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ISSBD - Word from our President

Word from our President

This is my last ISSBD Bulletin note. My term as president of ISSBD will end at the Business and Awards Ceremony in Shanghai in July 2014. I look back to almost four busy years in office, and think that we have accomplished quite a bit during this time period. This was only possible because I have received strongand continuous support by the members of the ISSBD Steering Committee and the Executive Committee. I learned a lot about the dynamics of the ISSBD management system and the challenges you are confronted with when the task is to take the lead in a truly international organization. This experience was worthwhile and certainly helped in widening my personal horizon. When I started the new job, Past President Anne Petersen was particularly helpful. She patiently and carefully introduced me into all relevant topics and provided me with the basic knowledge concerning past developments and the information about necessary next steps in a broad variety of ISSBD ‘‘problem zones.’’ Later on, I benefited from the valuable support and advice of President-elect Xinyin Chen and the Steering Committee members Katariina Salmela-Aro and Ingrid Schoon. I am also very grateful to Kerry Barner from SAGE who supported ISSBD efforts in many respects, in particular, regarding membership issues and the ISSBD flagship journal IJBD. Moreover, I appreciated the strong commitment of our EC members. It has been real fun to work with this stimulating international group of distinguished scientists! Last not least, special thanks go to Jacobs Foundation as a wonderfully supportive funder: I very much appreciated the generous support and valuable assistance provided by Gelgia Fetz and Simon Sommer through the years.

Although I said before that we have accomplished a great deal together during the past years, this is not true for all of the goals that I had in mind when I started my presidency. One goal high on my priority list was to significantly increase the number of ISSBD members Although Ann Sanson, chair of the Membership Committee, Xinyin Chen, Membership Secretary, Kerry Barner and the members of the committee worked hard on this problem, success has only been modest. As I already told you in recent notes, the number of ISSBD members increased considerably from about 300 to about 1000 between 1980 and 1990 but has not changed much during the past 25 years or so. Since 2010, our ISSBD membership committee has come up with several attractive revisions and incentives regarding the membership fee structure, and we also recruited several new regional coordinators to improve the membership situation in countries where we were not well represented in the past. We hope that these measures will turn out to be successful in the long run, even though the immediate effects are not yet visible.

It seems important to note in this regard that at least one aspect of our recent efforts, namely, the recruitment of and support for early career scholars, has been fairly successful. The various initiatives to increase the attractiveness of the Society for young scholars first undertaken by Past Presidents Rainer Silbereisen and Anne Petersen have paid off in the end. The Young Scholar Initiatives introduced and successfully established by Karina Weichold, Deepali Sharma, and Zena Mello at the Biennial Meetings in Melbourne and Wurzburg were followed by similar activities at the ISSBD meetings in Lusaka and Edmonton. My thanks go to Karina, Deepali, and the Young Scholar Representatives Zena Mello, Jaap Denissen, and Julie Bowker. As a consequence of these efforts, the number of early career scholars attending our Biennial Meetings has steadily increased.

It certainly helped that the EC established a new committee in 2010 which worked out a master plan regarding systematic support of young scientists in our Society. Past President Anne Petersen and I came up with a proposal for a new ‘‘Jacobs- ISSBD Mentored Fellowship Program for Early Career Scholars’’ in early 2011 that was eventually approved by Jacobs Foundation. This program contains a long-term support contract with Jacobs Foundation and secures funding for several of ISSBD’s early career scholar activities, including travel grants for ISSBD preconference workshops and the attendance of International Regional Workshops. One special element of the new Jacobs-ISSBD contract is that it also includes two different Early Career Scholarship Programs, one open to applicants from all countries in the world, the second focusing on early career scholars from ‘‘currency restricted’’ countries. In a first cycle of this program which started in January, 2012, we recruited a first cohort of 10 doctoral students who receive financial support and benefit from extended academic mentorship for a time period of 3 years. A second cohort of another 10 early career scholars will be selected at the end of this year. Thus this contract ensures that a total of 20 young scientists from all over the world are supported by the Jacobs-ISSBD program over a 6-year period.

