New Program in Psychology to Start in Fall ‘18

February 13, 2018

The next academic year at AUBG will bring a major addition to the curriculum. After almost two years of work and preparations, a program in psychology will be available to students. The new major and minor got the final approval at the January Board of Trustees meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve been talking about psychology for a long time and there has been clear indication that students are interested in having a psychology program,” said Dr. Robert White, AUBG Dean of Faculty. “If you look at the popularity of psychology at other universities, at the moment it is a very popular major and it is very common for universities to have it.”

Courses in psychology were reintroduced in the 2016-17 academic year and have since been some of the most popular on campus. Professor Ronald Harvey, who joined the AUBG faculty in September 2016, says his classes have been completely full for the past two semesters. In Fall '17 he taught 93 students across three classes. The following Spring the number reached 99.

 “I think we made a good case in the proposal that psychology is the number one or number two most requested major throughout Bulgaria and we were sort of distinguished by not having it.  So there’s good evidence that it’s consistently in demand and that it will remain so,” Harvey said.

Professor Ronald Harvey

Milana Mukhametshina, a second-year student, had always had an interest in psychology but got into the field even more after taking some classes with Harvey. “It’s essentially important to understand human mind in order to easily interact with people from different background,” she thinks. “I believe that majoring in psychology offers many benefits and opens up a wide range of career opportunities.”

Along with an introduction class, in his four semesters so far Harvey has also offered courses in social psychology, personality theories, abnormal psychology, and community psychology, which is the field he specializes in. Some of the topics to come include developmental psychology, which will study psychology from childhood through old age, and cognitive psychology, where the focus will be on how people think and make decisions about their world.

“The biggest new class, which will be a required one, is going to be Research Methods,” Harvey said.  “So in order to understand psychology, in order to understand psychology research, you really need to be trained in how psychologists create knowledge and how do we know what we know.”

The department will introduce more special topics classes in time, as well as the option for a senior thesis or a capstone project for students who want to major in the field. Some already existing classes from other disciplines will count as electives for the new program, such as Consumer Behavior, Organizational Behavior, and The Social Brain. 

The faculty believe the psychology major will work well with the already established programs at AUBG. “It can complement a range of majors but two stand out to me and that’s business administration and political science,” White said. With the ongoing developments in artificial intelligence, he thinks it will also tie in well with computer science. Harvey added that journalism students could benefit as well. 

“How do you recognize mental illness, how do you recognize personality preferences that you can use – if you are aware of this, then you can use that to guide your interviews in ways that if you didn’t have psychology training, you wouldn’t be able to do that,” he said.

Story by Martin Georgiev

Photos by Nadezhda Yankulska

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