Notre Dame’s Catholic character and commitment to the humanities endow the University with a unique perspective, and role, in leading an international conversation about addressing the global crisis of climate change, said Roy Scranton, an associate professor of English who directs the Initiative.
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For senior film, television, and theatre major Kiera Russo, taking Cinema of Portugal and Lusophone Africa was a highlight of her sophomore spring semester. Despite not knowing Portuguese, she relished being able to engage in deep discussions with classmates about cinematic productions from Portugal, Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde. In this Q&A, she discusses what the class' most thought-provoking moments, the strong relationship she developed with the professor, and how it changed her understanding of film.
Notre Dame anthropologist Catherine “Cat” Bolten has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to support the writing of her book that examines links between food insecurity, human population growth and wildlife depletion, land politics and degradation, and climate change in Sierra Leone. The associate professor of anthropology and peace studies is one of 70 scholars — from among more than 1,030 applicants nationwide — to be awarded the competitive fellowships.
"I feel like Notre Dame helped me with seizing opportunities to go abroad," said Hayes, who now is attending Officer Candidate School and plans to join the U.S. Navy. "I had never left the country, other than to go to Canada. And then [at Notre Dame], I saw there were study abroad experiences and grants to go abroad. That really gave me the travel bug."
Junior Nick Huls gained knowledge, confidence, and perspective taking part in the six-week Summer in Berlin Program offered by the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures, which resumed operation in 2022 after being halted for two years due to COVID-19. In addition to taking two courses, the economics major enjoyed traveling; attending plays, concerts, and art exhibits; and sampling food from across the region. “No matter how much you think you know or how many places you go, there are always more perspectives to be appreciated,” he said.
The College of Arts & Letters has added a minor in international security studies (ISS) to help students understand root causes of war and other violent conflicts in order to pursue paths to peace. Based in the Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC), the minor will seek to help students deepen their knowledge about national and international security as well as develop an awareness of past and present global conflicts, and access tools to evaluate security arguments.
In the fields of neuroscience and neuroanatomy, scholars often cite a 93-year-old paper that examines the thickness of cortical folds. The problem, at least for an English-reading audience, is that this knowledge has always been hiding in plain sight. The article was written in German but never fully translated — until now, thanks to a Notre Dame College of Engineering professor and a Class of 2022 graduate with a deep understanding of the language.
When the College of Arts & Letters launched a new major that allows students to pair computer science with another liberal arts discipline, Grace Conners was one of the first to apply. Now a senior, she has taken extensive computer science coursework in engineering while also having room in her schedule to pursue a supplementary major in peace studies. Along the way, she’s had four internships that have helped her consider what her future career will look like — one that, ideally, involves using computer science as a tool for peacebuilding.
A new Italian language course led is empowering Notre Dame students to educate students of their own — African refugees who must learn basic Italian before they can relocate to Italy. Through leading online class sessions, five undergraduates from a range of majors and one graduate student sharpened their Italian skills, learned how to teach others, and developed global awareness and empathy for the refugee experience.
At the end of 2019, there were about 79.5 million forcibly displaced people on the planet, including 26 million refugees, 45.7 million internally displaced people, and 4.2 million asylum seekers. “As we look beyond the staggering numbers, my hope is that readers of the book will come to see the human face of the migrant and the face of God in each migrant,” said Rev. Daniel Groody, C.S.C., Notre Dame's vice president and associate provost for undergraduate education.
As a child, Emmanuel Katongole went into the forest near his home in Uganda to draw water from the spring and collect firewood for cooking. Now a diocesan priest who has taught theology and peace studies for a decade at Notre Dame, he has worried upon every return home about the intense deforestation destroying his native land. In a country where more than half the population is under age 20, he knew that young people moving to the cities lacked opportunities and needed firewood, leading to rampant tree cutting.
But it wasn’t until reading Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ that Katongole envisioned a solution that uses education to address both problems — protecting the environment and providing economic opportunities. He joined with several colleagues and the local Catholic Church to found Bethany Land Institute (BLI) in a rural area 25 miles north of the capital city of Kampala.
Even the most effective poverty alleviation programs in low-income countries can leave some people behind. Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies have a big idea on how to bridge that gap. The new Building Inclusive Growth (BIG) Lab, led by Notre Dame economists Taryn Dinkelman, Lakshmi Iyer, and Joseph Kaboski, will bring some of the world’s best researchers together to develop innovative, long-lasting solutions to help vulnerable populations in developing countries.
Emilia Justyna Powell, a Notre Dame professor of political science and concurrent professor at The Law School, has won two International Studies Association (ISA) awards for her 2020 book, Islamic Law and International Law: Peaceful Resolution of Disputes. Lauded for its originality, significance, and rigor in international law and religion and international relations, the book covers differences and similarities between the Islamic legal tradition and international law.
For generations, North Americans have seen media images of poverty, disease, civil war, and crime in Central America, including photographs and videos of Central Americans fleeing violence and of children, some just 2 or 3 years old, kept in cages at immigration detention camps. Even when well-intentioned, the images can feed into negative stereotypes, said Tatiana Reinoza, an assistant professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. Reinoza has won a competitive Getty Scholar Grant that will support her effort to more fully represent the seven-country region, its people, and their stories with her book project, tentatively titled “Retorno: Art and Kinship in the making of a Central American Diaspora.”
