SMC’s Johnson elected to ASACCU

first_imgKaren Johnson, vice president for student affairs at the College, received national recognition by being elected to a one-year term to the board of directors for the Association for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASACCU). The New York-based ASACCU holds annual conferences where leaders from schools across the country can share ideas, resources and advice with one another, Johnson said. “ASACCU is the resource for student affairs issues as they related to Catholic colleges and universities,” Johnson said. She said she started her work with the organization 10 years ago when she attended a weeklong workshop, “The Institute for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities.” “When the funding for the workshops ended, the Association was formed,” Johnson said. “During the second year of the Association, I hosted the annual conference at my previous institution, Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.” She said she has remained an active member and has continued to volunteer for jobs since the conference was held in Texas. According to Johnson, she was nominated by a slate of officers. She said she and her fellow members on the board have goals “to improve [ASACCU’s] web presence, improve communication between members and serve as a great resource.” Johnson said her position should not affect her role at Saint Mary’s, but “it is always an honor to represent [the] institution on a national board.” Johnson said the knowledge she brings back from the board will help improve her work at the College. “Keeping current with what is happening in Catholic higher education always improves the way I do my job,” Johnson said. “Being able to share information and resources reminds me that we do have great services and supports here, but I can always learn and bring new programs to Saint Mary’s.” Johnson started at the College in 2006. As vice president for student affairs, she said she oversees the directors of athletics, multicultural services and student programs, student involvement, security, residence life and community standards and women’s health. She also said student affairs is there to listen to student concerns and “ensure that the Saint Mary’s woman has a well-rounded life experience at the College and is prepared to meet the world she enters into after commencement.” Between her work with schools and ASACCU, she has several years of experience. In her student affairs career that has spanned more than 30 years, Johnson said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” She said she enjoys her work at the College. “I really love working at Saint Mary’s and have learned so much from the confident women who are students here,” Johnson said.last_img read more

Professor and team earn grant to analyze democracy

first_imgThe rapidly-shifting nature of today’s political landscapes and conflicts calls for thorough understanding of democracy.    This is exactly what political science professor Michael Coppedge and his collaborators are attempting to accomplish with the Varieties of Democracy project. The team, which has more than 2,000 contributing members around the world, recently received a $5.8 million grant awarded over six years to analyze an unprecedented amount of data related to democracies, Coppedge said. He is one of four principal investigators in charge of steering the large-scale study and covering data from all countries and colonies in the world from the year 2000. Although previous research in the field revealed reliable general indicators of certain types of democratic systems, Coppedge said these were less useful for answering the more sophisticated questions that needed to be asked. “Researchers need these indicators because they’re interested in questions about the nature, causes and consequences of democracy,” Coppedge said. “The indicators that we had already really were not up to the task of measuring things in a precise enough, fine-grained enough way to be able to test the ideas that we have. They were just lying far behind the kinds of theories and models that we wanted to test.” In refining the new indicators, Coppedge said his team moved beyond the traditional American political science view of democracy in the field, which tended to focus on only the basic requirements for such government and left out rich aspects of democracy. Instead, the collaboration is examining indicators across seven broad classes of democracy, ranging from electoral to egalitarian. “We don’t endorse all of these views, but these are the views that have some currency out there in the world and so we felt that really legitimate indicators of democracy should enable people to measure whatever version of democracy they find meaningful, to give people that ability,” Coppedge said. This, however, is not the only aspect of the study that is departs from the norm. Coppedge said the level of detail achieved in the surveys amounts to one of the most comprehensive studies undertaken in the field. “We have a kind of decision tree that starts with more general things in each of these seven different properties of democracy that are broken down into components, and then the components are broken down into sub-components and so on until we get to the point where we have 329 much more specific indicators of democracy,” Coppedge said. Coppedge said the collaboration’s analysis of this data will take place through three projects: finding coherent aggregations of the data to produce higher-level indicators, examining the causal relationships among different pieces of democracy (“endogenous democratization”) and looking at how factors outside of a democracy influence it (“exogenous democratization”). “Instead of having one snapshot of a simple aspect of democracy, kind of a grainy snapshot, we’re trying to move to something like a high-definition movie of democracy that’s really comprehensive, and it shows you everything you’d ever want to know about how democratic a country is, in multiple ways, over a long period of time,” Coppedge said. The collaboration will make the data available to the public as it is processed through its highly-interactive website, v-dem.net with a significant portion to be added by March of next year. Coppedge said he believes that not only scholars, but governments, non-governmental organizations and students will find the site to be a powerfully informative source of knowledge due to the high quality of the survey data coming from native experts in their own countries. “Our project has this motto, ‘global standards, local knowledge.’ That’s what we’re about,” Coppedge said. Contact Henry Gens at [email protected]last_img read more