I am particularly grateful for the enormous support we received in this matter by the members of the EC and the Committee on Research and Training of Young Scientists which was chaired first by Ulman Lindenberger and now by Toni Antonucci. Toni is currently making preparations for the recruitment of the second cohort. The progress report she recently delivered on the activities of the first cohort sounded very encouraging. I am fully convinced that this program will be a success story. Simon Sommer and Gelgia Fetz from Jacobs Foundation as well as Ulman and Toni together with the committee members deserve our deep gratitude.

This is not the only early career activity that ISSBD supports. We started an ISSBD Developing Country Fellowship (DCF) initiative in 2010 which supports research projects of early career scholars from majority world countries for 2 years, including travel and accommodation support for ISSBD Biennial Meetings. A committee chaired by Peter Smith, who also proposed and managed the DCF program, so far has selected 10 early career scholars out of about 60 candidates in three tranches of applications. The fellowship not only provides financial support but also ensures continuous advice by academic mentors. The expectation is that the 7 fellows of the last two tranches will present their projects at the next biennial ISSBD meeting in Shanghai. Our special thanks go to Peter Smith and his dedicated committee for their active engagement in this important task.

Another issue of major interest to most past presidents and also to myself has been to build capacity for the study of human development in the developing world. In order to fulfill this part of its mission, ISSBD has always been active in organizing regional workshops and conferences. I fully agree with my predecessors that such workshops and conferences underpin the Society’s most important functions. That is, they provide opportunities for our members from currency-restricted countries as well as parts of the world that are not well represented in ISSBD to become acquainted with recent trends concerning research on behavioral development, and also to benefit from methodological advances in the various disciplines represented in our Society. So far, these efforts have been very successful. During my presidency, regional workshops were held in Chandigarh, India, in Lagos, Nigeria, Moscow, Russia, Budapest, Hungary, and Pretoria, South Africa. I attended most of these events and was always impressed by the careful organization, the high quality of scientific lectures, and last but not least, the motivation and commitment of the participants. There is no doubt for me that these workshops have proved to be effective from a scientific point of view, and that they also helped in increasing ISSBD membership in the participating countries. At the ISSBD meeting in Edmonton, about 40% of the delegates belonged to this group. I hope that this trend will continue at our next ISSBD meeting in Shanghai.

A third issue requiring a lot of effort and time for ISSBD presidents concerns our Biennial Meetings, that is, our showcase of international research on human development.My predecessors worked hard to make our Biennial Meetings more appealing to all generations of scientists, offering interesting information for researchers interested in all periods of life. This has always been an important goal within the time period of my presidency. In my view, we managed to continuously increase the scientific standard of our meetings, and the latest one in Edmonton, Canada, was no exception to this rule. My impression was that all those who attended this meeting were impressed by the high-standard program with many highlights. Congratulations and sincere thanks go to Nancy Galambos, Lisa Strohschein, Jeff Bisanz, and their team for all their hard work in organizing such a great event.

I am confident that we will have another exciting Biennial Meeting in Shanghai, China, in July 2014. The conference chair Biao Sang and his team at East China Normal University, Shanghai, together with the International Program Committee worked hard to make final selections for keynote speakers, invited speakers, and invited symposium organizers. Most of the developmental scientists invited to present their work at the Biennial Meeting meanwhile accepted the invitation. Thus there is no doubt for me that our ISSBD 2014 meeting in Shanghai will become a very attractive event. I hope to see many of you at the conference and also at ISSBD’s Business and Awards Ceremony meeting, where you will learn more about recent progress and the award winners.

Again, we are grateful to Jacobs Foundation for providing financial support (in terms of travel grants) for early career scholars who will attend the preconference workshops at the ISSBD meeting in Shanghai. My special thanks go to the Early Career Scholar Travel Grant Committee chaired by Suman Verma which worked very effectively when dealing with numerous applications for the 2014 ISSBD meeting. All early career scholars and developmental scientists from currency-restricted countries whose abstracts were accepted were encouraged to apply for travel grants at ISSBD and send proposals. Although we know from previous rounds that not all applications will be successful, we hope to be able to support many of you.

