Chapter 2

The origins of scientific organizations: Historical context

The formation of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) is part of a larger history of development of formal scientific organizations that began in the 17th century. In this chapter, as well as sketching the history of the IUPsyS, we will relate it to the development of scientific associations, especially those with which the IUPsyS has active relations, as shown in Figure 1.1 . Because each of these kinds of organization interacts with each of the others, information about each helps to understand the others. The story shows increasing communication and cooperation among psychologists at national, regional, and international levels, and also among the different scientific disciplines. After presenting this background, we will proceed in the next chapter to a more detailed account of the 1st International Congress of Psychology, held in Paris in 1889, and the creation there of the standing International Congress of Psychology Committee, which evolved after 62 years into the IUPsyS.

A brief sketch of the origins of the International Union of Psychological Science

At the Paris International Congress of Psychology in 1889, a permanent international congress committee was formed to assure the succession of International Congresses of Psychology and to provide organization for international psychology. The IUPsyS was foreshadowed in a project adopted in principle at the 1889 Paris Congress to form an international association of psychological societies.

Once formed, the international committee was called the International Congress of Psychology; it functioned effectively and organized congresses over a 60-year period through the 12th International Congress of Psychology in Edinburgh (1948) and the 13th International Congress of Psychology in Stockholm (1951). From its start the committee grew in size and in number of countries represented. At the 5th International Congress of Psychology (Rome, 1905), the membership of the committee had grown to 76, with 16 countries represented. At the 10th congress (Copenhagen, 1932) the congress committee established an Executive Committee of seven members and chose Swiss psychologist Edouard Claparède as its Executive Secretary. After Claparède’s death in 1940, American psychologist Herbert S. Langfeld became Executive Secretary of the International Committee.

At the 12th congress (Edinburgh, 1948) it was finally decided to accomplish the long-desired goal and establish an international union of psychology. Langfeld played the major role in organizing the formation of the International Union of Psychological Science, as reported by Henri Piéron, the first President of IUPsyS (Piéron, 1954 , p. 404). The Union was originally named the International Union of Scientific Psychology (IUSP); changes in the name and acronym have been described in Chapter 1 . The planning for the Union coincided with an initiative of UNESCO in the late 1940s to promote the establishment of international unions in sciences which did not already have such a formal organization. With the encouragement of UNESCO, the International Union of Psychological Science was established formally at the Stockholm Congress on July 15, 1951. National psychological associations from 11 countries were charter members, and psychological associations from 9 other countries promptly joined the Union, for a total of 20 national members in 1951.

Continuity between the International Committee and IUPsyS was maintained by their overlapping personnel: Langfeld was the last Secretary-General of the committee and the first Secretary-General of IUPsyS; Piéron and other officers and members of the first Executive Committee of IUPsyS had been members of the committee.

Some background: Formation of scientific associations; organization of scientific congresses

Now let us sketch some of the broader background of the formation of the IUPsyS. Formation of scientific associations proceeded historically in several stages: (1) formation of national academies of science, beginning in the 17th century; (2) organization of the early international scientific congresses, beginning in the 19th century; (3) formation of national organizations devoted to specific fields of science, also beginning in the 19th century; (4) formation of international unions devoted to specific fields of science, and founding of umbrella councils to group together international scientific unions and other international organizations, mainly in the 20th century.

Formation of scientific academies

The word academy, and its equivalents in modern languages, came from the Greek name of the garden where Plato gathered friends to discuss common philosophical interests. This term became a label for gatherings in which groups of people with enquiring minds began to form around many centers in Europe from the Middle Ages on. As well as local academies, in some larger countries national academies developed in the 17th century, such as the Accademia des Lincei (those who were as keen- sighted as a lynx) in Rome, dating from 1603. Although the Accademia dei Lincei later dissolved, to be reestablished in the 19th century, some national academies founded in the 17th century continue to this day, such as the Royal Society of London (1660) and the Académie des Sciences in France (1666), and they have served as models for other national societies. Whereas some of these academies are devoted strictly to the sciences, others are learned societies that include the arts and letters as well as the sciences; examples of such inclusive academies are the Académie Royale des Sciences et des Beaux Arts de Belgique (1772), the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (1742), and the Royal Irish Academy (1785).

Organization of international congresses

The middle of the 19th century saw the development of scientific congresses, some being meetings of groups devoted to a particular field of study and some being devoted to a particular problem. As Montoro González (1982 , pp. 23-24) points out, several international congresses were held in conjunction with the Universal Expositions in London, 1851, and in Paris, 1855. The 1st International Congress of Statistics was held in 1853, and the 1st International Congress of Medicine in 1867. The 1st International Congress of Criminal Anthropology took place in Rome, 1885; several psychologists participated in the congress of anthropology and some were encouraged to plan a similar international congress for psychology.

