By: Nada Mostafa
The AUC community on March 7 celebrated the inauguration of the Psychology department, after it separated from the department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Egyptology (SAPE).
Psychology was officially established as an independent department on July 1 2017, but the major was formalized in the 1957-1958 academic catalog as one of the 16 majors offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the time.
“Our friendship with the SAPE department which is now the SAE department will still continue. At the same time we are very excited about the opportunities for us to grow bigger and contribute more,” said Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology Mona Amer in her inaugural speech.
President Francis Ricciardone then followed with his opening speech and made a startling confession, which he said would either “comfort or terrify parents”.
“I was a psychology major,” he said.
A video titled ‘Transforming Communities, Empowering Lives”, tracing how far the department has come since its beginnings in 1921 was shown at the ceremony.
In 1957, only two students graduated from the psychology department. In 1976, the BA in Psychology was accredited by the Egyptian Ministry of Education and by 2018, the department had graduated thousands of psychology majors, many of whom were present on this historic evening, and four of them were on the panel.
Affiliate Instructor Hala Abd Alhak, Psychologist and Director Najla Nagib, Chair of HarassMap Farah Shash, Deputy and Executive Director of Wataneya Society Yasmine El Hagry – all of whom graduated from the department – praised its contributions to the community.
“It is just as if I have fulfilled a dream that is not only mine, but a communal dream,” Al Hak, who graduated with a BA in psychology in 1975, told The Caravan.
“It is not personal, it is about us as psychologists in Egypt and AUC.”
Current psychology senior and Student Representative Khaled Salah El Din believes that this inauguration is a huge step for the status of psychology at AUC.
“We are planting the seeds … Change is not easy, it takes time, it takes years. It won’t always be immediately positive, it can backlash, but that’s the point,” said Shash in her speech.
As for the future, the psychology department “are budding efforts to promote interdisciplinary research and academic programs in collaboration with other fields at AUC, including biology, education, business, architecture and refugee studies,” wrote Amer in the inauguration’s brochure.