Researchers know that experiencing a high number of adverse events in childhood correlates with worse health outcomes in adulthood. These studies have led to an emphasis on trauma-informed practice in schools and workplaces in an attempt to mitigate the harm of early adversity. At the other end of the spectrum, focusing on wellness, Darcia Narvaez, emerita professor of psychology, has helped identify humanity’s baseline for childhood care. In a first-of-its-kind study conducted by Narvaez and doctoral student Mary Tarsha and published in the journal Anxiety, Stress and Coping, results show that positive childhood experiences can help buffer the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on physiological health in adult women.
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Three faculty members in the College of Arts & Letters — philosopher Sara Bernstein, theatre scholar Tarryn Chun, and historian Katie Jarvis — have won National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, extending Notre Dame's record success with the federal agency committed to supporting original research and scholarship. The University also received a significant grant for a digital scholarship project that will develop a new platform that makes digital archives easier to analyze, present, and reuse. Since 2000, Arts & Letters faculty have received more NEH fellowships than any other private university in the country.
The image of Black inmates working in fields where enslaved African Americans once toiled has been seared into Notre Dame senior Aysha Gibson’s mind since she went on a high school field trip to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Gibson, a history and neuroscience and behavior major, is now writing her senior thesis about the prison to provide a deeper understanding of America’s penal system. The independent research project, advised by associate professor Rebecca McKenna, considers race, morality, state law, labor, and geography — and is the culmination of an undergraduate career full of academic and service experiences that helped her consider how to support communities experiencing hardship.
The Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy is launching The January 6th, 2025, Project — a research, teaching, and public engagement initiative devoted to understanding and averting looming threats to U.S. democracy. Through in-depth study and analysis of the social, political, psychological, and demographic factors that led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the project’s members hope to offer insight into how to protect and strengthen the American electoral system before a likely attack on Jan. 6, 2025, the day the results of the 2024 presidential election will be certified by Congress.
Many associate philosophy with the study of abstract theories of logic, human nature or the universe. But for Notre Dame philosophers Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko it is also a practical approach to the issues of everyday life. Philosophy, they say, offers a sustainable, holistic and battle-tested approach to setting goals and finding meaning. In their new book, The Good Life Method: Reasoning Through the Big Questions of Happiness, Faith, and Meaning, Blaschko and Sullivan examine how the tenets of philosophy can help readers chart their course and ultimately determine what it means to live a good life.
Six projects led by faculty in the College of Arts & Letters at Notre Dame, along with their collaborators at partner universities, have been awarded funding through Notre Dame Research’s Internal Grants Program. The program seeks to support faculty researchers and programs with the goal of advancing the University’s research enterprise, scholarly output, and creative endeavor.
The College of Arts and Letters’ Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts is dismantling financial barriers to help a wider range of students take part in faculty-mentored summer research.Starting this May, ISLA’s Research Access Mentoring Program (RAMP) grant will provide awardees from the College of Arts and Letters with a stipend of $3,500, room and board, and a research allowance of up to $1,500 to take part in 10-week, on-campus projects of interest. Recipients also will receive tuition for a 3-credit summer course.
Notre Dame senior Trevor Lwere will pursue a Master of Global Affairs in Beijing next year as a member of the Schwarzman Scholar Class of 2023. A native of Kampala, Uganda, he is one of 151 Schwarzman Scholars from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants from around the globe. He is Notre Dame’s first Schwarzman Scholar since the program was established in 2016. Lwere is an economics major and philosophy, politics and economics minor, with a supplementary major in global affairs. He is a member of the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, the Glynn Family Honors Program and the Kellogg Institute International Scholars Program.
In the drive to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, many question where faith communities stand. A new study by Notre Dame sociologist Kraig Beyerlein found that 30 percent of congregants in the United States heard solely encouraging messages about vaccination from faith leaders or fellow members. Another third heard both encouraging and discouraging messaging, and 32 percent heard no messaging at all. Notably, only 5 percent of American congregants received only discouraging messages concerning vaccination from their faith communities.
Notre Dame alumna MacKenzie Isaac ’20 will study at the University of Oxford in England next year as a member of the U.S. Rhodes Scholar Class of 2022. She is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars selected from a pool of 826 candidates this year, and is Notre Dame’s 21st Rhodes Scholar overall and fourth in the past five years. She graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, minoring in data science and Latino studies.
Using new data, Notre Dame sociologist Joel Mittleman analyzed how sexuality shapes academic performance in unprecedented detail. Mittleman found that gay men’s academic success doesn’t just subtly outshine straight men’s. Roughly 52 percent of gay men in the U.S. have a bachelor’s degree, while the overall national number for all adults in the U.S. is 36 percent. Six percent of gay men in the U.S. have an advanced degree (J.D., M.D., or Ph.D.), which is about 50 percent higher than that of straight men.
