New Faculty: Creative, Innovative Ideas Welcome
As new and returning students start fall classes, incoming faculty members at AUC are also settling into life on campus. This year, AUC welcomes 14 new professors in disciplines ranging from Egyptology to engineering. While each offers a unique perspective, they remain connected through their commitment to active learning.
For Nellie El Enany, previously an assistant professor at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and now an assistant professor of organization studies management in the School of Business, originality and imagination are at the heart of the classroom. El Enany fosters student creativity by taking a student-centered approach. Cultivating her students’ independent thinking, El Enany explained, “I encourage my students to be active researchers, keeping up with academic research as well as both national and international news, developing an opinion of what they think about current issues and not what is necessarily ‘right.’”
To fulfill this goal, El Enany brings current headlines, management theory and case studies into question, turning her classroom into a stage for open and honest thoughts and opinions. “Outrageous ideas are always welcome,” El Enany stressed. “After all, some of the most successful businesses and young entrepreneurs are the most off the wall and non-conventional.”
Tiffany Gleason, visiting assistant professor of history from the University of California Merced, uses “assumption-busting” to develop students’ analytical thinking skills. “We spend time as a class going over ideas that seem to be commonly held assumptions,” Gleason described. “Then with new ideas and information added to the discussion, we can break these down and create new assumptions.”
Similarly, Cornelia Romer, visiting professor of Coptic studies, challenges students’ perspectives through active classroom discussion. “Interaction in the classroom –– by looking at the same pictures, discovering what the individual sees and then discussing different approaches to an image for example –– is always a good starting point.” Having already taught in universities across Europe and Egypt, Romer plans to use active learning in her AUC classes as well to further develop students’ love of knowledge.
Mahmoud Shaltout, a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the School of Sciences and Engineering who will be teaching core science and health classes, also places student interests at the forefront of teaching. “My main goal as a teacher is to present students with the most relevant, updated information in the most interesting way,” he said. “An example of active learning in a health issue course would be to present a theoretical model of health to students and then ask them to apply this model to certain health issues.” Shaltout also utilizes a mix of media ranging from videos to art, and even games to keep his students excited about learning.
Beyond classroom discussion, Moataz El Helaly, visiting accounting professor in the School of Business, explained that keeping students engaged is particularly challenging in the digital age. “Technologies in teaching and learning are developing, yet at a slower pace than the technologies that students are used to in their daily lives,” he noted.
El Helaly uses unconventional teaching methods to fill this gap. “I am always concerned with trying to introduce new teaching methods to attract students and motivate them to learn.”
Together, incoming faculty members mark a shift toward active learning, teaching their students skills necessary for success both at AUC and in the real world. As El Enany emphasized, students should graduate with an AUC badge, one that differentiates them from other institutions and one that they can wear with pride. “I hope through student-led learning, independent thinking and problem-based learning, my AUC students become responsible and proactive young business leaders and, indeed, citizens and future agents of social change both in Egypt and worldwide.”