John Van Engen, the Andrew V. Tackes Professor of Medieval History, received two significant honors from the Medieval Academy of America at its annual meeting in Toronto last month. A member of Notre Dame’s Department of History since 1977, Van Engen received the association’s Robert L. Kindrick-CARA Award for Outstanding Service to Medieval Studies and was elected president of the Fellows of the Medieval Academy of America, a group formed more than 90 years ago to promote the study of the Middle Ages and recognize scholars around the world who make important contributions to the field.
Agustín Fuentes finds the four predominant arguments that seek to explain human evolution and human nature to be compelling but extremely simplified. Years of research and an emphasis on cross-disciplinary conversations has instead led him to a more complete story of human evolution. Creativity and collaboration, he argues in The Creative Spark, are the most important explanations for why we are the way we are.
The College of Arts and Letters and the Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC) will launch a new certificate program in international security studies in fall 2017. Open to political science majors, the program will offer rigorous training for students interested in exploring career opportunities in international security and foreign policy. To earn the certificate, students must take the U.S. National Security Policy gateway course and two relevant electives, finish a two-semester senior thesis research project, complete an approved internship in the world of international security policy, and participate in NDISC’s seminar series and other events.
Roy Scranton, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in fall 2016, doesn't write about war the way most Americans do. In his acclaimed debut novel War Porn and in his nonfiction writing in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and the LA Review of Books, the Iraq War veteran pushes back against what he calls "the trauma hero" — the trope of making the American soldier the victim of American military aggresion.
A trio of Notre Dame students and alumni have been named Yenching Scholars, a globally competitive award that provides a full scholarship and stipend to pursue an interdisciplinary master’s degree at China’s top university. Teresa Kennedy ’16, an anthropology and peace studies major from Wilbraham, Massachusetts; senior Jenny Ng, a political science major from Sai Kung, Hong Kong; and Dominic Romeo ’14, a political science and Chinese major from Turlock, California, were named to the third cohort entering the Yenching Academy, based at Peking University in Beijing.
Luis Fraga, an esteemed scholar and pioneer in the field of Latino politics and co-director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, has won a major award from the Midwest Political Science Association. The organization’s Latino/a Caucus will present Fraga with its Distinguished Career Award at the MPSA 2017 annual conference April 6-9 in Chicago. It will hold a special roundtable honoring his research, teaching, and service record. Fraga and other panelists will discuss his collaborative work, students he mentored, people who influenced and mentored him, and other topics.
Every year, the Notre Dame Career Center hosts Arts and Letters Career Conversations, an event offering students the chance to network with and receive career advice from alumni in a wide variety of industries. Sixteen alumni—including leaders in the management consulting, communications, nonprofit, and health care fields—attended the 2016 event and shared their experiences with current students. Here is some advice from three of them.
A unique collaboration between the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and a Sacred Music at Notre Dame graduate student aims to invigorate ancient pieces of music and make them more accessible and enjoyable for modern audiences. Released by the Dynamic Catholic Institute, O Emmanuel is already attracting attention, debuting this week at No. 1 on Billboard’s traditional classical albums chart and No. 3 on the classical albums chart. A review in Catholic World Report described it as “the best jazz infusion into contemporary Christmas music since Charlie Brown’s Christmas.”
The Qur’an describes God as a god of mercy. The Qur’an describes God as a god of vengeance. Are those qualities mutually exclusive? Gabriel Said Reynolds doesn’t think so. The Notre Dame professor of Islamic studies and theology is using a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to explore the idea. He’s spending a year researching the way the Muslim holy text juxtaposes narratives of God’s destruction with declarations of God’s compassion.
The University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters has launched two rigorous new doctoral programs in Italian and Spanish designed to train world-class literary scholars in the languages and literatures of Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, and Latin America. As the first new graduate degrees formed since the creation of the College’s innovative 5+1 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, the curriculum and structure has been designed to incentivize and facilitate timely degree completion.
In his new book, American Jesuits and the World: How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global (Princeton University Press), McGreevy uses individual religious experiences and others as a gateway to a larger narrative. The book traces how the religious order grew from 600 men in 1814 to roughly 17,000 men a century later. McGreevy argues that their odyssey of expulsion (by European nationalists worried about excessive Jesuit loyalty to the papacy) and reconstruction (as Jesuits launched a counterculture centered around parishes, schools, and universities) powerfully shaped modern history.
The University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters has launched a new, guaranteed postdoctoral fellowship that will incentivize timely dissertation completion and prepare graduate students to launch their careers. Funded in part by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the 5+1 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program guarantees that students who finish their dissertations and complete degree requirements within five years of enrollment will receive a one-year postdoctoral fellowship. This fully funded transitional year will provide an ideal opportunity for new Ph.D.s to prepare for an increasingly competitive job market by furthering their research, expanding their teaching portfolio, or exploring career opportunities outside the academy.
Thomas E. Burman, an esteemed scholar of medieval Christianity and Islam, has been named the Robert Conway Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Burman, currently a professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will begin his new role in January 2017.
Driven by a commitment to Catholic social teaching and a strong belief that a liberal arts education can transform lives, Notre Dame and Holy Cross College faculty are teaching college-level courses for inmates at Indiana's Westville Correctional Facility. Since 2013, nearly 100 inmates have earned college credit and 11 have earned associate degrees as of this month. But developing a strong foundation in reading, writing, research, public speaking, and critical thinking offers benefits that go far beyond the professional opportunities a degree might one day provide.
