A Path to Human Rights and Social Responsibility
Abstract: Psychological science and practice has long been driven by a commitment to the well-being of individuals, groups, and communities. It is at the heart of why many individuals study psychology—they care about people. In the educational arena, terms such as fundamental human rights, social responsibility, and global citizenship are commonly employed buzzwords. However, within psychology these terms have moved from general ideas to codified policies and learning goals. For example, in 2013, the Guidelines for the Undergraduate Major: Version 2.0 was adopted by APA. Goal 3 focuses on the development of students’ ethical thinking and social responsibility in a diverse and changing world. In 2010, the APA Ethics Code was changed to include and highlight the inviolate nature of human rights. Moreover, the value of human rights is recognized in the Vision Statement of the APA. As such, it is imperative that we, as teachers of psychology, infuse human rights and social responsibility into all of our courses, particularly our foundational courses. But how? What are human rights? What do we mean by creating socially responsible global citizens? Through this talk, we will explore the the concepts of human rights and social responsibility; we will learn how this information can be integrated into an Introductory Psychology class through lecture and activities; and we will explore specific learning outcomes and goals related to these concepts for use in our courses. In 1984, Psychologist Carolyn Payton, the first woman and the first African-American Director of the United States Peace Corps, in an address to the APA asked, “Who must do the hard things?” It was her belief that psychology should play a fundamental role in understanding and confronting social inequalities, social justice, and human rights. Her call for action is just as vital to today—we must do the hard things. As psychology teachers, it is imperative that we provide our students the necessary tools so that they can become a voice for human rights and social justice in the 21st century—a voice grounded in the science of human behavior.
Biography: LINDA M. WOOLF is a Professor of Psychology and International Human Rights at Webster University where she teaches a variety of courses related to the Holocaust, genocide, human rights, terrorism, torture, ethics, and peace psychology. Recent articles, book chapters, and presentations focus on hate groups, torture, LGBT and women’s rights, psychosocial roots of genocide and terrorism, and diversity issues (e.g., Psychosocial Roots of Genocide: Risk, Prevention, and Intervention; Psychologists, Coercive Interrogations, and Torture; and Why Diversity Matters: The Power of Inclusion in Research Methods). Although her primary research concerns the psychosocial roots of torture, mass violence, and genocide, Dr. Woolf also works extensively towards the integration of human rights and genocide/Holocaust education across the university curriculum and has developed curriculum materials available through the Society for Teaching of Psychology and the American Sociological Association. Dr. Woolf is Past-President of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence, an Institute for the Study of Genocide Board Member, and serves on the Rafael Lemkin Book Award Committee. Dr. Woolf also co-drafted the APA American Psychological Association 2006 Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and chaired the Task Force, which developed the 2013 Policy Related to Psychologists' Work in National Security Settings and Reaffirmation of the APA Position Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.