Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Laura Bauder
Sixteen months ago the departments of psychology at Cedar Crest College and Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) decided to collaborate on planning the Synergy National Psychology Conference.
Synergy is literally defined as collaboration and, indeed, tireless collaboration is what it took to make the conference happen. The Synergy Conference is a national event that is organized between two-year and four-year colleges to bring students in psychology together as a way of educating them about the multifaceted nature of the discipline.
Dr. Micah Sadigh, Professor of Psychology at Cedar Crest College, defined the purpose of the conference as a means to “expose students to the breadth, depth, and multifaceted nature of the discipline of psychology through lectures, discussion, forums, and experimental activities.”
Together Sadigh and Dr. Robin Musselman, Chair of Psychology at LCCC, met frequently to plan the massive conference that spanned two days.
The planning for the conference was done in four major phases and consumed a lot of time and energy from all who were involved. It was also a very costly endeavor. To relieve some of the cost, Sadigh, Mussleman, and Dr. Kerrie Baker wrote for a grant from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology and won the grant for “Building a Bridge Between Psychology Programs of 4-Year and 2-Year Colleges through Pedagogy”.
As required by the grant, research was conducted during the second day of the conference. At the end of each session, students were asked to complete a survey about their learning experience. The data from that survey was collected and will be compiled into a paper.
Additionally, Debra Khateeb, the Director of Development at Cedar Crest, worked tirelessly to secure two grants so that a group of local high schools could attend the conference. The grants came from Bernie Story of Lehigh Valley County Community Foundation and William Collins of Lehigh Chapter 60 Order of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.
The phases of planning were divided by the purpose of the event as well as the goals that the departments wanted to accomplish, the building structure, promoting the event, and finally implementation and hosting the event.
On Friday, October 4, Cedar Crest College had the privilege of hosting the conference. The day began with Sadigh giving an overview of psychology through history.
Baker and Dr. Sharon Himmanen spoke about career paths in psychology. Dr. James Scepansky presented “The Thrill of
the (Virtual) Kill” outlining data collected in relation to violence and gaming. Dr. Jane Ward presented “What is Forensic Psychology,” an exploration of what forensic psychology really is and what it is perceived to be. And Dr. Diane Moyer presented an uplifting lecture on how the growing field of Positive Psychology can impact our lives.
After the lectures, dinner was provided followed by a panel discussion where students were encouraged to ask questions about the field of psychology. The members of the panel also shared their personal experiences as they created their paths in the field.
After the panel, conference attendees were offered the opportunity to view the movie “Inception”, a 2010 film about lucid dreaming and much more. The showing of the movie was preceded by a brief lecture about the unconscious mind and the process of dreaming.
On Saturday, October 5, Lehigh Carbon Community College hosted the second part of the conference. The day was set up in a way that students could choose from 20 lectures to attend throughout the day. Presenters came from all over the country to present their material.
Each hour 4-6 lectures were available for students to choose from. Lectures varied from preparing for your career in psychology, to how sexual arousal influences judgment, to using psychological games to understand how witness testimony can be misused due to preconceived notions of situations.
The group as a whole met together for only one lecture, which was presented by Dr. Joshua Aronson about education in America and how changes in education can change America. At the end of the day, students met up once again for a closing ice cream social.
In addition to Cedar Crest College and Lehigh Carbon Community College, students attending the conference came from around the country from as far as Ohio, Chicago, and Virginia. There were even students from local high schools.
Several students were overheard discussing the impressiveness of the depth and quality of the conference. Students and schools alike approached Sadigh about presenting his lecture on the history of psychology.
Synergy ‘13 certainly drew attention to the college. High School and Community College students were able to come to campus and meet actual students who were involved in the psychology programs. Colleagues in academic psychology were able to see the good work and hard working students that comprise the department at Cedar Crest College.
Sadigh said that the implementation of this conference truly could not have come to fruition without the support of Baker, Himmanen, Moyer, Ward, and Scepansky, as well as Psychology Club, President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Psi Chi, Psi Beta, Admissions, Public Relations, College Center, Campus Security, Food Services, Development, Printing Services, Mussleman and the Department of Psychology at Lehigh Carbon Community College, particularly Dr. Betsy Swope and Professor Gary Andrews, advisor to the Psychology Club at LCCC, and of course the Lehigh Carbon Community College for lending their staff, faculty, facilities, and students to the conference.
Sadigh said it was a true testament of synergy in motion that all the pieces came together, that all parts worked just the way they were planned to, and that the 150 students, faculty, and presenters were able to come together to make this event happen.
For information on future Synergy Conferences please visit http://psibeta.org.