Students research, volunteer during spring break

first_imgMany Notre Dame students chose to forego traveling back home or relaxing on the beach this spring break, deciding instead to spend the week pursuing academic research or volunteering.Kelly Konya | The Observer Over the break, 10 students traveled to Birmingham, Ala., to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that constructs homes for those in need.  The students participated in Habitat for Humanity’s annual Collegiate Challenge, making this year the 10th year that Notre Dame students have lent a hand in the program.Charles Moore, Habitat for Humanity president and CEO, said the Collegiate Challenge provides students with an opportunity to build affordable houses on a local scale.“The work they’ll do during their spring break will have a lasting impact in our community,” Moore said.While some students volunteered close to home, others traveled to Europe with grants from the University’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies, which supports undergraduate research.  The Nanovic Institute provided $51,695 this year to 23 students interested in spring break travel and research, the Institute’s student coordinator Jennifer Fulton said.Sophomore Connor Hayes, who received a grant from the Nanovic Institute, spent his spring break in Dublin, researching how early nationalist newspapers in Ireland responded to various sodomy trials in the 1880’s and 1890’s.Hayes said traveling to Dublin was necessary to pursue the research, as the documents he needed were contained within Dublin archives.  However, traveling to Dublin allowed him to view his research in another light.“Being there made it feel less like a pure academic pursuit [and] much more connected to the stories, because instead of just being in the United States I was actually in Dublin — in the location that this happened,” Hayes said.Freshman Khaoula Morchid traveled to Germany to research the influence of Arab migrants on German economic growth and to inquire whether they wished to return to their home countries.She said her interest in the subject began with research for her writing and rhetoric class, yet traveling to Germany gave the research a new dimension.“I could have probably interviewed people over Skype, but being there, seeing the small details that people wouldn’t usually tell you, I think was very helpful in understanding the general context of the research,” Morchid said.Sophomore Steven Fisher, who researched the role of politics and the influence in the International Tribunal for the Formal Yugoslavia (ICTY) court proceedings in The Hague, The Netherlands, echoed this sentiment.“Whenever I would sit down in a cafe and study my research, I’d happen to share tables and bump elbows with politicians debating over a beer and legal students with books fresh from Jongbloed Juridische Boekhandel, a famous bookstore specialized in legal literature,” Fisher said.“Thus a culture of international politics and legal justice enveloped my experience not only inside the courtroom, but also in the very streets of the city.”Tags: academic research, birmingham, habitat for humanity, nanovic, Spring Break, the nanovic institute, volunteerlast_img read more

Lecturer links posterity, sustainability and liberal arts

first_imgJohn Sitter, Mary Lee Duda professor of literature, discussed the relationship between sustainability, posterity and liberal arts in his lecture Saturday, “What’s Posterity Ever Done for Us?: Literature and the Future.”Sitter’s lecture, part of the Snite Museum of Art’s “Saturday Scholars Series,” highlighted specifically how the liberal arts can help us understand the role of sustainability, and how sustainability in turn, allows us to understand our place in the world and the responsibility we have towards future generations or “posterity”.“Sustainability is about transmission of things of value to future generations,” Sitter said. “ … It invokes the idea of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.”Sitter discussed how posterity and the emphasis society places on it are indicative of our relationship to our environment and reveal our attitudes toward sustainability.Posterity, defined as the future generations or descendant of mankind, was emphasized by historical figures such as the founding fathers and was used as a measure to discuss the impact of our actions in a historical context. Sitter said discussion and concern towards posterity has decreased since the latter half of the 20th century, and society places a lesser importance on posterity than previous generations. Additionally, Sitter said authors attribute this change in perspective to the rapid and abrupt changes and advancements in society and technology since post-war expansion.“We need to learn to talk seriously about posterity, and that to do so, we begin to bring some of the most basic facts about our species into light of robust conversation,” Sitter said.Sitter also discussed the role of sustainability, and how sustainability and the liberal arts are interconnected. He said while liberal arts and humanities do not initially appear to have any relationship to the study of sustainability and ecology, liberal arts can allow us to understand humanity’s interaction with our environment.Sitter said the traditional distinction between the liberal arts and the sciences implies there is still a distinction between man-made creations and the natural world, when in fact this distinction no longer exists.“The blurring or interpenetration of scientific and humanistic study now leads, whether we want to or not, to new ways of understanding where we are, ” Sitter said.Sustainability studies, like the liberal arts, generally aims at a deeper understanding of ourselves in our world, Sitter said.Sitter said literature remains an example of how the humanities can expand the conversation on sustainability. The prominence of post-apocalyptic and dystopian science fiction for example, is one of the ways writers examine our current relationship towards the natural environment, and how they can predict and bring to the surface the problems and practices that society proliferates on the natural world, he said.“Literature alone cannot release us from our temporal claustrophobia, but it has done and what it can do is give us an engagement with the future that has less to do with its explicit content and more to do with its investment in sustainability, through its resistance to mere consumption and consumerism, its resistance to the marketplace of disposability,” Sitter said.According to Sitter, humanities are also instrumental in contemplating why we value our environment and our relationship toward it. Sitter emphasized the need to include our relationship and treatment of the environment within ethics.“An ethical system for our day has to be able to take into account the natural environment as seriously as traditional ethics have taken our relationship to each other,” Sitter said. “Sustainability is not just about getting the science right or the technology right. It’s about meanings and values.”Tags: literature, posterity, Saturday Scholars Series, Snite Museum of Art, sustainabilitylast_img read more

