SPSSI and the United Nations
Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues:
75 years of Commitment to Human Rights and Social Justice at the United Nations
SPSSI has been represented as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and has held consultative status with the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1991 and with the UN's Department of Global Communications (DGC) since 1987. While there are many domains of influence at the UN, three in which SPSSI team members participate are:
- the Non-Governmental Organization Community, particularly the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (CoNGO) and its subcommittees
- UN divisions and departments, for example the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- the Permanent Missions to the United Nations
SPSSI members submit proposals for panels and prepare statements to various commissions to make informed policy recommendations based on psychological research. Two of the commissions SPSSI engages with are the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the Commission for Social Development (CSocD). Generally, SPSSI works in conjunction with the UN by preparing programs and panels on current social issues (e.g., ageing, children’s rights, health, social development). Statements and programs sponsored or endorsed by SPSSI require the approval of its Executive Committee.
SPSSI regularly collaborates with other UN NGOs. SPSSI is also a member of the Psychology Coalition at the United Nations (PCUN), which was founded by SPSSI United Nations NGO Team members Dr. Florence Denmark, Dr. Harold Cook, and Dr. Corann Okorodudu (who also served as its president).
SPSSI's United Nations NGO Team members (also known as "UN Representatives") are: Dr. Harold Cook, Dr. Joseph De Meyer, Dr. David Livert (Main UN Representative), Dr. Corann Okorodudu, Dr. Laurel Peterson, Dr. Deborah Fish Ragin, Dr. Rachel Ravich, Dr. Peter Walker and Dr. Sheri R. Levy. Click here to learn more about SPSSI's UN Representatives.
SPSSI's United Nations NGO Interns are: Yasmin Hussein, Alison Goldberg, Dr. Anni Sternisko, and Laura Lopez-Aybar.
Click here to learn more about SPSSI's United Nations NGO Team Interns.
Recent SPSSI/UN NGO Activities
High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development: The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and American Psychological Association (APA) hosted a virtual event entitled "The Challenges of Data Disaggregation to Eliminate Systemic Racism and Related Discriminations in the Implementation of the SDGs and Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic" in partnership with missions to the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations, and independent experts on the occasion of the July 2022 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The event was moderated by SPSSI President Dr. Linda Silka, and panelists included: H.E. Maritza Chan (Chargé d’Áffaires, A.I. of the Mission of Costa Rica to the UN); Mr. Edgar Vielma Orozco (Director General of Sociodemographic Statistics at Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography); H.E. Xolisa Mabhongo (Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of South Africa to the UN); Dr. Mai Phan (Social Policy Sociology and Social Research, Race Data Disaggregation Expert, Toronto Police Services Professor); and Gay McDougall (Vice Chair, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, International Human Rights Expert). [watch recording]
15th Annual United Nations Psychology Day: As member of The Psychology Coalition of NGOs having consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (PCUN), The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) co-organized the 15th Annual United Nations Psychology Day. The Psychology Day at the United Nations provides an opportunity for psychology to share with U.N. Permanent Missions, U.N. agencies, NGOs and the private sector the activities of psychologists at the U.N. and the role of psychology in addressing concerns of global importance. Psychology Day also introduces psychologists and psychology students to psychology's current and potential involvement in U.N. activities and issues. [watch recording]
High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Panel 2021: The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), in partnership with missions to the United Nations (UN), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and independent experts, hosted this panel presentation and discussion during the July 2021 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The full title of this event was "Beyond the Rhetoric on 'Leaving No One Behind': Concrete Policies and Actions to Eliminate Systemic Racism in Implementation of the SDGs." This event addressed the urgent need to integrate concrete human rights policies and programs, especially policies and programs for the elimination of systemic racism and racial and ethnic discrimination, into the implementation and assessment of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [watch recording]
ECOSOC Youth Forum Event 2021: The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) organized a side event for the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2021. Panelists addressed the gaps in the holistic health needs of diverse youth populations across the world, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists also emphasized the importance of empathy in building effective responses to the COVID-19 crisis and toward attainment of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. [watch recording]
The Commission on the Status of Women 65th session 2021: In coordination, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues’ (SPSSI's) UN Committee sponsored a parallel event of psychologists, medical doctors, advocates, and UN representatives to discuss the causes, correlates, and consequences of intergenerational gender-based violence against women and girls. [watch recording]
Past SPSSI UN/NGO Events
Recent SPSSI UN/NGO Statements
Meeting Mental Health Needs in an Unequal World 2021
A Statement to commemorate World Mental Health Day 2021 initiated by the Psychology Coalition of NGOs having consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and co-sponsored by the following NGOs: SPSSI, European Health Society.
