From the executive director

Dr. Cynthia Belar introduces this issue of the Educator, and lists recommendations from ELC participants regarding the internationalization of psychology

By Cynthia D. Belar, PhD

This issue contains reports of two significant conferences held within the past 6 months, our annual Education Leadership Conference (ELC) and the APA National Conference on Undergraduate Education in Psychology, also referred to as the “Puget Sound Conference.”

The Puget Sound Conference was the first national conference to address undergraduate education in psychology in over 17 years. Of the many issues addressed two are clearly interdependent: (1) the need to promote psychological literacy in our society through the teaching of psychology and (2) the need to recognize teaching as a professional practice in psychology. With respect to the former, it is noted that an informed citizenry should understand psychological science and its relevance to everyday life and societal concerns. Psychology is not just for psychology majors; it remains one of the most frequently taken subjects throughout higher education. However, if knowledge from our discipline is to contribute to the public good, we must attend to how it is disseminated in the education of our citizens. Recognizing the professional practice of teaching psychology, as articulated in the conference scientist-educator model, is essential to these endeavors.

The other major conference addressed the Internationalization of Psychology Education (ELC 2008). A series of recommendations were distilled from participant discussions on the relevance and participation of psychology in internationalization of education; those specific to faculty and programs are reported below. These statements do not reflect a consensus statement of the conference itself, but rather the opinions of individual participants. The BEA is currently sorting through all recommendations to help guide future APA initiatives and policy in this area. All ELC participants were encouraged to take these recommendations back to the organizations they represented for further discussion.

Faculty

  • Support student involvement in study-abroad programs, with a focus on student learning, not travel per se

  • Model international research and practice

  • Communicate respect for international research collaborations

  • Participate in professional development activities

  • Support development of international databases

  • Encourage reflection on international experiences by students and faculty

  • Consider how technology could be used to provide experiences; Webinars with students in other countries

  • In applied training, attend to issues of cultural competence with diverse domestic populations vs. international cultural competence

Programs

  • Provide information and resources related to participation in international programs

  • Examine and communicate risks of not internationalizing (e.g., loss of opportunity to expand worldview, stimulate development of new knowledge, attract top grad students and faculty)

  • Link with study-abroad programs on campus

  • Study effectiveness of study-abroad programs in achieving student learning outcomes

  • Build on what students know about the world

  • Examine what already exists

  • Create incentives for experiential learning

  • Modify curriculum requirements to eliminate barriers to and facilitate participation in international experiences; Examine priorities for the curriculum given increasing demands; Examine tenure and promotion criteria

  • Communicate respect for international research collaborations

  • Examine how to prepare future psychologists to work in a more international environment; Include examination of relevant variables that need to be incorporated into training for mobility; Include information on IPE in Preparing Future Faculty programs; In applied training, attend to issues of cultural competence with diverse domestic populations versus international cultural competence

  • Create social support mechanisms for international students to counter social isolation and loneliness

  • Encourage faculty professional development in IPE

  • Encourage faculty and programs to create resources for infusion in courses and programs: Syllabi; Course activities/assignments; Find ways to get voices of international psychologists into the curriculum (e.g., case studies)

  • Address interface of multiculturalism and internationalization on campus and as related to psychology

  • Partner with other disciplines on campus that are involved in internationalization