Mohamed Elshafie


1. What, do you think, is the importance of undergraduate research?

I think undergraduate research is of great importance for so many reasons. To begin with, it facilitates for undergraduates an understanding of what academia is. Secondly, it gives them an opportunity of giving vent to original ideas which develop from their readings or from their observations. Thirdly, because as a young undergraduate researcher, you are mostly quite eager, sometimes you are mistaken and sometimes you could be correct. Having research opportunities makes us much better critical thinkers; much more well-rounded, liberally educated, more philosophical students.


2.  Can you talk about your undergraduate research: what motivated you to do it? Any benefits or learning outcomes?

What motivated me to do my research, and to take my major to begin with is that I want to know what the best life is and how to reach it. When first I came to campus I knew that we are now at a time where we could, using technology and such things, reach a point where we realize the utopian dream of the ancient philosophers of having a world where investigation and such things are common and rife. Or we could reach a world, using the very same technology where we have a great many sects, none of which understand another and which are fighting ceaselessly, each wanting the world to be shaped in its own image. As such, I started my study in philosophy in order to be able to understand the two cultures: both of that which we have and that of fair old Europa. I wanted to be able to establish a connection based not so much upon mere acceptance, but on the profound and wonderful pursuit of the fundamental questions of life; answers to the fundamental questions of life.


3.  Would you advise fellow undergraduate students to do research? Why?

I think that doing research is very much the synthesis of what we learn as undergraduates, especially in the more theoretical fields. It is one of the most brilliant ways of connecting us to the “outside world”. AUC has a great many facilities—our models, for example, our clubs which take us to do community service and such things. Yet, we never can take a broad look at society and the world in general without engaging in serious research.

To critique and be critiqued is a privilege that is, until recently, been given only to professors or then-graduate students. To have an undergraduate opinion or idea taken seriously, considered and critiqued is a life-changing lesson, which must be embraced.

Definitely, I would advise my fellow undergraduates to do research because then we come into the world either as graduate students or as people of practical inclinations, ready and capable of benefiting the country and world as it were.


*Mohamed presented his papers at the Undergraduate Annual Philosophy Conference at the Eastern Michigan University and at the 20th Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, which is one of the most prestigious undergraduate conferences in the USA.