Fall Saturdays on Notre Dame’s campus are filled with familiar touchstones. Helmeted competitors preparing to face off. A glint of sunlight reflecting off a majestic wing. Cherished objects brought out for admiring fans. Spectators reveling in the pageantry of it all. But this year, some of those displays predate American football by centuries. Thanks to the Medieval Institute — which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year — home game Saturdays have featured medieval objects and traditions, from fencing demonstrations to falconry, blacksmithing, astronomy, and more.
“The Middle Ages are amazingly important to understanding the modern world,” said Thomas Burman, the Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute. “That’s part of the reason we say they are ‘the crossroads of everything.’ There are all kinds of things about modern culture that are medieval in origin, including scientific traditions, universities and representative democracy.”
Christopher Chowrimootoo recently traveled to London to research the history of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ opera The Pilgrim’s Progress. Based on Paul Bunyan’s 1678 allegorical novel, the opera began as a one-act production in 1921 before evolving into a motet in 1940 and a radio dramatization in 1942. In 1951, The Pilgrim’s Progress premiered at the Royal Opera House. Supported by an ISLA Small Grant for Research and Creative Work, Chowrimootoo worked at the British Library for two weeks during the summer of 2019, studying librettos, scores, and photographs of the original production. The research yielded valuable insight into Vaughan Williams’ process and the reception of the work as reported in contemporary newspapers.
Theodore Beauchaine, the William K. Warren Foundation Professor of Psychology at Notre Dame, is co-director of the Suicide Prevention Initiative—Research, Intervention, & Training (SPIRIT), located off campus at the Department of Psychology Clinical Studies Building. Along with co-director Brooke Ammerman, Beauchaine is helping to teach children and adolescents in the South Bend community to better regulate their emotions, with the goal of reducing risk factors for suicide. One promising tool he is researching is a pocket-sized music player with earbuds that stimulate the vagus nerve with a low amplitude electrical current. “If one has heart disease, you don't wait until they have a first heart attack to intervene. It turns out that suicide prevention is similar to that,” he said.
Lauren Groff’s bestselling historical novel Matrix captures a medieval world that Notre Dame Program of Liberal Studies assistant professor Katie Bugyis has always imagined. “It’s an extraordinary gift,” said Bugyis, a historian of Christian theology and liturgical practice who reconstructs the lived experiences of religious women in the Middle Ages. “She saw what has been in my mind and that I always hoped other people might see.” Bugyis’s research on routines and rituals of medieval nuns might not seem like an obvious storyline for a National Book Award finalist, but it immediately garnered Groff’s attention.
An interdisciplinary team of Notre Dame faculty is leading an effort with institutions in Ohio and Kentucky to replicate an experiential learning model for attracting and retaining diverse STEM workforces in Rust Belt cities through university-community partnerships that strengthen quality of life. The three-year project, Replication of a Community-Engaged Educational Ecosystem Model in Rust Belt Cities, is supported by more than $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program, $1.1 million of which is directed to Notre Dame. Led by the Center for Civic Innovation — which uses technology and methods to address pressing issues in the South Bend/Elkhart area — the project also involves College of Engineering and Department of Psychology faculty in the effort to understand how CCI’s model for community improvement projects functions in other cities under varying circumstances.
Ask Charles Leavitt IV to name movies influenced by Italian cinema, and there’s not enough time in the day for the conversation. “The short answer is, it’s everything,” said Leavitt, a Notre Dame associate professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Leavitt’s book on the Italian neorealism movement has received significant acclaim — it won the 2020 Book Prize in Visual Studies, Film and Media from the American Association of Italian Studies and is one of five finalists in American nonfiction for The Bridge / Il Ponet literary prize.
Two faculty members in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have been awarded memberships at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, N.J., one of the world’s foremost centers for intellectual inquiry into the sciences and the humanities. Karen Graubart, an associate professor of history, and Gabriel Radle, the Rev. John A. O'Brien, C.S.C., Assistant Professor of Theology, are two of the 271 new and returning scholars of history, cosmology, mathematics, and countless other disciplines, with whom they’ll share seminars, meals, and conversations this year.
Nicole Woods, a Notre Dame assistant professor of art history, has received the Leonard A. Lauder Visiting Senior Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, a world-renowned institution that brings scholars to Washington, D.C. She will spend much of the spring semester in the nation’s capital, working in the archives of the National Gallery of Art as well as the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. Woods is studying the paintings of Bob Thompson, an African American painter from Kentucky who ran in the Beats' social circles in Greenwich Village after World War II.
