University of Notre Dame economist Joseph Kaboski has been awarded the 2012 Frisch Medal for a paper evaluating the impact of microfinance, widely used as a tool to fight poverty in developing countries. First awarded in 1978, the Econometric Society presents the Frisch Medal biennially for the best empirical or theoretical applied paper published in Econometrica within the previous five years. The Frisch medal is not only one of the top three prizes in the field of economics but also the most prestigious “best article” award in the profession, says Rich Jensen, Gilbert F. Schaefer Professor of Economics at Notre Dame and chair of the Department of Economics.
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Gabriel Said Reynolds, Tisch Family Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology at the University of Notre Dame, will be co-director of an international consultation to develop a plan for the formation of an independent association of Quranic scholars. The three-year initiative, sponsored by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) with a $140,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, will bring together scholars of the Quran to discuss the potential establishment of a Society for Qu’ranic Studies (SQS) to foster scholarship in an expanding and increasingly diverse academic field.
Jim Cavnar ’67 originally came to Notre Dame intending to get a degree in physics but his life has been less about studying forces than becoming one for good. The theology alumnus is a founder and president of Florida-based Cross International Inc. and Cross Catholic Outreach Inc., two Christian relief and development charities founded in 2001 to help the poorest of the poor worldwide. He has worked in Catholic and ecumenical ministries for 45 years and won this year’s Rev. Louis J. Putz, C.S.C. Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association and Notre Dame Senior Alumni.
Linguistic and cultural fluency is an increasingly important asset in business. And to address the growing demand for professionals who can both understand and help shape the world market, Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters has created a new major in international economics. The major combines substantial coursework in the Department of Economics with advanced training in language and culture, starting with French, Italian, or Spanish. It will also provide students with the potential for overseas internships and specialized research projects. “This program will be an attractive option for ambitious, sophisticated, and savvy Notre Dame undergraduates seeking to prepare themselves for successful international careers,” says Richard Jensen, Gilbert F. Schaefer Professor of Economics and chair of the Department of Economics.
While working for the U.S. Department of Justice in Baghdad, Luke McLaurin B.A. ’03 M.A. ’04 found himself returning to the same ancient texts he read while studying philosophy and Italian at Notre Dame. “It was just a nice way to escape for me,” McLaurin says. “Reading Plato’s The Republic was interesting, thinking about issues of justice and how societies should be set up when you are living in a time when there’s a lot of upheaval around you.” He worked in the midst of Iraq’s upheaval for 14 months, acting as a legal advisor for judges, police, attorneys, and law students as they worked to improve their criminal justice system.
Ariel Clark-Semyck, a rising sophomore English major at the University of Notre Dame, will spend three weeks at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre this June as part of the Fulbright Summer Institute program. She is one of three U.S. students invited to attend the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) Summer Institute at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre—a demanding academic and cultural immersion program that focuses on acting and the study of Shakespearean texts, including workshops on combat play, set design, movement, and dance.
As a linguist, artist, semiotician, and interdisciplinary scholar committed to social action, graduating senior Mary Atwood is a Notre Dame original. Drawing on seven weeks of research in Peru, the theology major recently completed a senior thesis that included original oil paintings and English translations of three Inca legends gleaned from interviews with Quechua speakers in Cusco’s central market.
The Fulbright Exchange Program, National Science Foundation, and other national and international organizations have awarded postgraduate scholarships and fellowships to 13 members of the University of Notre Dame’s Class of 2012, 10 of whom are students in the College of Arts and Letters. Two Arts and Letters graduates of earlier classes also received prestigious fellowships and scholarships this year.
In the spirit of ubuntu, or “togetherness,” University of Notre Dame faculty, students, and alumni, Kgosi Neighbourhood Foundation, and Pellegrino Collaborative have joined forces to develop together+, a multifaceted campaign designed to unite a South African community divided by xenophobia, and to inform, inspire, and empower its most marginalized citizens.
Seven University of Notre Dame students and two faculty members traveled to Northern Ireland this spring to explore the role of digital technology in peace building. As part of a new Center for Social Concerns (CSC) seminar, the Notre Dame team worked with eight students from Lismore Comprehensive School, a Catholic school in Portadown, and four students from Lurgan Junior High School to help create a website. Lurgan Junior High is a Protestant school about 20 minutes from Portadown.
It is widely known that Spanish missionaries played a significant role in introducing Catholicism to the peoples of the Andes throughout the colonial period. Notre Dame senior history major Joseph VanderZee traveled to archives in Lima and Rome to dig a little deeper and find out what these early missionaries thought of the indigenous population—and how their attitudes affected the development of the Peruvian Church.
Robert Goulding, an associate professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies, was recently awarded a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to support a research project that combines mathematics, philosophy, and Renaissance science. Goulding, who also teaches in the History and Philosophy of Science graduate program, says his work focuses on English scientist and mathematician Thomas Harriot (1560–1621), whom he calls “a really unusual figure” in intellectual history.
Large-scale microfinance programs are widely used as a tool to fight poverty in developing countries, but a recent study by University of Notre Dame economist Joseph Kaboski and MIT colleague Robert Townsend suggests that microfinancing can have varying results for participants and may not be the most cost-effective use of funds for many situations. The study was published in a recent issue of Econometrica. Kaboski and Townsend used the Thai Million Baht Village Fund, one of the largest government microfinance initiatives of its kind, to evaluate and understand the benefits and disadvantages of microfinance interventions.
