Webster psychology professor Linda Woolf received a Presidential Citation from American Psychological Association (APA) President Nadine Kaslow at the organization’s annual convention in Washington, DC on August 9, 2014. The citation – a rare honor awarded to only about 50 out of 130,000 APA members yearly – commends Woolf for “educating current and future generations about human rights through her scholarly teaching and writing, and for assisting APA in drafting and adopting policy resolutions that prohibit human rights abuses and protect the welfare of individuals in U.S. custody, most notably the comprehensive 2013 policy that reconciled seven earlier APA policies.”
Kaslow personally presented Woolf with the citation at a surprise ceremony at the APA convention. Woolf says she was “quite stunned and honored” by the recognition.
Woolf’s work to reform APA policies regarding the human rights of those in U.S. custody was also recognized earlier this year in a personal letter from Kaslow and Norman B. Anderson, APA CEO. “The work you did,” Kaslow and Anderson wrote, “was that of a scholar and committed activist. You represent the very best in our Association.”
Woolf attended the APA Annual Convention with Webster colleague and fellow psychology professor Michael Hulsizer. Together with Kathleen Dockett, a retired psychology professor from the University of the District of Columbia, Woolf and Hulsizer participated in a symposium titled “Social Responsibility: An Ethical Imperative for the 21st Century.” The symposium discussed the connection between social justice and the field of psychology as well as the need to incorporate explorations of social justice issues in the psychology classroom.
Woolf and Hulsizer also made a poster presentation titled “Teaching the Psychology of Political Violence: Genocide, Torture, and Terror” that provided fellow educators with ideas and resources for tackling the subject of political violence with college students.
The theme of social responsibility echoes in the work for which Woolf received her presidential citation and in each of the presentations with which she was involved this year at the APA convention.
“As psychologists,” she explains, “we not only endeavor to teach the science of psychology but also how that knowledge can be used to make the world a better place–a more socially responsible place. Social responsibility is so key to our profession that it is one of the primary learning outcomes, as defined by the American Psychological Association, for the undergraduate psychology degree.”
The ways in which psychologists engage with “diversity concerns; environmental sustainability; awareness about social oppressions associated with minority statuses; applications of psychologically based interventions to public policy and global concerns; and civic engagement,” Woolf says, make them “uniquely poised to prepare students to be effective and socially responsible professionals and global citizens.”
To support their colleagues in doing so, Woolf, Hulsizer, and Docketts’ presentations “highlighted methods to teach and foster social responsibility in our students on three levels: extracurricular, curricular, and within the classroom.”
Woolf begins her 28th year teaching psychology at Webster this week, and her fall teaching schedule includes a course on genocide, a political psychology course, and a course themed around the ideas of love and hate, demonstrating her continued dedication to bringing issues of social justice and ethics into her own classroom.