Psychology is broadly defined as the scientific study of behavior and mind. What field of study could be more relevant for addressing everyday problems and challenges? Although Psychology quickly brings to mind the image of a therapist interacting with a distressed client, the field extends well beyond that scenario, into important research areas and questions that touch every aspect of our lives. The areas of specialization in psychology are as diverse as human behavior and mental experience and its applications are as rich and varied as the contexts in which we find ourselves every day. Consider the following questions:
How do parent-child relationships influence development? How does a child develop a moral sense?
What is the relationship between technology use and attentional skill? Are there methods or practices that can improve attention?
How we move successfully through the space around us? How might spaces be designed to be more navigable for the visually impaired?
How do college students handle stress? What role does sleep play in overall health?
What role does a musician’s engagement in their art play in recovery from serious illness?
How does a person’s view of themselves relate to the way they view (and interact with) the natural environment? What strategies can be employed to encourage better environmental stewardship?
These issues not only represent the range of areas that psychology investigates; they also happen to be the focus of teaching and research projects conducted by Psychology faculty here at the University of St. Thomas. The UST mission urges us to “think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.” The essence of each of these activities is thinking and action. What could be more relevant than a scientific analysis of human behavior and thought? Psychology is uniquely positioned as a discipline that not only trains its practitioners to think critically and apply knowledge skilfully; it also provides the background to understand the most critical components of that mission: thinking and action.