Friday, January 26, 2018

A Scholar, But Not a Professor

In his piece “A Scholar, But Not a Professor,” Michel R. Wing shares his journey as a scholar who has officially left the academe, yet has lead a fulfilled life, full of scientific discovery and exploration. He also provides some concrete advice to those who might be interested in following in his career direction. For the full article, follow this link to the chronicleviate's blog.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Practice of Community Psychology Theory-Building

By Nicole Freund, 
Ph.D. candidate at Wichita State University

     The mutual regard of practice and theory in community psychology is kind of like having dinner with co-workers or clients. There’s general amicability and some measure of respect, but the awkwardness never quite leaves the room. You can tell a joke, but not THAT joke. You can be friendly but not too familiar. The tension in the room encompasses both acknowledgement and the guilt of unrealized obligations.

     Practice relies heavily on the internalization by practitioners of theories learned through rigorous academic education and/or experience, but the building of theory and the rigor of the theory itself to withstand the buffeting winds of research may not be on the priority list for a day’s work.

     Luckily for practitioners and academics alike, there is a conversation occurring right now about the robustness of community psychology theory, the degree to which that robustness is important in practice, and the responsibility of community psychologists to contribute to current and new CP theory. Led by Dr. Leonard Jason (DePaul University) and his colleagues, this conversation needs many voices to shape the future of how community psychology is practiced and taught. Are the theories we hold dear actually theories? What does that mean? Does something that doesn’t qualify as a “theory” per se make the work based on that idea less valid? What happens to logic modeling if the logic is not what we thought? These are the questions tackled and published in the current issue of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice and the questions that need the voices of practitioners in order to navigate the future of CP.

     The world needs its community psychologists now more than ever. How does the field make its way forward? The conversation may not have a conclusive end, but it must have a vigorous beginning. Join it now!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Don't miss the next Peer Consultation Call and the Ten Places Where Collective Impact Gets It Wrong

This Friday, May 6th, we will have our monthly Community Psychology Practice Council Peer Consultation Call, @ 2 p.m. EST, 1 p.m. CST, for a unique space to support each other in our community work, an informal chance to share our work with colleagues and request help and ideas regarding your work. Students, recent graduates and seasoned professionals are all welcome to attend these calls. If you are interested in joining us on a call, please contact

Also, if you haven't read it, take a look at Ten Places Where Collective Impact Gets It Wrong, a great reflection from Dr. Tom Wolff about the side effects in Collective Impact approaches, shared in the Global Journal for Community Psychology Practice.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

There’s a price to be paid

by Nicole Freund
Doctoral student at Wichita State University

So sayeth Dr. Marc Edwards, someone known for challenging systems in the interest of helping communities in crisis. Most recently, Dr. Edwards has been recognized for blowing the whistle on the water infrastructure failure in Flint, MI. The Community Psychology Practice Blog is sharing an interview Dr. Edwards gave regarding both Flint as well as the important role of science in protecting people and communities.

While Edwards has degrees in biophysics and engineering, he endorses many values that correspond to the practice of community psychology. Identifying as a scientist generally, he notes in the interview shared here, “Science should be about pursuing the truth and helping people. If you’re doing it for any other reason, you really ought to question your motives.” The discipline of community psychology espouses this very concept, and, as many practitioners know all too well, the path to public good can be . . . bumpy. Dr. Edwards argues that this path is made even more dangerous by the ways academia incentivizes its faculty to refrain from dissention when funders (especially governmental funders) might be called into question. The desire to fund good work can sometimes overshadow the warning that something is wrong, especially when those funding relationships might evaporate with one disagreement or media interview.

Everything in life has a price: emotional, financial, temporal. How does this value of give and take get reflected in our science? Do our motivations mirror the intention to do good despite the funding trap that leads to silence when warnings should be shouted? Dr. Edwards argues that “the systems built to support scientists do not reward moral courage and that the university pipeline contains toxins of its own — which, if ignored, will corrode public faith in science.” That corrosion can be seen in a wide range of domains from the environment, to education, to homelessness, to substance abuse treatment. Historical abuse of vulnerable populations and communities of color continue and compound distrust as more and more scientists are silenced in the name of expediency. How do we fund good programs and the scientific evaluations of those programs without losing our way when unanticipated results may not be favorable?

Interview in full here:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Latest issue of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice

We are pleased to share with you the latest issue of the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice.

