GÖTEBORGS UNIVERSITET
Psykologiska institutionen    
March 13, 2000

GÖTEBORG UNIVERSITY

Department of Psychology

 

Professor Charles D. Spielberger

College of Social and Behavioral Science

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL 33620

USA

 

 

Biennial Report of Activities of Division 4 (Environmental Psychology)

 

1.     Appointment/election of officers to the Executive Board

One of my very first tasks was to appoint Terry Hartig as the Divison´s Newletter Editor. Later I found it very much to be in the interest of the division to propose Terry for the position as secretary (the division has not formally had a secretary before) given Terry´s excellent administrative talents and mastery of the English language. He is certainly also a candidate for higher positions in the future. The job as secretary is therefore a valuable experience for him personally. I am happy to say that my proposal was approved by the members.

 

After the tragic death of the former treasurer, Joost van Andel, in San Francisco 1998, the division did not have a treasurer. After some search Terry and I were able to secure the candidacy of Einar Strumse from Lillehammar College in Norway. Einar graduated in 1996 and has been a postdoc with Rachel and Stephen Kaplan at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I know him personally from University of Bergen, where I have been a frequent visitor. (I was actually the outside opponent at his public dissertation defence.) I found him to be an excellent person with whom I am sure we can establish good working relations. Einar was elected unanimously in an email ballot, and he has now started his term.

It appears that the division has until now operated without a variety of formal rules and without procedures for electing officers. We are doing something about this. We are trying to engage the past division president, Gary W. Evans, in our activities, and we will soon start a search for a President-Elect. The idea is to have a full board of President, Past President, President-Elect, Secretary/Newsletter Editor, and Treasurer. We also want to establish, during our term, some more formal procedures that can be taken over by the next board. Although the division is small and has perhaps not been very active in the past, we hope this will change and indeed we see what we plan to do as instrumental in such a change process.

On recommendations from Mirilia Bonnes, Gabriel Moser and myself were appointed to the program committee for the Singapore Congress n 2002. Mirilia was appointed on my recommendation. Gary Evans is now appointed as the chair of the division´s program committee.

 

2.     Information Dissemination

Terry and I have been engaged in several activities to increase the division´s visibility, communication with members, and communication with some other organizations (something which was expressed as a desire at the membership meeting in SF 1998). We list these activities below.

 

·        2.1. Creating and maintaining a division home page

One of my former grad students, now a collaborator in a research project, Mathias Gustafsson, has done an excellent job in creating and maintaining the division´s home page (http://www.psy.gu.se/iaap/envpsych.htm). We intended to create a home page that would present basic information useful to old members and potential members, and at the same time a homepage that would be relatively easy to maintain. We think that we have achieved this objective. The home page now contains a general definition of environmental psychology, a little division history*, references to related organizations and relevant journals, many useful links, including of course a link to the IAAP home page with “how to become a member” information, and, finally, we each time post the Newsletter material before it goes to print. This is also when update the home page.

 

·        2.2 Newsletter submissions

Terry and I decided at an early stage to try to bring members into discussions around topics in environmental psychology. The plan was to write a short editorial for each Newsletter and solicit commentaries from select members. So, for the first editorial we asked Gary Evans and the president of the APA environmental psychology division, Robert Gifford, to comment on the relationship of environmental psychology to psychological science (plugging for the IUPS congress in Stockholm). The second editorial concerned applications of environmental psychology in environmental design activities, and we obtained comments by David Uzzel, president of the related organization International Association of People-Environment Studies (IAPS), and Gabriel Moser, president of the IAPS conference next summer. We now plan an editorial for the last Newsletter issue this year on new applications of environmental psychology in the area of sustainable development. We will have comments from two persons working in that area who are not environmental psychologists (Henk Staats, Charles Vlek, both of  The Netherlands). Our plan is then to do a related editorial about applications of environmental psychology in developing countries. In addition to this, Terry has invested much effort to solicit and edit materials for a news section which I hope and think the members are pleased with. I would also like to note that to my great satisfaction, Terry took the initiative to and actually produced for the Newsletter a very well written obituary of Joost.

 

·        2.3 Electronic mail

Terry has collected email addresses for both members and non-members whom we know of. This has made it possible for us to obtain direct comments from members on a few important issues including two elections. However, this does not yet work as smoothly as we would like. The problem is that the member information we have obtained from IAAP is in many cases incomplete or inaccurate. We hope this will be rectified with the transition to Blackwells. As I will mention below, it is also an obstacle to our efforts at recruiting new members.

