From the CEO

Writ large, the mandate of the international side of APA-the Committee on International Relations in Psychology (CIRP), the Office of International Affairs, APA's Div. 52 (International), and international subcommittees of many divisions and offices-is to facilitate information and exchange, and to promote the use of psychological knowledge through appropriate international programs and to influence policy. This has been carried out in many ways, including hosting international colleagues, representing APA in international venues such as the United Nations and World Health Organization, promoting international collaborations, collaborating on substantive projects with international dimensions, and disseminating information about international opportunities and activities.

APA has addressed its international goals more formally in recommendations from the Policy and Planning Board (PPB) in a 2004 report and from a 2001 Board of Directors task force. These bodies recommended a long-range, policy-driven approach. As the PPB report stated, "The global village is shrinking…. As the largest psychological organization in the world, APA is in a position to take the lead in internationalizing psychology." Analogously, the Board of Directors task force report recommended "multiyear, strategic planning for promotions and activities" with an emphasis on international organization and policy issues.

In developing programs to fulfill these goals, it is important to consider what global psychology is, and what role APA might play in encouraging a global psychology.

What is global psychology?

"Globalization" was first coined to refer to the integration of national economies through trade and commerce flows. It now also refers to the movement of people and knowledge across borders. The promise of globalization is rapid and broad interaction; the danger of globalization, extrapolating from its economic context, is a threat of increasing inequality in access to resources and training, degradation of local determination, and imposition of a homogenized world view. How does this map onto global psychology? And how does this inform APA's international activities?

Worldwide, APA's journals are among the most cited; its ethics code is broadly disseminated; its manual of publication style forms the discipline's standard. Beyond APA, American psychology has until recently dominated the face of psychology in numbers of publications and numbers of psychologists. Although this visibility does provide an established base with which to interact in the world arena, being the largest also carries the risk of failing to recognize and listen to other perspectives. Worse, it carries the danger of failing to realize that the composition of psychology around the world is changing-the majority of psychologists are now outside the United States. A truly global psychology must be multifaceted and multicul-tural. This observation is, of course, not at all new. Cultural competence and cultural sensitivity have at their core the assumption that diversity compels multiple perspectives. This observation is useful in asking how APA can be effective in the international arena, and how APA can practice a global psychology with a positive direction.

Opportunities for psychology.

Globalization offers a tremendous opportunity for psychology to enrich its content, methods and scope. Like all opportunities, however, this must be nurtured, and it must be addressed by open discussion about how to do it. Although we might all agree that it is important to keep an inquiring mind, to share and learn as well as to inform and teach, we also know that our cognitive and social systems make this difficult to implement. To do so, we need strategic and open discussion about assumptions and biases, and we need collaborative interaction to seek a common set of psychological principles.

Globalization also offers an opportunity to bring psychological knowledge and expertise to policy issues. But to accomplish this, APA and its members need to be well informed about psychology around the world, and to become collaborators on how to provide effective expertise to policy issues.

The challenge for us all is to create a context in which two seemingly contradictory worldviews find expression. The first tells us that we are all the same in our humanity-regardless of ethnic group, age, experience or social or political history. The second tells us that we are vastly different, based on our culture, experience, history, group membership and identity. Psychology and its organizations, both national and global, offer us a venue in which we can affirm the validity of each of these statements, and in which we can use this to enrich our research, teaching and service to society.


Merry Bullock has written the column for this issue at Norman Anderson's invitation.