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(Draft APA Strategic Plan on which comments were made is at the end of this article)

19 January 2019

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the proposed strategic plan. As leaders of Division 52, the division of International Psychology, we would like to comment on the plan from our perspective as internationalists. Below you will find our recommendations for changes in wording of the document. We also add some commentary to flesh out these recommended changes.

Essentially, while we provide some preferred “wordsmithing,” what we are recommending involves more than changes in wording. More importantly, what we are asserting here is more of an alternative lens through which to view the American Psychological Association and its role in the world of psychology. APA has many members who originate from other countries and cultures and live in the United States. We also have members and affiliates who reside in other countries, yet value their membership in our association. Many of us collaborate with and value our association with psychologists throughout the world whether or not they are APA members. We recognize that as citizens and psychologists, we are inter-connected worldwide as never before. Today, we view ourselves as not only members of our society, but indeed as members of a global society.

From this point of view, we encourage sensitivity to the historic impact of the dominance of Western Psychology on psychologists from other countries and cultures. We encourage a move away from the hegemony of Western views to recognizing and respecting that there are many psychologies around the world and that we have much to learn from as well as contribute with our colleagues globally. We do not view ourselves as the final authority, rather, we are deeply appreciative of the contributions of psychologists around the world and we value the opportunities available for collaboration as equal partners.

As a discipline in the 21st century, we encourage a certain globally minded sensibility that recognizes and values emerging psychological research and knowledge showing that there are a multiplicity of pathways for psychologists to pursue to advance our science. From concepts of human development, to models of intervention, from research methods to ethical principles, from a global perspective, one size does not fit all.
We appreciate your consideration.

Specific Comments

1. Operating Principle #2:

  • Adopt a global perspective. Advance psychology, and APA’s interests, internationally, through association efforts and meaningful collaborations.

We suggest omitting “and APA’s interests” because this raises the stereotype of the USA as the hegemonic authority. in the past “advance psychology” said from a North American / European perspective has generally meant “do our psychology, not yours, even if it doesn't fit”.

Rationale: Adopting a global perspective means, in the first place, recognizing one’s own boundaries of culture, geography, entitlement, history, and circumstance, understanding that one’s personal history defines a lens for viewing others and the world, and striving to be a learning partner, deep listener, and equitable collaborator.
The advantages of adopting a global perspective are enhancement of our models, theories, concepts, and enlargement of the scope in which me might be effective (including realizing that the models APA supports may not be universally relevant or valid).

Therefore this operating principle, with the phrase “and APA’s interests” does not seem compatible with this lens. This operating principle might be rewritten to adopt a more collaborative, partnership ethos. For example, by rewording “advance psychology globally through international dialogue, association efforts, and meaningful partnerships”

2. Infuse more of a global perspective: (international, UN)

We suggest some editing of the wording of the following two goals. Changes are noted below (additions noted in bold):

Goal: Utilize psychology to make a positive impact on critical societal issues.

Objectives:
1. Employ psychology to improve public health, increase access to services, and reduce disparities.
2. Apply psychological science to the development of new technologies that affect people’s lives.
3. Use psychology to improve the functioning of public and private institutions, organizations, systems, and communities.
4. Increase the influence of psychology on policy decisions at the international, national, federal, state, and local levels.
5. Promote the advancement of human rights, fairness, diversity, and inclusion through the application of psychological science, and through advocacy in global bodies.

Goal: Prepare the discipline and profession of psychology for the future.

Objectives:
1. Protect and increase funding for applied psychology, education, practice, science, and training.
2. Facilitate greater alignment between the science and practice of psychology.
3. Promote the adoption of new technologies and methodologies in psychology and guide their integration into the discipline and profession.
4. Attract, diversify, develop, and support the next generation of psychology professionals.
5. Ensure that psychology functions as a hub of international and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Goal: Strengthen APA’s standing as an authoritative voice for psychology.

From an international perspective, this last goal smacks of the “old” US hegemony over the principles and content of psychology. In particular #3 (APA should not ignore what other countries are doing) and #4 (the wording should acknowledge the broad discussion in psychology around the world about ethical standards; there are codes and meta-codes outside of APA’s purview).

