For nearly 1,000 years, there has existed a sad division between two branches of the Christian family. Another step on the long path toward reconciliation between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches will be taken this month, when His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, visits the University of Notre Dame. “His coming here is, first and foremost, a sign of solidarity among Christians, between East and West,” said Alexis Torrance, the Archbishop Demetrios Associate Professor of Byzantine Theology. “And because Notre Dame is a global university, it is also an indication of how members of the academy, across disciplines, want to address the crises we all face — at the level of human relationships, economic injustice and environmental tragedy — in solidarity.”
Yury Avvakumov, an associate professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Theology and a faculty fellow in the University’s Medieval Institute, has been appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. The commission, established under Pope Paul VI in 1969, is tasked with examining doctrinal questions of great importance and advising the pope and the Holy See through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The University of Notre Dame will host the 31st annual meeting of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium on Oct. 7-9, featuring two public lectures and an inculturated Mass led by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and Department of Theology, the event also includes two days of private meetings for symposium members and an invitation-only listening session for Black Catholic students, community members, faculty, and staff.
Daniel Philpott, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, and Katharina Westerhorstmann, a professor of theology at Franciscan University, will host a public lecture and a day-long consultation session at Notre Dame on Thursday and Friday (Sept. 23 and 24), examining the Church’s sex abuse crisis and the lessons that may be derived from national truth and reconciliation processes for healing and restoration.
While many scholars have examined the early connections between Europe and the Americas, most approach the issue from one perspective or the other. Americanists tend to emphasize that the Spanish influence was an imposition and that indigenous culture was destroyed, while scholars of European history focus on evangelization and acculturation. Notre Dame Medieval Institute Ph.D. student Carlos Diego Arenas Pacheco seeks a balance between the two, however, arguing that indigenous culture in Mexico did not disappear — it was remade into something different, not only by the hands of the Europeans, but also by the hands of the indigenous peoples themselves.
Abigail Jorgensen ’16 first began exploring women’s relationships with politics for her senior thesis in the College of Arts & Letters. That experience not only sparked a passion for research, but also laid the foundation for her career in academia. Now a Ph.D. candidate in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology with a graduate minor in gender studies, she is finalizing her dissertation on motherhood, fertility intentions, and political behavior, titled “Becoming the Mommy Politic.” While existing research on voting behavior often divides women into “mothers” and “non-mothers,” Jorgensen argues that scholars should take a more expansive view of when the shift into motherhood begins and how long it takes.
Nina Glibetić, an assistant professor in the Department of Theology, and Gabriel Radle, the Rev. John A. O’Brien Assistant Professor of Theology, have been appointed by Pope Francis as consultors for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. The congregation assists in the development and protects the rights of the Eastern Catholic Churches, while maintaining the heritage of the various Eastern Christian traditions alongside the liturgical, disciplinary and spiritual patrimony of the Latin rite.
In new research that is the first to elucidate exactly what occurred at secret facilities in the USSR, Ian Johnson, the P. J. Moran Family Assistant Professor of Military History at the University of Notre Dame, details the inner workings of the German-Soviet alliance that laid the foundation for Germany’s rise and ultimate downfall in World War II. His book, Faustian Bargain, traces the on-again, off-again relationship from the first tentative connections between the sworn enemies in 1919, made “almost before the ink had dried on the treaties ending the First World War,” to Hitler’s betrayal of Joseph Stalin and invasion of the USSR in 1941.
The research fellowship, which promotes international academic cooperation among distinguished scholars from Germany and abroad, will enable Miseres to spend the 2022 calendar year writing and researching at the Freie Universität in Berlin. “This fellowship is both an honor and a great opportunity to advance in my second book and to strengthen the dialogue between Notre Dame faculty and other distinguished international institutions,” she said. “It is also a meaningful recognition for women with a diverse background in academia — and in particular, for those of us who work with foreign languages and are underrepresented among awardees.”
