Becoming Ecological: An Expedition into Community Psychology

Becoming Ecological: An Expedition into Community Psychology

Becoming Ecological: An Expedition into Community Psychology

Becoming Ecological: An Expedition into Community Psychology


Community psychology emphasizes an ecological approach to mental health by focusing on the individual in the environment and the influences that shape and change behavior. Becoming Ecological brings together the work of James G. Kelly, one of the founders of community psychology and among the field's national leaders.

The volume unites thirteen of Kelly's publications from 1968 to 2002 as well as four new essays on current issues in the field: the theory, research, practice, and education of community psychologists. Kelly introduces the work by offering connections between his personal experiences and the topics he chose to focus on throughout his long career. He begins each of the thirteen essays with commentary that sets the article in its original context so that the reader has a historical perspective on why certain ideas were salient at a particular time and how they are still timely today. Kelly concludes with a "summing up" section integrating the previously published articles with the four new essays. Throughout, he presents examples of how to plan and carry out research and practice in the community. The principles underlying the examples both enhance the relevance of the research and practice and increase the potential of community residents to use the findings for their own purposes.

A compendium of classic statements of community psychology's philosophical and historical underpinnings, Becoming Ecological is a must-read for scholars and practitioners of community psychology and for those in the fields of public health, social work, community development, education, and applied anthropology.


The volume you hold in your hand is a much-anticipated collection. Here, in a single place, are some 40 years of major papers (along with considerable additional material and personal reflections) by James G. Kelly, one of the founders and perhaps the foremost theoretician of community psychology. We, along with just about anyone who teaches or practices community psychology, have often introduced Kelly's work as either required reading for students or recommended reading for colleagues. We have often wished that he would put it all together in book form. Now that it is here, all in one place, it is a bit easier to see why to [get it] (that is, to grasp what community psychology is about) one has to read Kelly.

In these 40 years of papers, we can see the history of community psychology unfold. History is everything to Kelly—one cannot possibly know where to go next, what to do next without an understanding, a feel, for what came before. the history of community psychology, as created by Kelly and throughout this volume, told by Kelly, is one grounded in the history of many other disciplines. For Kelly, history is also personal. Events and ideas are shaped by whom you have lunch with, whose office is next door, and who happened to be in the same space at the same time. This volume tells these stories, too: who and what influenced Kelly, who then influenced the entire field of community psychology. This volume reminds us to look around and see our own history in the works— where we were when we read these papers first (and then again and again), with whom we discussed them, and how we applied them to our own work. These encounters weave the history of tomorrow.

Perhaps the overarching impact of reading Kelly is that attentive readers will acquire a powerful way of looking at the world. the shorthand term for this worldview is ecological, and Kelly is the one who made this term come alive well before it became widely accepted. He has taken it very seriously, more than once . . .

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