I want to start by acknowledging our group’s successes in 2017:
Nita Lauren submitting her PhD thesis (whoohoo!); Sam Popple, Syasya Goh, and Zoe McMaster completing their honours with flying colours; and many students smoothly passing their milestones, from confirmation (Susilo, Robyn, Tulsi) to mid-candidature (Cass, Lucy) and thesis review (Kathy). There were also those taking well-deserved leave (Gi, Anna).
A huge joy for me personally in 2017 was being promoted to professor – such a long journey, and a great honour. I plan to revel all year long.
I also want to pass on a special thank you to our volunteer students! I particularly acknowledge the contributions of Josh and Kane to multiple projects and to my own work. Thank you, and congratulations everyone!
2017 was a year of big steps in impact
As well as the normal dissemination through keynotes and journal articles (17 papers! A personal record!), I had great fun with engagement opportunities.
I presented at two Senate inquiries, gave a talk to an overflow audience at the Department of the Environment in Canberra, and co-hosted a sold out workshop on social cohesion in Sydney (slides from the talks can be found here).
If I had to summarise the key lesson I have learned it is that people are hungry for knowledge about the group processes that underlie polarisation, and hungry to learn how to break through conflict and stalemates.
I’m eager to pass on and grow this knowledge, so I look forward to more of these events in 2018. I also hope that I can hear more from people who used the information I gave out last year, both regarding successes in implementation and regarding barriers that need to be overcome.
Thanks to Cassandra Chapman, our group also started the social change lab site and blog series. I have been very pleasantly surprised by the prolific activity of our team, the generosity of guest writers, as well as the take-up of our posts by the community. Normal blog posts attract 200 readers within a month, with popular posts double or triple that – much more than I expected in our first year of operation.
The blog series has also led to fun outreach opportunities, such as a video-conference talk on peace psychology in Iran – how awesome!
Another crazed net breakthrough was my March post at The Conversation, with Cass, on the ‘seven deadly sins of statistical interpretation’ which was read by 135,000 readers, and shared more than 10000 times on Facebook alone. Eventually some colleagues in sports medicine even turned it into a peer-reviewed paper at a high impact journal! Thrilling stuff!
In my wildest dreams I would never have guessed that this piece would attract such an audience. The lesson that I take from these last two points is that using the internet to give away teaching and research is going to lead to immense positive engagement and unexpected opportunities.
I realise that some of you already knew that, but I’m a fresh convert as of this year :)
What the new year holds:
In 2018 I’m excited to continue connecting with social change colleagues. For face to face networking, I’ll be at ICAP in Montreal in June as well as possibly SPSSI (the same weekend! Why!) as well as SASP in Wellington in April. Please email me if you’d like to meet up.
Going into the new year, I welcome several new students as associate advisor – Robin Banks, at UTas, doing a PhD with Margaret Otlowski on bringing the law and psychology of discrimination closer together; and Hayley Kimball and Hannibal Thai, at UQ, who will be working with Kelly Fielding on environmental psychology.
Another exciting commitment in 2018 is that I will be organising and co-hosting a small group meeting on Trajectories of Radicalisation and De-radicalisation in August at the University of Queensland. We have a wonderful line up of scholars, and I am looking forward to learning heaps. Keep an eye out, as I’ll be putting out a call for volunteers.
And there are lots of other projects on the go throughout the lab – I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings for us all!
- Winnifred Louis
All researchers in the Social Change Lab contribute to the "Do Good" blog. Click the author's name at the bottom of any post to learn more about their research or get in touch.