A key set of community psychology practice competencies directly or indirectly relate to policy. If community psychology sets our goals to create systemic community change then policy change is a critical and often under-reported component of our work. In this special issue we are fortunate to read about diverse efforts from across the globe related to policy. I want to thank the special issue editors (Douglas D. Perkins, Manuel García-Ramírez, Isabel Menezes, Irma Serrano-García, and Melissa Strompolis (USA, Spain, Portugal, Puerto Rico), contributors, and reviewers for assembling a thoughtful international collection of articles highlighting the experiences and insights from community psychologists focusing on policy. This is an especially rich collection of writings. There is much to learn from these articles and also suggest additional attention to this topic.

In addition, in a previous GJCPP issue I mentioned that I was interested in GJCPP helping make connections on issues, ideas, and topics. I’m happy to say we have a provocative launch to our opinion pieces in attempt to create conversation and connections with our readers. Tom Wolff has provided a Guest Editorial entitled: Ten Places Where Collective Impact Gets It Wrong. While the views in it do not necessarily represent the views of GJCPP, I do hope it will  spur an active conversation on the topic. We’ve provided several mechanisms where comments, counterpoints, examples/experiences, etc can be shared related to Collective Impact via GJCPP.  You can comment directly under the article, email, or comment on this post on our Facebook page. I’d encourage you and your colleagues to join the conversation.

We will learn from this attempt to create conversation and connection so that future issues of GJCPP can do even more.

Please enjoy this special issue:

Take care,

Scott Wituk
Editor, Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice
Executive Director
Community Engagement Institute
Wichita State University

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It Takes a Village: Project Planning for Two-Generation Services in an Underserved South Carolina Community

THEory into ACTion

A Bulletin of New Developments in Community Psychology Practice
February, 2016

Amanda M. McDougald Scott, MS
Nicholtown Child and Family Collaborative Project Coordinator,
PhD Student at Clemson University, Institute for Family and Neighborhood Life

      The Nicholtown Child and Family Collaborative project aims to create a community-based, two-generation community center in a high-needs area of Greenville, South Carolina, known as Nicholtown. This paper provides an outline of the steps taken to achieve progress towards this purpose, as well as recommendations and lessons learned for others who wish to execute similar projects.

Overview of Nicholtown Child and Family Collaborative (NCFC) Purpose
NCFC was established to provide services for the children and families of Nicholtown to improve child outcomes; provide parent training, education, and employment; and build lasting community infrastructure (1, 2). The project will include a two-generation model, a standard that has been used by Head Start and other welfare reform programs since the 1980s and 1990s (3-5). It has been noted that two-generation programs share 3 important features: 1) a developmentally appropriate early childhood program, 2) a parenting education component, and 3) an adult education, literacy, or job skills and training component (6).

Methods and Procedure
Why Nicholtown?
            The City of Greenville laid out a Neighborhood Plan in 2011, which included a Master Plan for Nicholtown, an urban neighborhood encompassing 390 acres in the heart of Greenville (7). The Master Plan for Nicholtown was an indicator of long-standing interest in revitalizing the historic neighborhood. Nicholtown community members had been pleased with the housing progress in their neighborhood, but were disgruntled by the inattention to their children and community. They wanted a school and community center that would provide resources for their children and families. Therefore, after demolition and reconstruction of low-income housing had been completed (the first step of the Master Plan), the next step was to provide for the children and families of Nicholtown.

Setting up the Collaborative          

Identification and recruitment of stakeholders. Chandra Dillard, a South Carolina State Representative, began work on assembling the Collaborative in 2012, shortly after the first housing revitalization steps of the Nicholtown Master Plan were complete. She heard the needs of her community, and first sought to rectify the situation by approaching the executive director of SHARE/Head Start in Greenville County. SHARE/Head Start was the first contact due to the fact that the housing phase of the Master Plan had inadvertently eradicated and not relocated the former location of Head Start in Nicholtown. Head Start was in favor of building a new early learning facility for its return to Nicholtown, and advised the Nicholtown Representatives to start a collaborative of professionals who could properly research and fundraise for this effort.
The next step was to approach organizations with vested interests in children, families, communities, and education. Greenville community leaders with success in projects like NCFC’s, people who could guide best practices and outcomes, and Nicholtown community members and leadership were invited to join the NCFC. Current stakeholders include local healthcare providers; community finance leadership; local, city, state and federal organizations with interest in children and families; elected officials (community, city, state); attorneys; Nicholtown community members; local universities; the Nicholtown Neighborhood Association; Nicholtown community centers; marketing professionals; and construction professionals. The most recent estimated number of NCFC members (as of January 2016) was 36, including the Project Coordinator and Collaborative Chair.

