The University announced earlier this week that 2010 Notre Dame alumnae Mary Daly has been appointed to the newly created position of coordinator for University Life Initiatives. Daly, a former president of the University’s Right to Life club, will be in charge of implementing the recommendations set forth by last year’s Task Force on Supporting the Choice of Life. “I am very pleased with the University’s decision to create this position and I’m grateful and honored to have been invited to work with the University on this,” Daly said. Daly will serve as a liaison between various University units to facilitate collaboration on life issues and will also work to deepen the sanctity for life within the Notre Dame community and beyond, according to the press release. University President Fr. John Jenkins created the pro-life task force a year ago to make recommendations on how the University can support the sanctity of life. “I would like to thank the members of the task force for their exemplary service over the course of the last academic year,” Jenkins said, “and I look forward to continued progress in this important area as we work together in future years.” The task force was created partially in response to the controversy over President Obama’s 2009 Commencement Address. As an undergraduate, Daly was a leader of ND Response, a student group that held prayerful protests opposing the administration’s decision to invite Obama. The group also requested to meet with Jenkins regarding the issue, but was denied. Jenkins withdrew his invitation to meet with the group because “they issued a set of demands as a precondition to meeting,” University spokesman Dennis Brown said in an April 17, 2009, issue of The Observer. But Jenkins said the sanctity of life is more important than past disagreements. “We all must learn to disagree respectfully when necessary, yet work together on issues of profound importance. Mary and I share a deep commitment to the sanctity of life,” he said. “As a student, she was a responsible and energetic leader on campus, and now I am delighted to work with her … on current and new initiatives related to life issues.” Daly said her previous conflict with the administration would not affect her ability to perform in her new position. Daly said part of the task force’s recommendation was to create more permanent structures to coordinate pro-life efforts in the long term. One of her first initiatives will be to assist in the organization of a faculty advisory committee on life initiatives, which will be chaired by John Cavadini, the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute of Church Life. Daly also plans to strengthen the University’s supportive policies for pregnant and parenting students and to create academic scholarship related to life issues across campus. Daly’s office will be in the Institute for Church Life. She will report to Cavadini, and through him report to Jenkins.
University staff and faculty spoke about being allies for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in a Thursday panel discussion presented by the Progressive Student Alliance. To oppose hatred against those who identify as LGBT, people must prepare to face indignity, Miguel Franco, staff psychologist at the University Counseling Center, said. “In quest of anything noble, indignity is going to come your way and the indignity is going to be commensurate to the size of the nobility,” Franco said. “You’re going to get tired.” Franco warned attendees that as allies to the LGBT community, they must not become self-righteous. They will still make mistakes of judgment in words and actions. Allies should also not be defensive, Franco said. “You want to be approachable to people, and you cannot be approachable if you have defense mechanisms going off left and right telling people ‘I’m hurting’ [when you encounter opposition].” The solution to improving others’ self-esteem is growing one’s own, Franco said. “I’ll argue that if you want to cultivate self-esteem in yourself and other people, the answer is altruism,” he said. “Give of yourself to other people.” Professor of sociology Dan Myers said allies must understand their context. “Here at Notre Dame, we have a certain idea about what we think this context is, and I don’t think it’s entirely accurate,” Myers said. “We think that the people around us think about [LGBT issues] a certain way … that’s relatively unfriendly. There’s a very different reality than what people expect.” Myers emphasized the importance of understanding what issues are important to the LGBT community and educating yourself about them. “When you’re new to an issue or an environment, take it easy as you figure out what’s up and what you can best contribute instead of rushing in full blast with your righteous indignation,” he said. Try not to get frustrated, Myers said. Some people will not agree with you, even though you think they should. “There are people in the LGBT community itself that aren’t going to appreciate you and your intervention and your presence in their community,” Myers said. “Remember that you’re not actually a member of the community … You don’t have to pay the same cost for talking about and acting on these issues.” Because their risks are smaller than those of LGBT community members, allies should let the community members lead all anti-hatred initiatives, Myers said. “You should be willing to take some risks for the group and for the cause,” he said. “You may be able to bear these risks better than some of these other people [in the LGBT community] … Recognize that what you do is really pretty small compared to what other people have going on in their full-time lives.” Despite the challenges of being an ally, Myers said people should not give up. “Part of doing anything that matters is persistence,” he said. “These are challenging situations and they get tiring, but as the ally, you can make a huge difference by consistent, even small, behaviors. They can add up to a monumental difference.”
