APA Convention Recap: 2011 International Activities

The Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. featured a multitude of international presentations and social events, while hosting delegations from psychology associations in Mexico and Norway.

From left: Richard Velayo, Judy Kuriansky, John Hogan, and Rebecca Houran with the Division 52 (International Psychology) poster.

By APA Office of International Affairs Staff

The 2011 APA Convention was an international success. Around 750 international colleagues attended from more than 60 countries. There were more than 300 international presentations—symposia, papers, posters, and roundtables. There were delegations from the national psychology associations of Mexico and Norway, as well as colleagues from associations in Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and others. And of course, there were many social events where international colleagues could meet, discuss, and engage with U.S. psychologists. The following are some of the highlights.

CIRP Programming

APA’s Committee on International Relations in Psychology (CIRP) sponsored four sessions: a roundtable, a poster session, and two symposia to encourage international outreach and professional activities.

  • CIRP co-chair Chris Stout leading the roundtable event.Roundtables:  Internationalizing Your Psychology Life. This lively session, chaired by CIRP co-chair Chris Stout, addressed opportunities for international student experiences, international career paths and trajectories, and international service experience. Each of the three tables was crowded and noisy as discussants and participants shared resources and tips. Questions and discussion will form the basis for CIRP to advise on the development of resource materials.
  • International Poster Session: All of APA’s Divisions were invited to participate in Psychology Around the World— APA Divisions Reach Out— a poster session to spotlight the international members, activities, and projects of APA’s Divisions. The 28 Divisions who participated in this session produced a spectacular array of posters, including a video played on an iPad, maps of members around the world, and vignettes of research, service, and teaching projects. Division participants agreed that putting together the posters served as inspiration for international outreach— and many were surprised at how many of their members were engaged in projects and activities outside the U.S. A compendium of the posters and photos from the event will be published n the Office of International Affairs website.
  • Symposium: CIRP and APA’s Committee on Human Research collaborated to develop a symposium on International Research: Being a Learning Partner. Thomas Eissenberg from Virginia Commonwealth University (and chair of the Committee on Human Research) talked about the challenges in developing research projects on sensitive topics in the Middle East and elsewhere, and CIRP member Maureen Black, University of Maryland Medical School, discussed her broad experiences in research projects in India and Asia.
  • APA’s Main UN Representative Deanna Chitayat speaking about Girls’ Education and the UN Millennium Development Goals.Symposium: APA’s United Nations team members developed a symposium based on a central topic at the UN in 2011: the education of girls. The symposium, Does Educating Girls Matter? Barriers and Promise from a United Nations Perspective, chaired by APA’s Main Representative to the United Nations, Deanna Chitayat, addressed the UN Millennium Development Goals, gender-related barriers in STEM fields, violence and discrimination against girls in education, and stories of success in global education. UN team members and interns spoke at the event.

Colleagues From Other National Psychology Associations

NPF Senior Advisor Sverre Neilsen, Vice-President Aina Holmén, and Secretary General Ole Tunold participated in APA’s evening at the Newseum in Washington D.C.Colleagues from the Mexican Psychological Society and the Norwegian Psychological Association attended APA as guest delegations and MOU partners. During convention, APA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mexican Psychological Society (see article, this issue); an MOU with the Norwegian Psychological Association was signed in 2010. In addition to attending convention sessions, officers of the associations met with APA to discuss future joint activities and met with select Division executive committees to develop exchange and interaction. They also joined convention attendees at the night at the Newseum, and were welcome guests at APA, CIRP, and Division social hours and receptions.

Award Presentation

Dan Olweus (left) and Norwegian Psychological Association President Tor Levin Hofgaard.APA presented its Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology to the world’s leading expert on bullying, Dr. Dan Olweus. His address was titled School Bullying: Research and Intervention in an International Perspective. Dr. Olweus is a research professor of psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway and leader of the Olweus Group against Bullying and Antisocial Behavior. He is best known for the widely adopted Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, designed to reduce and prevent bullying problems among school children and to improve peer relations at school.

Other Activities

Reception for International Visitors

Fatima Seedat (left) and Ann Watts at the Convention’s ICP2012 exhibit.This year’s reception, held just after the opening session on the first night of Convention, was a boisterous, two-hour session of conversations in many languages from many lands. In her welcoming remarks, CIRP co-chair Florence Kaslow encouraged each attendee to “meet 10 new friends” during the event.

ICP2012 Representation

International Congress of Psychology representatives Fatima Seedat and Ann Watts attended the Convention to promote the 2012 ICP, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa on July 22-27, 2012. In addition to providing information to convention attendees in the exhibit hall, they also met with APA’s Board of Directors to discuss the upcoming Congress and APA involvement.