Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Collaboratively Envisioning the Future of Community Psychology in Canada: From Talk to Action

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Collaboratively Envisioning the Future of Community Psychology in Canada: From Talk to Action

Article excerpt

Community Psychology (CP) is a relatively young and marginalized discipline in Canada, with only four graduate programs, concentrated in two provinces-Ontario and Québec. Recognising the need to develop cohesion and an identity as a field, several senior Canadian community psychologists proposed hosting a biennial conference, which began in 2002 at the University of Ottawa. Starting in 2006, the conference became a forum for CP faculty, students, and community partners to collaboratively develop a vision for the future of CP in Canada. Diverse teams of conference participants were engaged in facilitated discussions, culminating in a plenary session in which delegates shared their perspectives with the larger group. Eight themes emerged from the visioning exercises in 2006, which lead to the development of special interest groups in the following areas: developing a sense of identity; clarifying and defining the field of CP: raising the profile of CP in Canada; promoting a CP education across Canada; enhancing recognition, credibility, and accreditation; establishing links within the field of psychology; building interdisciplinary bridges; international and diverse perspectives; and promoting healthy communities through grassroots social action.

Keywords: Canadian Community Psychology, collective visioning exercise, future directions

It is apparent from the other papers in this special section on community psychology (CP) in Canada that we have a strong and rich, albeit brief, history and have made many contributions to promoting equality, health, and social justice in our communities both domestically and abroad. Furthermore, the multidisciplinary nature of our theories, along with our eclectic and participatory approach to research and social interventions, is necessary and relevant in our increasingly multicultural society and globalized world. Despite these strengths, CP is a relatively young and marginalized subdiscipline, especially in Canada. The marginal status of CP is observed within psychology departments, universities, psychology literature, work-settings, and the wider community (Aubry et al., 2010; Marcoux, Angélique, & Culley, 2009; Nelson, Lavoie, & Mitchell, 2007; Walsh-Bowers, 1998). Initially emerging in the early 1970s, there are currently four graduate programs in Canada that provide substantial training in CP in two provinces (Ontario and Québec): Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), Université Laval, University of Ottawa, and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). The University of Manitoba and the University of Guelph have had community-oriented faculty and graduates with CP interests, but no formal CP programs (see paper by Aubry et al. in this issue). A visioning process that will unite these programs and solidify the identity of CP as a field, while ensuring its sustainability, is necessary if we hope to facilitate transformative changes in our communities. To begin with, we introduce the concept of developing a vision, why a vision for Canadian CP is needed, and the importance of values in the process. Next, we discuss the development of the biennial Québec-Ontario CP conferences and the subsequent visioning process. We then present the main themes that have arisen from these processes, with specific examples from participant discussions, and connect these emergent themes to the relevant literature. Finally, we suggest some concrete steps in the form of an action plan and discuss what it will take to realise our collaborative vision.

The concept and process of developing a vision can be found in leadership and organisational change literature. Manasse (1985) defines a vision "as the development, transmission, and implementation of an image of a desirable future" (p. 150). She considers visioning to be a "roadmap" to a more positive future and a "force" that facilitates the creation of meaning for the people of an organisation. Theorists have underlined the importance of promoting a strategic flexibility for adapting to changing realities in an organisation and in the communities that they serve (Zaccaro & Banks, 2004). …

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