APA announces 2014 International Award recipients

APA recognizes two psychologists who have made positive contributions to psychology around the world.

APA has announced the recipients of the 2014 International Awards. The recipient of the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology is Saths Cooper, PhD, from South Africa. The recipient of the APA International Humanitarian Award is Malcolm MacLachlan, PhD, from Ireland.

APA International Humanitarian Award
Malcolm MacLachlan, PhD

Malcolm MacLachlan, PhDMalcolm MacLachlan, PhD, has been a psychologist for over 25 years and has shown a sustained commitment to human rights, humanitarian action and making global health more inclusive — particularly of people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and those in extreme poverty.

Currently holding appointments at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, MacLachlan has received considerable funding to support his work around the world on applying psychology to global health, with a special focus on disabilities, and addressing the rights and potential of vulnerable and marginalized groups. In Africa he has worked in 14 countries since first being appointed to a lectureship at the University of Malawi in 1992 (he subsequently became Head of Department).

MacLachlan’s output is prolific — over 20 keynote talks, 230 academic publications and 20 books. He has consulted with numerous global non-governmental organizations and with the United Nations and its specialized agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF. He currently holds a leadership role in two multicountry projects promoting the rights of people with disabilities (for the ILO in six countries and for the UNDP in 11 countries and territories).

Especially noteworthy is MacLachlan’s policy activity. He has provided input to the world’s leading decision makers such as The Development Advisory Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health; African Union’s Social Welfare Ministers; and the U.N. Commission on Social Development. MacLachlan’s work has had a significant policy impact, for example, his program “EquiFrame,” a tool to analyze the extent to which health and welfare policies address core concepts of human rights and the particular challenges faced by vulnerable groups, has been used since 2009 to analyze over 70 health and welfare policies. This tool was used to develop the first ever National Health policy of Malawi.

MacLachlan is a founding member of the Global Organisation for Humanitarian Work Psychology and of the International Society of Critical Health Psychology. He is a Fellow of the Psychological Society of Ireland and the British Psychological Society.

APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology
Saths Cooper, PhD

Saths Cooper, PhDA clinical psychologist for over 23 years, Saths Cooper, PhD, has an impressive record of public and policy engagement, peer reviewed papers and key-note and invited addresses on ethics, community psychology and on the historical, social, political and cultural factors in the development of international psychology. He is also committed to education and training in psychology and to establishing a globally acceptable standard for international accreditation and credentialing of psychologists.

Cooper was president of the 2012 International Congress of Psychology in Cape Town and was elected president of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) in July 2012, the first from outside of Western Europe and North America. 

Cooper’s personal history is noteworthy: he was imprisoned for nine years because of his opposition to Apartheid, and following his release, he was awarded a Fulbright to pursue a PhD in clinical/community psychology at Boston University. He played a central role in forming the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) three months before the country’s first democratic elections in April 1994, and is widely recognized as a leader in restoring credibility to South African psychology after its years of isolation during the Apartheid era. At PsySSA, he facilitated continental and international partnerships, creating greater global understandings of the need to develop psychology in underserved parts of the world.

Cooper has received numerous awards including the IUPsyS award for Achievements Against the Odds; he was the first fellow of PsySSA, is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Psychology and an Honorary Fellow of the British Psychological Society. See also “South Africa’s shameful past and hopeful future,” APA Monitor, April 2013.