Third annual Hunsberger Memorial Lecture honours psychology professor

Photo by Dotun Jide

Nov. 3 is this year’s annual Hunsberger Memorial Lecture, which will focus on social relations across the life span: the long and winding road.

The lecture will be held on the Waterloo campus between 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. in Bricker Academic Building and is intended for psychology students but is also open to the public.

This year’s lecture features speaker Toni C. Antonucci, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan. Her talk will be on developmental psychology and how people change throughout their life span from childhood to old age.

Antonucci will be sharing her research at the lecture which focuses on what she calls a “social convoy,” meaning individuals maintain a protective social network throughout their life span. Antonucci researches how this social convoy follows individuals throughout life and how it differs from when you’re first born until death.

“She’s perfect for this lecture … because she’s had a lifetime of working with this particular model and it’s applicable to many different spheres,” Nicola Newton, assistant professor in the Laurier psychology department, said.

The lecture is in memory of Dr. Bruce Hunsberger, who taught at Laurier from 1974 to 2003 when he passed away.

“He was quite a noted scholar in the psychology of religion and for many years was chair of the department,” Rudy Eikelboom, chair of the department of psychology, said.

“He taught a lot of the introduction courses because he had this passion for bringing psychology across to first-year students.”

Initial memorial lectures of the past only focused on social psychology because that was Dr. Hunsberger’s main area of focus. Later years have changed the topic to reflect broader aspects of psychology.

“Education is more than just lectures in your class. This is another type of expanding our education.”

The most recent topic is developmental psychology and Antonucci’s research of social relations.

“She’s applied it to not just the United States, but on intergenerational [work] and how that convoy might move through life,” Newton said. “She’s applied it to Mexico, [Arabia], China and the US. Looking cross-culturally as well, it does appeal to a wide range of people.”

The intent is to recognize Dr. Hunsberger’s contributions to the school while also inspiring current Laurier students.

“We try to find people who speak to topics we think students should know about and may be very interesting from a broad perspective,” Eikelboom said.

Popular developmental research is highly focused on children, while this lecture highlights the demographics of an aging population in Canada and the possibilities of future careers and research that has emerged.

“Rather than focusing on potential children we want our students to be focusing on their parents and [to] find out how their parents are changing,” Eikelboom said.

Laurier attempts to provide students an education outside of the classroom with this approach and hopes to inspire psychology students to find out what interests them within their field.

“Education is more than just lectures in your class,” Eikelboom said. “This is another type of expanding our education.”

This is the thirteenth annual Hunsberger memorial lecture and the first time that the developmental psychology department has organized the event.

“[Hunsberger] was an excellent researcher, administrator and teacher and we want to remember him in this lecture,” Eikelboom said. 

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