The University of Notre Dame has long traditions in the research and teaching of Dante and is considered one of the leading centers in the world for the study of the great Catholic poet. As we approach the 700th anniversary of his death, Dante’s work still speaks powerfully, says Ted Cachey, professor of Italian and the Ravarino Family Director of Italian and Dante Studies. “I am often asked how Dante is relevant for today,” he said. “The answer is very simple: Dante confronted a world that was culturally, politically, and spiritually in profound crisis.”
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A new installation by Sacred Music at Notre Dame’s Concordia choir is currently set up in the O’Shaughnessy Great Hall and accessible through May 20. Featuring 16 speakers arranged in a surround-sound pattern, each playing the voice of one singer, listeners are able to stand in the center of the room and feel as if they are on stage, or walk around the room to hear each voice in isolation. Each song represents a unique perspective from which to view the pandemic — with enough variety that a listener could find their own meaning in the pieces.
How does one find meaning and a mission in our restless world? How can we make decisions that help ourselves and others? How do we find the path that leads us to discover the deepest desires of our hearts and aspirations to make the world a better place? “The Heart’s Desire and Social Change,” a new podcast series and online community produced at Notre Dame, helps us explore these issues and navigate these big questions in our lives. Rev. Dan Groody, C.S.C., vice president and associate provost at Notre Dame, will host the program, which is based on the popular theology course of the same name that he teaches to undergraduates and students in the Inspired Leadership Initiative, which sponsors the podcast.
For the second consecutive year, the University of Notre Dame has been ranked as the best in the world in theology, divinity, and religious studies by the influential QS World University Rankings. The No. 1 ranking is based on academic reputation, employer reputation, and research impact. With an overall score of 92.8, the Department of Theology placed ahead of Harvard University, the University of Oxford, Duke University, and Durham University.
“We have to give up the principle that no statement about the world can be both true and false. We have to allow that there are such things,” said Jc Beall, the O'Neill Family Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Beall specializes in non-classical logic, an area of philosophy that considers alternative logical rules that can explain phenomena that don’t fit traditional logic. His book, The Contradictory Christ, uses non-standard logic to examine Christian doctrines such as the Incarnation, which states that Christ was both fully human and fully divine.
Children love to act things out. Some pretend to be a mother or a father, others act as a shopkeeper or pose as a singer. At age 6, John Draves wanted to be a priest. Now a senior at Notre Dame, he never abandoned that passion for his faith. As a seminarian in the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Draves uses his faith as backdrop through which he pursues his academic interests — majors in American studies and philosophy and a minor in theology.
“Music just really speaks to me. I feel like I'm at my happiest when I'm making music or thinking about music,” said Kola Owolabi, professor of organ at the University of Notre Dame. Owolabi is interested in a broad range of musical repertoire and enjoys finding works by less well-known composers. Recent recording projects include pieces by 20th-century African-English composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor, as well as a composition by 17th-century French composer Georg Muffat.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture has released a video titled "March On, Notre Dame!" that highlights the University's commitment to building a culture of life, both on-campus and in the wider public square, to coincide with the virtual March for Life on Jan. 29.
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.”
A digital image of a famous piece of art doesn’t tend to stir the soul in the same way as looking at it while standing in the same room. The context matters. Notre Dame theology and psychology faculty will extrapolate on that idea thanks to a $230,000 grant from the Templeton Religion Trust for an 18-month research project exploring the ways in which viewing art informs and enhances spiritual growth and how that changes based on time and place. The researchers will focus on two sets of religious art on the Notre Dame campus — The Stations of the Cross by Luigi Gregori in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and The Life of Christ/Cycle of Life by Philip Rickey in the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park.
As with so much of life during the coronavirus pandemic, Notre Dame Stadium is operating under "business as unusual" — with choir rehearsals taking place in the Leahy Gate, near the south endzone. “Before now, the gate had been just a passageway and the only way to get from the first floor of O’Neill to other buildings,” said Mark Doerries, director of graduate studies and head of the graduate choral conducting program for Sacred Music at Notre Dame. “But now it holds rehearsals, classes and study space — a living incubator of music and teaching.”
Teaching English at Oakland High in the late 1990s, Ernest Morrell faced the age-old problem of how to get modern students interested in a canon of long-dead writers and poets. So he and a colleague decided to introduce elements of pop culture such as rap songs into their classrooms as a way to engage the students with topics that kids know and care about. Over the years, Morrell, who now directs the Notre Dame Center for Literacy Education and is a professor of English and Africana studies, has focused his research and teaching around the idea that young students can be trusted to do complex academic work — if the topic is compelling to them and they got the right training.
In new research, Rev. Thomas Blantz, C.S.C., Notre Dame professor emeritus of history, presents the story of America’s premier Catholic university from its inception as a French-founded boys’ school in 1842 to its status as an acclaimed undergraduate and international research institution of the 21st century.
