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Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes of humans and other organisms. The term “psychology” (from Greek psyche logos, study of the soul) was coined in the 17th century and came into popular usage in the 19th century as the discipline emerged from the study of philosophy; 19th-century pioneers included German scholar Wilhelm Wundt, Francis Galton in England, Sigmund Freud in Vienna, and William James in America. Psychology was taught in Canada as a branch of philosophy until well into the 20th century. The first independent psychology departments appeared in eastern Canadian universities in the 1920s, and in the west by mid-century. However, psychology was among the first subjects taught when the University of Saskatchewan began offering classes in 1909 in Saskatoon. The University’s first president, W.C. Murray, himself a philosopher-psychologist, taught psychology classes in the Department of Philosophy.

The Department of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan came into existence in 1946 and achieved a distinctive identity under the leadership of Gordon McMurray during the next two decades. Its faculty was comprised of only two or three members until the 1960s, when the department went through a phase of modest growth as Canadian universities expanded and psychology became a highly popular subject across the country. The first professor appointed to teach psychology in Regina was Duncan Blewett, who was hired in 1961. The psychology department that was founded in Regina in 1965 had only three faculty members initially, but grew rapidly over the next decade. In 1974, when the University of Regina became independent from the University of Saskatchewan, the period of rapid expansion of Canadian universities had come to an end. However, the popularity of psychology among students and the general public continues to the present day.

Psychologists study fundamental processes in perception, learning and memory, human development, social and interpersonal interactions, personality theory and measurement, the biological basis of behaviour, assessment and treatment of psychological disorders, history and theory of the discipline, cultural psychology, and more. Researchers at Saskatchewan universities have made significant contributions in each of these areas, and in new areas of applied research such as health and forensic psychology. The undergraduate psychology programs at the province’s two universities cover all the core areas of the discipline and also include a number of specialized courses. Both universities offer masters and doctoral programs in a range of specialties including clinical psychology. The education faculties at the two universities also offer training in educational psychology, a field that has evolved somewhat independently from the rest of the discipline.

The majority of psychologists in Saskatchewan work as clinicians in health facilities or in private practice, providing services to people with psychological disorders or other problems of adjustment in life. A smaller number work as researchers and consultants in industry or the public sector, or teach in university settings. The profession of psychology is regulated under provincial law by the Saskatchewan College of Psychologists, and use of the title “psychologist” or “doctoral psychologist” is limited to qualified individuals who are members of the College. The Psychological Society of Saskatchewan, a fraternal organization, publishes a journal, Saskatchewan Psychologist, and sponsors professional and public events. Another fraternal organization, the Saskatchewan Educational Psychology Association, represents the interests of educational psychologists in the province.

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Further Reading

McMurray, G.A. 1982. “Psychology at Saskatchewan.” Pp. 178–91 in M.J. Wright and C.R. Myers (eds.), History of Academic Psychology in Canada. Toronto: C.J. Hogrefe.
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