An innovative Notre Dame course, God and the Good Life, is not only transforming the way students are introduced to philosophy — it is changing their perspectives, trajectories, and lives. Nearly 1,200 students have enrolled in the course since philosophy professor Meghan Sullivan launched it two years ago, and for many, it has become a defining experience in their undergraduate education. It's also drawn an array of prominent guest speakers — including an upcoming appearance by Michael Schur, creator of the philosophy-focused NBC comedy The Good Place.
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What is the sociology major like at Notre Dame? “Sociology has really allowed me to not only ask good focused questions about social problems but then when I get an answer, to be able to dissect that answer in a way that allows some kind of positive response,” said sociology major Pete Freeman. Sociology majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as data collection/analysis, scientific method, critical thinking, and collaboration.
MacKenzie Isaac knew she wanted to improve her Spanish skills at Notre Dame. But to be truly fluent, she needed to learn more than the language. That mindset drew the junior sociology major to the Institute for Latino Studies, where she’s found academic inspiration, research support, and a welcoming community. She's also spent two summers doing research at Harvard, added a minor in data science, and hopes to pursue a career in public health.
What is the political science major like at Notre Dame? “A lot of people think that political science is just Democrat versus Republican but that couldn't be further from the truth,” said political science major Sean McFeely. “It's lot about understanding why things are the way they are.” Political science majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as evidence-based arguments, critical thinking, data analysis, and information synthesis.
For junior Alice Felker, it only took eight weeks for a service experience to turn into years of research and volunteer efforts for people with disabilities. The summer after her freshman year, Felker participated in the Summer Service Learning Program, an eight-week service opportunity within marginalized populations run by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. The following summer, the psychology and applied and computational mathematics and statistics major conducted a study to examine the daytime programs offered for people with disabilities.
Like the character he created, Jorge “Jay” Rivera-Herrans is exuberant and tenacious, but no one could mistake him for a cop out. A junior film, television, and theatre major, he has written the book, lyrics, and music for a new musical — Stupid Humans, which opens Thursday and runs through March 3 — and is also playing the leading role.
Three decades after its founding, the Gender Studies Program is thriving, with more than 70 students currently pursuing gender studies majors, supplementary majors, and minors at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as more than 50 associated faculty across campus. Hundreds of students have found a home in the program over the years — including Sarah A. Mustillo ’96, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.
Notre Dame senior Gregory Serapio-García has been selected for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree at the University of Cambridge in England. A psychology major and Idzik Computing and Digital Technologies Program minor in the College of Arts and Letters, Serapio-García is one of 34 Gates Cambridge Scholars representing 37 colleges or universities across the U.S.
The University of Notre Dame is among just 11 institutions to be named a top producer for both the Fulbright U.S. Student and Scholar programs for the 2018-19 academic year, a first for the University, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Of the 24 students to receive Fulbrights, 20 were College of Arts and Letters students and alumni. Arts and Letters alone produced more Fulbright student winners than Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Emory, and Duke.
What is the philosophy major like at Notre Dame? “I really feel like we're engaging seriously with philosophy. It actually can become very personal, reflecting on human nature and what is an ethical life, and what is justice,” said philosophy major Natasha Reifenberg. Philosophy majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as critical thinking, data analysis, evidence-based arguments, and information synthesis.
What is the American studies major like at Notre Dame? “American studies is analyzing the structures of power within American society through critical lenses like race, class, gender, and religion,” said American studies major Jacob McKenna. American studies majors pursue their passions while developing skills such as oral and written communication, teamwork, analytical reasoning, and ethical judgment.
Matthew Wisneski learned more than the Russian language this summer in Moscow. The senior political science and Russian major also discovered that failure can be one of the most important tools for growth. He was one of 53 students traveling to 19 different countries last summer with support from the Summer Language Abroad program in Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures. Through intensive language coursework and daily interaction with native speakers, the SLA experience allows students to rapidly enhance their command of a foreign language.
While many students stress about homework and exams, junior Nicholas Lampson juggles a college workload and running a startup. Lampson, a design major with a concentration in industrial design, is co-founder of Streetlight Creations, a company that allows customers to order personalized songs from a team of talented musicians that can be given as gifts to others.
Every Thursday, Notre Dame junior Julia Cogan drives the six minutes from campus to Holy Cross School, a Catholic school on South Bend’s near northwest side. There the sociology major leads a heritage book club for middle-school students in Clare Roach’s introductory Spanish class. The students speak Spanish at home — easily conversing with Spanish-speaking family members — but struggle to read and write in Spanish because it is not the traditional language of education in South Bend.
An annual launching pad for student filmmakers as they begin their careers in the film, television, and entertainment industries, the Notre Dame Student Film Festival screens films that were made by undergraduate students during the past year as class projects in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre.
