APS Fellow and Charter Member Scott Plous has been awarded the APA Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award, recognizing a career of significant contributions to teaching psychology.
Plous has influenced the teaching of psychology around the world through his Social Psychology Network (SPN), a set of pioneering websites he founded in 1996 (see www.socialpsychology.org). Now encompassing eight partner sites ranging from a site dedicated to understanding prejudice and its consequences to a web-based tool for random sampling and assignment, SPN pages are viewed an average of 70,000 times per day by web-users in over 100 countries. At its core, SPN is an educational organization created to “promote peace, social justice, and sustainable living through public education, research, and the advancement of psychology.”
The site has grown to be much larger than Plous ever could have imagined. As he said, “SPN began as a simple web syllabus for my introductory social psychology course. I never imagined it would grow into a large operation.”
A professor in the Psychology Department at Wesleyan University, Plous is known as a gifted lecturer and mentor for other instructors. He is also a gracious recipient of the Brewer award. “Surprised would be an understatement. I was floored and deeply thankful to colleagues, former students, and my departmental chairperson, Ruth Striegel-Moore, who submitted the award nomination,” Plous said.
Plous has extensively promoted socially engaged “action teaching,” a method that leads to a better understanding of psychology while helping to create a better, more peaceful world. This is achieved through classroom activities, web-based demonstrations, or even field learning. For example, the teacher resources section of SPN lists a project in which students researched the psychosocial implications of forced migration and refugee living, then built and exhibited typical emergency refugee shelters on the campus lawn in order to educate the university community. This project won the 2008 Action Teaching Award, given annually by SPN since 2005 (For details on the 2009 award competition, see www.ActionTeaching.org.)
APS Fellow and Charter Member Philip Zimbardo, whose Stanford Prison Experiment website is part of SPN, remarked, “‘Scott Plous’ modest demeanor conceals a raging intensity to spread the best of psychological knowledge to the world in as many ways as imaginable, via his inspired classroom teaching, award-winning text, and by developing and maintaining the invaluable Social Psychology Network. He is a person of all seasons to be treasured.”
The Brewer Award is given annually to a recipient who has demonstrated an excellent teaching record, as well as engagement in significant research or creative activity on teaching methods. The recipient of the award wins $2,000 and a trip to the APA Annual Convention, where the award is presented.