Collaborative’s first steps. May 2014, a consultant was hired to begin work on a sustainable strategy for moving forward with the NCFC Project. Once the assessment of Nicholtown and the Greenville community was complete, a final presentation was given to the Nicholtown Early Learning Collaborative and its Stakeholders. Several useful documents were generated to guide progress, including the “Nicholtown Early Learning Collaborative (now NCFC) Recommendations” (1).
            Recommendations were soon acted upon following the consultant’s final analysis for NCFC progress, including organization and structure; volunteer committees to address different aspects of the work; and hiring a project coordinator. The project coordinator
·         assessed materials provided by the United Way of Greenville.
·         worked towards gathering data and tools used by the consultant and other research/analyst and nonprofit entities to understand the work that had been previously done, and determine the best way forward in executing the NCFC recommendations and plan.
·         met with the consultants to receive data, learn more about the methods and process for data collection, and hear feedback about the project and its direction.
·         met with Collaborative members, Chairs of each existing committee, as well as “priority” people involved with the Collaborative.
·         met with Head Start leadership, as this was clearly a direction that the NCFC recommendations and key Collaborative members were in agreement that the NCFC project should go.
·         placed high priority on forming strong relationships with leadership at the recommended site for NCFC programs and progress.
·         sought relationships with other non-profits working in the neighborhood to understand what other services were being provided (or not) in the area.
·         began attending monthly Nicholtown Neighborhood Association meetings to boost face recognition and relationships with the Nicholtown residents and community.
·         referred back to the recommendations provided by the consultant, as well as the data from the community (1) to explore potential partners missing from the NCFC. High priority was placed on finding resources that could be placed in Nicholtown to serve both the community and NCFC goals for no cost to NCFC.  
Community Engagement Events
A community engagement event was held in late 2015; at least 33 adults and 25 children from the Nicholtown community attended and participated. NCFC leadership shared progress and gathered feedback on the project, as a result of the survey data that was collected from them. The purpose of this event was to involve the Nicholtown community in the NCFC process as active participants in the project.

Implementing Existing Greenville Resources into Nicholtown
Leadership from a local healthcare system, NCFC, and leadership from the identified Nicholtown community empowerment site met to discuss potential partnerships. The Greenville Health System will provide a mobile clinic at least once a month that will be parked at the community hub. Furthermore, discussions between a service for young children who have special developmental needs, the NCFC, and the mobile clinic have initiated interest in bringing services to Nicholtown. Additionally, discussions with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) have indicated that there is interest in returning to Nicholtown to facilitate health needs for families and children.

Trips to Visit Similar Projects
The ultimate goal of the NCFC, supported by the Nicholtown Master Plan and the recommendations from the consultant (1, 8), is to create a two-generation community empowerment center. The community empowerment center will place heavy emphasis on early learning, but will also offer support to children and their families as children grow. Therefore, with these goals in mind, we decided to visit other successful projects both in the South Carolina Upstate and the Southeastern U.S. in order to learn from their achievements and pitfalls. Lessons learned from each visit were reported and discussed at NCFC meetings.

Findings and Lessons Learned      
Continuing the work and momentum generated thus far for the NCFC will require several factors, first and foremost being financial resources. It is difficult to do work on such a large scale without paid employees, and it is quite impressive that the NCFC has been able to come as far as it has with limited financial resources. This indicates that there is interest among stakeholders for this project to succeed; since this is a project that engages the Nicholtown community, there is also interest in the project’s success from the community perspective. In order to continue this trajectory, aside from financial resources, the thoughtful and deliberate recommendations set forth by the consultant should continue to be followed. Furthermore, Israel’s (9, 10) and Holden’s (11) guidelines for successful community engagement work should be followed. Below is a brief list of other findings and lessons learned:

Data Reviews
·      Reviews of the data collected by the consultant indicate that there is interest both within Nicholtown, and in the greater Greenville community in the NCFC project and its goals, including stakeholders who are already involved in NCFC, entities who would potentially provide financial support, and the Nicholtown community members/residents (1).
·         Each person comes to the project with her own agenda. This can make achieving the goals of the NCFC challenging at times, requiring strong leadership, communication, and negotiation. The group must be unified by the common goal of serving the children (and families) of Nicholtown.
·         Relationships with stakeholders must be fostered, and it is essential to keep them engaged in the project’s progress.
·         It is fundamentally important to assess current stakeholders in the NCFC project when considering a new aspect of work that must be done to further the NCFC goals. As a volunteer Collaborative with only one paid staff member, it is crucial to sustain and make use of the resources present within the Collaborative.
Review Goals
·         Continue to re-examine the recommendations set forth by the consultant to ensure that there are not gaps that could be filled by new stakeholders.
·         Each person involved in NCFC has a different skillset, and may be able to identify gaps that others may overlook.
Insights from other projects
·         Site visits were helpful in considering possible paths forward, ways to address challenges, team-building and fostering relationships within NCFC, self-discovery of assets and resources, and gaining concrete concepts of similar successful.

