew as we learned more about the process, and with the help of our stellar contributors along the way. One of our authors shared that she thought the textbook has “... given rise to small seeds that collectively have produced a huge harvest that will feed the minds and hearts of those we are all working daily to impact. I'm encouraged to be part of this work that I believe are ushering in social change!” (Geri Palmer, Personal Communication). It is our hope that students whose instructors are using the textbook will have one less expense to worry about, and a new era of community psychologists can start becoming agents of change. The textbook has been published, but the true adventure is just beginning. Jim Kelly has urged us to be adventuresome, and this text is a true testament to his call.