Taking Psychology to the Streets

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If you teach Intro Psych, you know that most of your students are not psychology majors. This course gives us a captive audience to tell our future business leaders, medical personnel, government employees, etc. about psychology.

Susan Nolan (2015) in a recent talk identified teaching as one way we can inform the public of the value of psychological science. As instructors, we also have a responsibility to empower our students to be voices for psychological science in their communities. Here are some additional ways Nolan noted we can disseminate psychological science.

Writing for the general public. While not all of us can write trade books, we can write articles for newsletters and editorials for newspapers. And we can blog.

Talking to reporters. If you’re not happy with how news outlets cover psychological science, then it is time to leap in and help them out. Start with being a resource for the journalists of your institution’s student paper or your local paper.

Speaking to the community. Contact your local civic organizations or public library. Would they like to hear your most interesting lecture? Or start your own monthly Pub Science lecture series at your favorite neighborhood drinking establishment.

Volunteering your science skills. Become an “on-call scientist” to human rights organizations through AAAS. If you live in or around New York City, become an APA-appointed representative to the United Nations. Volunteer for the Statistics without Borders project of the American Statistical Association.

Serving the community. Run for your local school board or city council.

Harnessing social and mass media. If you use social media, explain the psychological science behind the hot topic issues to your friends and family. Or if you don’t want to do the explaining, leap onto Facebook or Twitter with links to websites that do the explaining for you.

What are you doing, outside of your classroom, to ensure that good psychological science is being delivered into the hands of the general public?

Nolan, S. A. (2015, July 24). Beyond the academy: Sharing psychological science in a global context. Lecture presented at Vancouver International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology in Coast Hotel Plaza and Suites, Vancouver, BC.

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.