President’s column

Dorothy Miell writes.

I’m writing this column as I’m attending two rather special days for the Society – one showcasing psychology to 16- to 19-year-old students and the second talking to final-year students and recent graduates about careers in psychology [see p.14, and next month’s issue]. Both these events (organised so well by the Standing Conference Committee and the Society conferences team) have been really popular, reaching about 1500 young people as well as some of their teachers and advisers.

Talking to the some of those attending (and to the exhibitors from some of our member networks and university partners) it was excellent to hear about their enthusiasm for the subject, the level of interest in the Society and the informed questions being asked about courses and careers. In line with the outcomes of our ongoing graduate destinations survey, the careers these students were interested in ranged broadly both within the full range of our practice and academic areas as well as beyond psychology (child nursing, adapted design, HR, for example). Despite the lure of London’s Christmas shopping streets so nearby it was noticeable that on both days the breaks between talks saw delegates milling around all the stalls and discussing the presentations. If your network or university wasn’t one of those represented at the event you may want to think about hosting a stall at the next one – contact lists were being filled up on every stand I saw (especially where there were demonstrations for them to interact with, or freebies to take away!).

Whilst it’s only the second time we’ve run the graduate event, the Psychology4Students event has been a sell-out with a waiting list on each occasion. Such a level of interest obviously bodes well for the Society and for interest in psychology as a subject to study. It’s perhaps not surprising that we heard the news last month that we have finally broken through the 50,000 mark for members of the Society, having had a much more static membership for so long before then. I know my predecessor as President, Richard Mallows, had been looking forward to welcoming the 50,000th member throughout his presidential year and I’m delighted that I will finally be able to do this.

As I listened to the presentation to graduates this morning about the Society and what its members can expect to receive, as part of our drive to build the membership still further, I was struck by mention of the ‘too many to list’ member networks within the Society. You will probably already know about our review of the current network structure being chaired by our President Elect Jamie Hacker Hughes, but the urgency of trying to improve things is clear when you talk to new or potential members and see their confusion. Of course this is nothing new, however. Robert Bartlett concluded his 1947 Presidential Address to the Society with the words: ‘Psychology is now a vast subject split up into many different sections, each using its own jargon, knowing very little of what is happening in other sections, and, in several cases, claiming that its part is the whole.’ (His Presidential Address was, by the way, published in 1948 in the very first issue of the first volume of the Society’s Quarterly Bulletin, a forerunner of The Psychologist.) Nearly 70 years on and we still have to address similar problems! The review is in a consultation period at the moment so you should be feeding in your views to any networks you are a member of, or direct to Jamie on [email protected].

At the start of a new year it’s not only good to see the membership growing and the continuing strong interest amongst the next generation of potential psychologists, but also to recognise an upcoming milestone for the Society this year. 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to the Society, which has shaped the nature of our activities since then. I’d like to find ways of celebrating this milestone and will be considering options and discussing with the Trustees at our next meeting – perhaps we could award 50 anniversary fellowships? Why not get in touch to let me have your suggestions and comments?
Plenty to look forward to, and to do, in 2015…

Dorothy Miell

Contact Dorothy Miell via the Society’s Leicester office, or e-mail: [email protected]

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