Douglas Griffiths ’86 has been a professional globetrotter for more than two decades—not collecting postcards but rather serving his country in U.S. diplomatic outposts all over the world. Griffiths, who received his B.A. in government from the University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, was appointed U.S. ambassador to Mozambique in July.
Most Americans are comfortable fixing a date (July 4) and an event (the signing of the Declaration of Independence) to a definitive moment when the United States separated itself from its colonial parent, Great Britain. But for University of Notre Dame historian Patrick Griffin, the revolution is better understood as a process—not an event.
By now, most people are aware of the environmental effects of air or water pollution; University of Notre Dame philosopher and scientist Kristin Shrader-Frechette has devoted herself to bringing to light a less known concern, the inequitable distribution of pollution’s human toll. “Polluters ‘target’ poor and minority communities to locate noxious facilities because they know that residents often are unable to defend themselves,” she says. For her efforts, Shrader-Frechette was recently awarded the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University’s Institute for Global Leadership.
By many different measures, people who take religion seriously are different from the rest of society, says University of Notre Dame economist Daniel Hungerman. And different in a good way. “In fact, religiosity is the best predictor of any number of positive social outcomes,” he says. “Religious people are generally healthier, they give more to charities, they are much more likely to be involved in civic life, and they are much less likely to suffer from depression or mental illness.”
From Cairo to Kabul to New York City, the events shaping our world are informed by the deeply held religious beliefs of contemporary history’s major protagonists. So why is the dynamic role of religion in world affairs still such a hard academic sell in political science and international relations programs around the country? “I think if the field were to be proportioned according to what you see in headlines, religion would deserve a much larger place in the study of international relations,” says Daniel Philpott, who is associate professor of political science and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame and on the faculty of the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies.
She’s already mastered English, French, and, of course, her native Spanish. Now Natalia Baeza, a graduate student in Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy, is clearly on her way to conquering German. Recently awarded a prestigious German Academic Exchange Service fellowship, Baeza is completing her doctoral work at Frankfurt’s renowned Institute for Social Research.
Ancient philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle can offer a surprisingly fresh perspective on our modern political and cultural challenges. And at the University of Notre Dame, the Workshop on Ancient Philosophy is the forum for graduate students and faculty to study and share these insights.
The phrase “All Roads Lead to Rome” connotes the cosmopolitan culture that has long been present in the Eternal City. It’s also the title of a Notre Dame exhibit running through the fall 2011 semester to highlight spectacular acquisitions by the University’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in conjunction with the new interdisciplinary Italian Studies at Notre Dame program.
Associate Professor Gail Bederman is the latest faculty member in Notre Dame’s Department of History to accept a prestigious invitation to the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. Only about 190 scholars are chosen each year for membership at the institute; more than 1,500 typically apply.
“Toi, toi, toi” is a superstitious invocation of opera singers, meant to encourage a winning performance before taking the stage. “We don’t say, ‘Break a leg,’” fifth-year senior and University of Notre Dame Chorale member Joshua Diaz explains. Diaz might be hearing that old stage charm at an extraordinary venue later this month—the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome—where he and about 50 other members of the Notre Dame Chorale are scheduled to perform for Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops and pilgrims in attendance at a general audience on May 25, 2011.
The last 24 human inhabitants of the Irish island of Inishark departed together on October 20, 1960—a solemn end to a slow, steady decline. This small community’s collapse more than 50 years ago now offers Anthropology Professor Ian Kuijt and his students “a window” to Irish life in the 19th century. “These people were living little differently than they were in the 1860s,” he explains.
Deb Rotman is in a race against time. Rotman, director of undergraduate studies for Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology, is keenly aware that the generation of Irish immigrants who can still share memories of the Irish Civil War and their experiences in early 20th century America will soon be lost forever. “Those generations have some really great stories that we’re trying to capture, but we can only do so much,” she says.
The eyes may be a window to the soul as far as philosophers are concerned; to Notre Dame Associate Professor James Brockmole they are roving indicators of attention and memory—“the keystones on which human experience is built.” Brockmole’s research in the Department of Psychology looks at how eye movements influence what we pay attention to and how that visual attention translates into useful information and memories.
Turning the pages of Assistant Professor Erika Summers-Effler’s new book, Laughing Saints and Righteous Heroes: Emotional Rhythms in Social Movement Groups, it won’t be long before readers notice they are not working their way through a typical sociology text. Summers-Effler’s lively storytelling veers off into three different directions at once, and it’s loaded with stories, comments, and vibrant details from real life that would be quite at home in a piece of narrative journalism.
While others might be content to resign their retirement years to blazing Floridian sunsets or skill development on the putting green, Robert Flood is bringing a lifetime of real world experience at the International Monetary Fund to the Department of Economics and Econometrics.
Late last year, James Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Economics and Econometrics, and the University of Chicago’s Bruce Meyer published an article in the American Economic Review related to their ongoing research into ways to measure and improve the well-being of poor families.