SPSSI Submits Statement to UN on Disparities in Policing, 2021
In mid-May of 2021, SPSSI's UN Committee submitted a statement to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at the United Nations, which was meeting for its 30th session. The statement provides insight into how psychological research can be used to help reduce disparities in the use of excessive force by law enforcement due to systemic racism.
Past SPSSI UN/NGO Statements
How To Get Involved
The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) welcomes applications from graduate psychology students to serve as interns with its United Nations NGO Team. The position will commence in September 2020 and continues through the end of Summer 2021. Interns will learn about the UN system, and will engage with SPSSI UN/NGO representatives, other UN psychologists and other NGO interns on social issues of interest to the UN community. SPSSI UN interns serve as non-paid volunteers. Click on the link for application details. Applications for the SPSSI UN/NGO Internship Team!
*Applications are due June 15th each year
The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) welcomes applications from psychologists to join its United Nations NGO Team. SPSSI is An accredited Non-Governmental Organization in consultative status at the United Nations with the Department of Global Communications (DGC) formally known as the Department of Public Information (DPI) the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and we’re active with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
SPSSI UN/NGO representatives serve as non-paid volunteers but are eligible for reimbursement of modest transportation and other expenses. They attend monthly UN/SPSSI team meetings (generally the first Thursday of every month) and engage with the Psychology Coalition of NGOs at the United Nations, UN Psychology Day, and substantive NGO Committees. They participate in a variety of UN events, and share information about the priorities of the UN with SPSSI members through reports, newsletter articles and presentations at SPSSI meetings. The appointment is for two years and is renewable for additional terms of two years. There is a review of the new representative’s work at the end of the first year and continuing reviews occur every two years. Click on the link for application details. Applications to become a SPSSI Representatives at the United Nations!
*Applications are due June 15th each year
Guidelines for Representatives to the UN
Entities we work with
Commission on the Status of Women
Commission for Social Development
Commission Population and Development
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Commission for Science & Technology for Development
Psychology Coalition of NGOs Accredited at the United Nations (PUNCAN)
American Psychological Association (APA)
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
United Nations Resources
How Our Work Aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 because they understood that it would not be possible to build a peaceful world if steps were not taken to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere, and ensure that their rights were protected. The Sustainable Goals cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.
