Senior director's column

Senior Director's Column: We are All Hosts

The international theme and predictions that this year will bring the largest number of international participants to convention are signs of a healthy awareness within APA and within psychology more generally that an international in perspective is imperative.

By Merry Bullock, PhD

As the summer begins, we at APA central headquarters are making preparations for this year’s convention in San Francisco. Staff get a sneak preview of the program when we review the proofs of the convention program book – the telephone-directory sized listing of all the presentations and events that will take place this summer. Many say that the size of the convention and the volume of its programs is daunting – but from an international perspective it is exciting – the program is full of international themes, ideas, programs and presenters – it offers a palpable spirit of outreach and interest in psychology around the world.

This year is an especially strong time for an international contribution to convention. The theme of the convention – building bridges – illustrates a special effort to reach out across disciplines and internationally. APA’s President, Sharon Stephens Brehm (see the interview with her, this issue) invited the presidents of the world’s national and regional psychology associations to attend Convention as her guest. We eagerly anticipate the arrival of over 20 presidents at convention and look forward to their participation in formal and informal programs. As a group, they will be recognized at the convention’s opening ceremony, and they will speak in a symposium on international perspectives on emerging issues in psychology (see convention listings, this issue). We anticipate they will find the days full with additional meetings with colleagues from students to emeritus.

Programming with an international theme and with international participants promises to be at an all time high this year (please see a synopsis, this issue). As we do every year, the Office of International Affairs will make a special publication to direct convention goers to international programming – the booklet, which will be available at the international booth in paper copy and online three weeks before convention, lists all programming with an international theme and lists all presenters from outside the US and Canada – by presentation and by country.

The international theme and predictions that this year will bring the largest number of international participants to convention are signs of a healthy awareness within APA and within psychology more generally that an international in perspective is imperative. But few of us know much about psychology in other countries. Across the globe, the level of education required to “be” a psychologist varies from bachelor’s to doctorate; the breadth of what is considered the purview of psychology differs, as do the central organizing theories and models. Of course the base issues of understanding behavior, development, underlying substrates, environment and context remain constant, but variety in the ways in which the specific questions, methods and approaches to address these issues are approached provides a rich tapestry that challenges any one approach.

We hope that you will all take the opportunity this August to explore the possibilities of “internationalizing” your own understanding of psychology by joining the APA convention as host or as international participant. There are multiple opportunities to hear from and interact with international colleagues from convention sessions to division hospitality suite programming. Ψ