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“Cautious Courage”: SPSSI's Connections and Reconnections at the United Nations


  • This research was supported through a SPSSI Sages Grant as well as funding from the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Carleton University. We wish to thank Joseph de Meyer, Hedwin Naimark, Susan Opotow, and Peter Walker for sharing their reflections on SPSSI UN-NGO.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Frances Cherry, 2201 Dunton Tower, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, Canada [e-mail:]


TheSociety for the Psychological Study of Social Issues(SPSSI) has had official connections to the United Nations (UN) at two separate points in its history. In the period right after World War Two (1946–1960),SPSSIleaders were involved in the building of a global social science network through the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Otto Klineberg was heavily involved in creating connections between UNESCO andSPSSI. Changes at UNESCO as well as in academic research culture, combined with continued Cold War politics, minimizedSPSSI's involvement at the UN throughout the 1960s and 1970s. By the mid-1980s, NGOs were increasingly a significant force in the UN through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).SPSSI has had NGO status since 1987 and was awarded consultative status in 1991, allowing the Society greater input at the UN. Since that time,SPSSIhas continued to bring a research focus to a range of projects at the UN aimed at improving global well-being.