Campus Ministry to celebrate faculty Mass of Remembrance

first_imgAs part of Campus Ministry’s new initiative to strengthen the relationship between Notre Dame faculty and the University’s faith-based roots, a Remembrance Mass for deceased faculty and their loved ones will be celebrated tonight in the Dillon Hall Chapel.Fr. Mike Connors, senior faculty chaplain within Campus Ministry, said he thinks this is the first time a faculty memorial Mass like this has been celebrated on campus in recent years.“Will it become an annual tradition? Maybe — this is all brand new,” Connors said. “It’s practically the first event geared towards faculty ever in terms of Campus Ministry or some kind of pastoral outreach to faculty.”Connors said Fr. Pete McCormick, director of Campus Ministry, produced the idea for the initiative over the past summer.“I think it’s an effort to draw faculty together around some important things related to the Catholic character of this place,” Connors said. “It’s the very first part of what I hope will be a bigger effort to get us thinking together about what it means to be faculty at a Catholic university.”November is the month of all souls, a time to remember deceased family members and friends, he said. There will be a memorial book at the Mass for people to write the names of loved ones.“It seemed to me like a logical place to start,” Connors said. “It’s an occasion where we remember and give thanks for faculty, or any loved ones, who have gone before us.”After Mass, all faculty members are invited to dinner in the Oak Room of South Dining Hall. Connors said he expects to have 40 to 50 people in attendance.“It’s for the greater purpose of bringing us all together in prayer,” he said. “Then we’ll get the chance to discuss how the faculty chaplaincy can grow and expand in the future.”Connors said the faculty chaplaincy team was formed just before the beginning of the school year and consists of 20 Holy Cross priests who expressed interest in the initiative.The faculty chaplaincy currently has plans for one other event connecting the faculty with Notre Dame’s Holy Cross foundations, Connors said. Brother Joel Giallanza, associate director of the Holy Cross Institute in Texas, will deliver lectures to students and faculty during his visit to campus on Feb. 8.“Brother Joel is one of the leading experts of Fr. Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross,” Connors said. “ … He’s going to give a talk about the Holy Cross educational tradition and help us make some connections between what goes on at Notre Dame and the inspiration of this place in Fr. Moreau and his writings.”Giallanza gave similar lectures at Saint Mary’s earlier this fall that were received positively by the campus community, Connors said.“I hope that it will appeal to a wide variety of people,” he said. “It might seem to have some special relevance for those of us in theology, but on the other hand, there are faculty from other disciplines who love being here, love the fact that it’s a Catholic place.”Connors said the initiative is a chance for the University to explore topics that have not been discussed much in the past.“Faculty is a very important part of this community,” he said. “I think it’s very exciting to think this could develop in ways of getting people to talk about how faith and reason go together.”He said he hopes Campus Ministry will succeed in creating more ways for faculty members to discuss and connect with the Notre Dame’s core Catholic values.“We haven’t had many vehicles for faculty to talk to one another about it,” he said. “I’m projecting down the road that this could result in a series of conversations that might bring the topic of faith’s relationship to a university more to the surface of discussion.”Tags: Campus Ministry, Fr. Pete McCormick, Mass of Remembrancelast_img read more

