Root to rise

Pop up museum and wider project celebrate the history of psychology at the University of East London.

The long and proud history of Psychology at the University of East London (UEL) was celebrated last week, with the opening of a 'Pop-up Museum' and a special address from the first Head of Psychology Department and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Psychological Society – Emeritus Professor John Radford. Kathryn Scott, the Director of Policy and Communications at British Psychological Society, also spoke. She emphasised the growing relevance of Psychology Graduates in tackling contemporary social, economic and organisational challenges, and the role of the BPS.

Psychology was first taught at UEL in 1962, in today’s University House, UEL Stratford Campus. The department was then formed in 1965 by Professor Radford (pictured above left), who also introduced Psychology as an A-level subject in the UK in 1970. As the department grew, it established itself as a pioneer and a widely recognised professional training provider, influencing the discipline’s direction of travel for more than half a century. Today, the School of Psychology is one of the largest departments of psychology in the UK with approximately 1750 students, 120 staff and 24 programmes taught by experts in their fields. It has a well-established research portfolio and commitment to evidence-based social justice interventions with and for community partners.

The opening of the museum was part of a larger project entitled 'Root to rise – Project 1962: Psychology at UEL. Today’s posture, tomorrow’s potentiality'. It will showcase and celebrate the history and culture alongside a scholarly archive of the department through over five decades. Professor Radford cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Pop-up Museum. 

Upon visiting the Pop Up Museum, UEL’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Amanda Broderick, described it as 'A powerful engagement with the history and foundations of psychology'. In her speech to the assembled staff, the current Head of the School of Psychology, Dr Aneta Tunariu, said: 'There were three main drivers for the “Root to Rise. Project 1962” event. For the staff to experience the Pop-up Museum and the quiet inspiration to make-a-difference that reflections on one’s history can deliver. For the School to inaugurate a new, Annual Tradition: a themed Pop-up Museum. For our students, new and returning, to access the museum during their first week of induction and get a sense of the roots, values and collective expertise that houses their programme of study which, proudly and skilfully, will be shaping their training and readiness to succeed at UEL and beyond.' 

Dr Aneta Tunariu concluded: 'The Annual Psychology-at-UEL Pop-up Museum will represent an opportunity to pause. To gaze respectfully at the past, acquire bold grounding in the present, catalysing our collective responsibility towards the future.'

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