- Bullock, H. E., Lott, B., & Truong, S. V. (2011). SPSSI and poverty: Reflections at seventy?five. Journal of Social Issues, 67(1), 150–164. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2010.01689.x
- Saegert, S., & Evans, G. W. (2003). Poverty, Housing Niches, and Health in the United States. Journal of Social Issues, 59(3), 569–589. https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-4560.00078
- Lott, B., & Bullock, H. E. (2001). Who are the poor? Journal of Social Issues, 57(2), 189-206. https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-4537.00208
- Reppond, H. A., & Bullock, H. E. (2018). Framing homeless policy: Reducing cash aid as a compassionate solution. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 18(1), 284-306. https://doi.org/10.1111/asap.12156
- Good Health
- Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2010). Social factors as determinants of mental health disparities in LGB populations: Implications for public policy. Social Issues and Policy Review, 4(1), 31-62. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-2409.2010.01017.x
- Pérez, L. M., & Martinez, J. (2008). Community health workers: social justice and policy advocates for community health and well-being. American Journal of Public Health, 98(1), 11-14. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2006.100842
- Assari, S. (2018). Health disparities due to diminished return among Black Americans: Public policy solutions. Social Issues and Policy Review, 12(1), 112–145. https://doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12042
- Rivera, L. M. (2014). Ethnic?racial stigma and health disparities: From psychological theory and evidence to public policy solutions. Journal of Social Issues, 70(2), 198-205. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12055
- Ostrove, J. M., & Cole, E. R. (2003). Privileging Class: Toward a Critical Psychology of Social Class in the Context of Education. Journal of Social Issues, 59(4), 677–692. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0022-4537.2003.00084.x
- Hochschild, J. L. (2003). Social class in public schools. Journal of Social Issues, 59(4), 821-840. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0022-4537.2003.00092.x
- Gender Equality
- Grabe, S. (2010). Promoting gender equality: The role of ideology, power, and control in the link between land ownership and violence in Nicaragua. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 10(1), 146-170. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2010.01221.x
- Connell, R. W. (2005). Work/Life Balance, Gender Equity and Social Change. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 40(3), 369-383. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1839-4655.2005.tb00978.x
- Clean Water
- Bullard, R. D., & Johnson, G. S. (2002). Environmentalism and public policy: Environmental justice: Grassroots activism and its impact on public policy decision making. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 555-578. https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-4537.00184
- Renewable energy
- Morell, D. (1981). Energy conservation and public policy: If it's such a good idea, why don't we do more of it? Journal of Social Issues. 37(2), 8-30.
- Good Jobs and Economic Growth
- Jahoda, M. (1988). Economic recession and mental health: Some conceptual issues. Journal of Social Issues, 44(4), 13-23. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1988.tb02089.x
- Industry Innovation and Infrastructure TBD
- Reduced Inequalities
- Herek, G. M. (2011). Anti?equality marriage amendments and sexual stigma. Journal of Social Issues, 67(2), 413-426. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2011.01705.x
- Dixon, J., Durrheim, K., Tredoux, C., Tropp, L., Clack, B., & Eaton, L. (2010). A paradox of integration? Interracial contact, prejudice reduction, and perceptions of racial discrimination. Journal of Social Issues, 66(2), 401-416. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2010.01652.x
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Geiger, N., Swim, J. K., & Glenna, L. (2019). Spread the green word: A social community perspective into environmentally sustainable behavior. Environment and Behavior, 51(5), 561-589. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518812925
- Responsible Consumption
- Arbuthnott, K. D. (2012). Sustainable Consumption: Attitudes, Actions, and Well?Being. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 12(1), 204-208. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2011.01258.x
- Markowitz, E. M., & Bowerman, T. (2011). How much is enough? Examining the public's beliefs about consumption. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 12(1), 167-189. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2011.01230.x
- Climate Action
- Swim, J. K., & Becker, J. C. (2012). Country contexts and individuals’ climate change mitigating behaviors: A comparison of US versus German individuals’ efforts to reduce energy use. Journal of Social Issues, 68(3), 571-591. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2012.01764.x
- Life Below Water
- Dreyer, S. J., Kurz, T., Prosser, A. M., Abrash Walton, A., Dennings, K., McNeill, I., Saber, D. A., & Swim, J. K. (2020). Towards a psychology of the food?energy?water nexus: Costs and opportunities. Journal of Social Issues, 76(1), 136-149. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12361
- Life On Land
- Vlek, C., & Steg, L. (2007). Human Behavior and Environmental Sustainability: Problems, Driving Forces, and Research Topics. Journal of social issues, 63(1), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2007.00493.x
- Peace and Justice
- Christie, D. J. (2006). What is peace psychology the psychology of?. Journal of social issues, 62(1), 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2006.00436.x
- De Rivera, J., & Páez, D. (2007). Emotional climate, human security, and cultures of peace. Journal of social issues, 63(2), 233-253. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2007.00506.x
- Partnerships for the Goals TBD