The European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) has presented Notre Dame sociologist Erin Metz McDonnell with its 2022 Book Award for her original contribution to the knowledge about organizations, organizing, and the organized. In her award-winning book, Patchwork Leviathan: Pockets of Bureaucratic Effectiveness in Developing States, McDonnell argues that while corruption and ineffectiveness may be expected of public servants in developing countries, “some spectacularly effective state organizations thrive amid institutional weakness and succeed against impressive odds.”
Learning a second, or third, language is transformative for Notre Dame students. Developing the ability to read, speak, and comprehend Arabic, Chinese, or any of the other 15+ languages that Notre Dame offers, improves memory and problem-solving skills. It also deepens appreciation of cultures, enhances travel experiences, boosts confidence, and expands understanding of the world.
What is the international economics major like at Notre Dame? "International economics brings that global perspective into economics, and it gives you the opportunity to study a language while you go through it," said student Antonio Villegas Jimenez. International economics majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as language proficiency, empathy, critical thinking, and problem solving. “I could combine this interest in economics and the way that helps you see the world with the opportunity to study Arabic in an advanced way," said major Anastasia Reisinger. "We really get a holistic vision of economics."
For Shinjini Chattopadhyay, Ulysses provides a blueprint for understanding modern life in post-colonial times. The winner of Notre Dame's Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award will begin as a tenure-track assistant professor at Berry College in Georgia this fall.
Ann Hermann, who double-majored in computer science and Chinese, will research comparative tech policy and social media algorithms in the U.S. and China. Susan Peters, who majored in international economics with a concentration in Chinese, will examine effects of recent changes in China’s “cram,” or test-prep, school policies.
The University of Notre Dame, in partnership with Catholic universities in Italy and Lebanon, has established a consortium for the study of Muslim-Christian relations.
Dinah Lawan won the 2022 Gary F. Barnabo Political Science Writing Prize for the best paper about a current national or global issue that provides a plan for specific action and a nonviolent resolution. Lawan recommended a peacebuilding approach to effectively dismantle Boko Haram, which has has killed more than 350,000 people in Nigeria.
The Illinois resident became interested in studying Chinese when her aunt moved to Beijing to report on the 2008 Olympics. Margaret Rauch thrived in her ND Chinese language classes, completing the highest level in her sophomore year. She then took Classical Chinese and designed an independent research project—three semesters of directed readings that examined Su Xuelin, a May Fourth Intellectual who converted to Catholicism and wrote horny Heart.
Irma Ibarra, who spoke Spanish and English when she arrived in South Bend, majored in Italian, studied in Rome, took Beginning French, and wishes she had taken a Portuguese course. Studying French helped Kyle Dorshorst gain a deeper appreciation of French music, literature, art, and culture. Maria Teel loved that her language skills could bridge gaps between people, including at the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. When Fouad El Zoghbi came to Notre Dame, he spoke French, English, and Arabic. Then he studied Spanish. Learning a new language, he said, expands your mind in unimaginable ways.
The College of Arts & Letters had 22 students selected as finalists for the 2022-23 Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Established in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, assisting graduate and undergraduate students with pursuing graduate study, teaching English or researching abroad.
Tobias Boes is an associate professor of German and a Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on cultural relationships between Germany and the world at large, especially during the first half of the 20th century. In this interview, he discusses his book on Thomas Mann, his research on cultural dimensions of nationalism, and why he's developed an interest in the environmental humanities.
When the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly halted international travel, Mary Shiraef’s fieldwork plan to investigate the outcomes of communist-era border policies in Albania was postponed indefinitely. So she pivoted.The Notre Dame political science doctoral candidate decided to map pandemic-induced border closures around the world. Two years later, the project has been reported on in more than 40 news outlets, the data was peer-reviewed and published in the Nature Portfolio’s Scientific Data, Scientific Reports published the open-source results, and the National Library of Medicine posted the study. The international research collaboration is still active and continues to provide valuable skills-development opportunities for Notre Dame undergraduates.
French majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as language proficiency, intercultural competence, critical thinking, and analysis. “Learning a language really expands your understanding of the world and the way that the world works together, but also gives you a skill that you'll be able to use in the future in almost any context," said Maria Teel. "French is such a beautiful language and so I really love learning it."
Perin Gürel, a Notre Dame associate professor of American studies, has won a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for Research in Turkey, in support of the completion of a book on the international history of comparisons made between Turkey and Iran. Her research will detail the history of comparisons made between Turkey and Iran, but Gürel also intends to critique the intellectual valorization of comparison itself. Sharp distinctions about areas of the world are often made, she said, despite the relatively arbitrary nature of borders between countries — not to mention the ways in which subjectively comparing one thing to another permeates other aspects of life.
Located in Albania between Greece and Italy, the Roman forum at Butrint has attracted Notre Dame archaeologist David Hernandez and others for nearly 20 years. They grab pickaxes, shovels and a water pump to reveal a town plaza and emerging technologies of the time that are well-preserved because they stayed submerged underwater for centuries. An associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Classics, Hernandez is now pouring his insight into a book about the Roman forum at Butrint. Supported by a Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship at Harvard University, which he was awarded this spring, the book will explore why Butrint is far more significant than scholars have previously recognized.
Now a cultural anthropologist and professor of comparative American studies at Oberlin College, Gina Pérez ’90 strives to foster that same love of ideas among her students that she discovered in the Program of Liberal Studies at Notre Dame, encouraging them to take fresh looks at topics people have contemplated for centuries. Driven by her faith, Pérez's has spent her post-Notre Dame career engaging with communities both in the U.S. and Latin America through service, activism, and research. “I believe that ideas and conversations can change the world for the better — because they lead to informed and thoughtful action and engagement with the world,” she said.