As this month's cover story illustrates, this is an exciting time to be a graduate student in psychology. Advances in both the science of psychology and in technology have created innumerable opportunities for future psychologists. These changes have also helped to put graduate students on the cutting-edge of the field in some arenas.
Through its expanded Web site and through its dissemination of information, the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) is making information on such changes available to graduate students and professional psychologists alike. As APAGS's new chair, I'm excited about several activities that we are pursuing, and I extend an invitation for collaboration to all interested.
One arena in which APAGS can work with psychologists is toward expanding the use of technology in both the science and practice of psychology. Most graduate students understand the recent technological innovations and can--and do--apply these to the field in new and innovative ways. They are conducting Web-based research. They access the vast storage of information available on the Internet to develop ideas for their research and eventual practice. They are interested in the ethics of professional Internet communications. This is an area of professional development for which students are primed and eager to assume leadership roles.
APAGS is also working to more effectively bridge the scientist-practitioner gap. We are comprised of students from a range of specialty areas. Our work together has led to an appreciation of the richness of the field and to an understanding of the importance of scientists and practitioners working collaboratively. One of many recent examples is a project between APAGS and private practitioners. A listserv was developed so that graduate students and practitioners could, among other things, discuss the pressing clinical issues that are not being addressed in the research literature with the goal that graduate research would more closely match the clinical needs of the public.
Career preparation partnerships
Many graduate students are feeling pressure to specialize within their programs or pursue particular career paths, sometimes solely based upon the preferences and interests of their faculty members or in a frenzied response to marketplace trends. For example, despite the fact that some programs are accredited to provide broad and general training, students often feel that the marketplace or a time-limited education demands early specialization. Will this type of training adequately prepare students for an ever-changing career?
APA's Practice Directorate has partnered with APAGS and has been instrumental in helping APAGS develop a broad vision about service delivery and professional identity development that fosters critical and creative thinking.
Are students who desire to teach being adequately prepared? Explicit training as future faculty is often lacking. APAGS is working with the Education Directorate on projects to ensure that students can receive in-depth, quality future faculty preparation as they wish.
Resource development partnerships
In keeping with APAGS's commitment to support the development of culturally competent and sensitive practitioners and researchers, we have used our own richly diverse committee to develop relevant resources. Some of these include guides for ethnic-minority, lesbian, gay and bisexual student convention attendees. We have joined with APA's Public Interest Directorate to develop a guide for students with disabilities to aid their programs in accurately understanding their needs for reasonable accommodation.
In consultation with the Science Directorate, we are developing ideas for APAGS to promote the Decade of Behavior. As social and behavioral scientists, our shared vision to pool our unique psychology-based skills and knowledge to address important national social issues will assist in efforts to blend the scientist-practitioner identity of emerging psychologists.
Looking toward the future, I believe that human rights is an area in which psychology can provide great innovation. Many of the current human rights organizations are headed and staffed by physicians. Psycholo-gists, with our understanding of conflict resolution, of the effects of torture and deprivation, and of cultural diversity, are in an ideal position to work in conjunction with human rights organizations to more effectively promote peace and humane treatment. While some psychologists are doing this work already, globalization opens yet another door for psychology to provide its distinct impact on this important social issue.
I welcome your involvement and interest in all of these areas, and invite you to learn more about, and partner with, APAGS. Please visit APAGS's Web site at www.apa.org/apags/.