State of the Caucus

APS Student Caucus President

In all aspects of life, it is important to look back at the past periodically in order to gain perspective on progress made and to develop future goals.

With this helpful exercise in mind, I am pleased to report that the APS Student Caucus (APSSC) is thriving. What began as a small meeting of 14 students in 1988 has evolved into an international organization with a membership of over 3,700 people. Thanks to the generous support provided by APS, the APSSC handed out over $12,000 in small grants and awards last year to support student affiliates. In addition, over 500 student affiliates participated in various APSSC programs, gaining valuable professional experience in areas such as reviewing peer research, writing research proposals, and raising awareness about research with underrepresented populations. Clearly, the APSSC makes a difference in the lives of its members, which is perhaps the most important measure of any organization’s worth. Nevertheless, we should not be content with our success. We must strive to provide our members with even better opportunities and resources.

Since the current Executive Board took over after the convention this past May, we have made significant progress in improving the current programs and events that the APSSC organizes. Feedback provided by APSSC members, through the annual online survey conducted in early June and through casual conversations and emails, has been critical to this process. At a meeting in San Diego earlier this fall, the Executive Board discussed the implementation of many new ideas and finalized the specific changes that will be made this year. These changes can best be thought of in terms of three broad initiatives: (1) expanding the resources available to APSSC members, (2) enhancing convention programming, and (3) improving communication with APSSC members. I will describe each of these initiatives in turn, highlighting some of the specific changes in the process.

Expanding the Resources Available to APSSC Members
The central goal of this initiative is to increase APSSC members’ access to the valuable information produced by our existing programs and events. One method of accomplishing this goal will be to expand the content available on the APSSC website. For example, the annual APSSC “How to Get Published: Guidance From Journal Editors” convention event offers inside perspectives on how to navigate the complicated world of publishing research. Placing information from the event on the website will allow student affiliates who could not attend the convention to have access to this important advice. In addition to improving the documentation of our activities, we plan to expand the type of resources available. One project currently in the initial stages of development is an online funding database that will provide members with information about fellowships, grants, and other forms of funding for students.

Enhancing Convention Programming
At the annual APS convention, the APSSC organizes seven events that are specifically geared toward the interests of student affiliates. Some of these events are among the most popular at the convention, regularly drawing over 100 attendees. Although we are not making any radical changes, we have responded to APSSC member feedback by modifying a few of the existing events. For example, to better facilitate networking among students at the convention, we have revamped the student social and scheduled separate meetings for some of the APSSC groups (e.g., Campus Representatives, RiSE-UP). In addition, we have expanded the “Naked Truth” panel event, which features advice for students from students. This event will now include three separate panels, each of which will focus on issues relevant to a distinct period in the life of a psychology student: undergraduate/pre-graduate school, graduate school, and post-graduate school.

Improving Communication with APSSC Members
Informing Student Caucus members about the opportunities and resources available is perhaps our greatest ongoing challenge. For the past three years, the APSSC has added an average of 1,600 new student affiliates each year. Orienting these new members quickly and effectively is a difficult job. Over the coming months, we will begin to supplement our existing communication methods (e.g., the E-Newsletter, the Student Notebook) with more focused forms of advertising and the promotion of a grassroots network to help disseminate critical information. The success of the grassroots network depends upon each APSSC member, so I urge you to spread the word to your peers about all that APSSC has to offer.

These three initiatives form the nucleus of the vision we have developed for the future of the APSSC. If you have questions about any of the changes that are being made, ideas for future projects, or feedback about any aspect of your APSSC experience, please email me or another one of the Executive Board members. Consider taking advantage of the opportunities that APS and APSSC make available and getting involved with the Student Caucus.

To conclude, I would like to say a big thank you to all the APSSC members who have worked so hard over the past year (and since 1988!). The achievements of the past and the success of the future depend upon the involvement of motivated, bright people like you.

Sincerely,

Andrew C. Butler
APS Student Caucus President

Observer Vol.19, No.12 December, 2006

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