The Medieval Institute, located on the seventh floor of the Hesburgh Library, is a scholarly and academic unit of the University that promotes research and teaching on the cultures, languages, and religions of the medieval period (from roughly the fifth through 15th centuries). Its faculty come from more than a dozen different departments in the College of Arts and Letters
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On the morning of September 1, 2004, University of Notre Dame political scientist Debra Javeline found herself, like many people around the world, glued to the television, watching in horror as the Beslan school hostage crisis—widely known as “Russia’s 9/11”—unfolded. Dozens of militants from a Chechen separatist group had converged on a school in the Russian town of Beslan in North Ossetia. For three days, the terrorists held hostage more than 1,200 children, teachers, and parents.
What do children know about mathematics before they start learning it in school? How do external factors like language, education, and culture affect children’s understanding? What is the best way to structure an environment so they have the building blocks needed for success in math? These are just some of the questions Notre Dame psychologist Nicole McNeil seeks to answer in her research, for which she recently received a three-year, $565,000 grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
Christian Smith, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, was recently honored for two of his latest books: What Is a Person?: Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good From the Person Up and Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults.
From Cairo to Kabul to New York City, the events shaping our world are informed by the deeply held religious beliefs of contemporary history’s major protagonists. So why is the dynamic role of religion in world affairs still such a hard academic sell in political science and international relations programs around the country? “I think if the field were to be proportioned according to what you see in headlines, religion would deserve a much larger place in the study of international relations,” says Daniel Philpott, who is associate professor of political science and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame and on the faculty of the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies.
The Ambrosiana Collection, housed in the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, was created through an agreement between His Eminence Giovanni Battista Montini, then the cardinal–archbishop of Milan (later Pope Paul VI) and President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. The collection includes microfilms and photographic copies of nearly all of the drawings in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Italy’s historic library founded in 1609.
Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy and co-director of the Master of Sacred Music program at the University of Notre Dame, has won the biennial ACE/Mercers’ International Book Award. The award from Art and Christianity Enquiry (ACE) recognizes Fassler’s 2010 book The Virgin of Chartres: Making History Through Liturgy and the Arts as “an outstanding contribution to the dialogue between religious faith and the visual arts.”
After co-editing Form, Power, and Person in Robert Creeley’s Life and Work, Notre Dame English Professor Stephen Fredman was awarded $125,000 to support the purchase of Creeley’s library, total cost of which tops $600,000. “This will really help put us on the map as a holder of a major poet’s materials,” Fredman says. “People will come from around the world to look at it.”
Molly Lipscomb, assistant professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame, and Laura Schechter and Jean-François Houde, economists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, hope to increase the accessibility of sanitation technology in poor neighborhoods in Dakar, Senegal. Their two-year research project is supported by a more than $1 million grant to Innovations for Poverty Action from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
A new, unprecedented national survey of African American Catholics by University of Notre Dame researchers reveals several significant insights into individual religious engagement and identifies several notable demographic trends facing the church. Notre Dame social scientists Darren W. Davis and Donald B. Pope-Davis, who co-authored the report, set out to test the validity of anecdotal accounts that African American Catholics were becoming increasingly disengaged from their religion.
Can a newly minted constitution help revive a people devastated by war? Can it produce a deliberative democracy and respect for human rights? Can it provide a foundation for political loyalty and facilitate the reunification of a divided nation? These are questions University of Notre Dame political scientist and legal scholar Donald Kommers seeks to answer in his study of the creation, maintenance, and legitimacy of Germany’s postwar constitutional order, for which he has been awarded a yearlong Emeritus Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
A competition developed by a team of University of Notre Dame experts, including sociologist David S. Hachen, Jr., uses concepts from open sourcing and crowdsourcing to help propose and assess new civil infrastructure systems for developing countries. The Shelters for All Competition: A Call to Deliver Safe, Affordable Housing to the World’s Poor challenges participants to design low-cost and safe housing that fits the cultural context of the communities in which the homes will be built.
From the moment they’re born, babies are highly attuned to communicate and motivated to interact. And they’re great listeners. New psychology research from the University of Notre Dame shows that during the first year of life, when babies spend so much time listening to language, they’re actually tracking word patterns that will support their process of word-learning that occurs between the ages of about 18 months and two years.
Political science graduate student and former Kellogg Dissertation Year Fellow Olukunle Owolabi has a unique personal connection with the subject of his research—the differences in development and governance between countries with a history of plantation slavery and those with a history of colonial occupation.
University of Notre Dame students were awarded 13 Fulbright grants for the 2011-12 academic year, placing the University among the top universities in the nation. Eleven of the 13 are from the College of Arts and Letters. The U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, Fulbright recently announced the complete list of colleges and universities that produced the most 2011-2012 U.S. Fulbright students.
