A version of the following article appeared in Psychological Science Agenda (Vol. 16, No. 1; Winter 2003) and has been printed here with permission of the American Psychological Association (APA) Science Directorate
Decade of Behavior Moves Onward
by Keren Yairi, Decade of Behavior Coordinating Office
As we turn another page on the calendar and enter the third year of the new millennium, we also find ourselves in Year Three of the Decade of Behavior. Most PSA readers are, by now, familiar with this multidisciplinary initiative to increase awareness of how behavioral and social science research can help solve societal challenges, centered on the themes of safety, health, education, prosperity, and democracy. Endorsed by some 70 professional associations across the behavioral and social science disciplines, the Decade is spreading its message to a wide audience through programs aimed at policymakers, scientists, students, and the public.
National Advisory Committee
The new year also brings new governance to the Decade, as six members rotate off the National Advisory Committee and six new members join. This committee, which guides the initiative, comprises a panel of distinguished scientists representing diverse disciplines and research areas, as well as expertise and geographic provenance (see list of new members below).
The Decade Coordinating Office has recently announced the roster of Decade of Behavior Distinguished Lectures for 2003. Each year, this lecture program--funded by the McDonnell Foundation--supports major addresses at the annual conferences of up to five professional scientific societies that have endorsed the initiative. Centered on Decade themes, lecturers and topics are selected to showcase research that stretches the boundaries of traditional disciplinary focus and that promotes a cross-disciplinary approach. One of last year’s speakers, Daniel Kahneman, who was hosted by the American Political Science Association to discuss overlaps between international relations and psychology, has since received the Nobel Prize for his seminal role in altering the field of economics through his cross-disciplinary work in psychology.
The 2003 lectures are as follows:
The American Association for Public Opinion Research will host psychologist Richard Petty, Ohio State University, to speak on "Understanding the Process of Public Opinion Formation and Changes."
The International Society for Developmental Psychobiology will hear neurobiologist Bruce McEwen, Rockefeller University, discuss "The Neurobiology and Neuroendocrinology of Stress."
The Neurobehavioral Teratology Society will feature psychiatrist Ann Streissguth, University of Washington School of Medicine, lecturing on "Effects of Prenatal Alcohol on Long term Development, Family, and Communities."
The Society for Personality and Social Psychology has invited Pulitzer Prize Recipient Jared Diamond, a physiologist at the UCLA School of Medicine, to address "The Fate of Human Societies: A Challenge to Racism in Theories of Human Development."
A number other ongoing activities and programs have been actively pursued, as well. The Decade has sponsored a variety of Congressional Briefings on Capitol Hill to feature multi-disciplinary panels of scholars presenting research on "hot button" issues in the Decade theme areas. Exploring Behavior Week is an outreach program introducing the excitement of behavioral and social science careers to middle and high school students. FundSource is a web search tool for locating funding opportunities in the behavioral and social sciences that provides access to a database of foundations, federal agencies, and international funding sources. Sponsored in conjunction with The Smithsonian Associates, Smithsonian Lectures offer public talks related to Decade themes. Several Special Publications have also been published for the Decade effort, including scientific conference proceedings, journals, and the new Behavior Matters booklet series that offers a sampling of behavioral research that has led to innovations and improvements in our lives.
We look forward to a year of new developments as the Decade of Behavior continues to expand its reach.
Decade of Behavior National Advisory Committee
New Members (2003):
Robert Kaplan is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Kaplan is a Past-President of APA Division 5 and has twice won its Annual Award for Outstanding Scientific Contribution. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Ruth McRoy is a Distinguished Teaching Professor, Associate Dean for Research, Director of the Center for Social Work Research, and Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor in Services to Children and Families in the School of Social Work and Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas. Dr. McRoy is listed in Who’s Who of American Women and Who’s Who Among Black Americans. Her research focuses on racial issues in adoption and child welfare.
Steven Pinker is both Peter de Florez Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Mac Vicar Faculty Fellow at MIT. An expert in language acquisition, Dr. Pinker received the Linguistic Society of America’s Language and the Public Award and was honored among Newsweek’s 100 Americans for the Next Century. He is also a Fellow of APA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Neurosciences Research Program.
David Takeuchi is a Professor of Sociology at Indiana University and a Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington. Dr. Takeuchi has a cross-disciplinary background in sociology, mental health, and culture. He was Scientific Consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General and is currently on the editorial boards of the Journal of Mental Health Administration and the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
Alexander von Eye is a Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University. A Fellow of APA Division 5, Dr. von Eye has dedicated much of his work to building bridges between methods and statistics and applied fields, such as developmental psychology. One of his roles on the Advisory Committee will be to represent the interests of the Decade’s international affliliate organizations.
Ellen Wartella is Dean of the College of Communication, Walter Cronkite Regents Chair of Communication, and Mrs. Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair in Communication at the University of Texas, Austin. Dr. Wartella serves on the editorial boards of Communication Theory and Human Communication Research and is Senior Research Fellow at the IC2 Institute. As a consultant to the FCC, she has been an advocate for better television programming for children.
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