Times Higher Education awards AUC’s Msh Zanbik anti-sexual harassment initiative

Ahram Online , Tuesday 19 Dec 2023

The American University in Cairo’s (AUC) Msh Zanbik (It’s Not Your Fault) initiative to combat and raise awareness of sexual harassment received the Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences award from Times Higher Education (THE).



Msh Zanbik is a collaborative research project, whereby a series of original plays about sexual harassment and assault in Egypt were created to understand the issue from the perspective of Egyptian university students and educate people about it. 

The plays are the work of more than 60 AUC students, faculty, and alumni. Each play explores sexual harassment from multiple perspectives: families and couples; bystanders; victims and perpetrators; men and women; power and incapacity.

Msh Zanbik project exemplifies how a university can have a big impact in a very important area that affects all of society, demonstrating the unique power of creative arts to reach people, according to THE.

“This is an inspiring demonstration of the agency of a university to contribute to such an important social topic, produce new high-quality research, and disseminate it to achieve a strong impact,” commented the judges. “It also highlights the unique value of the arts as a framework to address a complex issue and make it accessible and understandable to many,” they added.

“The ultimate goal is to change behavior, curb incidents of harassment, and encourage reporting,” said Jillian Campana, a theatre professor, associate dean for undergraduate studies at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and principal investigator of the project along with Dina Amin, associate professor and director of the theatre programme.

Both Amin and Campana worked with AUC students and alumni to write, perform, and publish the plays, which were turned into an AUC Press book, available in both English and Arabic, along with research commentary and resources –– marking the first published plays in Egypt that deal directly with sexual harassment.

Campana continued this work with Reem El-Mograby, director of the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) and AUC’s Title IX coordinator. 

“We worked with students to research and develop a series of anti-sexual harassment training videos in Arabic,” added Campana. “These are being used as part of the First-Year Experience programme and in other OIE and Title IX workshops. They are the first Arabic videos in the region that educate university students about sexual harassment,” she explained.

The team’s ethnographic participatory action research model relied on playwriting as the means of collecting and analyzing data and sharing the results of the study.

“This project has been a true integration between performance and social science research,” Amin pointed out. “We are fortunate to have found a forum to articulate creativity and social awareness and to also align with the #AUC Speak Up initiative,” she added.

Short link: