By Allen Omoto, PhD (Chair, APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest)
Super Storm Sandy and its devastating effects. The horror of Sandy Hook and subsequent attempts to understand why it happened and how it might have been prevented. Daily experiences of kids being bullied in schools. Immigration reform. Women entering combat roles in the military. These recent events have captured attention and headlines, and they are likely to see policy action at local, state, and national, if not international, levels. Not incidentally, all of them have multiple psychological dimensions and considerations.
This is the heart of public interest psychology – understanding where the rubber meets the road — and how we, as psychologists and using the tools, perspectives, and science of psychology, can work toward solving the fundamental problems of human welfare and social justice. I am passionate about connecting public policy, including its development, implementation, and evaluation, to psychological science.
This new venture, the APA Public Interest Directorate Blog, is intended as a one-stop-shop for participants to learn about but also converse about the many and valuable contributions that psychological science, practice, education and training, and advocacy can make to social issues. It’s also a forum for bringing attention to new issues and pressing concerns that should be on the agenda of psychologists, psychological researchers, and the APA.
On behalf of the APA Public Interest Directorate, I invite you to read and participate in this blog, and also to encourage your students, mentors, clients, and colleagues to take part. Here, you will meet and interact with members of the PI family, including APA staff and governance members, as well as have opportunities to connect with policy makers and the public at large. You’ll be enlightened but also have the chance to ask questions, raise issues, and to post opinions. This blog is an opportunity not only for learning, but to share your expertise, perspective, and passion with others. Rather than simply a one-way street of information flow, this blog is conceived of as a multi-directional and interactive network of dialogue highways and conversation side streets. It’s your chance to be in the mix, part of the conversation, and more than anything else, to contribute to psychology in the public interest. Let the blogging commence!