"Internationalization is here to stay," said APA's Executive Director for Education Cynthia Belar, PhD, opening APA's 2008 Education Leadership Conference. The annual meeting, which culminates in visits to Capitol Hill lawmakers, focused this year on ways psychologists can foster students' global learning.
International teaching, research and practice opportunities are expanding, noted Belar, and psychology educators need to promote culturally competent research and services, participate in international exchange programs, and consider reinstating the foreign language requirements that used to be standard for psychology doctoral students.
Students also need training on how to work with clients and colleagues from other cultures and on how to conduct and follow research abroad, she added.
Classrooms are already becoming more global in makeup, although psychology has room to grow, said Belar. According to the Institute for International Education, more than half a million international students studied in the United States in 2006–07, although only 8,307 of those students pursued psychology, a much smaller percentage than found in other sciences. Five percent of those enrolled in APA's accredited doctoral programs are foreign nationals, she noted.
Psychology may want to consider what the medical training community is promoting for professional education, Belar noted. With recognition of the increasingly global health-care market has gained—including "tourism medicine" through which patients travel to other countries for organ transplants and surgeries—physicians are proposing global health competencies for all medical students with an eye toward international practice and collaboration.