Michael Rea, a professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy, has been named the 2017 speaker for the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The 128-year-old lecture series, described as “the highest honor in a philosopher’s career,” invites pre-eminent thinkers to address topics related to religion, science, and philosophy. In a series of six lectures, Rea will take a theologically informed approach to the topic of “divine hiddenness,” the idea that God’s existence is far less evident—and vivid, unambiguous experience of God’s presence is much less frequent—than one might expect from a perfectly loving deity.
For the first time ever, the University of Notre Dame will host the world premiere of an opera—a commissioned production of As You Like It, the classic Shakespearian comedy. The four-show run is a highlight of “Shakespeare: 1616-2016,” a yearlong series of campus events commemorating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Given the location of its premiere, the production features numerous Notre Dame touchstones.
Notre Dame psychologist Darcia Narvaez has been named a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, an honor bestowed on academics with notable and sustained research achievements. Narvaez, a professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Letters, is one of 22 scholars who will be inducted as fellows at the AERA’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 9.
Pierpaolo Polzonetti, an associate professor in Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and Sacred Music at Notre Dame program, has won the H. Colin Slim Award for his essay, “Tartini and the Tongue of Saint Anthony.” The award, presented by the American Musicological Society since 2005, honors a “musicological article of exceptional merit.”
Two Notre Dame graduate students have won fellowships from Humanities WIthout Walls, a consortium funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that aims to support collaborative research and scholarship across the humanities. Michael Skaggs, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in history, and Courtney Smotherman, a student in the Ph.D. in Literature program, were among a cohort of 30 predoctoral fellows selected by HWW, based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They will attend three weeks of summer workshops designed to encourage doctoral students to explore careers both inside and outside the academy.
Three faculty from the University of Notre Dame received fellowships this week from the National Endowment for the Humanities, continuing the University’s record success winning support for humanities research. Receiving the grants are Julia Douthwaite, a professor of French; Amy Mulligan, an assistant professor of Irish language and literature; and Gabriel Said Reynolds, a professor of Islamic studies and theology. Since 1999, College of Arts and Letters faculty have won 57 NEH fellowships—more than any other private university in the country.
A football game isn’t the only thing Notre Dame is bringing to Boston in late November. As part of a weekend of events surrounding the Shamrock Series, Notre Dame’s annual home-away-from-home football game, the College of Arts and Letters will host a pair of academic conversations the day before the Fighting Irish face Boston College at Fenway Park. Notre Dame historians will offer an interdisciplinary look at the impact of Irish immigration on American religious and political structures, as well as the role of the U.S. in the 1916 Easter Rising, while economists will discuss research initiatives that aim to change the way humanitarian services help the poor both domestically and abroad.
They bring expertise in subjects that span physical borders and chronological boundaries. They bring passion to their research and energy to their classrooms. And the six new faculty members joining the Department of History this fall bring additional prestige to an already elite group of academics. “For a long period of time, we’ve been working to assemble a group of scholars that could work across national boundaries, redefining the department and what it does," said Patrick Griffin, chair of the department.
An interdisciplinary symposium hosted this week by the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies aims to facilitate conversation and collaboration between scholars from the United States and Italy who are researching issues related to immigration. “Transnational Migration in Comparative Perspective: Italy and the United States” offers the chance for academics to learn from one another about immigration experiences and discuss ways that research can better inform policymakers.
The projects took them them to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and England. The research offers new insights into the Renaissance, Protestantism, immigrant religiousness, monks, and begging practices. Eight graduate students from Notre Dame’s Department of History received competitive fellowships or grants in support of their research—awards including a Rome Prize, a Fulbright, and Louisville Institute, Newcombe, and Schallek fellowships.
Through a series of new community-based learning Spanish courses at Notre Dame, undergraduates are improving their language skills both inside and outside the classroom. The learning model is based on the idea that a faculty member and local organization leader are co-educators—the experience is designed to be mutually beneficial to both the class and the community group. Spanish students in intermediate-level and community-based learning classes now average about 3,000 hours of service per year in South Bend.
When Jack Blakey was studying theatre at Notre Dame in the 1980s, he never dreamed he would one day be hearing legal disputes on the federal bench. But his liberal arts courses were preparing him for it nonetheless. Blakey was formally installed this spring as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, following his nomination by President Barack Obama and confirmation by the U.S. Senate last year.
Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities has received a $435,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a two-year study of Stay the Course, a program designed to keep low-income community college students on the path to academic success. Participants are paired with a case manager who offers guidance and support on how to stay on track to graduate or transfer to a four-year college. They are also directed to affordable child care or other social services that will aid them in their pursuit of an education.
Pamela Robertson Wojcik—a professor of film in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre—has been elected president of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies. It is the leading scholarly organization devoted to film, television, and related media.
Before he heads to law school, Notre Dame graduate Tyler Barron ’15 will have a front-row seat for the lawmaking process. Barron, a sociology and American studies major, has been selected for the Udall Foundation’s Native American Congressional Internship Program in Washington, D.C. He will work for 10 weeks this summer with U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona.
Under the leadership of Ian Kuijt, director of graduate studies, seven first-year Ph.D. students encountered a curriculum focused on integrative anthropology—studying approaches and methods across a range of subfields. Next year, the program will add six students, who chose Notre Dame over several other elite institutions.