Representatives from each of APA's 53 divisions met at the association's headquarters July 28-29 to plan for one of the biggest changes that will happen at APA's 2002 Annual Convention in Chicago--the revamped system of programming.
Starting with the Chicago convention, a portion of programming hours will operate on a new system called "track programming"--blocks of sessions designed around a theme coordinated by six to eight divisions with shared interests.
The new format will enable workshops, invited speakers and innovative programming to reach a broader audience and will likely boost attendance at sessions, according to APA's Board of Convention Affairs (BCA). BCA also hopes the new format will bring more attention to divisions and raise division membership among convention participants.
BCA members, APA staff and President-elect Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD, met with division representatives to offer guidance on programming and stimulate ideas for innovative convention offerings. BCA members grouped division representatives into 11 clusters that will collaborate on 10 hours of convention programming each, with the option of designing one 10-hour track or two five-hour tracks.
"Some very exciting programs are emerging," says Rochelle Balter, PhD, of BCA. "I think people will be happily surprised with what they find at this convention, but I also think this first convention [with the new format] will be a work in progress."
At the July meeting, each cluster selected its track theme or themes, identified possible speakers and considered types of sessions that would attract its division members.
"A lot of attention was paid to getting speakers who would be high-profile and speak to a broad interest," notes BCA Chair William Howell, PhD.
Other popular ideas included hosting debates, workshops and sessions that included opportunities for audience contribution, say participants. Some clusters built a theme based on the participating divisions' individual interests, and others developed their theme around the divisions' similarities, notes Jeffrey Lockman, PhD, of Div. 7 (Developmental).
"It was a challenging and creative process," says Lockman, program co-chair for Div. 7. "I think this type of program is making people think more about psychology in an integrated manner."
During the planning process, a representative from APA's Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Office helped plan sessions that would qualify for CPE credit, part of an effort that began this year to offer more such opportunities at convention.
Each division cluster appointed a representative to a central program committee that will enable clusters to share ideas and eliminate redundancy in programming. The committee will work with BCA and Zimbardo on planning association-wide programs such as the opening session, closing session and two additional hours of programming designed to appeal to all members.
Division clusters and leaders will continue planning and fine-tuning programming ideas this fall with the help of e-mail listservs set up for each group. This month, division leaders and BCA will begin developing advance publicity for each track, says Howell. BCA will provide divisions with marketing materials to promote the collaborative programming and their own programming hours.
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