 

·        2.4 Establishing a relationship with Journal of Environmental Psychology

Terry and I approached the editor of Journal of Environmental Psychology (JEP), David Canter, with the goal of establishing a closer relationship with the journal. JEP is the only journal in the area which publishes high-quality articles primarily focusing on psychological aspects of human-environment relations. Other leading journals such as Environment and Behavior are more interdisciplinary. (Also, Environment and Behavior is sponsored by a North American organization for environmental design researchers.) Both David Canter and the publisher, Academic Press, were enthusiastic about our proposal, so beginning in 2000 the journal will be published with the following text printed on the front cover: “Published with the support of the Division of Environmental Psychology of the International Association of Applied Psychology.”  David Canter is also writing an editorial in which he calls attention to the journal’s strengthened relationship with the division, and provides historical background information about the division. In the future the division will have the opportunity to publish division materials/announcements in the journal, and members who subscribe will receive a discount rate. For several good reasons, however, we decided against making subscription a mandatory part of becoming a member. Finally, members will also have the opportunity to make proposals concerning policy issues; however, of course, the final decisions will remain with the editor and publisher.

 

·        2.5 Increasing contacts with other organizations

There are several other organizations that count as members environment psychologists. These are the Environmental Design Research Association in North America, IAPS (mentioned above), Man-Environment Relations Association (MERA) in Japan, and People and Physical Environment Research (PAPER) in Australia.  However, all of these are interdisciplinary and a majority of their members come from disciplines other than psychology. Therefore, we believe the division fulfills a valuable function in providing the connection to the mother discipline. It is also the case that economic psychologists, health psychologists, social psychologists, and traffic psychologists may want to be associated with the division, although not with any of the other organizations. A desire expressed at the SF membership meeting was anyway to establish more contact with these other organizations, in particular IAPS. In accordance with the decision then made, Terry and I are organizing a division-sponsored symposium at the upcoming IAPS conference in Paris next summer. Several well known environmental psychologists have been invited to discuss the future of environmental psychology, a topic which many of the non-psychologists at the conference may want to hear.

 

3.     Membership Recruitment

We have tried through numerous personal contacts to encourage colleagues and students to consider joining IAAP. However, a more systematic general approach, based on reference to the membership list that was made available to us, has been hampered by incomplete and in accurate member information. We think that there may be several current IAAP members who are not currently affiliated with our division but who would be interested in having such an affiliation. More importantly, we are certain that many of our colleagues are not members. Therefore, we want to approach them with an appeal to become members and to encourage their students to join. In the spirit of the suggestions from the IAAP board, we also want to send out an appeal to known members to ask them to recruit colleagues and students. Accurate membership information is clearly essential to do this. It is also important that we can find out from such information how successful we are in our efforts.

 

4.     Economy

Since a new treasurer was only recently elected, we have not fully performed the tasks required from us. In fact, it was impossible for to me send in a report of economic transaction before my term. I did receive from Joost´s widow appr. US$ 1,300 which Joost kept in a bank account. (We assume that almost no money has been spent over the years, but we would nonetheless appreciate having documentation that the executive committee may have concerning division spending). I have informed Raymond Fowler about this. Right now I have the money in my bank account which he approved. When Einar now starts his term, I will transfer the money to him. Einar will also promptly get in contact with Raymond concerning his obligations. We have formulated a few policy principles for spending the money we have as well as future income.

The first principle is that we will only spend a portion of the accumulated sum.

Secondly, we want to establish as a principle to be followed in the future that the money is NOT to be used by officers for covering their costs. We rely here on the willingness of the executive officer’s departments to cover these (rather small) costs. We think this should be understood by anyone accepting the role of executive officer.

 In accordance with suggestions at the SF 1998 membership meeting, a third principle is that the money should be used to benefit students and in particular those who are economically disadvantaged. In line with this we have proposed to David Canter that we want to give an award for the best published JEP article based on a dissertation. The award will take the form of a reduced membership or congress fee. We are also thinking of reducing congress fees for students solely based on economic disadvantages. Here we will however coordinate this with the IAAP activities for the congress.

 

Yours sincerely,

Tommy Gärling, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology



*Information on the division’s history was difficult to dig up.  We contacted most of the people involved with founding the division, and found that none of them had archival materials to share with us.  The help of the association executive in this regard would be appreciated. In particular, we would like to receive material on representation of environmental psychology in IAAP Congress programs over the past 30 years (keynote addresses, invited symposia) as well as lists of the various executive officers since the founding of the division.