Aldo Tagliabue is fascinated by the power of a great narrative to draw the reader in. An assistant professor in the Department of Classics, Tagliabue wants to ensure that the study of ancient narratives encompasses not just the intellectual aspects of literature, but that experiential side, as well. “For many years, there has been a more intellectual approach to ancient narrative, which has had great results. But I think it has missed another vital aspect,” he said. “My research tries to recapture the importance of the full experience of what it means to be a reader — now and in the ancient world."
Jay David Miller, who received his Ph.D. in English from Notre Dame in spring 2020, has been awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies for his project, Quaker Jeremiad. Miller, currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, focuses his research on early American literature. His dissertation traces the development of Quaker rhetoric on agrarian labor and justice, examining the ways that rhetoric shifts from the beginnings of the Quaker movement in 17th-century England as it moves across the Atlantic and confronts agrarian issues like enslavement and indigenous dispossession.
The degree, conferred at CTU’s virtual commencement ceremony on May 20, was given in recognition of Hilkert’s teaching and research that deepens in others an awareness and understanding of the mystery of our loving God. “Professor Hilkert’s work resonates deeply with the mission of Catholic Theological Union, which is to prepare effective leaders for the church, ready to witness to Christ’s good news of justice, love, and peace,” said Rev. Robin Ryan, an associate professor of systematic theology at CTU. “This is particularly evident in three areas of her research and writing — preaching, feminist theology, and the mystery of suffering.”
Seven seniors in the Department of Economics have secured highly competitive pre-doctoral positions for after graduation — three with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, two at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and one each at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Northwestern University's Global Poverty Research Lab. “These positions are both prestigious and highly competitive,” said Eric Sims, professor and chair of the department. “In these roles, individuals work as research assistants — and often as coauthors — with leading professional economists on cutting-edge research aimed at solving some of the most pressing issues facing society.”
Luiz Vilaça is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and a Ph.D. fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. His research focuses on the sociology of law, organizations, and politics. In this interview, he discusses how state organizations build the autonomy and capacity to investigate corruption, how Brazil startled the world by dismantling multiple schemes of bribery and kickbacks, and why it's important to examine these anti-corruption investigations from a sociological perspective.
Alexander Beihammer, the Heiden Family College Professor in the Department of History and a faculty fellow in the Medieval Institute, has been awarded a $480,000 research grant from the Austrian Research Foundation for his project, “Medieval Smyrna/Izmir: The Transformation of a City and its Hinterland from Byzantine to Ottoman Times.” The project examines the development of the medieval city of Smyrna — now Izmir, Turkey — from its last heydays under Byzantine rule in the 13th century to the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Matt Hawkins wanted to teach his students the value of resilience — and the power of performance art. At a time when nearly all live theatre has been suspended for more than a year, Hawkins found a way to safely bring back the musical his students had spent months planning for and rehearsing during spring 2020. Last month, he directed a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring most of the original cast.
Claire Scott-Bacon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology’s clinical program and was recently awarded a Distinguished Graduate Fellowship from the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. Her research focuses on issues related to the structure and assessment of criminal personality in clinical, forensic, and legal settings. In this interview, she discusses her work and its impact on the high rate of wrongful convictions and criminalization of mental health-related crimes in the United States.
Katie Bugyis, an assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, has been awarded the American Society of Church History’s Franklin S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize, which honors outstanding scholarship in the history of Christianity by a first-time author. She received the prize for her work, The Care of Nuns: The Ministries of Benedictine Women in England During the Central Middle Ages, which reconstructs the history of Benedictine nuns through examination of their own liturgical documents — and recovers evidence of their liturgical functions, including preaching, reading the gospel liturgically, hearing confessions, and pronouncing absolution.
