The history of the Faculty of Social Sciences

The Faculty of the past

The Faculty of the Social Sciences has formerly been placed under the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Law, respectively.

It remains unknown whether in the time of Catholicism there was instruction in practical philosophy, which included ethics, politics and economics. However, after the Reformation, the Charter of the university stated that the professor of law should also teach politics if he was sufficiently well-versed on the subject. Likewise, the professor of mathematics should teach Ethics.

A special professorate of ethics was inaugurated at the Faculty of Philosophy in 1646, and in 1677 T. Bartholin was appointed professor politices et historiæ partiæ. The Faculty developed in conformity with the times and appointed its first professor in economics in 1762. In 1788 statistics was established as an independent discipline, and in 1815 Oluf Kristian Olufsen was appointed as Denmark's first professor of statistics. The curriculum of political science came into effect in 1848, and was given two chairs of learning, one in statistics and the other in national economics. At the same time, it was transferred to the Faculty of Law, which, subsequently, changed its name to "The Faculty of Legal and Political Science."
The Faculty retained this name until 1970, where it was changed to "The Faculty of Social Sciences."

In 1993 the law syllabus was placed under an independent faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences now comprises the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Economics, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Sociology; and the Department of Psychology. Psychology became part of the Faculty in 2005.

The Faculty of the present

The departments at the Faculty of Social Sciences have a long tradition of independent internal activities, but they act as a collective whole. In part, this strong tradition has been created through long-term professional, practical and economical co-operation with the Faculty of Law, and has been incorporated into the simplified forms of management which were introduced by the University Act of 1993.

In economic terms, the Faculty is one of the smaller ones at the university. The philosophy is that funding is best utilised through proper internal and external co-operative activities, including those with other institutions of higher education.

In 2006, the University of Copenhagen issued a new development contract identifying achivements to be made in the future, among these increased internationalisation, which is one of the priority areas of the new management of the university. Subsequently, the faculties were asked to make performance contracts identifying goals for their performance within the next decade. These plans are now in the process of being implemented.

The management of the University and the faculties cooperates through regular meetings between the Rectorate and the deans of the University, who co-ordinate university policy and plan common activities. This exercise runs parallel to the weighty, long-term planning process for the university as a whole and contributes to present a sharper profile and preserve the University's leading position.

The Faculty of the future

Interest in the Faculty's educational programmes has grown steadily in recent years. This has resulted in a large number of new students, but unfortunately, the Faculty has not received additional funding to hire a proportionally higher number of permanent staff. Research-oriented teaching, which is one of the University's most important measures of quality, is in danger of dissipating and possibly disappearing, because lecturers do not have enough time to carry out research.

The Faculty wants to retain and develop the high standards of its research and its educational programmes. With this in mind, it is one of the primary objectives of the Faculty to appropriate funding for the hiring of additional permanent staff, and to use less part-time teaching staff.

In addition to the Board's regular evaluations of educational standards, the Faculty actively pursues improvements in the physical framework of the inner city in order to improve the study environment and, in turn, the educational programmes. The goal is to acquire more classrooms in addition to renovating and re-modelling current premises in accordance with present and future demands of modern, pedagogical teaching methods. It is also a desired goal to modernise study-related facilities such as libraries, computer work stations, cafeterias etc.

Several significant international initiatives are in the pipeline in the research sector. Among other things, one future vision is to grant the majority of students the possibility of spending a minimum of one semester at a university abroad.

The reform encompassing research education programmes in Denmark prompted a restructuring of the Faculty's subject-based and administrative procedures within this area. A functional programme for adequate education in research provides a basis for recruiting highly qualified, tenured researchers. The Faculty has, therefore, allocated many resources into this transition process.

It is the hope and conviction of the Faculty that it can continue to attract bright students and applicants in great numbers along with the necessary external resources that are vital to all educational programmes and research.

Read about the Faculty's Strategic Goals here