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Released October 31, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - University faculty, students and other professionals in psychology are missing the boat by not learning more about the advances being made overseas in their discipline, said the keynote speaker at the first Lee K. Hildman Colloquium at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Dr. Thomas Oakland, a University of Florida professor of educational psychology, urged students, faculty and others during his presentation, "Your Involvement in International Psychology: Let's Start Now - Or At Least Very Soon," to broaden their own horizons by traveling to other countries and engaging their counterparts in the field.

"There have been important advances in research (overseas), but students and colleagues in the United States know little of this research," he said. "We need to engage in work that goes beyond our own borders."

Oakland cited the variety of reasons that people give for not going abroad to work or learn about the advances in psychological research, including language barriers and not having the time to invest. "Try to create the time," he said. "There are untold opportunities (based on foreign psychology research) for us in our work."

The study of the human personality and early child care are just some of the areas that international psychologists are making research advances, he said.

Psychology is enjoying tremendous growth in Europe, Oakland said, where there are 277,000 graduate students in psychology. In Asia and South America, the number of people engaged in the field and its research is also growing, and Oakland anticipates that in 10 years there will be approximately one million psychologists internationally.

Dr. Oakland has worked with child development, assessment and intervention and school psychology in more than 40 countries. His travels have taken him to Brazil, where he was a Fulbright Scholar and was instrumental in developing the country's first national association of school psychology. His travels have also taken him to Mexico and Central America, and he is an honorary professor of psychology at the University of Honk Kong and the Iberoamerican University in San Jose, Costa Rica.

"It (Oakland's presentation) was informative and eye-opening about how psychologists can contribute beyond U.S. borders," said Dr. Mitch Berman, professor of psychology at Southern Miss.

Oakland also praised the Southern Miss International Studies program as critical to helping not only students in psychology learn about research in foreign countries, but helping broaden the horizons of all students, regardless of their major. "It (Southern Miss CICE) provides a sounds answer (to the question of why one should study abroad)," he said. "It's one of the best learning experiences you'll ever have, academically, culturally and professionally."

A former member of the faculty at the University of Texas' Department of Department of Educational Psychology for 27 years, Oakland recently received the 2003 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology.

The colloquium is named in honor of a longtime member of the Southern Miss Psychology Department faculty, Lee Hildman. Prior to his death this year, Hildman and his wife, Dr. Tommie Hildman, had discussed setting up a donation through the Southern Miss Foundation earmarked specifically for use by the department of psychology, which led to the creation of the colloquium.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM