From philosophy to musical theatre to economics, Arts and Letters faculty are using technological innovations — as well as creativity, patience, and empathy — to continue the educational experience for their students as the University shifts to online classes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The sudden shift has prompted adaptation in the face of adversity — from defending a dissertation via Zoom meeting to posting and analyzing behind-the-scenes clips of rehearsal for a musical that won't be performed — but it has also already helped faculty and students forge new bonds with each other.
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In a letter today to the Class of 2020, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., announced that the University Commencement Ceremony on May 17 will be held online rather than in Notre Dame Stadium, and that an on-campus celebration has been scheduled for the spring of 2021. Father Jenkins made the decision after discussions with experts on infectious diseases, University deans, and student government and class officers as he continued to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The University of Notre Dame is donating personal protective equipment from labs across the University in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a shortage of such equipment among local doctors, nurses and first responders on the front lines of the outbreak. Labs across campus are donating gloves, masks, face shields, goggles, isolation gowns and other personal protective equipment for delivery to St. Joseph County Unified Command. In addition, Liang Cai, an assistant professor of history, is organizing the donation of personal protective equipment from China with help from Notre Dame alumni and the parents of Notre Dame students in that country.
Notre Dame’s International Security Center (NDISC) has named James Webb its first distinguished fellow. Webb — a Vietnam Marine combat veteran, former senator, and former secretary of the Navy — is a national security and foreign policy specialist and the author of 10 books. “It is an honor and a distinct pleasure to be working with the leadership and students of Notre Dame,” Webb said. “I look forward to both teaching and learning through my interactions over the coming months.”
The University of Notre Dame is launching a bachelor of arts in computer science major, offering undergraduate students the opportunity to obtain rigorous training in the rapidly advancing areas where computer science intersects with the arts, humanities, or social sciences. Housed in the College of Arts and Letters, the program will involve significant coursework in the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering while offering enough flexibility for students to enroll in an Arts and Letters program — a major, supplementary major, minor, or 15-credit hour course sequence of their own design.
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.
In this Q&A, Brooke Ammerman, an assistant professor of psychology, discusses her research on the risk factors and protective factors for self-injurious behaviors, how her work maps onto the University mission, and why undergraduate and graduate students are essential to her research.
Mark Berends, the director of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity and a professor of sociology, has been elected to the National Academy of Education. The Academy advances high-quality research that improves education quality and practice. Members are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education.
David Lummus, assistant director of the Notre Dame Center for Italian Studies and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies, has won an award from the Modern Language Association of America for his manuscript about the poet’s role as an authority in the political arena in the 14th century. Lummus accepted the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies at the MLA’s annual convention in Seattle last month for The City of Poetry: Imagining the Civic Role of the Poet in Fourteenth-Century Italy.
Therese Cory is the John and Jean Oesterle Associate Professor of Thomistic Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on 13th century philosophy and uncovering different ways of "modeling" the mind and its activities. “The project of understanding reality is not something that one person or one culture does by themselves,” she says. “But it's really a kind of joint project and that really gives us hope for seeing how these cultures which were often thought to be very much in conflict politically have this sort of fruitful intellectual exchange in the Middle Ages.”
Paul A. Rathburn, a professor emeritus in the Department of English at the University of Notre Dame and founder of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival (NDSF), died Wednesday (Feb. 12). He was 85. Rathburn, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1965, retired from teaching in 2000. He founded NDSF the same year and served as producing artistic director for its first five years.
A recent study, co-authored by a Notre Dame sociologist, shows how educators’ racial and gender biases affect their assessments of students’ academic skills based on noncognitive skills, which include behavior, class participation, self-discipline and interpersonal skills. Using a national dataset, Calvin Zimmermann examined how first-grade teachers’ perceptions of students’ approach to learning can affect how they rate those students’ academic skills.
As a medical anthropologist, Notre Dame associate professor Vania Smith-Oka is interested in how larger institutions shape the lives of the people who interact within them. In her current research, she wants to know how some medical professionals, tasked with caring for patients, create a system that abuses some of their most vulnerable patients. She and graduate students are spending time in hospitals and doctor’s offices in Mexico to understand how such a culture evolves.
New research from the University of Notre Dame is shedding light on the unexpected effects climate change could have on regional instability and violent conflict. Previous studies have linked drought to instances of intense conflict. As climate change is expected to bring hotter, dryer conditions to certain regions around the world, with it has come the expectation that conflict, too, will rise. But this notion is more nuanced, according to the Notre Dame study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage, from Notre Dame professor of political science Christina Wolbrecht, is the only complete source of information on how women have voted since suffrage through the present day. The professors’ research dispels the illusion of the homogenous “woman voter,” showing how changing political, social and economic realities swayed votes and how assumptions about women as voters influenced politicians, the press and scholars.
