Dr. Dennis Elam has spoken about socionomics at more than a dozen academic and professional conferences. He holds three degrees from the University of Texas-Austin and is a certified public accountant. His latest project is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on socionomics, which he is developing with colleagues at Texas A&M-San Antonio and the Socionomics Institute. Dr. Elam spoke at the 2016 Social Mood Conference, where he also hosted a breakfast seminar the morning after the conference for those interested in spreading the word about socionomics.
Before the conference, Dr. Elam spoke with us about how he helps people understand and appreciate socionomics.
Socionomics Institute: Dr. Elam, you have dedicated much of your professional life over the past several years to developing a deeper understanding of socionomics and getting the word out about the theory. Once you had a handle on the theory, did you immediately start to write and speak about it?
Dennis Elam: Well, that’s easier said than done. Communicating clearly about any topic requires a lot of practice. So I put myself in situations where I could share the socionomic perspective with people. The more I did it, the more natural it became.
SI: Wow, that’s bold. What kinds of things did you do?
DE: As a college professor, I’m used to speaking in front of an audience. I volunteered to speak about socionomics in my community. I developed presentations for continuing education seminars and local organizations. Your chamber of commerce will probably have a list of civic clubs in your area. Groups that meet weekly are usually in need of entertaining and informative presentations. Doing well in one venue can lead to invitations to speak at other gatherings.
SI: Have you found effective outlets for telling people about socionomics that don’t require you to get in front of a crowd?
DE: Sure. If you’re more comfortable with the written word, you can fire off an op-ed that applies socionomics to a topic that interests you. That’s how I got my first piece in the Wall Street Journal. You might find that submitting a good, thought-provoking article to your local paper results in invitations to write more articles.
SI: You also write prolifically on your blogs.
DE: People blog about all sorts of topics, so why not socionomics? There are both free and low cost blog sites available. And, yes, I have not one but two blogs. I find them to be a great format to explain the why of the news by describing the changes in social mood which brought about the news events in the first place. The Socionomics Institute even has a program to help you with content.
SI: So far we’ve talked about direct methods of outreach: speeches, public appearances, articles, blogs and so on. What about simply adopting a socionomic perspective in your work and using it to show people the practical side of the discipline?
DE: I use socionomics in my work all the time. One of the good things about getting into socionomics on the ground floor is that no matter your field, the door is probably wide open for you to become its ‘recognized socionomics expert’ by pointing out how social mood drives events relevant to your industry. It’s one way to distinguish yourself from the crowd and help others to see the value of the perspective.
SI: That’s great. Thanks, Dennis. We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta on April 9 for the 2016 Social Mood Conference.