Some international congresses were organized by existing groups, whereas other groups grew out of congresses. Thus in 1862 some German states organized the Mittleuropaische Gradmessung (Central European Geodetic Association), whose first conference attracted participants from 13 countries, most of which were German. (Germany had not yet united at that time.) The growing European character of the geodetic association was reflected by the change of name in 1867 to the European Geodetic Association. A still wider scope was indicated by invitations to scientists from Great Britain and the United States to participate in the 1883 meeting. In 1886 the name was changed to the International Geodetic Association. Finally, this led to the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, founded in 1919.

The 1st International Congress of Psychology took place in Paris in 1889, in the context of congresses of other sciences. This occurred just 10 years after the first formal laboratory of psychology was founded by Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig. The International Congress of Psychology was held in conjunction with the Paris International Exposition, as was the first International Congress of Physiology. Both congresses fostered further development of their fields. As mentioned earlier, a permanent international committee was formed at the Paris International Congress of Psychology to assure the succession of International Congresses of Psychology and to provide organization for international psychology. The IUPsyS was foreshadowed in a project adopted in principle at the 1889 Paris Congress to form an international association of psychological societies, and the IUPsyS was founded in 1951. In the case of physiology, a permanent committee was established in 1929 to organize the International Congresses of Physiology, and this evolved into the International Union of Physiological Sciences in 1952.

The 1st International Congress of Psychology clearly met a need, and successive congresses were held every 3 to 5 years, with gaps caused by the two World Wars. A history of the first 16 International Congresses of Psychology (1889–1960) was prepared by Montoro González (1982) ; a history of the 14th–23rd congresses (1963–1984) was presented in a dissertation by González Solaz (1998) .

Formation of national and international organizations devoted to specific fields of science

A side effect of the 1st International Congress of Psychology in 1889 was to encourage the formation of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1892. The APA is the world’s oldest continuously existing national psychological association. When European psychologists who were organizing the International Congress tried to identify a national organization of psychologists in the United States, they could find only the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR). Two Americans who attended the 1st International Congress of Psychology, William James and Joseph Jastrow, disparaged the ASPR and its interests, and they probably reported these events to their American colleagues, including G. Stanley Hall who led the movement to found the APA. Some historians claim that a major factor in the establishment of the APA was G. Stanley Hall’s strong ambition to be the leader of American psychology (Cadwallader, 1992 ). Perhaps Hall’s drive hastened the founding of the APA by a few years, but conditions were clearly ripe for the APA. When other psychologists reacted to Hall’s authoritarian leadership and effectively sidetracked him in the 1890s, the APA continued well without Hall.

By 1910, a few other national psychological associations had been formed—in France and in the United Kingdom, in 1901; Germany, 1904; Argentina, 1908; and Italy, 1910.

The founding of the APA in 1892 was part of the movement to establish disciplinary societies in the USA, starting with the American Chemical Society in 1876. A major influence that favored the founding of the APA was the policy of the American Society of Naturalists, established in 1883, to encourage and foster the formation of disciplinary societies. One of the resultant societies was the American Physiological Society (APS), founded in 1887. Psychologists G. Stanley Hall and Joseph Jastrow were among the original members of the APS, and some physiologists were among the original members of the APA.

The psychologists at the Paris Congress in 1889 adopted in principle a project to form an international association of psychological societies, but this was clearly premature because no national psychological societies yet existed, and there were only a few local societies, in London, Moscow, Munich, New York, and Paris. By 1948, at least 19 national psychological societies had been formed, and at the 12th International Congress at Edinburgh that year, an ad hoc committee was appointed to draw up the statutes for an international union of psychology.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), founded in 1946, also fostered the formation of the IUPsyS and of other international scientific unions. UNESCO wanted to have international scientific organizations with which to deal, and it offered financial subventions to such organizations. The end of World War II saw renewed scientific communication among the former foes, and this also favored the formation of new international unions. Among those formed at that time were the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (1946), International Union of Crystallography (1947), International Union of the History of Science (1947), International Union of Anthropological and Ethnographical Societies (1948), International Union of the Philosophy of Science (1949), International Union of Psychological Science (1951), and the International Union of Physiological Sciences (1952). Brief histories and descriptions of the international scientific unions that are either scientific union members or scientific associates of ICSU are found in the ICSU Year Book (International Council for Science, 2000 ).

