The main aim of the conference is academic. We wish to identify and promote the best current current research in our area and communicate the content to experts around the world in a way that promotes academic creativity. We achieve this by:
- bringing experts together to discuss (in diverse ways and contexts) current research projects and issues, and creatively bounce ideas off each other;
- confining this work to a few intense days that are not interrupted by everyday teaching or administrative tasks; and
- selecting content on the basis of a thorough expert review process that gives authors helpful feedback on both the quality of their work and how to improve it.
Beyond these primary aims and procedures, this conference is developing and testing a new semi-virtual format with the following additional aims:
- to promote equality by making it easier for colleagues in financially disadvantaged countries to participate
- to promote cultural diversity among conference participants, with interesting long-term implications for academic content, and
- to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per participant.
A video documentary about the semi-virtual conference format is here.
These additional aims are consistent with, or can be derived from, the ethics guidelines published by different academic societies including academic societies of psychologists, to which many ICMPC participants and ESCOM members belong.
Relevant ethical principles of psychologists
The American Psychological Association (APA) publishes an extensive set of ethical guidelines with the slogan “Advancing psychology to benefit society and improve people’s lives”. The following extracts are relevant for questions of cultural diversity and environmental sustainability and hence for a semi-virtual conference format.
“The development of a dynamic set of ethical standards for psychologists' work-related conduct requires a personal commitment and lifelong effort to act ethically; to encourage ethical behavior by students, supervisees, employees and colleagues; and to consult with others concerning ethical problems.”
This point implies that ethics play a role in all aspects of psychological research, teaching, and practice.
Power and responsibility
“Because psychologists' scientific and professional judgments and actions may affect the lives of others, they are alert to and guard against personal, financial, social, organizational or political factors that might lead to misuse of their influence.”
“[Psychologists] are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work. Psychologists … accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior...”
These two sentences suggest that psychologists should consider all positive and negative effects of their research activities on other people. Greenhouse emissions from flying to conferences will indirectly affect people living in poverty in developing countries.
Honesty and public service
"[Psychologists] strive to help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior."
This point implies that it is important to be honest about major current social or global problems such as racism and climate change. One should not deny the importance of such issues or act as if they were unimportant.
“Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people…”
“Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language and socioeconomic status…”
“In their work-related activities, psychologists do not engage in unfair discrimination based on … (the same list)”
From this point, one might conclude that psychologists sholdl strive to include colleagues from less financially privileged countries on an equal level in their research and teaching programs. A semi-virtual conference format can help achieve that goal.
“Psychologists exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.”
Racism and emissions that cause climate change are "unjust practices", because both problems are mainly caused by rich or white people, whereas the negative consequences are mainly experienced by poor or black people. One might conclude that psychologists should act within their sphere of influence to reduce the impact of racism and climate change.
Psychology and climate change
The APA has also published an extensive report on the psychological implications of climate change:
APA (2011). Psychology and global climate change: Addressing a multi-faceted phenomenon and set of challenges. Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change.