9. An American Model
On the way to our own standardized European training program, let me refer one last time to our Institute in San Francisco which, I believe, from its beginning, has been one of the most innovative graduate schools not only in sexology, but in any academic field.
We realized very early on that most, indeed, eventually all of our students would be mid-career professionals, i.e. physicians, nurses, social workers, drug counselors, clinical psychologists, college professors in various disciplines, Catholic priests and Protestant ministers from all over the country and, indeed, foreign countries, who were already established and working successfully in their jobs, but who wanted some additional qualification, because they had to deal with various sexual problems in their clientele. Almost none of them was able to leave the job to become a full-time student on location in San Francisco, but all of them could manage to attend classes once in a while for a few weeks at a time.
The Institute therefore introduced a trimester system. During each trimester, three months could be spent at home, reading the scientific literature, doing book reports, working on mandatory research projects, studying the student handbook, and viewing videotapes of previous lectures. Only every fourth month required personal attendance, because all new lectures, seminars, workshops and practica were concentrated in that one month. Sometimes special arrangements could be made outside of San Francisco for very advanced students conducting supervised therapy, because a few adjunct faculty members resided in other states of the US. In the end, of course, all had to pass the same oral and written examinations in San Francisco.
This system worked (and still works) remarkably well, because the Institute had taken a step that was revolutionary at the time: From the very first day of teaching, it videotaped all lectures and seminars, including those given by guest lecturers, thus becoming the best documented institution of higher learning in history. Over the years, many hundreds, perhaps thousands of teaching hours were captured on video and could be cross-referenced, excerpted or combined for individual viewing according to the specific needs or interests of each student. With a simple push of the button, students could watch Wardell B. Pomeroy taking a sex history and teaching in great detail how to do it, they could watch prominent sex therapists like Lonnie Barbach, Leah Schaefer, Marilyn Fithian, Albert Ellis, Bernie Zilbergeld, Jack Annon, Bernard Apfelbaum, William Hartman and many others explain the principles of their work. They could watch sex researchers like Sandra Bem, Anke Ehrhardt, Shere Hite, Pepper Schwartz, Evelyn Hooker, John Gagnon, William Simon, Allan Bell, Ira Reiss, John Money, Milton Diamond, C. A. Tripp, Martin Weinberg, Laud Humphreys, Edward Brecher and Leonard Rosenblum discuss their research methods and results. They could watch great sex educators like Mary Calderone, Michael Carrera, Sol Gordon and Lester Kirkendall talk about their pedagogic approaches. They could watch famous writers like Glenway Wescott, Sam Steward, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Rimmer, Randy Shilts, John Rechy and Gore Vidal talk about the sexual aspects of their novels, poems, essays or reports. In addition, they could watch many other important women and men talking about their aims, accomplishments and concerns, from the leader of a union for prostitutes to the chief of police, from a producer of porno movies to a collector of erotic books, from the director of the San Francisco Health Department to a television talk show host. In short, a widely available, and relatively simple technical innovation - the video camera - within a short period of time paid enormous academic dividends.
First of all, it enabled the Institute to individualize its training to a much greater extent than before. Second, it both justified and improved the long-distance phase of the training. Third, on location in San Francisco, it provided a valuable historical resource, documenting the course of American sexology during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. In addition, the Institute produced a considerable number of therapeutic films as well sexual documentaries, i.e. films without script or direction, documenting a great variety of sexual behavior patterns from young individuals and couples to lesbians and gay men to the aged and the handicapped. The Institute further acquired vast collections of commercial "porno" movies, magazines and photos. Much of this audiovisual material is now being transferred to a new medium which allows the user to preserve several hours of film on one small casette not larger than the common audio casette or a cigarette pack (HI 8 casette).
All of this was done before the current electronic revolution which now opens up entirely new horizons for all of us. Learning from the model in San Francisco, we Europeans should, from the very beginning, take full advantage of the new technical possibilities. We should not only pool and sift all of our now available teaching materials, but also make then directly accessible by personal computer. This should include audiovisual material and selected full texts as well as study guides, questionnaires, various tests and true or false examinations.
Unfortunately, experience, even in the US, has shown that the traditional universities are too slow and inflexible for innovations of this kind. I therefore see only three possibilities of quick advancement for our cause: private industry, local or national governmental initiative or supranational sponsorship.
Private industry in the form of publishing houses and media conglomerates will undoubtedly become active very soon or has already become active. For example, the Italian publisher Giunti has, with financing provided by the EU been working for some time on an interactive computer program of sex education for teenagers. Once completed, it will be offered simultaneously in all major European languages. Having solved the technical problems involved, Ginnti will then be ready to move on to a similar product of continuing education for health professionals. The only undecided questions are whether any existing training program will cooperate in this venture and whether it will have any suitable teaching materials to contribute.
