A Brief History of the G. Stanley Hall Lecture Series

The G. Stanley Hall Lecture Series began in 1980 to advance the teaching of introductory psychology. Held each year at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, the Series reflects APA’s commitment to undergraduate education and the awareness of the complexities of the teaching enterprise. The Lecture Series was originally conceived of by APA's Committee on Undergraduate Education as a way to help introductory level teachers develop a coherent picture of recent developments in the wide range of different psychological subdisciplines they may cover.

As Makosky (1986) noted, there are some 30,000 scholarly books and articles published annually in psychology. Makosky pointed out that "even the relatively small proportion of these materials readily available to most teachers constitutes an unmanageable load. In addition, such materials are seldom easily converted into an appropriate classroom presentation: Giving an imitation of a talking book is not only boring, it is also typically less informative than if the student read the more detailed and coherent written version" (p. 2).

The solution to the problem is the G. Stanley Hall Lecture Series in which renowned experts convey to interested teachers the latest information in their fields. Ideally, the speakers would (a) be experts in their fields, (b) show a commitment to teaching, and (c) understand the dynamics of teaching introductory psychology (Benjamin, 1981). The first addresses were given at the 1980 convention in Montreal. The speakers included Gregory Kimble (Learning and Memory), David Elkind (Language Development and Cognition), Walter Mischel (Personality), Jerome Singer (Clinical), and Wilse Webb (Sleep and Dreams). The subsequent collection of speakers has included parallel groups of highly respected and honored psychologists. Included among the speakers has been several APA presidents, including Bill McKeachie, Florence Denmark, and Dick Suinn. An examination of G. Stanley Hall Lecturers by name and by year gives a glimpse both of the past and of the future of psychology.

The first speaker to present a G. Stanley Hall address on the topic of teaching was Wilbert McKeachie in 1985. This topic has been a regular feature since 1987 (although various circumstances led to its temporary absence in 1996).

After successful inauguration of the series, APA broadened the scope of the Lectures in 1987 to include the teaching of psychology at any level. The current format for the Lecture Series involves four addresses at each APA convention (instead of the initial five addresses). One topic relates to the teaching of psychology, two topics are content-related and vary by year, and one "wild card" topic is selected because of its particular relevance at the time.


Benjamin, L. T., jr. (1981). Preface. In L. T. Benjamin, Jr. (Ed.), G. Stanley Hall Lecture Series (Vol. 1, pp. 1-6). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Makosky, V. P. (1986). Preface. In V. P. Makosky (Ed.), G. Stanley Hall Lecture Series (Vol. 7, pp. 1-5). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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