She’s already mastered English, French, and, of course, her native Spanish. Now Natalia Baeza, a graduate student in Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy, is clearly on her way to conquering German. Recently awarded a prestigious German Academic Exchange Service fellowship, Baeza is completing her doctoral work at Frankfurt’s renowned Institute for Social Research.
We’ve all experienced it: The frustration of entering a room and forgetting what we were going to do. Or get. Or find. New research from University of Notre Dame Psychology Professor Gabriel Radvansky suggests that passing through doorways is the cause of these memory lapses.
According to a new study by University of Notre Dame economist Kasey Buckles and graduate student Elizabeth Munnich, siblings spaced more than two years apart have higher reading and math scores than children born closer together. The positive academic effects of greater spacing between children were seen in older siblings, but not in younger ones, according to Buckles.
University of Notre Dame Professor Kent Emery, Jr., and his team have been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to produce the first critical edition of a key work by medieval theologian and philosopher John Duns Scotus. The 3-year, $300,000 grant was one of the largest awarded by the NEH this year, according to Emery, a professor in the College of Arts and Letters’ Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and the Medieval Institute.
Evaluating basic reading and math skills among American students is a common and expected way to expose deficiencies and highlight exemplary programs. But what about training students in democratic citizenship? Can the effectiveness of civic education be measured among schools? Are some schools better than others at teaching civics?
The first Sunday of Advent is the first day of the Catholic liturgical calendar, which this year falls on Nov. 27. Throughout the English-speaking world, that Sunday Mass will begin, as usual, with the sign of the cross, and the priest’s customary greeting to his fellow worshipers, “the Lord be with you.” And then, not as usual, the congregation will be expected to reply, “and with your spirit.” That change of liturgical wording is only one of several in the third edition of the Roman Missal, whose new translations from the ancient Latin texts will, from this Advent on, be in standard use for all Masses in English.
Did the Catholic sex-abuse scandal benefit other faiths? New research by economist Dan Hungerman shows it did. The study by Hungerman, Stepan Family Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame, shows a 2 million member drop in the Catholic population following the sex-abuse scandal and more than $3 billion in donations to non-Catholic faiths, with Baptist churches showing the most significant gains.
Historian and philosopher Philip Sloan, professor emeritus in Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies and biologist David Hyde, the Rev. Howard J. Kenna, C.S.C., Memorial Director of Notre Dame’s Center for Zebrafish Research, are among the scientists, religious leaders, policymakers, academics and medical patients attending a Vatican conference titled Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture.
University of Notre Dame Assistant History Professor John Deak jokes that working in the largely neglected field of administrative and constitutional history he’s “the nerdy guy who stands in the corner at cocktail parties.” But his scholarship has recently earned serious attention in the form of a Richard Plaschka Fellowship from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research. The fellowship will allow him to spend most of the next year in Vienna, working on his first book, Power and the Politics of State in Imperial Austria, 1848-1918.
Ancient philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle can offer a surprisingly fresh perspective on our modern political and cultural challenges. And at the University of Notre Dame, the Workshop on Ancient Philosophy is the forum for graduate students and faculty to study and share these insights.
The New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) has named Margaret Pfeil, assistant professor of ethics and moral theology at the University of Notre Dame, as a finalist for the 2011 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty.
Lauren Rich, a Ph.D. candidate in Notre Dame’s Department of English, has been awarded a 2011–12 American Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women for her research on food in early 20th century British and colonial fiction. Fewer than 10 percent of the more than 900 applicants were given fellowships.
On the final day of his latest six-week excavation season in historic Butrint, Albania, University of Notre Dame Assistant Professor David Hernández says “the face of a goddess appeared.” The four assistants who had a hand in the discovery? Suzanna Pratt, Patrick Conry, Matt Wieck, and Wesley Wood—all undergraduates in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.
In 2009 the University of Notre Dame launched the Science of Generosity, an initiative funded by a $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, to support and conduct research into the origins, manifestations, and consequences of generosity. Directed by Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology, the initiative has awarded nearly $3 million to 13 research projects conducted by scholars around the world, and it is in the second year of conducting its own research on the causal mechanisms that encourage and inhibit generosity.
Young adults today enjoy more freedom, opportunities, and personal growth than any previous generation. But their transition to adulthood also is more complex, disjointed, and confusing than it was for their counterparts a generation ago. In Lost in Transition (Oxford University Press, 2011), University of Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith explores the difficulties today’s young people face, the underlying causes of those difficulties, and the consequences for both individuals and for society in general.