Even as psychology becomes more specialized, history will always be the field's common core, says Wade Pickren, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto. Pickren, who this month takes over as editor of the Div. 26/APA journal History of Psychology, wants to bring his love of psychology history to a broader audience.
“We want anyone to be able to pick it up and find something interesting they can incorporate into a talk or into their teaching or research,” he says.
To do that, Pickren has introduced several new features to the journal. Each issue will include a teaching section featuring articles on ways to weave historical topics into coursework, he says. Articles will offer tips for seasoned teachers of psychology's history as well as first-time instructors; the first installment will cover intelligence testing.
Each issue will also spotlight a psychology archive, such as the Archives of the Scottish School of Educational Research, a little-known caché of psychology documents in Edinburgh, Scotland, devoted to educational testing, and the Archives on the History of Brazilian Psychology at the University of Minas Gerais.
He's also added an occasional series of interviews with eminent psychologists. This “Documenting Psychology” series kicks off with an interview with now-deceased psychologist Kenneth Clark, PhD, conducted by Larry Nyman, PhD. Nyman talked with Clark about his famous 1976 doll experiment when the two were colleagues at City College in New York.
Pickren will also highlight other journals and APA divisions as they reach historical milestones. In 2011, he'll celebrate the 75th anniversary of APA's Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) with an interview with renowned social psychologist and racism researcher Thomas Pettigrew, PhD.
“My vision is to try to connect more with the rest of psychology so that we complement other efforts going on, without sacrificing our responsibility to our historians and to feature the critical scholarship,” says Pickren, who was the historian and archives director at APA from 1998 to 2006.
Pickren is also nurturing new authors through an informal mentoring program. When promising submissions aren't publication-ready, Pickren matches the authors with established psychologist-historians who can guide them. He's also internationalizing the journal's intellectual diversity by adding experts in psychology's history from India, South America and Europe to the journal's editorial board.
“Too often in the West we think we know how things should go and want to export that without importing anything,” says Pickren. “I want to generate a good intellectual exchange we all can benefit from.”