This year’s unprecedented mid-year break led the University to create for the first time a Winter Session. This unique two-month period between semesters has removed the guardrails of what academics, researchers, counselors and service coordinators could normally imagine. Assistant Dean Collin Meissner said what could have been dead time has instead spurred some very creative ideas inspired by “just sheer intellectual enjoyment.”
Teaching English at Oakland High in the late 1990s, Ernest Morrell faced the age-old problem of how to get modern students interested in a canon of long-dead writers and poets. So he and a colleague decided to introduce elements of pop culture such as rap songs into their classrooms as a way to engage the students with topics that kids know and care about. Over the years, Morrell, who now directs the Notre Dame Center for Literacy Education and is a professor of English and Africana studies, has focused his research and teaching around the idea that young students can be trusted to do complex academic work — if the topic is compelling to them and they got the right training.
When coronavirus outbreaks threatened the closure of meatpacking facilities across the nation, Notre Dame historian Joshua Specht experienced a striking sense of déjà vu in the parallels to his research on meat production and consumption in the late 19th century. Specht came to Notre Dame in the fall of 2019 soon after publishing his first book, Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America. Recent events at modern meatpacking facilities have intensified interest in his research,
At Kylemore Abbey in western Ireland, the presence of pure beauty overwhelms. A mere picture will not suffice; you must draw or write or paint. That’s the idea behind two summer programs that Notre Dame runs at the abbey in the Connemara mountains. The debut of a month-long graduate art residency last summer adds another option on top of a three-credit creative writing seminar that began in 2016. The 19 students spent the first week at the Dublin Global Gateway soaking in the city arts and lit scene, then spent the remainder at Kylemore Abbey, a 19th-century castle where Notre Dame has renovated a section for hosting guests.
Marie Lynn Miranda, announced as the successor to Thomas Burish in mid-March, is no stranger to leading a university through a crisis. Now the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame, the former provost of Rice University and a distinguished scholar in the field of children’s environmental health organized the school's disaster response in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. “Throughout our lives, we are confronted with situations where we don’t quite know what to do,” she said. “We don’t know what the best thing is and we don’t necessarily have all the expertise we might ideally have. We must bring data and analysis and the best technical advice there is. But when in doubt, responding with love is always a good choice.”
Notre Dame psychologist Kristin Valentino believes that helping kids identify and express their emotions with their mothers helps children to develop emotion regulation and to improve the parent-child relationship. Arts and Letters Dean Sarah Mustillo's research seeks to improve the way adverse childhood experiences predict adverse health issues in adulthood. If Valentino’s project concerns the care of a few hundred trees, Mustillo's study is the 30,000-foot view of the forest.
While there are more than 200 community-based classes across Notre Dame, few faculty members have jumped in with more commitment than those in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, especially those teaching Spanish. CBL classes engage in a sustained partnership with community centers and schools through service or educational activities relevant to coursework. Spanish students in these classes average about 1,500 hours of service per year in South Bend.
After Hurricane María caused severe damage to Puerto Rico in September 2017, critics said federal government aid was too little, too late. Other organizations saw the need and decided to step in, including Notre Dame. Here are recent efforts, including the faculty-led Listening to Puerto Rico project and a spring break storytelling trip by journalism students..
Through the Idzik Computing and Digital Technologies (CDT) program, six students are interning in the St. Joseph County Cyber Crimes Unit, where they participate in every step of a cybercrime case: researching suspicious online activity, building suspect profiles from social media and public records, writing warrants to get information and search homes, collecting tech evidence on site, and performing digital forensics on anything that stores bits and bytes.
Over spring break, nine students in a new class in the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy, traveled to Houston to do ambitious reporting, learn about the journalism industry, and help with a service project. Led by Richard G. Jones, a former New York Times editor and director of the program, the course exemplifies how hands-on training is preparing a new wave of journalists who can tell the stories of tomorrow.