Reginald Dwayne Betts, the current artist-in-residence at Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Study and the Initiative on Race and Resilience, has been named to the 2021 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Class. Betts is one of 25 fellows to be selected for the honor, commonly known as a “Genius Grant,” which aims to recognize “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”
“Ripe for Rivalry? U.S.-China Relations Under the Biden Administration” will feature a discussion of U.S.-China relations featuring a former senior diplomat and think tank president Ivo Daalder, business leaders Girish Rishi and Leo Melamed and a noted strategic analyst, Notre Dame professor Eugene Gholz. The panel will be moderated by Michael Desch, Notre Dame’s Packey J. Dee Professor of International Relations and the Brian and Jeannelle Brady Director of the Notre Dame International Security Center.
Morgan Widhalm Munsen knows that effective communication is key for scientific research to have real life implications. So, in addition to conducting significant research of her own as a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology, Munsen also pursues community-based projects that make science more accessible and understandable to the general public. “It’s not like you can do research and then suddenly expect it to be meaningful to people,” Munsen said. “Which is why I think it’s so important for scientists and researchers to tell stories about their research and help to make it as relevant as possible to people.”
While many scholars have examined the early connections between Europe and the Americas, most approach the issue from one perspective or the other. Americanists tend to emphasize that the Spanish influence was an imposition and that indigenous culture was destroyed, while scholars of European history focus on evangelization and acculturation. Notre Dame Medieval Institute Ph.D. student Carlos Diego Arenas Pacheco seeks a balance between the two, however, arguing that indigenous culture in Mexico did not disappear — it was remade into something different, not only by the hands of the Europeans, but also by the hands of the indigenous peoples themselves.
Sept. 13 marks the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death. The great Italian poet is being celebrated around the globe and especially in Italy where gala concerts, exhibits, and dramatic readings are underway. In this interview with the University of Notre Dame Press, Theodore J. Cachey — a Notre Dame professor of Italian, the Ravarino Family Director of Italian and Dante Studies, and the founder and co-editor of the William and Katherine Devers Series in Dante and Medieval Italian Literature — discusses the Devers series' contribution to the study of medieval Italian literature and Dante studies, its new publications, and what's ahead in the future.
Entrepreneurial tycoons, inventors, and shop-floor workers are often celebrated throughout history, but the story of the engineer isn’t something that’s taught in school. Notre Dame historian Ted Beatty aims to change that, thanks to a $250,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation that will fund a book, several articles, and an interactive database that will showcase the critical-but-often-overlooked role engineers played in shaping society as we know it. He seeks to tell the story of the rise of engineers — not just at outdoor worksites and inside factories but also in corporate boardrooms and government agencies across the globe.
As an Arts & Letters undergraduate, Sara Ferraro is contemplating big ideas like the pursuit of social justice and human dignity — and developing concrete, sustainable solutions for communities in need. And the Program of Liberal Studies and data science minor have enabled them to implement tangible strategies for organizations and communities from Appalachia to Guatemala. “I believe in the common good, and I want to figure out my place in contributing to it,” Ferraro said. “Health is the overarching term that I can apply to all my experiences so far, whether that is environmental health, physical health, emotional health, or resilience.”
Nicholas Roberts completed his Ph.D. in history at Notre Dame in May, focusing on modern Islamic history. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in music performance and history from Syracuse University in 2009 and his Master of Arts in global, international, and comparative history from Georgetown University in 2014. This fall, he is joining Norwich University as assistant professor of Middle Eastern history. In this interview, he discusses why he chose Notre Dame, his research on the history of the Omani Empire in the Indian Ocean, and why places like the Middle East, Africa, and the Indian Ocean should be more of a focal point in historical narratives.
Dianne Pinderhughes, a Notre Dame professor of political science and Africana studies, has been elected president of the International Political Science Association (IPSA), the leading scholarly association dedicated to developing political science across the globe. Pinderhughes will serve a two-year term through 2023. She’ll lead a sprawling network of more than 4,000 scholars from 61 countries.
Abigail Jorgensen ’16 first began exploring women’s relationships with politics for her senior thesis in the College of Arts & Letters. That experience not only sparked a passion for research, but also laid the foundation for her career in academia. Now a Ph.D. candidate in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology with a graduate minor in gender studies, she is finalizing her dissertation on motherhood, fertility intentions, and political behavior, titled “Becoming the Mommy Politic.” While existing research on voting behavior often divides women into “mothers” and “non-mothers,” Jorgensen argues that scholars should take a more expansive view of when the shift into motherhood begins and how long it takes.
Nina Glibetić, an assistant professor in the Department of Theology, and Gabriel Radle, the Rev. John A. O’Brien Assistant Professor of Theology, have been appointed by Pope Francis as consultors for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. The congregation assists in the development and protects the rights of the Eastern Catholic Churches, while maintaining the heritage of the various Eastern Christian traditions alongside the liturgical, disciplinary and spiritual patrimony of the Latin rite.