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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 1998

Eye on Psi Chi

SUMMER 1998 | Volume 2 | Number 4


Internationalizing Psi Chi

Slater E. Newman, PhD
Psi Chi President, North Carolina State University

" not becoming a global profession at a very rapid pace. . . . Exciting developments are taking place in scientific and applied psychology all over the world, and we have much to learn from them. . . . More than ever we are all citizens of the world" (Fowler, May 1998).

In this column I will propose several ways that Psi Chi chapters can become active (1) in educating its members and others about developments in psychology and related fields that are occurring outside the United States, and (2) in fostering communication between and among students and scholars from different countries (including our own). I suggest, also, that chapters might become involved in a service project, international in emphasis. I believe that the time has come for Psi Chi to become continuously, internationally engaged.

There are five parts to this column. First I will describe briefly my development over the years in international psychology so that you have some idea about "where I'm coming from." Then I'll review some of the internationally related activities sponsored by Psi Chi since 1962. Next I will suggest several activities that chapters can undertake and some activities that can be done at the regional and national levels. Finally, there is a short concluding statement.

Personal Development

Here are some of the factors that I believe helped internationalize me: a two-semester course in History and Systems of Psychology during my master's program in industrial psychology at Boston University; completing the foreign language requirement (in my case, French and German) in the PhD program in experimental psychology at Northwestern University; the continuing exchange of reprints over the years with psychologists in a number of countries; three sabbaticals at the University of London's Birkbeck College; attendance at the annual meetings of the Tactile Research Group where, in an informal setting, researchers from several countries report their latest completed and proposed experiments; and, contact with students, both graduate and undergraduate, as well as faculty from outside the United States, who are studying or working on our campus or at neighboring institutions. Each of these (plus, of course, reading the literature and attending other scientific meetings) helped me to become aware of and to appreciate the valuable work being done by psychologists around the world.

Some Psi Chi International Activities

Psi Chi was founded in 1929. Examination of its history (Hunt, 1979) indicates that there was very little (if any) international activity until 1962. Then, however, 1962-63 was designated as Psi Chi's International Year by the National Council of which Roger Russell was president. Thus, there were articles in the Psi Chi Newsletter that year by students from seven countries; several chapters had colloquia with speakers from abroad; psychology textbooks were shipped to colleges overseas; funds were raised to sponsor a young psychologist from abroad to attend the Washington meeting of the International Congress of Psychology; and Otto Klineberg, president of the International Union of Scientific Psychology, was Psi Chi's main speaker at its annual meeting.

During his tenure as Psi Chi national president (1980-83), Charles Spielberger ". . . was influential in providing information to assist U.S. psychology students who desired to study or conduct research abroad . . . and worked to establish student affiliate status . . . for Psi Chi members in the International Council of Psychologists" (Cousins, Tracy, & Giordano, 1992, p. 417). Other international items appearing in the Newsletter were reports of psychology-related trips abroad by Executive Director Ruth Cousins, President Florence Denmark, and Vice-President Raymond Fowler; talks by Psi Chi-sponsored speakers from Lebanon, South Africa, and the United Kingdom; and an excellent article on participating in international psychology (Rosenzweig, 1983, Summer) which still has much relevance today. In 1994, President Joseph Horvat appointed an International Committee. It has been chaired by President-Elect Harold Takooshian and has been working to determine the interest in and feasibility of establishing Psi Chi chapters outside the United States. (Psi Chi's bylaws were amended in 1984 to permit the inclusion of such chapters). Finally, in 1994, a program of service projects of one or two years in duration was initiated by the National Council. The first two, the collection of pens and pencils for schoolchildren in Malawi and of eyeglasses distributed worldwide, were both international in emphasis.

What Chapters Can Do

The following activities might be sponsored alone or in collaboration with a Psychology Club, or with honor societies or clubs from related disciplines. Your chapter may wish to have an International Committee that would have the responsibility for arranging one or several activities during the year. Here are some suggestions:

  1. A reception for students and faculty from psychology and perhaps from related disciplines who are visiting your campus from other countries. Visitors from neighboring campuses might also be invited. Early during the academic year would be a good idea for the first one, with others possibly to follow. The main purpose would be social, though perhaps some type of orientation program to the department(s), college(s), and/or community might be arranged.
  2. Talks by students or faculty visiting from other countries or by local students or faculty who have recently visited another country. Such speakers might, for example, describe the educational system of a country, or the research in which they or others are engaged, or the various types of professional practice in the country.
  3. Talks by local or visiting faculty or students engaged in international research.
  4. One or more sessions providing information about opportunities to study and to do research abroad, and possible sources of support. The session(s) might also include information about obtaining work abroad.
  5. One or more sessions describing the various international organizations that have students as members (e.g., International Association of Applied Psychology, International Council of Psychologists, Interamerican Society of Psychologists).
  6. Participation in an international service project.
Regional and National Activities

Activities similar to several of those mentioned above might be arranged at regional (e.g., Eastern Psychological Association) and national (e.g., American Psychological Society) meetings. For example, at this year's annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Psi Chi cosponsored a symposium, "International Psychology in the United States: Past, Present, Future," and a poster session, "Psychology Worldwide--Research, Teaching, Practice," and hosted a reception for international guests. The establishment of chapters outside the United States and the publication of articles of international interest or of a column on international psychology in our quarterly magazine, Eye on Psi Chi, are two others domains of national-level responsibility.

Concluding Statement

My hope is that through international programs at the chapter, regional, and national levels, our members (and others) will become more broadly educated and that international communication will concomitantly be fostered. I hope, too, that international psychology will soon come to be a continuing part of the program of each chapter and region and at the national level.
I welcome your comments and suggestions about what I've said here. I'm interested in learning about any international programs your chapter has had and/or may be planning. Feel free to contact me by regular mail (Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7801), telephone (919/515-1728), fax (919/515-1716), or e-mail ( I look forward to hearing from you!


Cousins, R. H., Tracy, C., & Giordano (1992). Psi Chi and Psi Beta: The two national honor societies in psychology. In A. E. Puente, J. R. Mathews, & C. L. Brewer (Eds.), Teaching psychology in America: A history (pp. 403-427). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Fowler, R. (1998, May). Sampling psychology's international flavor. APA Monitor (pp. 29-30). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hunt, T. (1970). Five decades of Psi Chi, 1929-1979. Washington, DC: Psi Chi.

Rosenzweig, M. R. (1983, Summer). Participating in international psychology. Psi Chi Newsletter, 9(3), 2-3.

Copyright 1998 (Vol. 2, Iss. 4) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

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