A Passion for Inquiry

Faculty in the College of Arts and Letters are at the forefront of fields as wide-ranging as development economics, philosophy of religion, quantitative psychology, and Shakespeare. They bring to the classroom and to conversations with our students the latest knowledge in their disciplines and their skills and passions as active researchers. They also teach both graduate and undergraduate students to become researchers in their own right, helping them develop as lifelong learners and thought leaders.

With support from Notre Dame Research and the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Notre Dame faculty have won 65 National Endowment for the Humanities grants since 1999, more than any other university in the country.

#1 in NEH Fellowships:

  • Notre Dame: 65
  • Harvard: 33
  • University of Chicago: 31
  • Princeton: 29
  • Washington (St. Louis): 25

(Totals from 1999-2018)

Grace Number One

Award-Winning Research

The total number of Arts and Letters faculty who have received major national fellowships across the social sciences, arts, and humanities places us among the Top 5 private research universities in the nation. Our graduate students also continue to distinguish themselves by winning external awards, including prestigious National Science Foundation, Fulbright, Newcombe, and Mellon/ACLS fellowships. This research focus extends to our undergraduate programs, where the number of students completing a senior thesis surged from 9% in 2008 to 41% in 2018.


Research Highlights

Finding Solutions to Fight Poverty

Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), is the nation’s first research center that partners academics with a national network of domestic social-service providers to confront the challenge of American poverty. LEO scholars evaluate the impact of existing anti-poverty programs to identify the most effective and replicable solutions. 

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Unrivaled Focus on the Middle Ages

Notre Dame’s renowned Medieval Institute is the largest and most influential academic institute of its kind in North America, with more than 60 faculty members from 13 different disciplines and an unparalleled library collection. Notre Dame is the only university to claim three consecutive Gründler awards for best book in Medieval studies.

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Preparing Transformative Leaders

Guided by political scientist Luis Fraga, the Institute for Latino Studies advances understanding of the fastest-growing and youngest population in the country and in the U.S. Catholic Church. ILS strengthens Notre Dame’s mission to prepare transformative leaders among Latinos and all members of our society.

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Studying the Sacred

Renowned for her research at the intersection of musicology and theology, endowed professor Margot Fassler directs Sacred Music at Notre Dame. She leads an international conversation about the arts and the sacred, building creative, multi-generational partnerships between academia and communities of worship.

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Raising Kids with Character

Every family seeks to raise healthy, intelligent, and empathetic children. The William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families conducts a variety of research projects to advance the wellbeing of children and their parents, including overcoming developmental disabilities and optimizing learning.

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Translating the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are arguably the greatest archeological find of the 20th century. Notre Dame scholars have long been at the forefront of efforts to study, edit, and translate these texts in order to enhance and illuminate what the world knows about the history of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity.

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The Basis of Human Behavior

Humans are changing the planet faster than we can study it—or ourselves. Anthropology professor and National Geographic explorer Agustín Fuentes studies human and primate evolution so we can better understand modern-day human health, environmental adaptability, and community.

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The Science of Generosity

Why do some people give so much and others so little? Notre Dame's Science of Generosity initiative, led by professor Christian Smith, is an international effort to uncover the causes, manifestations, and consequences of generosity.

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The Importance of Sleep

As modern society speeds up, our lives speed up with it—and that means we often don’t get enough sleep. Jessica Payne, a psychology professor at Notre Dame, researches how sleep impacts memory, creativity, and our ability to process new ideas.

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Design for Social Good

Art students and faculty at Notre Dame uphold the University’s dedication to service through innovative graphic and industrial design solutions, including campaigns to address AIDS and xenophobia in South Africa and products such as a $3 washing machine, a rapid deploy emergency shelter, and a self-sanitizing umbilical cord cutter.

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Uncovering a Cultural Treasure

Every summer, undergraduate students travel with professor David Hernandez to an archaeological dig at the World Heritage Site in Butrint, Albania, where they unearth ancient artifacts from classical antiquity—some of them dating to the 7th century B.C.

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Cutting-Edge Questions

As science and technology expand into all facets of our lives, the team of scientists, theologians, philosophers, historians, and legal experts at Notre Dame’s John J. Reilly Center for Science,Technology, and Values is dedicated to meeting the social, ethical, moral, and legal challenges we face.

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