Michel O’Brien, the valedictorian for the class of 2012 has enjoyed a full and rich Notre Dame experience. He will graduate this month with a political science major, a philosophy minor, and an International Business Certificate. Originally from St. Charles, Ill., O’Brien lived in Keenan and Siegfried halls during his years at Notre Dame. In addition to copious research and many academic pursuits, O’Brien also served as the president of the College Democrats, a vice president of Circle K, and an editor of a journal, Beyond Politics. Here he answers a few questions and reflects on his time at Notre Dame.
Art. Sacred music. Medieval history. And the digital humanities. Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy at Notre Dame, brings them all together in her current research on Hildegard of Bingen—research for which she has been recently awarded fellowships from both the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Adding to these accolades, Fassler, who co-directs the Master of Sacred Music program in the College of Arts and Letters, today received the 2012 Otto Gründler Book Prize for The Virgin of Chartres: Making History Through Liturgy and the Arts (Yale University Press, 2010).
Prominent in both Greek mythology and Catholicism, the labyrinth remains one of the most enigmatic and elaborate structures in history. Notre Dame senior Maria Martellaro traveled to Italy and France this past summer in attempt to unravel this mystery for her senior thesis on the labyrinth and its role in late medieval religious architecture. “How did this [element of a] classical, very pagan myth,” she asks, “work its way into becoming a Catholic symbol?”
During his time at Notre Dame, Tom Hampson ’71, ’73 M.A., thought he would become a photographer, a mathematician, or a marine biologist. He never expected to be able to turn his passion for social justice—or his two College of Arts and Letters degrees in theology—into a career. But that is exactly what he has done during nearly 30 years at Church World Service, a career that has taken the Elkhart, Ind., resident to more than two dozen countries around the world.
Anthropology majors at the University of Notre Dame took their studies from the theoretical to the practical last summer, completing internships that had them doing archaeological fieldwork in Mongolia, cataloging artifacts in Chicago’s Field Museum, and collecting the oral histories of Irish immigrants on Beaver Island, Mich. Through these internships, students did more than gain experience in the field; they also had invaluable opportunities to work alongside experts and get insider looks at a variety of careers paths.
Robert C. Johansen, who retired this year as professor of political science and peace studies and a founding faculty member of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, was recently honored with a conference titled “Global Governance and the Future of Strategic Peacebuilding.” It focused on a central theme of Johansen’s scholarship and teaching: the importance of strengthening ethical and legal norms and international institutions that contribute to peace and justice.
Karen Richman, a Notre Dame anthropologist who studies Haitian culture and popular religion, has been honored with the 2012 Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence. Her free, online Creole Language and Culture class was one of five winners in the text and still image category—selected from among the 17,000 courses shared by universities worldwide through the OpenCourseWare Consortium.
The Ambrosian Library in Milan hosted 11 Notre Dame graduate students over spring break, where they inspected and read manuscripts dating back to the fifth century A.D. Through the generosity and expertise of their hosts, the class saw some of the great treasures of the library including the Ambrosian fifth-century bible, the poet Petrarch’s copy of Virgil’s works, and Leonardo d Vinci’s notebooks.
On one of his six journeys to Antarctica as part of a team seeking to unravel mysteries of the universe, Michael Zernick ’83 brought along a University of Notre Dame flag. “I am proud to have graduated from Notre Dame,” he says, adding that “the University even has influence all the way to the South Pole.”
“Ideas matter, and they can be a powerful force for global political change,” says Eileen Hunt Botting, a University of Notre Dame political theorist who charts early thinking on women’s rights in countries around the world. Botting and political science major Sean Kronewitter ‘13 cowrote an article on the subject which was recently accepted for publication in the academic journal Political Theory.
Olivier Morel’s film On the Bridge, about veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has been selected for more than a dozen festivals, won multiple awards, and has been the subject of countless media interviews since its fall 2011 release. But all of that recognition pales in comparison with a chain of events that occurred earlier this year, the director and Notre Dame faculty member says.
Notre Dame Associate Professor Meredith S. Chesson investigates the extensive looting—mostly by economically struggling local residents—that for decades has affected the area in and around the Jordanian cemetery at Fifa. Her work questions traditional ways of thinking about both archaeologists and looters.
The 2012 Nuclear Security Summit fell short of its goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials around the world, as top officials of some 50 countries gathered earlier this week in South Korea in an effort to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. Much of the discussion focused on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile activities, the post-tsunami problems at the Fukushima nuclear reactor plants and about Iran’s nuclear capabilities—all of which University of Notre Dame Political Science Professor and Chair Michael Desch believes “occupy a disproportionate place in our psyche.”
On St. Patrick’s Day 2012, Enda Kenny, Taoiseach (or prime minister) of Ireland, awarded University of Notre Dame President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., an Irish passport, officially recognizing him as a citizen of Poblacht na hÉireann, the Republic of Ireland.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world work for humanitarian organizations devoted to the sick and injured, refugees, and victims of wars and disasters. In recent years, this work has become even more dangerous, as growing numbers of humanitarian workers have been attacked, kidnapped, or killed, according to Larissa Fast, assistant professor of conflict resolution at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Department of Sociology.
Notre Dame political scientist Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C., and economist Molly Lipscomb have teamed up to conduct a randomized controlled trial in 250 villages of rural Uganda, where contaminated water is a major cause of health problems and premature death. Funded by a $279,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the study will assess whether religious or political leaders are more effective at promoting health-enhancing behaviors.
Okuyamba, a locally produced award-winning short documentary about palliative care in Uganda, will be shown in the auditorium of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Center for International Studies at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21. The film is directed by Ted Mandell, a faculty member in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT), and Mike Wargo of the Hospice Foundation.