The Department of Psychology of the University of Ghana on Thursday launched its 50th Anniversary celebration under the theme: “U-G Psychology of Department in Retrospect: Success, Challenges and Prospects”.
The Department of Psychology was established in March, 1967 under the Faculty of Social Studies, through the instrumentation of two Ghanaian academics/professors, the late Professor Cyril Edwin Fiscian and the late Mr Herbert Claudius Ayikwei Bulley with the support of the famous British Social Psychologists, Prof Gustav Jahoda.
Since then, it has trained and continues to train hundreds of young men and women at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and provides services to other departments such as social work, medicine, public health and pharmacy.
It is one of the largest Departments in the University in terms of student numbers, with over 3,500 students even though it is housed in a very small temporary structure.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Maxwell Amoah Asumeng, the Head, Department of Psychology, University of Ghana, said psychology as a discipline and a department had a long past but a short history in Ghana.
He said as an academic discipline, it had been part of the curriculum of teacher training since Ghana’s pre-independence era.
Dr Asumeng said since the establishment of the University of Ghana in 1948, the role of psychology and its practical essence has remained relevant to the socio-economic and political development of the country.
He said psychology, though very popular among students and an integral part of several disciplines, not many Ghanaians were familiar with psychology as was the case of some traditional courses, probably, because it was not well marketed.
“Indeed, apparently, there are some misconceptions held by the public about psychology as mind reading, but psychology is more than that. It is the scientific study of human behaviour and to some extent animal behaviour,” Dr Asumeng said.
“The goals are to understand, explain, predict and control human behaviour in all endeavours including the work place, social and community settings, health, education, crime and legal settings,” he said.
Dr Asumeng said the Department’s long term vision is to become a research intensive and excellent teaching and learning centre, to enable them make important contributions to society.
He said over the past 50 years, the Department was proud to produce many professionals, particularly, in the areas of industrial/organisational psychology, clinical and health psychology and social/community psychology.
Dr Asumeng said one major challenge facing the Department was inadequate office for faculty members and graduate students; stating that “as a result of the lack of space, the Department converted its 30-seater capacity library into office space for faculty members and moved the books and journals kept there to the main university library”.
“The Department does not have a dedicated space for laboratory work and therefore, converts the PhD seminar room to a make-shift laboratory in order to carry out experiment or practical work.
“In addition, there is no common room for staff to meet during lunch for cocoa break to interact and share ideas,” he said.
“The Department is yet to acquire a dedicated space for clinical and counselling work. Every faculty member shares an office with a colleague, which is not convenient for private consultation,” he said.
In view of the numerous challenges facing the Department, Dr Asumeng appealed to individuals, corporate bodies and the donor community for support.
Prof Charity S. Akotia, Dean, School of Social Sciences, University of Ghana, said: “Psychology is about you, is about me and is about us, actions, inactions, the way we perceived the world, the interpretations we put on the behaviours of others and for that matter, everything we do”.
She expressed the hope that the 50th anniversary celebration of the Department would pave the way for psychologists and the Department, for that matter, to showcase psychology, to get involved in national debates and policy formulation to contribute more to national development.
Mr Francis Danyi, the Head, Human Resources, GCB Bank, and an alumnus of the Psychology Department, said it is the expectation of industry that the Department would continue to renew its curricular to meet the changing trends.
He urged the Department to continue to provide industry with competent and multi-talented individuals to ensure that key organisational questions at the work place were addressed.