Last year I attended the American Psychological Association's annual meeting for the first time in over a decade. The main conference was as much a waste of time as I had remembered. It was filled with sad talks given to mostly empty rooms and sad poster presentations that only a handful of people stopped at (including my own). The only filled rooms were for awards talks, where people talked about work long past. That was really interesting, but only if they were in an area you were not familiar with, and people tended not to attend talks in areas they were unfamiliar with. (In fairness, many rooms were filled for talks that counted as continuing education credits for clinicians, as well as a few "advice" sessions for students.)
That said, it was actually a very positive experience; I was now connected enough to find out about The APA Shadow Conference (© Charles 2012). It turns out that almost every APA division has a bunch of meetings, small talks, and organized discussions in dedicated hotel suites, and that a lot of very interesting stuff happens there. Small groups (ranging from 5 to 25) people interested in similar topics were continuously coming together, with discussion continuing over meals and across days. Most of the time the suites were filled to a neigh ideal level of intimacy, sometimes they were downright crowded. Never was a person talking to an empty room, nor was a speaker ever addressing people who were not genuinely interested. This was actually worth while!
For the past many years the Society for General Psychology (APA Division 1) and The Division of International Psychology (Division 52) have been sharing a suite, and hosting a few Psi Chi events on top of that. This meant that Division 1 had only a few dedicated hours per year for its own suite programming. This has now changed. Division 1 just became full owner of its journal (Review of General Psychology), meaning they will have a larger budget into the foreseeable future, and they will now be getting a suite of their own. So, while this is not an official call (I will pass along the information for that when I get the info), this means that there will be a lot more opportunity to put together programming at the APA conference that cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries. This could be programming that explicitly brings disciplines together, or programming initiated by people in recognized sub-disciplines that cut across traditional divisions.
This year's conference is in Orlando, Florida, from August 2nd to 5th. The deadline to submit the the main conference has passed, but we are still at the beginning stages of planning The Shadow Conference. Still, I know it is short notice.
Next year's conference on the other hand is still far in the future. It will be in Honolulu, Hawaii, from July 31st to August 4th. There is plenty of time to start daydreaming about that.
Also, as the head of the Society's committee that is trying to reach out to early career psychologists, I would like to emphasize that this is a great opportunity for people at the beginning of their careers to put together a session. It could be a workshop of some sort, a series of less-formal talks, or a discussion session (rigorously organized or informal). More adventurous ideas will also be considered.
(P.S. Did I mention that you could join the Society for General Psychology for only $25, without needing to care about APA at all? I thought for sure this was a glitch, but it does not seem to be... and that even includes the journal!)