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THEory Into ACTion: Creating Systems Change in Mississippi

Time for change

Our “THEory into ACTion” series continues with this cross post from APA Division 27’s Community Psychology Practice Council blog. The “THEory into ACTion” series sheds light on community psychologists making positive change in the field.

By Bill Berkowitz, PhD, University of Massachusetts Lowell

How do you create change?   It’s hard to imagine a more important question for community professionals, or for anyone wanting to improve society. Kien Lee and her colleagues at Community Science, a research and development organization near Washington, D.C., have a distinctive approach to change-making; it focuses on larger community systems.Systems change in communities is challenging: It aims to change the community as a whole. “When others think about change, it’s often on an individual level, one person at a time,” Kien says. “But we look at the total structure and process. We focus more on how groups and organizations relate to each other – since change there will create change for individuals.”

Kien’s recent work in Mississippi provides an example of how systems change can work.  With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, she and Community Science colleagues have begun evaluating a comprehensive long-term project there, which has three primary goals: increase the reading and math scores of third graders; improve health outcomes, especially of babies; and advance the economic well-being of Mississippi residents. Collectively, the three goals seek to address racial equity.

Continue reading the full post here.

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