From the International Association of Academies to the International Council for Science

From the start, national academies of science corresponded with each other, and many elected foreign associates, so it was natural to institute an international organization that would group together the national academies to facilitate communication and joint activities. In 1900 the first meeting of the Council of the International Association of Academies (IAA) took place in Paris. At the start, the IAA included mainly European academies of science but also the Royal Society of London and the National Academy of Sciences, USA (Greenaway, 1996 , pp. 8 et seq.). The main purpose of the IAA was stated as follows:

The object of the Association shall be to initiate and
otherwise to promote scientific undertakings of general
interest, proposed by one or more of the associated
Academies, and to facilitate scientific intercourse between
different countries.

Regular meetings of the General Assembly of the IAA continued through 1913, but the coming of the World War interrupted its activities.

After the war a successor organization was established in 1919, the International Research Council (IRC), Conseil International de Recherches (Greenaway, 1996 , pp. 21 et seq.). The initial members were all national academies of science, but in the first year of the IRC a few international scientific unions were also created and made members of the IRC. (Table 2.1 lists the scientific unions now in the ICSU, the date of founding of each, and the year in which each joined the IRC or ICSU.) The IRC remained chiefly a body of national members; the few scientific unions that became associated with it had only limited powers in the IRC and were not represented on its Executive Committee.

TABLE 2.1

Scientific Unions in ICSU

Scientific Unions in order of founding
Year Founded
Year admitted to IRC/ICSU
International Astronomical Union
1919
1919
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
1919
1919
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
1919
1919
International Union of Biological Sciences
1919
1923
Union Radio Scientifique Internationale
1919
1919
International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
1922
1922
International Geographical Union
1922
1923
International Society of Soil Science
1924
1993
International Mathematical Union
1925
1925
International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
1946
1947
International Union of Crystallography
1947
1947
International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science
International Union of the History of Science
1947
1947
International Union of the Philosophy of Science
1949
1956
International Union of Anthropological and Ethnographical Societies
1948
1993
International Union of Nutritional Sciences
1948
1968
International Union of Psychological Science
1951
1982
International Union of Physiological Sciences
1952
1955
International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
1955
1955
International Brain Research Organization
1960
1993
International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics
1961
1966
International Union of Geological Sciences
1961
1961
International Union of Pharmacology (Separated from International Union of Physiological Sciences in 1965)
1965
1972
International Union of Immunological Societies
1969
1976
International Union of Food Science and Technology
1970
1996
International Union of Microbiological Societies (Founded 1927, but a division of IUPS until 1980)
1980
1982
International Union of Toxicology
1980
1996

In 1931 the 5th General Assembly of the IRC converted itself into the 5th General Assembly of a new body, the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). The membership of the ICSU was dual, in that scientific unions had equal status with the national members. Nevertheless, no new scientific union members were added until after the end of World War II. Some of the new scientific unions that entered the ICSU in the 1940s–1960s represented new sciences (e.g., the International Union of Crystallography, 1947); some were initiated by fractionation of the biological sciences (e.g., the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, formed in 1955 and admitted to ICSU the same year; the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics, formed in 1961 and admitted to ICSU in 1966).

Although the IUPsyS was founded in 1951, it was admitted to ICSU only in 1982, whereas the International Union of Physiological Sciences, founded in 1952, was promptly admitted to ICSU in 1955. The IUPsyS had applied shortly after its formation for membership in ICSU, but was told repeatedly that the time was not appropriate for consideration of its application. A 30-year delay occurred before its application was accepted. Similarly, the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnographical Societies (IUAES), founded in 1948, was admitted to ICSU only in 1993. ICSU was reluctant for many years to admit international unions such as the IUPsyS and the IUAES, whose discipline was in part in the social sciences. That does not, however, explain other delays: The International Brain Research Organization was founded in 1960 but admitted as a Scientific Union Member of ICSU only in 1993, after having been a Scientific Associate since 1976; the International Union of Food Science and Technology was founded in 1970 but admitted as a Scientific Union Member only in 1996.

References

Cadwallader, T.C. (1992). The historical roots of the American Psychological Association. In R.B. Evans & V.S. Sexton (Eds.), The American Psychological Association: A historical perspective. Washington, DC : American Psychological Association.

González Solaz, M.J. (1998). Los congresos internacionales de psicologia (1963–1984). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Valencia, Spain.

Greenaway, F. (1996). Science International: A history of the International Council of Scientific Unions. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press.

International Council for Science. (2000). Year book 2000. Paris: International Council for Science.

Montoro González, L. (1982). Los congresos internacionales de psicologia (1889–1960). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Valencia, Spain.

Piéron, H. (1954). Histoire succincte des congrès internationaux de psychologie. L’Année Psychologique, 54, 397–405.