2013 Biennial Keynotes

Dr. Michelle Fine

fine.pngDr. Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology, Women's Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center, CUNY and is a founding faculty member of the Public Science Project (PSP). A consortium of researchers, policy makers and community activists, PSP produces critical scholarship "to be of use" in social policy debates and organizing movements for educational equity and human rights.

Fine and colleagues has the provided expert testimony in more than a dozen ground breaking legal victories focused on gender, race and class equity in k - 12, and higher education, including women's access to the Citadel Military Academy and in Williams v. California, a class action lawsuit for urban youth-of-color denied adequate education in California.

Recognized nationally for her mentorship, scholarship and her work on education and criminal justice public policy, Fine was most recently named as the recipient of the 2013 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy.

[NOTE: Michelle Fine presents her Keynote speech as part of our Opening Ceremony that includes a Welcome by Donna Shalala, Keynote by Michelle Fine, Awards, & Reception.]

On Participatory Policy Research In Times of Swelling Inequality Gaps

Responding to Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 address at the American Psychological  Association calling for a psychology that would educate Whites about racial injustice and Audre Lorde's denunciation of the "Masters' Tools," this talk challenges the widening epistemological gap between those who suffer from inequality and those who study social policy.   When split off from deep collaboration, in the name of objectivity, gated communities of policy researchers, comprised exclusively of like-minded, demographically similar researchers committed to consensus, assured of their moral superiority and rejecting of divergent perspectives, may contribute to what Irving Janis called Group Think: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascos (1982).  

This talk explores an epistemological counter-narrative in which the gap of experience and expertise is delicately sutured in participatory action research. With a long and buried history within psychology, participatory policy research offers an alternative paradigm. Research teams integrate varied forms of expertise among academics and everyday people, in theoretical and methodological deliberative dialogue, producing materials for scholars, community activists, and policy makers about urgent matters of social (in)justice.  This talk reflects a 20 year memoir on the impact of a single piece of participatory policy research, Changing Minds: The Impact of College in a Women's Maximum Security Prison. Readers are invited to explore how participation by university researchers and prisoner researchers facilitated methodological rigor, enhanced context and construct validity, deepened ethics and fueled the political sustainability of the findings over two decades. 

Dr. Leonard Jason

jason.pngDr. Jason is a professor of Psychology at DePaul University and the Director of the Center for Community Research. He is a former president of the Division of Community Psychology of the American Psychological Association. In 2011, he was presented with the Tom Fellows Award by the Oxford House Organization for his 20 years of research documenting the process of long term recovery from addiction. He has served on the editorial boards of ten psychological journals. Jason has served on review committees of the National Institutes of Health, and he has received over $26,000,000 in federal research grants.   

Dr. Jason has edited or written 23 books, and he has published over 600 articles and 77 book chapters on ME/CFS; recovery homes; the prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse; media interventions; and program evaluation. Oxford University Press recently published his book titled "Principles of Social Change".

Principles of Social Change: Community Partnerships Promote Social Justice 

The efforts of social activists and mental health professionals to institute population-level social change often fail to account for stakeholder commitment to the status quo and do not develop concrete strategies to build coalitions to alter policies. We need to better understand what is required for success and what steps to take to avoid pitfalls, including: clearly defining the change being sought, identifying current stakeholders and forces that maintain the status quo, creating coalitions that will work for the desired change, and being patient while persistently working toward the goal. Social change often requires a grassroots initiative that radically challenges the system or status quo.  Throughout history, it has been ordinary people, driven by a desire for social justice, who have achieved meaningful, life-changing reforms, often starting in their own communities. Ordinary individuals who do not lose faith can overcome enormous odds to target the root of a systemic problem.

Alison Austin 

austin.pngAlison Austin has had an extensive international career in community-based research, ecotourism, and youth development. As recent CEO of Miami's TACOLCY Center, Austin listened to the needs of the community and implemented programs & services that positively impact youth and families.

During her tenure, Austin focused on returning the 47-year-old organization to its social justice origin by launching a blended social services-social change model in Liberty City. This included numerous partnerships such as the Children's Defense Fund and the first Freedom Schools Program in South Florida.

Austin studied broadcasting at Miami Dade College and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2007. She earned a B.A. in Communications from University of South Florida, a M.S. in Hospitality Management from Florida International University, a Certificate in Non-profit Leadership from the Harvard Business School and a M.S. in Community & Social Change from the University of Miami. 

See Me As I See Me

Liberty City is an urban neighborhood in the heart of Miami.  It is seen as disadvantaged - a place laden with deficits and social challenges.  And if someplace has to be deemed the bad part of town then, my community has been selected to carry the flag.  However, this is not the way we see it, nor is it the way it has always been.

What happens when a community tells their own story? Transformative change occurs.

A small group of residents and committed others are mobilizing a collective effort to facilitate revival of the neighborhood.  Based on its strengths - and the impetus coming from women and youth - restoration is on the horizon. We are working hard towards a major paradigm shift, embracing collective values, progress and liberation; so we can move our community to its new place of respect and well-being.  As Margret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Dr. Niki Harré

harre.pngNiki Harré is an associate professor at the University of Auckland where she teaches social and community psychology. In 2007 she co-edited the book Carbon Neutral by 2020: How New Zealanders Can Tackle Climate Change. Her main research interests are in social activism and youth development and she works closely with schools, communities and local authorities on sustainability projects. In 2011 she released the book Psychology for a Better World: Strategies to Inspire Sustainability which is free to download fromwww.psych.auckland.ac.nz/psychologyforabetterworld.

She lives in the suburb of Point Chevalier in Auckland and has three children. She is a founding member of the Point Chevalier Transition Town, cycles to work, learns the guitar from a musician who lives on her street, and has a large organic garden thanks to her husband. 

Psychology and the Infinite Game 

 Long ago, academic psychologists understood the importance of myths and symbols to the human experience and collective action. In recent decades however, this understanding has largely been replaced with a fixation on precise communication of measurable phenomena. In this talk I suggest that we need to reconnect with the metaphorical insights that myths and symbols can provide.  By doing so, we will better understand the psychological struggles of our time and be able to work more effectively with others towards positive social change. I offer a symbol to illustrate this process, that of the infinite game. According to the philosopher James Carse, life is comprised of at least two kinds of games. In finite games the object is to win and in infinite games the object is to keep the game in play. Finite games have boundaries, include only select players and have rules that must not change for the duration of the game. In contrast infinite games have horizons that move as the player moves, welcome everyone into the game and the rules must change over time or the game will cease. In fact, when infinite players sense someone is about to lose, they change the rules to prevent this. Which game is dominant in our society and in our universities? The talk will consider this question and how symbols in general and the infinite game in particular can aid the contribution of community psychologists to the human project.