Professor to examine solar system

first_imgFrom the time that humans first gazed up into the night sky to the launch of the first artificial satellites to Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon to present day attempts for humans to reach Mars, the solar system has captivated the minds of those both young and old.Jonathan Crass, post-doctoral research associate, will discuss the the wonders of the solar system Tuesday night in Jordan Hall of Science in his lecture “Extremes of the Planets.” This is the last in a series of the physics department’s public lectures titled, “Our Universe Revealed.” There will be two editions of this talk at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.Crass said this event was targeted at audiences of all ages, especially children wanting to learn about science.“Twice a semester, [we] have an all-ages event for family-friendly kids events,” he said. “Sometimes we do hands on events with lots of demos in the galleria — the main part of Jordan Hall. This time we’re doing it more as a talk.”Crass said the lecture would be geared towards teaching children about outer space.“It’s really designed to show the environment on different planets and places in the solar system,” he said. “[I will be] showing how materials and things like that exist in those environment and what happens to them.According to Crass, future space travel and how it would be experienced by astronauts will also be a topic of discussion at the event. “[I will talk about] sending astronauts to Mars, what kind of environments would they have to deal with — so what kind of spacesuits have to undergo intense environments, temperatures and pressures,” Crass said. This is the second year that Crass will be delivering this lecture at Notre Dame. Crass said he also delivered a similar lecture while he was a graduate student at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.Examining the solar system is nothing new for Crass, whose research centers around the construction of telescope parts. Crass, along with Justin Crepp, assistant professor of physics, is working on the iLocator, a spectrometer which will search the night sky for new stars and solar systems.Crepp said this search helps him to gain greater insight into the solar system and the planets. “If we think about earth and our environment here … we can then start comparing that to some of the other planets we’re discovering and some of the solar systems and see how they compare to try and understand how our solar system was formed, is there life anywhere in the galaxy,” he said.The physics department has billed this event as their “Christmas Spectacular.” Crass said this attribution has been given not because it relates to the lecture relates to the holidays but because it is the grand finale of a semester’s worth of public lectures.Tags: astronomy, iLocator, Physics department, spacelast_img read more

Saint Mary’s looks to improve library system by merging Library and IT departments

first_imgSaint Mary’s is currently undergoing the long and complex process of merging their Library and Information Technology departments. The merger, which began in the spring of 2018 under the leadership of former College President Jan Cervelli, hopes to modernize and streamline the library system.Librarian at Cushwa-Leighton Library Catherine Pellegrino said she is confident that the merger will make the library an even more valuable asset to the College.“We’re very optimistic about this being an opportunity for both groups to work together more productively and in ways that allow us to combine our strengths and use those to better serve primarily the students, but also the faculty, the staff and the community,” Pellegrino said.The process of merging the two departments is complex and requires lots of communication between those involved. Pellegrino said she meets weekly with chief information office Todd Norris.Norris said the size of the merger means that faculty from across the College’s departments have been involved in the process.“We have a working group that’s collaborating. It’s IT folks, library folks and some folks from around campus that aren’t in either group that are helping us plan,” he said.A major step in the process of merging the departments will be taken on April 1, when Joseph Thomas assumes the role of Library Director. Even when Thomas does arrive, the merger will continue on a long-term basis, with changes possibly not being completed in time for the 2019-2020 school year. Norris, who travelled to Kalamazoo College and has consulted over 20 other colleges who have undergone similar mergers, said the purpose of this steady pace is to minimize disruption within each department.The combination of the Library and IT departments provides for exciting possibilities in the realm of helping students. Of the many changes being considered, Norris said everything from the hours the library is open to the location of student help services are on the table.“We’re still looking at space in the library and how it will best be used,” he said. “One of the things were looking at, hoping for, planning toward would be 24-hour study space. That would include individual study space and group study space.”Other ways the College is looking to improve the library involve advancements in technology, Norris said.“[Some ideas] would be some screens where students can use an iPad or iPhone or Mac-book to share their screen on the larger screen and be able to practice presentations, podcasts and those types of things students are being asked to do occasionally in classes,” Norris said.The guiding principle in all these improvements, Norris said, is student input.“It’s just stuff students have identified that they want. If [students] want it, then I want it,” Norris said. “I’m here to support [students], I’m here to support the faculty and the staff. That’s my entire job.”Norris said that all these changes to the library services seek to be positive additions to, not subtractions from, the library experience.“Is there a possibility that we would change the way services are delivered? Maybe. It’s a possibility. But only in the way that would make them more technology friendly, more accessible, more often,” Norris said. “It’s just a shift. We’re not planning on taking anything away as far as IT services, library services [and] the content you get at the library.”Tags: Cushwa-Leighton Library, Library systemlast_img read more

