“The Ancients need to be made relevant to the concerns that we have today,” says Susan Collins, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame. Collins specializes in ancient political philosophy. Her most recent book is a translation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, with Robert Bartlett (University of Chicago, 2011), which was nominated for the John D. Criticos prize. She is also the author of Aristotle and the Rediscovery of Citizenship (Cambridge 2006).
“My long-term goal has been to go to med school, but I’ve also found a passion for music and piano performance here at Notre Dame, and the College of Arts and Letters pre-health supplementary major has really allowed me to explore both of those things,” says senior Will Sievern from Evansville, Indiana. Sievern is pursuing a major in piano performance while also majoring in Arts and Letters Pre-Health.
Brock Switzer ’13, a film, television, and theatre (FTT) major in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, began taking dance classes at neighboring Saint Mary’s College during his sophomore year. It was there that he learned of the influence of dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. Using Graham’s techniques, Switzer planned to choreograph a dance for his senior thesis project. With the help of an American Dream grant from Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, he attended the Summer Intensive program at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in 2013.
“I started questioning the idea of ‘What do art and literature give to philosophy?’ at the same time as ‘What does philosophy give to the arts?’” says James Martell de la Torre, a sixth-year student in Notre Dame’s Ph.D. in Literature program. He chose to explore those ideas within the Ph.D. in Literature program because of its broad scope. “I was really thrilled by the interdisciplinary approach,” Martell de la Torre says, “and also by all the opportunities with different institutes to travel and to learn languages and to just keep enriching my whole experience.”
Julia Douthwaite, professor of French and Francophone studies in the University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, was awarded the 2013 Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award. The highest teaching honor in the College, the Sheedy award was founded in 1970 in honor of Rev. Charles E. Sheedy, C.S.C., who served as dean of the College of Arts and Letters from 1951–69.
“You can never go wrong having the Great Books of the Western world sort of in your hip pocket in terms of making decisions,” says Tom Franco ’74, a graduate of Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies and a partner at Clayton, Dubilier, and Rice, LLC (CD&R), a private equity investment firm based in New York City. “A lot of business is making judgments and having the context to do that, so I would say that a liberal arts background is a welcome addition to the investment decision making process.”
“The skill set that I developed in a liberal arts context is still the skill set that I use,” says Bryan Samuels, a 1989 graduate with a degree in economics. “There’s a big part of economics that’s about statistics and analytical methods, and ultimately I found a great affinity to them.” Samuels is the executive director of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. He is the former commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Notre Dame senior Adam Llorens spent the summer interning for CBS News at the company’s broadcast headquarters in New York City. Thanks to a grant from the Arts and Letters Summer Internship Program, Llorens worked within the investigative unit of CBS News, working closely with producers, pitching stories, doing research, and checking facts. “The thing I like the most…is that every day is different,” says the film, television, and theatre major from Detroit, Mich.
During the summer of 2013, graphic design major Stephanie Wulz interned at Radio Flyer, a Chicago-based toy company founded in 1917, best known for its red wagons. Her duties ranged from editing international packaging to creating prototype boxes for products. Her internship was made possible by a grant from the Arts and Letters Summer Internship Program.
“One of the great things about philosophy is that we’re able to study a lot of big questions that we kind of take for granted and really look into why we do certain things and does it make sense,” says Ellen Carroll ’13, a philosophy major and philosophy, politics, and economics minor from Portsmouth, R.I.
“After graduating Notre Dame, would I have ever said, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be a TV writer in Hollywood?’ Never in a million years,” says Linda Gase, a Notre Dame graduate with a degree in English. She is currently co-executive producer of Switched at Birth, a one-hour drama on ABC Family. Gase has also written for ER, The District, Crossing Jordan, and Army Wives. She credits her strength as a writer to the time she spent at Notre Dame developing her critical thinking skills and examining her point of view. “The biggest challenge of a writer is to trust your voice, and I feel that at Notre Dame, I really honed my voice.”
“As a clinical student, I can especially attest to the excellent training that I’ve received through that area,” says Allison Gaffey, a fourth-year student in the clinical psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Notre Dame. She also appreciates the Department of Psychology’s “very strong” quantitative program, allowing her to gain additional training in those methods.
“I felt like my background at Notre Dame could not have prepared me better,” says Constance Barker ’73, a commissioner for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C.
“My liberal arts education has really been a blessing in many ways,” says Chris Down ’93. Down is vice president of design for Mattel, Inc., a toy manufacturing company headquartered in El Segundo, Calif. He feels that the design education he received from Notre Dame prepared him in a way that set him apart from other designers.
“As a singer, I spend all my time dealing with texts. I sing poetry, I sing theatre, I’m singing in different languages, and all my training at Notre Dame helped me immensely for that,” says Paul Appleby ’05.
“I wouldn’t have traded my English major at Notre Dame for any other major,” says Greg Miller, ’87, a managing director at Greenhill and Company, an investment bank in New York City.
“With the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS), you get to engage with the great books and have stimulating conversations every day,” says Arnav Dutt ’13, a PLS major from South Bend, Ind. At the core of the program’s undergraduate curriculum are six Great Books seminars, in which small classes study and discuss major texts from ancient Greek literature to the 20th century.
“The thing that I like the most about political science is to be able to analyze things that are going on in our world right now and that are really relevant to our lives and what’s going to happen in future generations,” says Monica Torres ’14, a political science and Arabic major from Winter Springs, Fla.