In this issue
Profile in advocacy
By Cynthia J. Najdowski, PhD
Last fall, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2014 American Psychological Association (APA) Education Leadership Conference (ELC) as a representative of Div. 37. Attending the conference provided me with two amazing opportunities. First of all, I was able to learn important lessons about being an educator in our increasingly digital world. More specifically, the first part of the conference was organized around a series of presentations and discussion groups. This work was focused around two themes: (a) understanding how psychological science can inform the use of technology in the classroom and online and (b) exploring how technology can be used to enhance education in psychology and related fields. A wide variety of topics were covered, ranging from how to organize information in PowerPoint slides, use clickers or games to facilitate student learning, and develop online courses to using big data to measure learning, identify at-risk students and inform policy and practice for institutions of higher education. Needless to say, these topics are incredibly relevant as more and more learning is mediated by technology, and it is important for us to understand what we can do to improve our students' experiences and outcomes. For those interested, conference presentations can be accessed. Of course, learning about learning in a digital world was not the only benefit of participating in the conference. It was also extremely rewarding to have the opportunity to meet and network with like-minded colleagues who value the scholarship of teaching.
The second opportunity afforded to me by my attendance at the conference was the chance to impact public policy. That is, during the second part of the conference, I received training on and engaged in advocacy on behalf of APA on Capitol Hill. The extensive training in federal advocacy work included information about the current political climate, the organizational structure of Senate and Congressional offices, and tips for interacting with legislators and their staffers. Also, the training was designed to familiarizing conference attendees with the program for which we would be advocating: the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program, which supports graduate study in psychology while also providing services to underserved populations, including, for example, children, victims of abuse and families in rural areas. Following the training, I traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with and educate Senate and Congressional staffers about the GPE program. As a psychologist and a constituent, I was able to lobby on APA's behalf to request funding for this important program in the 2015 federal budget. I am happy to report that the federal government decided not only to continue supporting the GPE program but also to increase its investment by $1 million. More details are available.
My experiences at the conference were invaluable, and I hope Div. 37 will continue to send representatives to the APA ELC each year. The conference typically centers on a topics that are important to division members (e.g., diversity; interdisciplinary teaching, research, and practice), and the visits to Capitol Hill give our members a unique opportunity to advocate for policy on behalf of children and families.