            The NCFC project is an ongoing project in the heart of Greenville, South Carolina, which is in the Upstate region of the state. Collaborative members and leadership have worked hard to make this an inclusive project that engages the community as it progresses. Much work remains to be done, but a mindful adherence to recommendations from consultants and community engagement frameworks will guide the project to successful, community-accepted completion.

1.         The Strategic Organization. Nicholtown Early Learning Task Force Recommendations. 2014 October 20, 2014. Report No.
2.         The Nicholtown Early Learning Taskforce Executive Committee. Notes on Vision and Mission for NELT. [Committee Meeting Notes]. In press 2015.
3.         Collins RC. Head Start: Steps toward a Two-Generation Program Strategy. Young Children. 1993;48(2).
4.         Duch H. Redefining parent involvement in Head Start: a two-generation approach. Early Child Development and Care. 2005;175(1):23-35.
5.         Chase-Lansdale PL, Brooks-Gunn J. Two-Generation Programs in the Twenty-First Century. The Future of Children. 2014;24(1):13-39.
6.         St. Pierre R, Layzer JI, Barnes HV. Regenerating two-generation programs: Abt Associates; 1996.
7.         City of Greenville. Neighborhood Plans 2011 [Available from:
8.         Urban Collage I, URS, Robert Charles Lesser & Co., & J. Peters & Assoc. Nicholtown Master Plan Final Report. 2004.
9.         Israel BA, Schulz, A. J., Parker, E. A., & Becker, A. B. Review of community-based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual Review of Public Health. 1998;19:173-202.
10.       Israel BA, Krieger J, Vlahov D, Ciske S, Foley M, Fortin P, et al. Challenges and facilitating factors in sustaining community-based participatory reserach partnerships: Lessons learned from the Detroit, New York City, and Seattle urban research centers. Journal of Urban Health. 2006;83(6):1022-40.
11.       Holden RJ, McDougald Scott AM, Hoonakker PL, Hundt AS, Carayon P. Data collection challenges in community settings: insights from two field studies of patients with chronic disease. Quality of Life Research. 2015;24(5):1043-55.

This is one of a series of bulletins highlighting the use of community psychology in practice. Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome. Please direct them to Tabitha Underwood at

Monday, November 30, 2015

SCRA Webinar # 5: Culture, Context, and Community Intervention

The SCRA online learning working group is excited to bring you another presentation in the SCRA webinar series, Dr. Edison Trickett!

Dr. Edison Trickett
Thursday, December 3, 2015 from 12-1PM (Eastern), 11-12noon (Central), 10AM (Mountain), 9AM (Pacific), 7AM (Hawaii-Aleutian)

Register at this link:

Culture, Context, and Community Intervention: An Ecological Perspective and Example 
This interactive webinar will provide an ecological perspective on the processes and goals of community intervention and exemplify the fundamental role of culture and context through an example from work conducted with Alaska Native villages around suicide prevention through cultural renewal. An opportunity will be given for webinar participants to offer comments or questions and speak directly with the presenter.

3 main learning objectives
1. Understand components of an ecological framework (not Bronfenbrenner).
2. How an ecological perspective differs from evidence-based practice.
3. Developing community resources as the primary community intervention goal.

Edison J. Trickett, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Dean’s Scholar at the University of Miami, School of Education. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the Ohio State University, was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, and held faculty positions at Yale University, the University of Maryland, and University of Illinois at Chicago before joining the faculty at the University of Miami. Throughout his career, his research has focused on the development of an ecological perspective within his field of community psychology for conducting community research and intervention. His writings have emphasized the role of culture, social context, and collaboration in conducting respectful community-based research and intervention. He has written extensively about community interventions designed to affect community development. In addition, during the past 20 years he has focused on the role of public schools in the acculturation and adaptation of immigrant and refugee adolescents and families. He has published over 150 books, book chapters, and scholarly papers, has served as President of Division 27 of the American Psychological Association, received its award for Distinguished Contribution to Theory and Research in Community Psychology, the Seymour Sarason award, and served as Editor of that field’s primary journal, The American Journal of Community Psychology.