Theoretically, the cooperation could go very far. For example, a publisher could take the lead and contract a number of existing academic programs to supply the content in return for royalties while supplying the finished software (perhaps even the hardware) in return for a profit. This, by the way, has always been the prevailing pattern in the world of textbook publishing. However, it is also possible that a university program takes the lead and, by giving out licences, subcontracts various publishers and hardware providers, thus securing for itself a stronger, more independent position. Unfortunately, at present, there is no sexological institution or program in Europe with enough of a profile to make this second outcome likely. The situation could change only if several programs were to act together or even succeeded in creating a standard European core curriculum approved, let us say, by the European Federation of Sexology. The eventual distribution of influence is hard to predict, especially since there is a larger trend in the world of media, to gather book and journal publishing, software and telecommunication, including television, together in monopolistic mega-companies. In the end, the profit motive may win out over the scientific habit of self-criticism and the search for truth.
To me it seems certain, however, that many traditional academic structures will fall by the wayside. To take one glaring example: Germany was the birthplace of sexology, but the Nazis deliberately destroyed it, and today, fifty years after the end of WW II, there is no academic degree program in sexology in any German-speaking country. Even so, thanks to European Union, it will soon be possible for students in Berlin, Vienna and Zurich to acquire sexological diplomas, Master's and Doctor's degrees recognized in all member countries, including their own. Today, only the language barrier is holding them back. However, it can safely be predicted that, within a few years, whole courses or even whole programs will become accessible in English or in many other translations through the personal computer. This will enable universities outside of Austria, Germany and Switzerland to offer some of their training directly to students in those countries. After all, a long-distance university in Madrid already offers a sexological Master's degree to students all over Spain. Following this model, universities in Sicily, on the French Riviera and on the Canary Islands may very well become the most popular. They will be able to enroll students all over Europe by offering them the opportunity to stay right where they are most of the time, and to »go on location« only for a few weeks per year. Thus, the students could study, at their own pace, in Hamburg, Glasgow or Stockholm, and only during the cold winter months, they would have to take a vacation in the sunshine for some practica and for examinations. I do not think these are idle fantasies, because the universities of Catania, Aix-Marseille and La Laguna, Teneriffa already have well-recognized sexological training programs. True, at the moment they require the students' attendance throughout, and they may still do so for most of their courses in the future. Nevertheless, once they begin to see the unique opportunity provided to them by their geographical location, they may not want to refuse forever what could turn into a considerable income. Therefore, to return to my example, I no longer believe that the German, Austrian and Swiss universities have or even should have a chance to play a major role in European sexology. They have ignored all international developments, including the WHO report of 1975, and have simply slept through the establishment of the training programs among their neighbors. The same is more or less true for Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal and Greece. It does not matter in any case, since future students from all of these countries will be able to profit from opportunities represented by the four magic letters EU and PC.
10. A Call to Action
As the secretary general of the European Federation of Sexology, I believe that we now have the proper forum for discussing and deciding all of these issues. Next March we will hold our third conference in Marseille, and until then we should prepare some plan of action.
We will have to see how many of us can be linked electronically in order to facilitate communication, how many of us can form special work groups or committees meeting regularly or irregularly in various European cities. We will also have to explore how we can make our voices heard in the various European institutions and sources for funding, where, until now, we are still being largely ignored. Indeed, we must establish a continuous working relationship with the WHO Regional Office for Europe, which has hardly taken note of us.
The Archive for Sexology in Berlin will continue its world-wide survey of sexological institutions, organizations, curricula and standards, hoping to be able to present the results two years from now. In June 1997 the next World Congress of Sexology will be held in Valencia, Spain. It would be very desirable if, by that time, European sexologists could present a more or less united front, if we could have agreed on a common core curriculum, and if, along with it, we could have produced some suitable common teaching materials in several European languages.
I firmly believe that we can no longer advance our cause on a national level, but must seek each other's support for a larger European effort. We have a lot to offer to our colleagues on other continents, who can offer us much in return. The time is ripe. Let us seize the moment!
1. World Health Organization (WHO), Education and Training in Human Sexuality:
The Training of Health Professionals Technical Report Series Nr. 572, Geneva 1975. Reprinted in:
2. Haeberle, Erwin J. and Gindorf, Rolf (eds), Sexology Today: A Brief Inroduction, DGSS, Düsseldorf 1993
3. Haeberle, Erwin J. and Simons, Wolfgang 6. ibid (eds), Sexology in
Europe: A Directory of Institutions, Organizations, Resource Centers, Training Programs, and Scientific Journals, RKI-Heft 3/1995, Robert Koch-lnstitut, Berlin 1995
4. The American Board of Sexology, An Outline of Sexology, Washington, D.C., 1993
5. See 2 supra p. 45
back to services
Note: Our directories depend on the input of interested readers. For corrections,
additions, and suggestions, please contact: HaeberleE@web.de