Saint Mary’s cabinet releases statement on racial injustices

first_imgIn a statement sent to the student body Tuesday at midnight, the Saint Mary’s administration acknowledged racial inequities affecting the national community and urged a commitment to call out and bring awareness to racism in accordance with the College’s core values. The message was signed by 12 administrators, led by new College President Katie Conboy.“Our country’s current unrest takes place in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and all evidence points to the ways that communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by this global health crisis,” the statement said. “Our health systems, our criminal justice systems, our political systems and even our educational systems cry out for reform, and that reform begins with the eradication of systemic racism.”The administration referenced a statement written in 2018 to fight for justice for marginalized communities in which they acknowledged “the insidiousness of systemic and individual racism, both intentional and unintentional.”“We expect every member of the Saint Mary’s College community to uphold these commitments in our programs, practices, pedagogy and policies,” the statement said.In an effort to achieve the College’s four core values, specifically those of community and justice, the administration challenges the campus community to commit to efforts which include to: “engage in continuous learning to understand the challenges of communities impacted by racial injustice; develop an awareness of our own biases; work towards overcoming; honor the experiences of others by listening and validating their narrative.”The statement reminded students that the functions of the Office of Inclusion and Equity are inclusive of resources and programming pertaining to issues of racial injustice.Finally, the administration acknowledged the place of the College as a Catholic institution to act beyond prayer in an attempt to overcome prejudice.Tags: Katie Conboy, racial injustice, saint mary’s, statement on racismlast_img read more

Notre Dame football social media post sparks controversy

first_imgIn the midst of the current movement promoting racial equality, sports have played a role in the conversation. Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram have given individual players, teams and leagues the opportunity to voice their opinions on the protests that continue to erupt in cities across the country. However, the pictures, videos and tweets they post come with both support and backlash.On Aug. 26, three days after the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., Notre Dame football posted an image to its social media accounts that provoked thousands of comments on multiple platforms. The image displays Irish graduate student cornerback Nick McCloud raising his fist while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt along with the words “stand together.”The commenters on the post divided themselves primarily into two camps. Those who voiced their displeasure did so for a number of reasons. One commenter objected because he felt that the post portrayed Notre Dame football’s support for a “Marxist terrorist organization.” Another dissenter was displeased with the crossover between college football and a social justice issue.The other group of commenters was those that gave their approval to Notre Dame football for posting the image. Notre Dame students mostly belonged to this group, and many voiced their support for the team’s statement while condemning the comments made by the opposition.Sophomore John Carr was one Notre Dame student who commented on the post.“My initial reaction was definitely positive,” he said. “I was happy that the football team took a stand on behalf of its players and showed its support for an important cause.”Junior Jacob Messineo also explained why he supported Notre Dame football’s stance.“The players and the football team should be speaking out on the issues they feel are important,” he said. “People who can’t support the team allowing its players to voice their opinions on social issues can’t really say they support Notre Dame football.”The team’s post is part of a larger movement across sports protesting police brutality and systemic racism. The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to respond to the Blake shooting by boycotting their Aug. 26 playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The NBA responded by canceling two more days of playoff games, and other leagues like MLB, MLS and the WNBA followed suit.Speaking out on social justice issues is something that Notre Dame football has done in the recent past. After the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in late May, the team posted a series of statements made by players, including junior wide receiver Braden Lenzy and graduate student defensive lineman Daelin Hayes, calling for justice and systemic change.The team also organized a rally and walk for unity June 19, and created a video series with players voicing their support for their black teammates.The Notre Dame administration released a statement regarding its commitment to combat racism on campus following Floyd’s death, with University President Fr. John Jenkins sending a letter on the matter to students and faculty and offering a prayer at the football team’s June 19 rally.The University did not make an official statement on the Jacob Blake shooting, but Jenkins issued a letter to students, faculty and staff the day after the shooting outlining the University’s new initiatives to address racial inequality.Editor’s Note: This article previously stated the University did not comment on the shooting of Jacob Blake prior to the football team’s statement; however, Notre Dame released a statement on racial injustice the day after the shooting. The Observer regrets this error.Tags: Black lives matter, Instagram, Jacob Blake, Notre Dame football, social medialast_img read more