"Let's Get in Formation: On Becoming a Psychologist Activist in the 21st Century"

Thursday, November 30, 2017
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
Event Type
Distinguished Visitors Program

Distinguished Visitor Kevin Nadal, professor of psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center at City University of New York 

Throughout the history of the United States, there have been many social movements that have resulted in an array of historic societal outcomes – ranging from the end of racial segregation to women’s voting rights to the legalization of same-sex marriages. Despite the positive outcomes derived from political activism, many psychologists have struggled with how to advocate for social justice, while maintaining their professional responsibilities and ethical boundaries. The current talk will review the historical ways that psychologists have participated in political movements- from the use of psychological research in landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases to psychologist-led pushes for policy changes in psychology, medicine, and other mental health related fields. Next, a critical review will be provided of some of the major controversies or dilemmas regarding psychology, social justice, and political participation – including: (a) ethical concerns and professional boundaries, (b) the utility of political neutrality in psychology, (c) psychologists’ balance and self-care, (d) psychologists’ lack of advocacy training, and (e) beliefs of the role of social justice advocacy in psychology. Finally, the talk will conclude by discussing the concept “psychologist-activist” - highlighting the many ways that psychologists across various subfields and institutions can combat oppression on individual, interpersonal, group, and institutional levels.

Tea at 4:15 PM

Sponsored by the Department of Psychology, the Marian E. Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center, and the Provost's Office in conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program

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