Reading celebrates a centenary of Psychology

A week of events to mark the milestone at the University of Reading.

Psychologists from around the world will be joining celebrations to mark 100 years since the founding of the department of psychology at the University of Reading.

A week of events will celebrate the development of the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences as a world leader in the delivery of teaching, research and training in psychology and related disciplines, andl look forward to what the next 100 years of psychology will bring.

Eminent developmental psychologist Professor Alison Gopnik will be giving a public lecture as part of the week, after being named as Albert Wolters Distinguished Visiting Professor, joining other recipients including Professors Noam Chomsky, Elizabeth Loftus and Steven Pinker.

The full programme of events to celebrate 100 years of Psychology at Reading also includes a look ahead to the next century for the subject. Professor Patricia Riddell and Dr Allan Laville will be leading sessions about how to make Psychology more diverse; and Professor Stella Chan will be launching a new network, Reading Resilience, linking clinical practice, research and patient involvement.  

Professor Carmel Houston-Price, Head of the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading said: “It is an honour for me to be leading the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences as it celebrates its centenary this year. Over the past 100 years the field of psychology has been established as a critically important scientific discipline, and I am proud that the University of Reading has played an important role in the development of the discipline.

“Today, our school is continuing the example set by our founder Professor Albert Wolters, producing psychologists well equipped to face the demands of the ever-changing world that they graduate in. Our work today includes clinical research tackling child and adolescent mental health, research at the frontier of neuroscience, and applied research exploring how psychology can positively influence every aspect of our lives.”

“As we celebrate the past century of psychology here at the University of Reading we will also be thinking ahead to the next 100 years including how our discipline can better reflect the diversity of our society, how we can address concerns about reproducibility and openness of research, and how we make the relationships between clinical practice, research and patient advocacy flow effortlessly.”

Albert Wolters and the beginning of Psychology at Reading

The history of the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences can be traced back to 1921 with the appointment of Albert Wolters as the University’s first Lecturer in Experimental Psychology.

Professor Wolters was first appointed to lecture in the University of Reading’s Education Department in 1908, introducing Psychology to his lectures in 1910 before being asked to establish an independent Department of Psychology in 1921.

As well as holding senior positions at the University of Reading and within the British Psychological Society, Professor Wolters was also invited to advise Winston Churchill during World War Two after fears were expressed about how the psychological profile of soldiers might impair the war effort, as described in an obituary published by the British Psychological Society.

Another early notable Reading psychologist was Professor Magdalen Vernon, who also was President of the BPS and one of the main UK proponents of experimental psychology. An obituary for Professor Vernon published in 1991 in the Psychologist celebrated her role both in furthering the field of psychology as well as her “good humoured, no-nonsense comments”. 

Professor Houston-Price said: “The history of our School is somewhat intertwined with the remarkable lives of academics including Albert Wolters who set up the school and was an influential proponent of psychology in the UK. 

“Professor Wolters’ involvement as an ‘outside’ expert with the War Cabinet for World War Two is also a good reminder that Psychology has an important role at the table of major policy issues today. I have no doubt that those who advise the government on behavioural psychology today can thank the influence and of Wolters and his fellow expert Sir Frederic Bartlett. Professor Vernon is just as important in the history and future of Psychology at the University of Reading, having demonstrated so many of the qualities that we seek to instil in our students and embody in our work.

Today, the School of Psychology recognises Albert Wolters with the establishment of the Visiting Distinguished Professorship named after him; and Magdalen ‘Maggie’ Vernon with an annual scholarship for PhD students bearing her name.


The full programme also includes information on how to book as well as how to send questions for the panel discussions:

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