Theodore J. Cachey Jr., a professor of Italian and the Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family Director of Dante and Italian Studies, has been invited to sit on the scientific committee for the 2021 Dante centenary, organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture. He is the sole representative of Dante studies outside of Italy to participate in the deliberations of the planning committee.
Acclaimed organist Kola Owolabi will join the faculty of the Department of Music and Sacred Music at Notre Dame this fall as professor of music and head of the Graduate Organ Studio. Owolabi — whose expertise includes a broad range of organ repertoire, composition, choral conducting, church music, and improvisation — will replace Craig Cramer, who is retiring at the end of the academic year.
Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic studies and theology at Notre Dame, has been appointed by Pope Francis as consultor to the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims, which is part of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The appointment lasts five years, and the commission meets annually in Rome to debrief and advise on the Church’s relations with Muslims.
Junior Aaron Benavides is pursuing faith through service, building community through writing and design, and understanding where in the world he stands through the study of politics and theology. Through all of those activities, on campus and abroad, he is further exploring his heritage — and contemplating its significance.
Ulrich L. Lehner joined the Notre Dame faculty this fall as the William K. Warren Professor of Theology, following 13 years at Marquette University. The author of 10 books and editor of 17 volumes, Lehner “is widely regarded as the leading scholar of early modern Catholicism,” according to the chair of the Department of Theology.
What is the theology major like at Notre Dame? “It's really a way to approach everything in life — yourself, your community, the world — through the lens of the Christian faith,” said theology major Sofia Carozza. Theology majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as abstract thinking, problem solving, empathy, and ethical judgment.
Philip Byers discusses why the role of external money in organized religion deserves some focused attention, and why Notre Dame is the right place for anyone interested in American religious history.
When theology and Arts and Letters pre-health alumnus Andy Miles took a job teaching math and science, he returned to not just to the middle school — on its own, a place of considerable influence with regard to his intersecting views on education and the faith — but to the very classroom he helped renovate as an undergraduate.
Therese Cory is one of 50 total members and one of two women — the third in the academy’s history — to be so honored.
“By reading the Bible along with some of its earliest interpreters in antiquity, it's actually strange, unsettling, unsystematic. It's full of surprises,” said Nathan Eubank, associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Eubank’s research centers on the Synoptic Gospels and the writings of Paul, particularly in light of ancient Biblical interpretation. He is currently writing a book on merit in early Christianity — the ability to gain salvation through good actions.
In new research, Kathleen Sprows Cummings — University of Notre Dame associate professor of American studies and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism — chronicles how canonization, or the intricate process of naming someone a saint, prompted a minority religious group to define, defend and celebrate its American identity. Her book, A Saint of Our Own: How the Quest for a Holy Hero Helped Catholics Become American, is the first study of multiple causes for canonization within a United States context.
Junior Anja Renkes will bring her three academic disciplines together in an international research experience this summer at the Dublin Global Gateway in the Irish Internship Program. She plans to create paintings of Ireland’s holy wells — small springs with devotional significance — that capture the area’s landscape as pure gift from God.
Melinda Davis, a psychology and peace studies major from New Orleans, has secured a competitive postgraduate placement with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the U.N. She is one of four 2019 summer interns selected through a highly competitive global search process.
“If you can be a strong organist and lead hymns from the keyboard, you can do it all as a church musician,” said Michael Emmerich, ’12 M.S.M. Emmerich is the associate music director for the Archdiocese of Omaha with a particular focus and mission for rural music ministry. He travels the archdiocese to bolster musical and liturgical literacy among the parishes in rural communities.
An innovative Notre Dame course, God and the Good Life, is not only transforming the way students are introduced to philosophy — it is changing their perspectives, trajectories, and lives. Nearly 1,200 students have enrolled in the course since philosophy professor Meghan Sullivan launched it two years ago, and for many, it has become a defining experience in their undergraduate education. It's also drawn an array of prominent guest speakers — including an upcoming appearance by Michael Schur, creator of the philosophy-focused NBC comedy The Good Place.
Gerald McKenny is Walter Professor of Theology. His research interests include moral theology, Christian ethics, and biomedical technologies. In this video, he discusses his interests in how human beings respond to vulnerabilities and limitations, issues he studies as an ethicist and theologian, and why it's important for humanities scholars to be involved in questions of biotechnology.
For junior Alice Felker, it only took eight weeks for a service experience to turn into years of research and volunteer efforts for people with disabilities. The summer after her freshman year, Felker participated in the Summer Service Learning Program, an eight-week service opportunity within marginalized populations run by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. The following summer, the psychology and applied and computational mathematics and statistics major conducted a study to examine the daytime programs offered for people with disabilities.