Feature

Two psychology training programs--one that focuses on integrating neuroscience into traditional psychology and the other on promoting psychology's contributions to disaster relief and the battle against terrorism--shared the prize for the first Award for Innovative Practices in Graduate Education.

Penn State University and a collaborative program between Pacific Graduate School and Stanford University split the $5,000 award (see program profiles on pages 21 and 22). Honorable mentions went to Florida State University for its innovative clinical research laboratory and the University of New Hampshire's Preparing Future Faculty initiative (see page 23).

The award, given by APA's Board of Educational Affairs (BEA), was created last year to recognize graduate training programs that are creative and forward-looking and that have improved their programs' education and training quality, says Emanuel Donchin, PhD, chair of the BEA award committee and a BEA member.

"We want to encourage innovation because graduate training is an evolving process--the discipline changes, the needs of students change, directions of research change and the nature of practice changes," Donchin says. "We want to encourage departments who innovate because one of the hopes is that those innovations will percolate and that the successful departments will provide other departments with models to emulate."

The annual innovative awards may also encourage graduate programs to evaluate how they prepare graduate students for new demands in employment within interdisciplinary contexts, says Paul Nelson, PhD, deputy director of APA's Education Directorate and director of APA's graduate and postdoctoral education and training office.

"It's very easy for all of us to get comfortable in the habit of what we do--graduate education is no different," Nelson says. "We need to stop, look and listen and see where practices are taking us. I hope these awards will stimulate more departments to re-examine their current practices. Many in the process may discover ways to try something new...and how to better equip students for a changing market in employment--both in academic and nonacademic careers."

The award committee--which includes BEA members and members appointed by the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP)--judged 16 submissions from programs for the award. Cynthia Belar, PhD, executive director of APA's Education Directorate, will present the award to winners at COGDOP's 2004 annual meeting, Feb. 13-15, in Austin, Texas. Nominations for the 2004 innovative awards will be accepted in the fall.