More than 20 million people were killed and another 20 million or more were injured in World War I, but it’s difficult for Americans today to wrap their minds around just how catastrophic the conflict was. The last survivors have died, the war wasn’t fought on American soil, and it ended more than a century ago. But a group of Notre Dame students now has more than numbers, texts, or photos to help them understand the devastation. As part of their Great War and Modern Memory class — an interdisciplinary course designed and team-taught by Robert Norton, a professor of German, and John Deak, an associate professor of history — they traveled to Europe to visit battlefields and World War I memorials along the western front.
Tim Morton joined the College of Arts and Letters faculty last spring as director of the collaborative innovation minor and associate professor of the practice in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. The minor, which centers on the principles of design thinking as an approach to solving real-world problems, draws students with a wide variety of majors from across the University — with more than 65 students taking the introductory Design Matters course last semester alone.
Kraig Beyerlein, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame, has been awarded a $290,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study change over time in characteristics of protests in the United States, such as size, demographic composition, presence of counterdemonstrators, and the use of disruptive tactics.
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.
Alison Rice, an associate professor of French and Francophone studies, conducted 18 filmed interviews in Paris over eight years with authors originally from Iran, Korea, Senegal, and Bulgaria, among other countries. She compiled, edited, and translated the interviews to create an online archive, accessible to scholars and students worldwide, and is now completing a book project based on the interviews.
Notre Dame psychologist Kristin Valentino believes that helping kids identify and express their emotions with their mothers helps children to develop emotion regulation and to improve the parent-child relationship. Arts and Letters Dean Sarah Mustillo's research seeks to improve the way adverse childhood experiences predict adverse health issues in adulthood. If Valentino’s project concerns the care of a few hundred trees, Mustillo's study is the 30,000-foot view of the forest.
Nicole Woods, assistant professor of art history at the University of Notre Dame, has been named a 2019 recipient of an Arts Writers Grant. This award is among the highest honors an art historian or critic can receive, and Woods is one of 19 recipients from a candidate pool of more than 800. Woods is an expert in Euro-American neo-avant-gardes, performance and conceptual art, intersectional feminism and taste cultures. Her current research includes a consideration of the widespread use of food as an object of consumption and a form of political critique in the work of several late-20th-century artists.
In Catherine Bolten’s recently published book, Serious Youth in Sierra Leone, she presents findings on generational preconceptions and their impact on young men in Makeni, Sierra Leone. Her research has implications for everything from development to post-conflict reconstruction to how millennials are perceived and engaged around the world.
Over the summer, Notre Dame theology students joined professional archaeologists to look for clues buried in the ancient soil of the Holy Land. What the students found could make valuable contributions to our understanding of life at the border of biblical Judah and Philistia, as well as the history of the land purchased in the 1960s for what became the University's campus here.
Katie Bugyis, who received a bachelor's degree in history and a Ph.D. in medieval studies from Notre Dame, recently joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, concurrent assistant professor in the Department of Theology, and faculty fellow of the Medieval Institute. In this Q&A, she discusses her return to Notre Dame, how she became interested in medieval studies, and why the Program of Liberal Studies is the best home for her teaching and research.
Jason Ruiz, an associate professor in the Department of American Studies, has won the 2019 Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor in the College of Arts and Letters. Created in 1970, the Sheedy Award honors Rev. Charles E. Sheedy, C.S.C., who served as dean of Arts and Letters from 1951 to 1969. Ruiz will accept the award at a reception in his honor on December 3. “It means the world to me to be recognized in this way, he said, “especially because the College is full of great teachers I admire.”
Much medieval Italian art from the 13th century is focused on Christianity — paintings and sculptures depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary, saints, or other Biblical scenes. But murals that were hidden for hundreds of years under layers of whitewash at the Santi Quattro Coronati monastery in Rome are different — in addition to religious iconography, they also depict secular knowledge. Notre Dame art historian Marius Hauknes is fascinated by the significant shift implied by the newly discovered paintings, and he’s spending this year writing a book on the subject after winning a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
Notre Dame economist Taryn Dinkelman studies labor markets and human capital in developing countries, primarily in her native South Africa as well as Malawi and Chile. One current project uses South African household survey data to track the effects of newly-gained access to electricity. Dinkelman thinks that a key constraint for households is the capital to acquire large appliances that use the electricity.
A major sociology conference at the University of Notre Dame recently brought together scholars and practitioners for a rare chance to talk about their work and research on a range of development-related topics. “We don’t get this opportunity very often. This is one of the only academic conferences where we can have that dialogue with practitioners,” said sociologist Tamara Kay, one of three faculty members in the Department of Sociology who organized the American Sociological Association’s 8th Annual Sociology of Development Conference, held Oct. 17-19.
Laura Miller-Graff is a Notre Dame assistant professor of psychology and peace studies and core faculty at the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families. Her research interests include the developmental effects of exposure to violence in childhood, resiliency in children, and interventions for violence-exposed persons. In this video, she discusses how her research helps children and families thrive, even in the wake of considerable hardship.