Looking Towards the Bigger Picture
by Dr. Tim Shipley
Over the next year I will be working with our new chair (Peter Marshall) and other colleagues to document, disseminate, and support outreach and translation efforts related to the range of research that is going on across our department. Specifically, we hope to compile a ongoing record of what our faculty, students, and alumni are doing as they bring psychology out of the ivory tower. Future columns in this newsletter will feature specific programs, projects, and outcomes of our research, and we will be working to disseminate details and opportunities with an Outreach blog. Stay tuned for more details!
As researchers, why should we think about outreach and dissemination? Here I consider three broad reasons.
1) Connecting psychology to the rest of the academy makes for good science. Many important scientific phenomena exist at a systems level and are likely to be revealed only by considering the role of the mind in the vast range of human endeavors studied across multiple disciplines. In a future column I will recount my personal journey that led me to link psychology with geology, which has presented opportunities for furthering knowledge and understanding in both of these sciences.
2) When there is an opportunity to use one’s skills to improve the lives of others, I believe that there is a moral imperative to do so. Understanding the mind offers insights into how people’s lives may be improved. As an example, the Psychological Services Center (PSC) serves a diverse population from across the local community, and in future column we will provide a peek inside the work of this longstanding Center. In addition to the application of clinical skills, basic psychology research often has implications beyond the laboratory for education, practice, and public policy. We will be detailing examples of such implications, including recent faculty research on cell phones and the adolescent mind.
3) Science is a social practice that requires good communication. Funding bodies such as the National Science Foundation recognize the importance of getting research findings out to the community. Federally funded research is public property, and as such grant proposals are expected to detail how the research products will be made available to the public. Publishing in journals and presenting at conferences within our discipline are expected of us, but these efforts are increasingly seen as not enough. Researchers are increasing the scope of dissemination through interdisciplinary conferences, becoming involved in professional development (such as elementary school teacher training), blogging about new findings, and otherwise translating research from the terms used to communicate within a profession to the language of the layperson.
We are interested in hearing from students who have engaged in outreach and translation activities of any kind. How has your involvement in Temple Psychology had an impact? We would love to hear from you – please email a short description of your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org.