History of the ISEP and list of ICPA conferences

The International Society for Ecological Psychology was founded in the fall of 1981 in the wake of the First International Conference on Event Perception. That first Event perception conference (conceived as the only one, a unique event so far as anyone intended) was held at the University of Connecticut in the summer of 1981 (it is documented in the book, Persistence and Change, edited by William H. Warren, Jr. and Robert E. Shaw and published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1985). At the end of that conference, Joe Lappin rose to speak at the final dinner and announced that he liked it so much that he would hold one at Vanderbilt. This was arranged and the conference held in 1983. It was Lappin's gesture that transformed the single conference into a series.

Meanwhile, for several years, the idea of starting a journal had been bandied about. Larry Erlbaum brought up the idea of a journal before he had any other journals -- in the late 1970's. However, a journal seemed premature. At the end of the summer of 1981, we finally thought that a journal might be in order. We learned that LEA could best help us put one out if there was a clear nonprofit organization behind it. Thus two motives converged to dictate a meeting in the fall of 1981. (1) Excitement to continue what was started at the UConn Event conference and (2) an occasion to start a Society for the purpose of backing a journal. Thus, a meeting was rapidly organized and held at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut (USA) on September 26, 1981. Robert Hoffman, of Adelphi University, played a prominent role in stimulating the organizing, and at the business meeting started the momentum (like bidding at an auction) by very publicly offering to pay the first dues.

The first dues ($20) were paid by Catherine Best, Geoff Bingham, Donna Boswell, Steve Braddon, Claudia Carello, Claudia Farber, Robert Hoffman, Allyssa McCabe, Viki McCabe, Bill Mace, Len Mark, Phil Rubin, Robert Shaw, Jim Todd, and Michael Turvey. Within a month, money had been received from Ennio Mingolla, Beth Shapiro, Louis Tassinary, and Robert Verbrugge. By the end of December, Claes von Hofsten and Sverker Runeson had sent money from Sweden as the first non-U.S. members. These must be considered the charter members.

The legal work of incorporation was done by lawyers from Shipman & Goodwin of Hartford. The work was done by Tom Divine, who later moved to Cohn & Birnbaum of Hartford and took us with him.

As part of our incorporation, we had to name officers. Therefore, for convenience because of geography, Bob Shaw was designated President and Treasurer. Bill Mace was Vice-President and Secretary. A third person was required to provide the minimum number of Board members. Len Mark played that role.

The first full Board of Directors consisted of: Eleanor Gibson, Margaret Hagen, Robert Hoffman, James Jenkins, Scott Kelso, Nathan Knobler, Joe Lappin, Bill Mace, Ulric Neisser, Sverker Runeson, Robert Shaw, and Quentin Summerfield.

As it turned out, the Society, which was organized mostly in the interest of having a group behind the journal, became a focal point for a number of people and sailed along well on its own. The journal, in fact, did not finally materialize until 1989.

We have advertised ourselves very little. Most growth has been by word of mouth, but we now have about 330 members from 24 countries. The approximate breakdown across countries is 240 U. S., 10 or 11 in Canada, and 100 outside of North America. At the Seventh International Conference on Event Perception and Action, in Vancouver, we added two members from Brazil, our first in either central or South America.

There are regional groups organized (by varying degrees, with the British being regular but the least formal) in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, and Europe. The Japanese probably haven't met yet but intend to organize. Moreover, there probably will be a "Pacific rim" organization in the foreseeable future. T.C. Chan in Hong Kong and Masato Sasaki in Tokyo have talked about that.

International Conferences on Perception and Action





Storrs, Connecticut (USA) University of Connecticut Bill Warren and Bob Shaw June 7 - 12, 1981
Nashville, Tennessee Vanderbilt University Joe Lappin June 9 - 13, 1983
Uppsala, Sweden Uppsala University Sverker Runeson and Dankert Vedeler June 24 - 29, 1985
Trieste, Italy Congress Centre Stazione Marittima Walter Gerbino August 24 - 28, 1987
Oxford, Ohio Miami University Len Mark and Cathy Dent - Read July 24 - 28, 1989
Amsterdam, The Netherlands Vrije Universiteit Peter Beek, Reinoud Bootsma, Piet van Wieringen August 25 - 30, 1991
Vancouver, British Columbia University of British Columbia John Pittenger August 8 - 13, 1993
Marseille, France World Trade Center Benoît Bardy July 9 - 14, 1995
Scarborough, Canada University of Toronto John M. Kennedy July 20 - 25, 1997
Edinburgh, Scotland University of Edinburgh David N. Lee, James Thomson, and Madeleine Grealy August 8 - 13, 1999
Storrs, Connecticut University of Connecticut Claudia Carello June 25 - 29, 2001
Gold Coast, Australia Griffith University (Australia) Paul Treffner July 13 - 18, 2003

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