Focusing Psychology on the Global Challenge: Achieving a Sustainable Future

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


To suggest that psychology needs to focus on our global challenge is in itself a paradox. Psychology as we have known it in the last 150 years of its development as a science has been focused primarily on the individual, particularly in Western contexts. Even as social psychology has expanded its interests to the study of the social units and determinants of behavior, the dynamic co-creating relationship between individual and broader socio-political and economic systems has remained mostly outside the scope of psychological study. This opening chapter explores the new zeitgeist as the context for the necessary emergence of socially responsible psychology via an analysis of the UDHR and the Earth Charter, which represent the broadest global consensus among the full diversity of human cultures, the scientific community, and world religious communities. We approach these documents as providing a comprehensive foundation from which to envision a concrete leadership role for psychology as a "major intellectual and moral force for advancing the human condition" (Pickren et al 2012, p.312).


UDHR Earth charter Paradigm shift Zeitgeist Moral vision Culture of peace 


  1. Arnett, J. (2002). The psychology of globalization. American Psychologists, 57, 774–783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Azuma, H. (1984). Psychology in a non-western country. International Journal of Psychology, 19, 45–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berry, J., Dasen, P., & Saraswathi, T. S. (1997). Handbook of cross-cultural psychology: Basic processes and human development (Vol. 2). Needham Heights: Allyn Bacon.Google Scholar
  4. Bourne, E. (2008). Global shift: How a new worldview is transforming humanity. Oakland: New Harbinger.Google Scholar
  5. Carr, S. C. (2013). Anti-poverty psychology. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dalos, L., Keen, C., Keen, J., & Parks, S. (1996). Common fire: Lives of commitment in a complex world. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  7. Finkel, F., & Moghaddam, F. (2004). The psychology of rights and duties: Empirical contributions and normative commentaries (Law and public policy: Psychology and the social sciences). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  8. Gelfand, M. J., Lyon, S. L., & Lun, J. (2011). Toward a psychological science of globalization. Journal of Social Issues, 67(4), 841–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Grof, S. (2000). Psychology of the future: Lessons from modern consciousness research. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  10. Hatcher, J. (2007). The ascent of society: The social imperative in personal salvation. Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self. Cambridge: Harvard.Google Scholar
  12. Kitayama, S., & Cohen, D. (2007). Handbook of cultural psychology. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  13. Leong, F., Pickren, W., Leach, M., & Marsella, A. (2012). Internationalizing the psychology curriculum in the United States. New York: Springer SBM.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lerner, M. (1986). Surplus powerlessness. Oakland: The Institute for Labor and Mental Health.Google Scholar
  15. Marsella, A. J. (1998). Toward a global-community psychology: Meeting the needs of a changing world. American Psychologist, 53, 1282–1291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marsella, A. J. (2009a). Some reflections on potential abuses of psychology’s knowledge and practices. Psychological Studies, 3, 13–17. India: National Academy of Psychology (NAOP).Google Scholar
  17. Marsella, A. J. (2009b). Diversity in a global era: The context and consequences of differences. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 22(1), 119–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Marsella, A. J. (2011). In pursuit of peace: The cosmic nature of our inner and outer journey. The Journal of Oriental Studies, 21, 148–165.Google Scholar
  19. Marsella, A. J. (2012). Psychology and globalization: Understanding a complex relationship. Journal of Social Issues, 68(3), 453–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marsella, A. J., & Yamada, A. M. (2007). Culture and psychopathology: Foundations, issues, directions. Journal of Pacific Rim Psychology, 4(2), 1–13.Google Scholar
  21. Marsella, A. J., Johnson, J., Watson, P., & Gryczynski, J. (Eds.). (2008). Ethnocultural perspectives on disasters and trauma. New York: Springer SBM.Google Scholar
  22. May, V., Rubin, J., Sabourin, M., & Walker, L. (1996). Moving toward a global psychology: Changing theories and practices to meet the needs of a changing world. American Psychologist, 51, 485–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Misra, G. (1996). Section in Gergen, K., Gulerce, A., Lock, A., & Misra, G. (1996). Psychological sciences in cultural context. American Psychologist, 51, 496–503.Google Scholar
  24. Moghaddam, F. M. (1987). Psychology in the three worlds. American Psychologist, 47, 912–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. O’Dea, J. (2012). Cultivating peace: Becoming a 21st-century peace ambassador. San Rafael: Shift Books.Google Scholar
  26. Pickren, W., & Rutherford, A. (2010). A history of modern psychology in context. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Pickren, W., Marsella, A., Leong, F., & Leach, M. (2012). Playing our part: Crafting a vision for a psychology curriculum marked by multiplicity. In F. T. L. Leong et al. (Eds.), Internationalizing the psychology curriculum in the United States. New York: Springer SBM.Google Scholar
  28. Podger, D., Mustakova-Possardt, E., & Reid, A. (2010). A whole-person approach to educating for sustainability. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 11(4), 339–352.Google Scholar
  29. Prilleltensky, I. (1997). Values, assumptions, and practices: Assessing the moral implications of psychological discourse and action. American Psychologist, 52(5), 517–535.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pulcini, E. (2013). Care of the world: Fear, responsibility and justice in the global age. New York: Springer SBM.Google Scholar
  31. Ratner, C. (2013). Cooperation, community and co-ops in a global era. New York: Springer SBM.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shiraev, E. (2011). A history of psychology: A global perspective. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Shiva, V. (2005). Earth democracy: Justice, sustainability, and peace. Cambridge: South End.Google Scholar
  34. Sloan, T. (1996). Psychological research methods in developing countries. In S. Carr & J. Schumaker (Eds.), Psychology and the developing world. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  35. Snyder, C. R. (Ed.). (1999). Coping: The psychology of what works. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. The Earth Charter Initiative (2000). The Earth Charter. Retrieved September 19, 2012 from
  37. Weber, M., & Weekes, A. (Eds.). (2009). Process approaches to consciousness in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
  38. UN General Assembly (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved December 19, 2012 from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Realization Psychotherapy & ConsultingArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Spiritual Psychology AssociatesCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations