Statements Regarding Controversial Issues
Psychology is the science of behavior. It seeks to understand the causes of behavior in individuals in terms of biological, environmental, social, and cultural variables. The Department has wide and varied course offerings and is housed in a building with specially-designed facilities, including computer rooms and laboratories in physiological, human factors, social, clinical, and other areas of psychology.
The Bachelor’s degree in Psychology provides solid preparation for students who aim to: seek further study of psychology in graduate programs; pursue a career in any field that deals with people, such as guidance counseling, human resources, nursing, social work, and teaching; or seek an understanding of behavioral principles while pursuing a well rounded education.
The CSULB Department of Psychology enjoys an outstanding reputation throughout the nation. The faculty is composed of more than 40 full-time and part-time members who provide a climate of diversity. Our Psychology Dept. has no single dominant orientation, but has a balance of views and interests.
The members of the department are committed to excellence in teaching. They are also active in research and professional and community service.
Statement on Diversity
The Department of Psychology strongly values diversity in our workplace and in the areas of teaching, research, and service, including community work. We define diversity broadly, including, but not limited to matters of: age, gender/ gender identity, socioeconomic status, employment status, physical and mental disability, race, ethnicity, nationality, skin color, primary language, sexual orientation, religion, and spirituality. This commitment to diversity is consistent with the mission of CSULB which emphasizes preparing students to function effectively in a culturally diverse society. This commitment to diversity also reflects our appreciation of and respect for our students who comprise one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, particularly with regard to gender and race/ethnicity. Our commitment to diversity is also consistent with the values promoted by our professional organizations (e.g., the American Psychological Association, Asian American Psychological Association, Association of Black Psychologists, Association for Women in Psychology, National Latina/o Psychological Association), and reflects the growing importance of diversity in all disciplines of psychology.
Building on CSULB’s commitment to equity in educational access, we possess a vision for social justice; that is, a society in which the human rights of all members are recognized and equal access is provided to all public resources. This vision for compassion, justice, and equity is important in our workplace environment and is exemplified in our teaching, research, and service. Specifically, courses such as Asian American Personality and Mental Health, Community Psychology, Health Psychology, Multicultural Psychology, Psychology of Sexuality, Psychology of Women, and Workplace Diversity examine current inequities and propose strategies for creating a more just and equitable society. Recent faculty research projects also focus on social justice. Faculty conduct research with a wide range of populations with the aim of reducing inequity and promoting health. Such projects include research on racism and stereotyping, as well as barriers to help-seeking and health disparities in local underserved communities. Much of this research is supported by federally funded grants (e.g., the NIMH Minority Research Infrastructure Support Program [MRISP]), reflecting the commitment of the department, university, and federal government to reducing inequities in health. Our commitment to social justice is also reflected in recent faculty activities in the community, including consultation with the World Bank to improve the educational outcomes of children in developing countries, HIV and STD prevention and intervention services for gay men, and health screening and promotion for medically underserved communities.
We also reject prejudice, discrimination, and oppression in all their forms. These themes are addressed directly in many of the courses offered through the department, including all of the courses listed above. The department also strives to support students from diverse backgrounds through student groups (e.g., Black Psychology Student Association), mentoring programs for under-represented students (e.g., Career Opportunities in Research Program), and individual faculty-student mentoring relationships.
In all of these efforts, we strive for movement from simple tolerance of individual differences to a genuine respect and appreciation for these differences.
We understand that commitment to diversity is an ongoing process, so faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to examine their own beliefs and biases. Recent efforts to stimulate this process include a colloquium series focused on culture and health, as well as a workshop on diversity conducted by the director of the multicultural center at a department retreat. Through a combination of ongoing department activities and honest personal self-reflection, we hope that all members of the department will come to value human differences.
Statement on Misuse of Psychologists’ Work
The Department of Psychology regards it as deeply unethical that any faculty member knowingly allow his/her work to be used to support groups that disseminate views of racial/ethnic superiority and/or racial/ethnic hatred. Moreover, in accordance with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, we expect faculty to take all reasonable steps to prevent the misuse or misrepresentation of their work. We are concerned that psychological research has been used in the past in intellectually unjustifiable and socially harmful ways, such as limiting immigration of certain groups or justifying unequal opportunities in education and employment. We wish to make it clear that these uses are distortions of scholarship in the field.
Statement on Academic Freedom and Responsibility in Research
The Department of Psychology supports the right of its faculty to conduct and present scientific research on topics of their choosing. The ability to engage in scholarly pursuits which may or may not be in line with current thinking is a cornerstone of academic progress. It is through active dialogue and debate, not the stifling of thought, that knowledge progresses. Whether the research is ultimately rejected by the scientific community or becomes the basis for a new direction in the field will depend on the quality of the research and the ability of the faculty member to defend his or her views. It will also depend on the extent to which the faculty member has taken precautions to defend against biases, to conduct his or her research in an ethically responsible manner, to consider alternate explanations, and to be concerned about the implications of his or her work. It is these types of considerations that will be used by the larger scientific community to evaluate and ultimately accept or reject controversial research. And it is this process of peer review that will ultimately weed out biased and unsound research, not a priori assumptions about which lines of research should be allowed to be conducted in the first place.
In this spirit the Department of Psychology recognizes that its faculty members constitute a community of scholars with diverse interests and points of view. The views of individual faculty may not represent the views of the Department as a whole. In accordance with the principles of academic freedom outlined by the American Association of University Professors, we support the right of our faculty to engage in scholarship of their choosing; however, we expect faculty whose views are controversial to state that their views may not represent those of the Department.
Statement on the Controversial Writings of Dr. Kevin MacDonald
A majority of Psychology Department faculty members approved the following statement.
While the Department of Psychology highly values academic freedom, many faculty members are concerned that our Department and University are being seen as supporting the work of our colleague, Dr. Kevin McDonald. This work on ethnic/racial differences, more specifically the conclusions he has drawn on Jewish culture, has been embraced by certain extremist groups, and used by some as a rationale for their ideology.
Concerns about how Dr. MacDonald’s research is being used by extremist groups led to a forum in December 2007 during which Dr. MacDonald was invited to present his work. During this forum and subsequent on-line discussions, faculty raised a number of concerns. Faculty were particularly concerned that Dr. MacDonald’s research on Jewish culture does not adhere to the Department’s explicitly stated values on academic freedom, responsibility in research, and human diversity. Faculty also raised concerns about potential violations of the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct (http://www.apa.org/ethics/code2002.html) and a variety of conceptual and methodological issues. It was also noted that many of these writings have appeared in other media rather than in psychological journals that require peer review and rigorous scientific and psychological methodology.
As a result of these concerns, the department wishes to dissociate itself from the controversial writings of Dr. Kevin MacDonald. We respect and defend his right to express his views, but we affirm that they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach.
Statement approved by ballot 23 April 2008.