Through the Idzik Computing and Digital Technologies (CDT) program, six students are interning in the St. Joseph County Cyber Crimes Unit, where they participate in every step of a cybercrime case: researching suspicious online activity, building suspect profiles from social media and public records, writing warrants to get information and search homes, collecting tech evidence on site, and performing digital forensics on anything that stores bits and bytes.
In the past three years alone, Notre Dame student Mary Elsa Henrichs’ passions for theatre, English literature, and German have converged in many memorable ways. She’s attended performances of Hamlet in Berlin. She’s worked as a research assistant to two German professors, helping to bring book projects to publication. And she’s spending next semester studying in Heidelberg, Germany, where she hopes to secure a theatre internship. The arts, she said, are a through line between her majors in German and English.
University of Notre Dame seniors Sofia Carozza and Katie Gallagher have been named 2019 Marshall Scholars. Carozza, of South Bend, Indiana, will study neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. Gallagher, of Naperville, Illinois, will study math at the University of Oxford. They are the University’s eighth and ninth Marshall Scholars overall.
College of Arts and Letters graduates find success in the business world in a variety of roles and industries. Major companies are seeking college graduates proficient in communication, analysis, empathy, and creative thinking — skills that all Arts and Letters develop through a broad liberal arts education. “There’s lots of different opportunities for liberal arts majors,” said Lindsey Jacob, university recruiting lead for Booz Allen Hamilton, a professional services firm. “Management consulting, process improvement, strategic communications, public policy work. You really are able to chart your own career.”
By the time they graduate, 73.7 percent of Notre Dame undergraduate students will have participated in study abroad.
Juliana Ison has always had a passion for service. Even before coming to Notre Dame, she had already spent 1,000 hours volunteering. It wasn’t until a service trip to Chile this summer, however, that the senior saw how her majors — psychology and Spanish — could blend with a career path that involves helping others.
Anre Venter, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychology, designed a project to provide three Vietnamese-American undergraduate research assistants an opportunity to explore their identity in Vietnam. While research has been conducted in the area of ethnic identity development in minority groups, Venter believes little has been done in comparing the process of ethnic identity development within particular ethnic groups.
It was a New Year’s Eve celebration that Mary McGraw '17 will never forget. McGraw was ringing in the new year with eight Benedictine nuns at Kylemore Abbey in Galway, Ireland. This intimate moment isn’t something that most study abroad students get to experience while in Ireland. In fact, most people will never know what it’s like to see these nuns behind closed doors. It took several months in Kylemore for McGraw to develop trust with the nuns and, ultimately, a relationship that allowed her to gain a unique perspective into their everyday lives. A studio art major with a photography concentration, McGraw was able to pull back the curtains and capture even more intimate moments through her camera lens — a project that led to her senior thesis.
The unit recently relocated to Hammes Mowbray Hall, home of the Notre Dame Security Police department, to provide the county with expanded working space and greater access to a larger group of student interns. The Notre Dame students chosen this year are studying in a variety disciplines including economics, political science, and film, television and theater, as well as computer science and information technology management. Four of the students also have a minor in the Arts and Letters interdisciplinary Idzik Computing and Digital Technologies Program.
For the second summer in a row, students and faculty from Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters converged with madrasa (Islamic seminary) graduates from India and Pakistan for two weeks of intensive teaching and dialogue in Dhulikhel, Nepal (an hour outside of Kathmandu). Drawn by Notre Dame’s Madrasa Discourses project, the July 1-14 summer intensive featured conversations about citizenship, religion, and society in a pluralistic and rapidly changing world.
Notre Dame has launched an interdisciplinary minor in musical theatre — a collaboration between the Departments of Music and Film, Television, and Theatre — which can be customized for students interested in performing, songwriting, directing, conducting, or scholarship. The program begins at a time when dramatic, music-based performances are thriving on campus, including Opera Notre Dame’s recent productions of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and a world-premiere operatic version of As You Like It as well as FTT musicals such as Cabaret and Little Shop of Horrors.
Rising juniors Jahlecia Gregory, an AnBryce Scholar, and Stefania Pulido will participate in Notre Dame International’s Puebla program in Puebla, Mexico, while Armando Sanchez, another AnBryce Scholar, will participate in NDI’s London Program.
Emily Vincent, a 2018 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, will pursue a one-year master’s degree in China studies at the Yenching Academy of Peking University this fall as one of 114 Yenching Scholars.
Sara Abdel-Rahim ’17 found her voice in the liberal arts — and she amplified it through research, internships, and leadership roles on campus. As a first-generation American citizen, the political science and Arabic major wants to battle against cultural and religious discrimination.
Economics major Francis Brockman and political science major Daniel Rottenborn, are working for Annunciation House, a Catholic organization that gives shelter to refugees in El Paso. As part of the Summer Service Learning Program through Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns, they live and work in a facility called Casa Vides, where asylum-seeking migrants spend a few days in between their release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention and continuing their journey to a sponsor somewhere in the U.S.