The Research Cluster of Culture and Social Psychology (aka CuSP) has been launched with an afternoon event at OU Camden, on 15 June. The launch event attracted over 30 people, academics and students from various institutions – it was a considerable success which is already gathering substantial following both within and outside the UK!
The event started with director Professor Paul Stenner describing the centre as well as characterizing the work of those at the School of Psychology involved in it. CuSP is a natural outcome of the varied and multifaceted work currently being undertaken in the School, and it also follows on the historical strengths of the work pursued at Psychology department of the Open University. As Professor Stenner pointed out in his introduction, nearly all major threads of contemporary British social psychology are represented by members of CuSP, and it is this variety that the Research Cluster seeks to further in providing understandings of social and cultural phenomena.
The introduction was followed by the first guest lecture, by Professor Lynne Segal of Birkbeck. A longstanding academic as well as activist, Segal drew on her latest work around “radical happiness” in arguing for an understanding of happiness where it depends on relationships and the social-political sphere. She pointed out how the current happiness agenda of politicians had originally been predicated on the realisation of historically unprecedented levels of depression in the population; and she also demonstrated how happiness may be understood not so much as an inner state but as something fully realised when acting in concert with others.
The second guest lecture was delivered by Professor Peter Hegarty of the University of Surrey. In a wide-ranging and fascinating tour de force Professor Hegarty made use of experiments in a way rarely used by psychologists. As he argued, they are not to be used to find universal laws (something better left to the natural sciences), but to demonstrate psychological and social events – what we have a capacity to do or achieve.
Both lectures were followed by discussion pieces by CuSP members and then open discussion.
The Research Cluster of CuSP plans further events for the coming academic year. An end-of-year conference is planned, with the Annual CuSP Lecture delivered as its conclusion. Further details to come this Autumn – so watch this space 🙂