Cover Story

Committee on International Relations (CIRP) Spring 2008 Meeting Highlights

Florence Denmark, lead APA representative to the United Nations, reported on APA’s activities at the U.N., including a discussion of “Psychology Day” at the U.N. Other topics discussed included CIRP strategic goals, presidential grand challenge initiatives, and APA’s role in international quality assurance.

By Laura Johnson, MB

A view of Washington D.C.’s splendid cherry blossoms provided a perfect backdrop for CIRP’s spring meeting, which was also blooming with activity!  CIRP chair, Stephen Quintana, opened the meeting and introduced new and continuing CIRP members, the Office of International Affairs (OIA) staff and several visitors. CIRP member Jean Marecek gave a stimulating overview of psychology in Sri Lanka, highlighting with vivid examples, some of the historical and current contextual factors influencing the development of a system of education, training and psychological practice in Sri Lanka.     

Merry Bullock, Senior Director for the Office of International Affairs, provided an update from the Office of International Affairs, discussed APA’s involvement in international activities and brought the committee’s attention to key agenda items. Florence Denmark, lead APA representative to the United Nations, reported on APA’s activities at the U.N., including a discussion of “Psychology Day” at the U.N. which was viewed as a successful and worthwhile effort by all involved. Other topics discussed were wide ranging and included CIRP strategic goals, presidential grand challenge initiatives, APA’s role in international quality assurance, reports from various task forces and CIRP activities at the 2008 convention. 

CIRP members were enthusiastic about the Fulbright related programming at the 2008 convention which is designed to bring more attention to international issues in psychology and encourage international collaborations. Convention activities will include a poster session highlighting Fulbright experiences, a symposium on Fulbright experiences and opportunities, and a social networking hour. Another exciting plan for the convention is to create a video with photo images and audio interviews with former Fulbrighters to provide information and also inspiration to others who may be considering international research, teaching or practice. CIRP made recommendations for international awards, such as the Culbertson Award, David Grants and support for scientific meetings

CIRP members appreciated the opportunity to meet with APA president, Alan Kazdin and enjoyed discussing some of the cross-cultural applications and implications of his presidential initiatives. CIRP also had a chance to meet with APA president elect, James Bray and CIRP looks forward to continuing its work with him in the near future.

Other meeting highlights included discussions with members of the joint CIRP and Bureau of Educational Affairs (BEA) task force on international quality assurance, hearing activity reports from other divisions and groups, such as the World Federation for Mental Health and the International Association of Applied Psychology, and recommending candidates to several task forces, such as those on climate change and refugee and immigrant mental health.  CIRP members also reviewed and commented on several task force reports, such as those on mental health and abortion, resilience in Black children, gender variance and intersex concerns, multicultural education and increasing the number of quantitative psychologists. As a newcomer to CIRP, I was quite impressed with the wide ranging and informed perspectives offered by members and the overall productivity of this committee.