I am honored to serve the Psi Chi membership as President during the 2011–12 year. My presidential responsibilities include attendance at several of the regional and national psychology meetings, where I look forward to meeting many of our members and advisors. My travel plans this year include attending three regional conferences and one international: SEPA in New Orleans (February 16–18), WPA in San Francisco (April 26–29), MPA in Chicago (May 3–5), and International Congress of Psychology in Cape Town, South Africa (July 22–27). Psi Chi’s Regional Vice-Presidents, who are elected by the chapters within their regions and also serve as members of the Psi Chi Board of Directors, are busy organizing the Psi Chi programs held at each of the regional conventions. In addition to my travels to regional conferences, I will be planning the Psi Chi programming for APA’s annual convention to be held next August in Orlando. Through all of this travel and "conferencing,” I hope to meet many chapter members to hear what Psi Chi is doing that works for you, and what we could change or add to better meet your needs!
Between travels to conferences, I will also make several trips to our Central Office in Chattanooga, TN. There, I will assist Psi Chi’s fabulous staff members and executives in any way I can. One area of work, which I will discuss below, is assisting our Executive Director on one of Psi Chi’s strategic initiatives—Internationalization.
It has been about one-and-a-half years since the chapters voted on the constitutional change to internationalize Psi Chi. During that time, the Board has developed a strategic plan for internationalization and begun its implementation. Prior to the constitutional change, international "affiliate” chapters were accepted for about 25 years. Our "affiliate” chapters at the University of Victoria (Canada), chartered in 2003, and at National University of Ireland Galway, chartered in 2009, are now full chapters with all of the rights and responsibilities that come with full chapter status.
Currently, we have just over 400 Psi Chi members at three international chapters in Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand; and almost 200 members outside of the 50 U.S. states in Puerto Rico and the U.S. territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition, our Executive Director Dr. Martha S. Zlokovich is working with groups in Russia, Guatemala, India, the West Indies, the Bahamas, Australia, South Africa, India, and Canada to complete their applications. The board recently approved chapters at the American University of Cairo in Egypt and the University of British Columbia Vancouver, both of whom we expect will have their charter members inducted soon. On behalf of the Psi Chi Board of Directors, staff, and U.S. membership, I would like to welcome all of our international members to Psi Chi, and congratulate them on their academic achievements!
Why is it important for Psi Chi to grow internationally? I believe that Psi Chi will benefit in many ways, all consistent with the results of the third Global Survey Report on Internationalization of Higher Education, conducted by the International Association of Universities (IAU) and summarized in an article by Francisco Marmolejo on the Chronicle of Higher Education website (2010). A majority of the 745 institutions surveyed (representing 115 different countries) reported that internationalization was important to them. As summarized by Marmolejo, the top five reasons driving the desire to internationalize higher education were to
1. improve student preparedness,
2. internationalize the curriculum,
3. enhance the international profile of the institution,
4. strengthen research and knowledge production, and
5. diversify its faculty and staff.
Similarly, the top three benefits of internationalization as reported by the International Association of Universities were to
1. increase international awareness of students,
2. strengthen research and knowledge production, and
3. foster international cooperation and solidarity.
The reasons for and benefits of internationalization as reported in the IAU report (www.iau-aiu.net/content/latest-activity) are directly in line with Psi Chi’s mission to "produce a well-educated, ethical, and socially responsible member committed to contributing to the science and pro- fession of psychology and to society in general” (Psi Chi, 2011; the full mission statement can be found at HERE). While we have barely scratched the surface, our efforts to internationalize Psi Chi will strengthen the organization as a whole, as well as benefit our individual members.
What can you do to help? I urge you to consider the following ideas and play an active role in moving Psi Chi into the global arena:
• Are you a study abroad student? If so, let your new institution and department know about Psi Chi, and the many opportunities that exist for members (HERE), including over $350,000 annually awarded for research and grants (HERE).
• Are you an international student studying in the U.S.? If so, don’t forget to let institutions in your home country know about Psi Chi!!
• Are you a graduate student or an alumni member with professional relationships at international institutions? If so, encourage them to consider establishing a Psi Chi chapter! Our Executive Director, Dr. Martha S. Zlokovich, will work directly with them in submitting their application materials. They can find application information HERE.
By working together on our internationalizing of Psi Chi, we will all contribute to the future of the field and reap the benefits that can be realized through Psi Chi’s vision to "become recognized globally as a premier international honor society, and the premier international honor society in psychology” (Zlokovich, 2010)!
Chronicle of Higher Education (2010, October 22). Internationalization of higher education: The good, the bad, and the unexpected [Web log post]. Retrieved from HERE
Psi Chi (2011). Purpose & mission statements. Retrieved from HERE
Zlokovich, M. S. (2010). Psi Chi International Honor Society strategic plan for international expansion. Psi Chi Central Office, Chattanooga, TN.