Parapsychology has been part of the University of Edinburgh since the appointment in 1962 of the late Dr John Beloff as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology. Beloff researched and taught parapsychology at Edinburgh until his retirement in 1985, though he maintained his connections with parapsychology and the department for another two decades. Many of Beloff's graduate students are still active in the field today. Indeed, he played an important role in bringing the Koestler Bequest to Edinburgh. For more information about John Beloff, click here.
The noted writer Arthur Koestler and his wife Cynthia in their Wills bequeathed their entire estate for the establishment of a Chair of Parapsychology at a British University. The declared intention was to further scientific research into "...the capacity attributed to some individuals to interact with their environment by means other than the recognised sensory and motor channels". Most likely due to Beloff's responsible approach to studying parapsychology, from the outset Edinburgh University was keen to host the Koestler Chair. John Beloff was appointed to the selection panel and was influential in ensuring that the appointment went to Robert Morris, an American widely respected by fellow parapsychologists and critics. In 1962 Koestler also founded what is now the Koestler Trust, which supports prisoners through the arts and celebrates its 50th birthday in 2012. For more information about Arthur Koestler, click here.
Robert Morris was Koestler Professor of Parapsychology from December 1985 until his death in August 2004 aged only 62. He recruited additional staff and research students to form the Koestler Parapsychology Unit. Over nearly two decades as Koestler Professor, Morris supervised over 100 undergraduate student projects, and over 30 postgraduate students, many of whom went on to establish research units and teach parapsychology at other higher education institutions. During that time he also served as president of the Psychology section of the British Assocation for the Advancement of Science, showing that Morris succeeded in his avowed aim to integrate parapsychology with the wider academic community. For more information about Bob Morris, click here.