Perin Gürel, an associate professor of American studies and concurrent associate professor in gender studies, has won the Jack Rosenbalm Prize for American Humor for her essay, “Amerikan Jokes: The Transnational Politics of Unlaughter in Turkey.” Gürel said she is thrilled to win the award — considered the top prize in the field of American humor studies. “It confirmed to me the importance of interdisciplinary, transnational research investigating the intersections of culture and politics,” she said. “I was also excited to have the official recognition because I felt it gave my personal interest in jokes — especially bilingual jokes and anti-jokes or ‘dad jokes’ — a scholarly veneer.”
For Arienne Thompson Plourde ’04, the first step toward a successful journalism career was to study history and Japanese. Although it might seem an unlikely combination for an aspiring journalist, it gave her a strong foundation to build on — and just as importantly, four years to study what she loved. “For me, I always knew that I wanted to be writing and thinking and reading — and being immersed in the world of letters. It was almost like breathing. What else could I have done?”
Notre Dame senior Margaret “Meg” Burns, an art history major from San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded a 2021–22 Luce Scholarship. The scholarship provides a stipend, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia, with a goal of enhancing the understanding of Asia among potential leaders of American society. Burns is Notre Dame’s 10th Luce Scholar in total and its third since 2014.
Psychologist Jessica Payne is passionate about helping the world better understand the value of sleep — and the many ways it impacts our cognition, health, and longevity. She dreams of a society where people no longer take pride in how little sleep they need to get by, but how much they sleep in order to thrive. Her groundbreaking research on sleep, stress, and psychological function has led to her being selected as the National Academy of Sciences 2021 Seymour Benzer/Sydney Brenner Lecturer — and to being awarded a nearly $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Molly Spencer ’94 knows how much words matter. As a writing instructor in the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and and the author of two books of poetry, she appreciates the connotation, the shades of meaning, the nuance in every word. “People often ask me how it is that I teach policy writing and write poetry because they seem like such opposite pursuits. But I feel that they’re actually very closely aligned — policy practitioners and poets all care so deeply about the world,” said Spencer, who majored in economics. “And as in poetry, in policy work it’s important to get the words just right because of the way policy shapes our society and our everyday lives.”
Three faculty members from Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy — Richard Cross, Katharina Kraus, and Samuel Newlands — have been offered fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Scholars in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have received a total of 68 NEH fellowships since 1999 — more than any other university in the country.
Sophie White, a professor in the Department of American Studies, has won the prestigious 2020 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her work, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana. The prize, sponsored by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, recognizes the best book published in English on slavery, resistance, or abolition. It is considered one of the most distinguished awards for the study of global slavery.
Christopher Waller, the former Gilbert Schaefer Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame, has been confirmed to the Federal Reserve’s seven-member Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. Waller, executive vice president and director of research at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday with a vote of 48-47.
Neeta Verma’s teaching and research examines a range of social inequities facing the local community — including homelessness, poverty, and the digital divide. But the issue she finds most pressing is youth violence — and she believes that art and design can play a key role in breaking its vicious cycle. With a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, she is launching a two-year project that will use community-designed public art installations and youth programming to address this systemic problem.
Francie Shaft has discovered intersections between her theology and Japanese majors through her classes and research — both on campus and in Japan. Those opportunities would not have been possible, she said, without the support she found at Notre Dame. “Notre Dame wants you to start pursuing what you’re passionate about, even as a freshman. If I didn’t have these people who have believed in me from the start, I don’t think I would be as creative and as bold in the sorts of experiences I want to have.”
Christina Wolbrecht, a professor of political science and affiliated faculty member in the Gender Studies Program, has been awarded a Centennial Center Special Projects Fund grant from the American Political Science Association. With the grant, she and a team of colleagues are planning to broaden the impact of the organization Women Also Know Stuff by hosting a virtual conference in early 2021 that will bring together journalists and scholars.
The John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values has announced new leadership for two key programs — Vania Smith-Oka, an associate professor of anthropology, and Amy Hixon, an associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences. Smith-Oka will serve as the inaugural director of the center’s Medicine and the Liberal Arts program, and Hixon has been named director of the GLOBES graduate certificate program.