A final issue that I pursued concerned the archiving of historically important developments within our Society. A large number of ISSBD documents are stored in the North Holland Archives in Haarlem, The Netherlands, unfortunately still in boxes. Marcel van Aken and I tried very hard during the past three years to change this suboptimal situation. Although our plans to reactivate and reorganize these ISSBD documents were not very successful for a long time, Marcel eventually managed to hire a librarian (paid by ISSBD) at the Archives to go through the files, categorize the materials, and also identify core documents. The librarian delivered her first encouraging progress report at the end of January, 2014, and there is hope that we can present a success story at the next ISSBD meeting in Shanghai. Given the fact that there are new electronic archiving options, it should be possible to have core documents illustrating the history of ISSBD and its structural development digitalized and electronically available to ISSBD members. For the EC members, particularly, it could be helpful to know about all actions and motions described in the EC Minutes. We have already come up with an overviewofECactions and decisions based onECminutes covering the time period between 1992 and 2013. We hope to be able to extend and complement this document fairly soon.

ISSBD continues to be in good shape financially and otherwise, and certainly has promising perspectives. Through its very active program of conferences and workshops, the Society has become an important player in the field of Developmental Science. ISSBD’s major journal, the International Journal of Behavioral Development (IJBD), has developed flagship properties and can be considered a very noteworthy publication outlet in the field of life-span and cross-cultural developmental science. During the last decade, its editors Rainer Silbereisen, Bill Bukowski, and Marcel van Aken have managed to continuously increase the journal’s impact factor, which deserves our deepest respect. The term of our IJBD editor Marcel von Aken ended at the end of 2013. At our Executive Committee meeting in Seattle last year, we thanked Marcel and his team of associate editors as well as the managing editor of IJBD for their great work and accomplishments. From early 2014 on, Brett Laursen serves as the new IJBD editor. Given his rich journal editing experience and his special abilities in this regard, I am very confident that Brett and his new team of associate and managing editors will be equally successful and able to improve the journal’s quality even further.

The transfer of IJBD to the publisher SAGE has certainly contributed to the positive development. We are particularly grateful to Kerry Barner, Ed Mottram, and the other SAGE colleagues for not only professionalizing our membership management but also for all the assistance they provided with regard to journal issues as well as the ISSBD website. Regarding the latter, Ed Mottram just came up with a revised version that in my view looks much better than the previous one. I invite all members to visit the new ISSBD website. Thank you, Ed, for this impressive job!

As I already stated in previous notes, a similarly positive development can be reported for the ISSBD Bulletin, and we are very grateful to the editor-in-chief, Karina Weichold, the former co-editor Bonnie Barber, and the current co-editor Deepali Sharma. I am convinced that the Bulletin will continue to be a valuable publication instrument stimulating the exchange among ISSBD members.

In addition, I want to thank our Social Media Editor Josafa´ Cunha for his great efforts. He has managed to develop a number of social media activities, including the ISSBD E-Newsletter, pages on Facebook and Twitter and also a video channel on YouTube. This channel continues to provide ISSBD members with updates on activities and events, especially for time sensitive information. Josafa´ is supported by several members of the Executive Committee, and also by SAGE through Kerry Barner and Ed Mottram.

As I noted at the beginning, my term as a president will end in July 2014, and the same is true for the terms of the Treasurer, the Secretary General, the Membership Secretary, and three EC members. We had ISSBD elections concerning these positions in the Fall of 2013. The new Secretary General will be Karina Weichold. Nancy Galambos will serve as new Treasurer, and Tina Malti was elected as new Membership Secretary. Our new Executive Committee members are Charissa Cheah, Marcel van Aken, and Sabine Walper. Congratulations to all of them!

I want to thank the members of the ISSBD Steering Committee, Katariina Salmela-Aro and Ingrid Schoon, as well as the EC members Toni Antonucci, Elena Grigorenko, Ulman Lindenberger, and Ann Sanson, whose term will end in July, 2014. We definitively owe them a lot!

Overall, I think that ISSBD is in very good shape and has promising perspectives. Through its very active program of conferences and workshops, the Society has become an important player in the field of Developmental Science. ISSBD provides a rich resource for developmental scientists. ISSBD’s success is mainly due to its active members and its hard-working executive. I have had many pleasant and reinforcing experiences when communicating and working with the members of the Steering Committee, the EC, and all the other committees that keep ISSBD alive. I am very impressed with the good spirit shown by all members, and to them I would like to express my sincere gratitude. We have a terrific organization. Thanks a lot to all of you for your enormous efforts. Working with you has made my presidency a great experience!

Wolfgang Schneider, Ph.D
University of Wuerzburg




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