Objectives:
1. Expand APA’s position in the USA as the premier provider of science, practice, education, and career resources for psychology, and collaborate internationally to promote comprehensive resources.
2. Increase the impact of APA’s legislative, regulatory, marketplace, and social welfare advocacy.
3. Collaborate with national and international associations to set standards and provide evidence-based guidelines for the field.
4. Establish, Uphold, and embody, and codify the ethical standards for the profession and discipline nationally, and participate in international discussions of globally relevant ethical principles.

Other Comments:
Developing the new APA strategic plan provides a good opportunity for APA to indicate its commitment to international awareness, and to show, in the wording and the words chosen that APA intends to be a global, collaborating, learning partner. Such changes will move toward ameliorating the expectation that APA and US psychology ignore the rest of the world.

TEXT OF THE DRAFT APA STRATEGIC PLAN, JANUARY 2019

APA Strategic Plan for your Review
(note: the order of principles, goals etc does NOT reflect a ranking – all are equal emphases)

Vision
A strong, diverse, and unified psychology that enhances knowledge and elevates the human condition.

Mission
The mission of APA is to promote the creation, advancement, communication, and application of psychological science and knowledge to benefit society and improve lives.

Guiding Principles
The core values that must inform and infuse everything the association does. They apply equally across all areas of psychology including practice, science, general applied psychology, and education and training.

  • Advocate for psychology and psychologists. Demonstrate an unwavering commitment to promoting the field while supporting and unifying those that make it their profession.
  • Build on a foundation of science. Ensure that the best available psychological science informs policies, programs, and products.
  • Engage with and deliver value to members. Provide resources, opportunities, and networks that help all members at every stage of their career.
  • Champion diversity and inclusion. Further the understanding and appreciation of differences and be inclusive in everything we do.
  • Respect human rights. Focus on human rights, fairness, and dignity for all segments of society.
  • Lead by example. Serve others, model integrity, and demonstrate the highest ethical standards in all our actions.

Operating Principles
How all parts of the association will work together to execute the plan.

  • Make an impact. Focus on efforts with the scale and scope to significantly advance the interests of the public, psychology, and psychologists.
  • Adopt a global perspective. Advance psychology, and APA’s interests, internationally, through association efforts and meaningful collaborations.
  • Build a stronger association. Collaborate across APA to align resources, decision-making, and the contributions of governance, advisory groups, staff, and the broader membership with the strategic plan.
  • Increase organizational effectiveness. Focus on outcomes, make data-informed decisions, invest in strategic priorities, create capacity for new initiatives, and increase efficiency.

Strategic Goals and Objectives
The goals listed in this plan represent broad strategic areas critical to the successful pursuit of APA’s mission. They are intended to be of equal importance, therefore, the order does not imply differences in priority.

Goal: Utilize psychology to make a positive impact on critical societal issues.

Objectives:
1. Employ psychology to improve public health, increase access to services, and reduce disparities.
2. Apply psychological science to the development of new technologies that affect people’s lives.
3. Use psychology to improve the functioning of public and private institutions, organizations, systems, and communities.
4. Increase the influence of psychology on policy decisions at the federal, state, and local levels.
5. Promote the advancement of human rights, fairness, diversity, and inclusion through the application of psychological science.

Goal: Elevate the public’s understanding of, regard for, and use of psychology.

Objectives:
1. Expand the public’s perception of psychology to accurately reflect the full breadth of the field.
2. Influence educational systems to foster lifelong appreciation and application of psychology.
3. Make psychological science accessible and understandable to the public and key decision makers.
4. Become the go-to organization for the public regarding the quality and effectiveness of psychology-related products and services.
5. Distinguish psychology’s unique contributions in health, health care, and human welfare.

Goal: Prepare the discipline and profession of psychology for the future.

Objectives:
1. Protect and increase funding for applied psychology, education, practice, science, and training.
2. Facilitate greater alignment between the science and practice of psychology.
3. Promote the adoption of new technologies and methodologies in psychology and guide their integration into the discipline and profession.
4. Attract, diversify, develop, and support the next generation of psychology professionals.
5. Ensure that psychology functions as a hub of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Goal: Strengthen APA’s standing as an authoritative voice for psychology.

Objectives:
1. Expand APA’s position as a premier provider of science, practice, education, and career resources for psychology.
2. Increase the impact of APA’s legislative, regulatory, marketplace, and social welfare advocacy.
3. Serve as a leading resource for standards and evidence-based guidelines for the field.
4. Establish, uphold, and embody the ethical standards for the profession and discipline.

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