There is something about bringing groups together to work on a project that I find appealing. Perhaps it is the intellectual stimulation and contagious excitement that build when people with different perspectives discuss issues important to them; or the camaraderie and sense of fun that emerge when groups interact; or the comfort of knowing that I am not alone in my efforts to achieve a goal. As I think about it, all of these qualities of working in partnerships appeal to me. It is no surprise, then, that I am delighted that one of the Psi Chi National Council's current initiatives is to foster professional partnerships between Psi Chi and other organizations. In this column, I will outline the National Council's goals in this arena and offer suggestions for ways in which chapters can expand their partnerships.
As we think about expanding partnerships, keep in mind that successful partnerships involve cooperation by colleagues who share a common vision, common goals, responsibilities, authority, and respect for one another's expertise and contributions as they work toward outcomes that are mutually beneficial (Mathie, 2002). Also remember that the benefits of partnerships go beyond the final product of the project itself. Through our participation in partnership activities, we can achieve goals that would be difficult for one organization on its own to accomplish; share the workload to make our efforts more manageable; learn more about the people, culture, policies, and procedures of other organizations; build a network of colleagues across the country who can provide us with information, assistance, and guidance; and form friendships that endure long after the project is complete.
Psi Chi has established many organizational partnerships and the National Council will continue to nurture and expand these relationships. For example, Psi Chi has been an active member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) since 1965 and will continue this legacy of cooperation as we explore opportunities to participate in new ACHS projects. We have partnered with Psi Beta, our sister Honor Society in Psychology for Community and Junior Colleges, to cosponsor programs at regional and national meetings, and we hope to continue this special relationship as we also pursue more collaboration with other ACHS honor societies. Psi Chi has a long history of collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Psychological Society (APS). Psi Chi is an affiliate of both organizations and we cosponsor the Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research Award with APA and the Albert Bandura Graduate Research Award with APS. We will continue to work with the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Psychology Teachers at Community Colleges, and Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools to cosponsor presentations about teaching and learning at national conferences. Psi Chi has a partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to offer grants to members who participate in the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer research program. We hope to explore additional collaborative opportunities with other scientific, educational, and funding organizations.
As National Council members work toward expanding Psi Chi's organizational partnerships, we encourage chapters to pursue their own partnerships. I list some examples of partnerships your chapter might consider in the box on page 6. As the year progresses, the Psi Chi National Council will be devoting attention to creating new partnership opportunities for the national organization. We invite Psi Chi chapters to join us in this initiative by establishing at least one new chapter partnership in the next year. Together we can serve as models for psychology partnerships. We wish you success in your partnership efforts.
Partnership Opportunities for Chapters
- Psi Chi National Service Projects. Your chapter could hold a fundraiser for the Archives of the History of American Psychology (see Benjamin's article in the Fall 2004 Eye on Psi Chi) or for UNICEF's Children in War relief program. At the local level, your chapter could provide food, clothing, supplies, and services to a local shelter for the Adopt-a-Shelter project, or donate food to a local food bank for the Food Drives project, or help build a house or sponsor a family in the Habitat for Humanity program.
- Local Community Agency. Members can raise funds for the agency, assist with special agency projects, or help bring the agency's services to the community.
- Local Elementary, Middle, or High School. Following her participation in the APA Psychology Partnerships Project, Psi Chi Past-President Rebecca Stoddart offered many excellent suggestions for ways in which Psi Chi chapters could form partnerships with local schools (Stoddart, 1999). For example, volunteer to tutor children, help with the school's science fair, or give presentations to inform students about the field of psychology.
- Local Community Colleges and Other Four-Year Colleges and Universities. Stoddart (1999) suggested cosponsoring career nights, science fairs, psychology week, or research conferences with other colleges. Don't forget that Psi Chi's Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference Grants provide funding for research conferences that include undergraduate student research presenters from at least three schools in your area.
- Your School's Psychology Club or Other Honor Societies. For all of the partnership projects I mentioned, your chapter could expand the partnership to include other campus groups.
Tips for Partnership Success
Here are some tips you might find helpful in your efforts to establish a chapter partnership.
- Find a partner. Often, the most difficult step is the first one but do not be afraid to initiate contact with a potential partner. In many cases other groups are just waiting for someone to show interest in working with them. Take the initiative to get the partnership started.
- Get to know your partner. The more you understand and respect your partner's needs, organizational culture, policies, and procedures, the easier it will be to move forward on the partnership project.
- Communicate with your partner. Good communication is vital to partnership success--communicate often, clearly, and respectfully.
- Develop leadership. Coordinating the communication and work of several groups requires good organizational and interpersonal skills. Appoint a project leader with these skills, but keep in mind that to be successful the project requires everyone's time, energy, creativity, and commitment.
- Be patient. It may take a little longer than anticipated to complete the partnership project, but the rewards will be well worth the extra time.
Benjamin, L. T., Jr. (2004, Fall). Psychology's national treasures. Eye on Psi Chi, 9(1), 16-17, 39.
Mathie, V. A. (2002). Academic partnerships: Old friends and new beginnings. In W. Buskist, V. W. Hevern, & G. W. Hill, IV (Eds.), Essays from e-xcellence in teaching, 2000-2001, Vol. 1(chap. 8). Retrieved November 11, 2004 from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Website: http://teachpsych.lemoyne.edu/teachpsych/eit/eit2000/eit00-08.html
Stoddart, R. M. (1999, Fall). Psi Chi chapter partnerships: Modeling psychology's future. Eye on Psi Chi, 4(1), 47-48.
Winter 2005 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 6, 17), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2005, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.