Donald P. Kommers, the Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Chair in Government and International Studies and a concurrent professor emeritus of law, died Dec. 21 at his home in Holy Cross Village. He was 86. A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1963, he was a renowned scholar of German and American constitutional law.
Gerald “Gary” N. Knoppers, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, died Dec. 22 from pancreatic cancer. He was 62. Knoppers’ research specializations included Hebrew scriptures, ancient historiography, ancient Near Eastern and biblical law, inner-scriptural exegesis, textual criticism, and the history of early Jewish and Samaritan relations.
Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame, has won the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s 2018 Distinguished Book Award. The honor, conferred upon the most outstanding book published by an SSSR member in the past two years, lauded the “impressive accomplishment” of Smith’s Religion: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It Matters. Smith’s book aims to help the social sciences better understand and explain religion by building an innovative theory of religion that builds on developments in science, theory, and philosophy.
Notre Dame psychologist Darcia Narvaez is helping lead a $3.9 million Templeton Religion Trust grant that will support new research on civic virtues. The “Self, Virtue and Public Life Project,” which began this week and runs through 2021, will fund research projects, conferences, edited volumes, and community outreach activities. Narvaez will be working with Nancy Snow — director of the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for the Study Human Flourishing, where the project will be based — to steer the grant and guide its educational interventions.
Nicole Woods, a Notre Dame assistant professor of modern and contemporary art history, has won a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts. One of 21 grants awarded from a pool of more than 700 applications, Woods will use the funding to complete her book on American artist Alison Knowles, the sole female founding member of the influential artist collective Fluxus. Like many female artists of her era, Knowles had limited storage space and little professional recognition, creating a challenge in surveying the breadth and impact of her work.
Notre Dame philosophy professor Meghan Sullivan has received an $806,000 grant from the The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand her popular God and the Good Life course and adapt it into a curricular model used by faculty across the country. The three-year award will allow Sullivan to build a network of professors interested in developing or refining their own courses that teach philosophy as a way of life. It will also spur the expansion of God and the Good Life to four to five sections per year — encompassing 600 to 700 students, or one-third of the freshman class.
Notre Dame political scientist Sarah Zukerman Daly is one of 31 nationwide recipients of 2018 Andrew Carnegie fellowships, the Carnegie Corporation of New York announced April 25. Each Carnegie fellow will receive up to $200,000 toward the funding of significant research and writing in the social sciences and humanities — the most generous stipend of its kind. Her book supported by the Carnegie award seeks to explain a surprising feature of post-conflict environments around the world — after suffering wartime atrocities and winning peace, millions of people around the world elect to live under the rule of political actors with deep roots in the violent organizations of the past.
Erika Doss, a Notre Dame professor of American studies, has been named to the first-ever Society of Fellows for the Norman Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. Established to bring leading thinkers to the study of nearly 200 years of American illustration art, the group hopes to more fully develop the language and discourse of an academic discipline devoted to published art.
The presence of a prominent female officeholder has a positive effect on the number of women running for lower offices in her state, according to new research by University of Notre Dame political scientist Jeffrey J. Harden. A state with a female governor or U.S. senator will see an increase in the proportion of women seeking state legislative office by about 2 to 3 percentage points, Harden and two co-authors wrote in an article published this month in the American Journal of Political Science.
Roy Scranton, an assistant professor in Notre Dame’s Department of English, has won a fellowship from the Lannan Foundation in recognition of his fiction writing. Since 1989, the foundation has given literary awards and fellowships to both established and emerging writers “of distinctive literary merit who demonstrate potential for continued outstanding work.”
Nikole Hannah-Jones, a 1998 Notre Dame graduate, has won a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — commonly known as a “Genius” Grant. Hannah-Jones, who majored in history and African American studies (now Africana studies), is an investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine, covering issues of racial inequality, especially in education. In 2015, she produced three Peabody Award-winning radio stories for This American Life illustrating how school desegregation can lessen the achievement gap between white children and students of color, and her first-person article, “Worlds Apart: Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City,” won a 2017 National Magazine Award.
The Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economics Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame has received a nearly $350,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health in support of a major research initiative on homelessness prevention. The funding will support LEO’s efforts to measure the impact of emergency financial assistance on those at risk of homelessness. By studying the aid provided by homelessness prevention call centers, which process more than 15 million calls each year, LEO’s research will allow policymakers to make more informed choices in directing limited resources to the most effective programs.
From the beginning, there’s an end in sight. For students in Notre Dame’s new Ph.D. in Italian and Ph.D. in Spanish programs — each of which launched in 2016 — the focus is on ensuring students complete their dissertations and earn their degrees within five years. The programs are attracting high-caliber students from around the world, helping to strengthen a flourishing community of scholars that includes students in successful master’s of arts programs already operating in each area.
Corbett Family Hall strikes a stunning silhouette rising above the east side of Notre Dame Stadium. But for the Departments of Anthropology and Psychology, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Below the club seating, terraces, and press box on the building’s top three levels, faculty and students from these two social science departments will come together in the new 289,000-square-foot structure, made possible by a leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus Richard Corbett. With classrooms, laboratories, and offices all under one massive roof, research and teaching efforts are united in a way that will bring untold benefits.
Meghan Sullivan, a University of Notre Dame professor of philosophy, has won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to support a two-week NEH Summer Institute on teaching philosophy as a way of life. The program will gather 25 faculty from across the country who are interested in developing courses that explore the concrete recommendations that various philosophical movements propose for achieving the good life. Sullivan teaches the introductory philosophy course God and the Good Life at Notre Dame.
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.