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The
Community
Psychologist

Volume 52   Number 1 Winter 2019

The Education Connection

Edited by Simón Coulombe, Wilfrid Laurier University 

Giving It Away: The Undergraduate Challenge

Written by Leonard A. Jason, Olya Glantsman, Jack O’Brien, Kaitlyn Ramian, & Lauren Hochberg, DePaul University

Many undergraduate psychology students have never heard of Community Psychology, and this is at least in part due to the underrepresentation of our field in Introduction to Psychology textbooks. A recent study indicated that only 14 (26%) of 53 introductory psychology textbooks referred to Community Psychology, and 5 of these only mentioned the term “Community Psychology” without providing any definition or explanation (Bauer, Glantsman, Hochberg, Turner, & Jason, 2017). Clearly, many undergraduates taking introductory psychology classes are not being exposed to our field. To possibly remedy this situation, SCRA members could adopt introductory psychology textbooks for their classes that adequately represent our field, and this could be one way of using our economic resources to reward those authors who adequately cover our field (see Bauer et al., 2017 for the authors and titles of textbooks that do an excellent job in describing Community Psychology).

Additionally, students are increasingly faced with major obstacles to higher education. One of these barriers is the high costs of college textbooks. Some students are struggling to purchase textbooks, and many have to borrow copies from friends or the library due to these high costs. To address this issue, below we describe our efforts to develop a free Introduction to Community Psychology textbook, a project that began over two years ago with an exchange between Leonard Jason and Fabricio Balcazar at an Midwestern Psychology Association discussion session on the future of our field. Given the absence of our field within many Introduction to Psychology textbooks, we believe offering a textbook online will increase the visibility of our field and possibly attract a new generation of community psychologists.

Our team, composed of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates, decided early on to abide by a Community Psychology values in being participatory in nature, so we solicited feedback on potential chapters and content from the SCRA listserv membership. We are delighted that over 40 co-authors from throughout the United States and internationally have agreed to write chapters. We are now in the process of identifying a platform for the text, learning how to insert information into this platform, and hiring a computer programmer to transfer content to an online format. At this point, we are working with Pressbooks online in collaboration with the Rebus Foundation. The Rebus Foundation is a not for profit company that partners with authors to help them with the online textbook publishing process.

We have continued to solicit ideas for this textbook project from members of our field. For example, at the October 2018 annual Midwest ECO Community Psychology conference in Chicago, we participated in a roundtable discussion of this free community psychology textbook. We were fortunate to have at this roundtable the past, the current, and the president-elect of SCRA, as well as a number of former SCRA presidents. During our discussion, there were many constructive ideas as well as challenges that were brought up. As an example, Susan McMahon suggested that the beginning section of our free community textbook could have information inserted about SCRA's mission, which could help attract new SCRA members. This is certainly a most useful idea that we are considering. Fabricio Balcazar suggested that since students pay so little for their SCRA membership, SCRA might even consider having students pay less or even not pay for 1-2 years. Fabricio’s idea was most interesting, and we appreciated his creative brainstorm thinking regarding how we might further lower barriers to participation in our field. We were encouraged when we heard Yolanda Suarez state that our book is so very close to the mission of SCRA, and her support has been invaluable throughout the development of our textbook. Our current SCRA president, Brad Olson, and president-elect, Susan Torres-Harding, asked helpful and thoughtful questions during the session, and these questions allowed our team to clarify a number of issues involving technology and our platform that will allow our textbook to be interactive, with many URL links and engaging photos.

Many details about our work were discussed during this constructive session, thus illustrating for us how these types of conversations can be forums for considering the merits and challenges of new initiatives that are being considered by SCRA leaders. In a sense, our session illustrates what we frequently do in our community psychology work--dialoguing about ideas so that we can possibly influence priorities and allocation of resources within an organization (i.e., agenda setting).

We are delighted to have received a Vincentian Endowment Fund grant from DePaul University to help pay for some of the expenses in assembling and producing our textbook. We are now also applying for other grants that could also further help fund our effort. The book is on track to be available next year, and below is a list of the Table of Contents.

 

Part 1. Introduction to the Field

  1. Principles and values
  2. History of the field
  3. Who are CPs, and what do we do?
  4. International community psychology
  5. Foundational theories

Part 2. Community Research and Practice

  1. What are types of CP research and methods?
  2. Practice competencies

Part 3. Understanding Communities

  1. Respect for diversity
  2. Oppression and power
  3. Community interventions
  4. Behavioral-based community interventions

Part 4. Prevention & Promotion

  1. Prevention and promotion: Introducing the concepts
  2. Stress, coping, and resilience

Part 5. Tools for Action

  1. Social and political change
  2. Empowerment
  3. Public policy
  4. Community organizing, partnerships, and coalitions
  5. Dissemination and implementation

Part 6. Moving Ahead / Looking into the Future / The Future of CP

  1. Looking into the future of community psychology

References:

Bauer, H.M., Glantsman, O., Hochberg, L., Turner, C., & Jason, L.A. (2017). Community Psychology Coverage in Introduction to Psychology Textbooks. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 8(3), 1-11.