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Eye on Psi Chi: Winter 2010

Why Psi Chi Needs to Sit at the Global Table
Alvin Y. Wang, PhD, Psi Chi President, The Burnett Honors College (FL)

Psi Chi is going global. That’s right. Thanks to a constitutional referendum passed by a majority of voting chapters, Psi Chi is now the International Honor Society in Psychology. But what exactly does this mean? In general terms, globalization refers to an ongoing process whereby regional societies, economies, and cultures become integrated through a transnational network of shared communication, ideas, and exchange. Indeed, for writers such as Thomas L. Friedman the acceleration of globalization due to advances in information technology signifies that the "world is flat.”

For Psi Chi, this means that we need to broaden the scope of our mission to embrace students and colleagues regardless of geography. The time is right for Psi Chi to sit at the global table and join the transnational discourse on psychology that already exists through organizations such as APA’s Division 52 (International Psychology), the International Congress of Psychology, and the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology.

Trans-nationally, students have already expressed the desire to embrace globalization in their studies. For instance, the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Open Doors Report (2008) indicated that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 7% to a record high of 623,805 in the 2007-08 academic year. This rise followed international student enrollment increases of 10% and 8% in the previous 2 years.

Similarly, the Open Doors Report (2008, ¶1) indicated that "U.S. students are studying abroad in record numbers...the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8% to a total of 241,791 in the 2006-07 academic year.” All told, this remarkable increase caps a decade of unprecedented growth in the number of Americans studying abroad. In fact, over a 10-year period the number of Americans studying abroad increased almost 150% (from under 100,000 in 1996-97 to nearly a quarter of a million in 2006-07).

President Obama’s administration has also acknowledged the importance of globalization for education. To underscore this development, the Chronicle of Higher Education (McMurtrie, ¶3) recently interviewed Alina Romanowski, deputy assistant secretary for Academic Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Romanowksi indicated that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "have sent clear signals that education exchange is a crucial aspect of the U.S. international agenda.”

With globalization we have the potential to be enriched with a world filled with diverse ideas, perspectives, and opinions. This potential for enrichment will be fulfilled as long as we appreciate and respect the views of diverse others. However, another part of the human experience may involve prejudice, discrimination, and xenophobia. Tragically, on a global scale these conditions can find their hideous expression in racism, terrorism, and genocide. However, the discipline of psychology possesses some important tools that can combat these forms of dehumanization. After all, dehumanization occurs when humans behave badly toward one another. As the science of behavior, psychology has knowledge and an obligation to do its part in eliminating the forms of human (mis)behavior that are dehumanizing. In so doing, psychology can promote positive expressions of the human experience such as shared understanding, empathy, and love. This is why Psi Chi needs to sit at the global table.

Institute of International Education (2008). Open Doors 2008: International students in the United States. Retrieved October 27, 2009, from

Institute of International Education (2008). Open Doors 2008: U.S. Students studying abroad. Retrieved October 27, 2009, from

McMurtrie, B. (2009, October). Fulbright program adapts to Obama administration’s priorities. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 27, 2009, from 01MnkZZHZgcnQVfHFTbHR4IR99aX8SN3gaYVBR

Dr. Alvin Wang is Dean of the Burnett Honors College and a professor of psychology at University of Central Florida (UCF). He received his PhD in psychology from SUNY at Stony Brook (1980) and his BA from SUNY at Brockport. His research interests include the area of human memory, learning, and cognition. He has been at UCF since 1986 and served as an associate chair for the Department of Psychology (1992-95). Dr. Wang served as faculty advisor for the UCF Chapter of Psi Chi (1990-94), received the Florence Denmark National Faculty Advisor Award (1993), and served as the Psi Chi Southeastern Regional Vice-President (2000-04). He is currently a fellow of Division 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. His interests include travel, fine cuisine, and reading.

Copyright 2010 (Volume 14, Issue 2) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

Eye on Psi Chi is published quarterly:
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