For high school students hoping to walk Notre Dame’s campus as one of the Fighting Irish, the realization of their dreams continues to get more difficult. This year’s Early Action applicant pool continued Notre Dame’s trend of increased academic and personal excellence, with 300 more prospective students applying than the year before. Don Bishop, associate vice president for Undergraduate Enrollment, said the selection was even more competitive for the larger pool of 5,556 applicants, who were notified of their status Dec. 15. The University accepted and deferred a similar number to last year, and thus had to decline more prospective students a spot. Bishop credits the 6 percent increase in applications to the University’s more personalized and rigorous recruitment efforts, including a redesigned viewbook and brochure materials, along with an updated website. He said Notre Dame focused on these efforts in response to a trend of top universities increasingly courting potential students. “We have increased our interaction with interested students and their parents. The staff, faculty, students and alumni in local areas are more active. It’s been a team effort,” Bishop said. “Notre Dame’s increase of recruitment was not only something that we wanted, but something that was necessary to make the admissions experience more personal for the prospective applicants.” Bob Mundy, director of Admissions, said this increased attention to applicants led to a record number of prospective students visiting campus in 2011. “This is the first year we’ve had 10,000 students visit the University,” Mundy said. Beyond the increased number of applicants, Bishop said this year’s Early Action pool continued the trend of being intellectually qualified. “The quality of the pool is at least equal to any year we’ve ever had,” he said. “We continue to have such a strong pool of applicants that it allows us to continue to value attributes along with academic strength.” The Admissions Office also saw more international applications than ever, with similar increases in European, African, Asian and Latin American students, Bishop said. “We are seeing increases in each of the regions in the world. Notre Dame is intentionally increasing our global reach,” he said. Increased travel by admissions counselors, who work outside the U.S. 10 weeks each year, and the resources and momentum provided by the Office of Internationalization have encouraged this trend. Mundy said Notre Dame also has a tradition of national diversity. “More of our students come from farther away to attend Notre Dame than any other top research university, with more than 80 percent of students coming from farther than a four-hour drive,” he said. Bishop said this year’s pool appears more diverse than previous years’. “We’re notably up in [applications of] U.S. students of color,” he said. Two statistics that remained steady, however, were the number of applicants who were legacy students and the number of students taking college level courses in high school, Mundy said. “The legacy application pool is one of the most consistent figures. We are within 13 applications of last year,” he said. With the increasing academic quality of each pool, Bishop said high test scores and a high GPA do not guarantee applicants a spot at Notre Dame. He said intellectual curiosity, creativity, leadership, service and special talents valued by the University play an increasingly important role in admissions. “Half of the students in the top 1 percent of the nation in class performance or national testing will likely gain admission, and half will not. A third of the applicants are high-ability students, but not in this top 1 percent,” Bishop said. “However, their personal attributes and intellectual drive are so exceptional that they gain a spot in the class.” Bishop said a student who demonstrates a special commitment and devotion over the high school years to an academic area in some form of research or hobbies would stand out to the Admissions committee. “In these cases, a student with a devotion to a specific intellectual field that has established a provable record of productive talent will gain attention [in admissions],” he said. The consideration of Early Action and regular applicants this spring goes beyond numbers, Bishop said, as Notre Dame’s admissions process is much more personal than plugging statistics into an algorithm. “We spend 20,000 plus hours reading, debating and discussing applications,” Bishop said.
Megan Doyle, Andrew Owens and Sam Stryker have been chosen to help oversee The Observer’s operations in 2012-13, incoming Editor-in-Chief Allan Joseph announced Sunday. Doyle will serve as managing editor, the No. 2 position at the paper, and Owens and Stryker will each assume the position of assistant managing editor. Doyle, a junior majoring in English with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy, will assist Joseph in managing all aspects of The Observer’s operations. Originally hailing from Granger, Ind., Doyle lives in Lyons Hall and is currently studying in London. Doyle served as News Editor in the fall semester and has a wide range of experience with The Observer, covering student government, the recent South Bend mayoral election and changes in the University’s sexual assault policy, in addition to co-founding “ND Minute,” The Observer’s multimedia news blog with Stryker. “I’m very excited for this upcoming year with our incredible staff at The Observer, and I look forward to working together to publish our best paper possible for the student body,” Doyle said. Owens is a junior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy hailing from Saginaw, Mich., and currently living in Carroll Hall. Owens has a wide variety of experience in his current role as Associate Sports Editor, covering football and men’s basketball this year and the women’s basketball run to the national championship game last year. “I’m excited to work with The Observer’s talented and motivated staff, and I look forward to carrying on the great work of the outgoing Editorial Board,” Owens said. Stryker, a junior, is majoring in Film, Television and Theatre and minoring in Medieval Studies and Anthropology. The native of New Canaan, Conn., and Knott Hall resident currently serves as News Editor, where he helped co-found “ND Minute” and covered the cancellation of the Japanese study-abroad programs last year. “I’m thrilled to take this new position at The Observer,” Stryker said. “I look forward to working with the paper’s talented and dedicated staff to continue its tradition of excellence.” Joseph will take over as Editor-in-Chief on March 5, and the rest of the Editorial Board will assume their positions March 19.
“There are experimental facilities all over the country,” Tank said, “but no one has ever done one where you have all of the systems linked together. This makes it very different.” Plans to build the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND LEEF) at St. Patrick’s County Park were finalized Feb. 14. The facility will use cutting-edge sensor technology so students and researchers can monitor experiments in real-time, the release stated. ND LEEF Director Jennifer Tank said the new facility will allow researchers and students to study these effects in stream, pond and wetland ecosystems, as well as on dry land. The facility will also feature advanced technology available to researchers. ND LEEF is still in the design and development stage, Tank said. She estimates the design will be finalized in April or May, with construction beginning in June. ND-EIC staff is working closely with faculty members of the Notre Dame College of Architecture to design the facility. Notre Dame and St. Joseph County Parks launched a new partnership last week to create an environmental research and education facility at St. Patrick’s County Park. Currently there is no room to build such a facility on Notre Dame’s campus, so ND LEEF will be located on 28 acres of land in St. Patrick’s County Park near the St. Joseph River, Tank said. “It’s totally new, totally innovative,” she said. Tank estimates that construction may take four months to complete. ND LEEF will benefit various members of the community. The St. Joseph County Parks System plans to provide environmental education through ND LEEF to local K-12 students, adults continuing their education and nontraditional learners, she said. “It’s a beautiful area with quite a bit of land,” she said. According to a University press release, ND LEEF is part of a larger initiative at Notre Dame called the Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI). One of the goals of ND-ECI, the release stated, is to monitor the effects of climate change, land use and invasive species in different ecosystems — specifically water resources. Notre Dame will collaborate with the St. Joseph County Parks System to create appropriate curricula for these programs. The facility will also cater to visiting scientists and researchers from other academic institutions. “We can test the research we do in the field in a controlled environment,” Tank said. She said this new facility will be one of a kind. Tank said she is excited for the project to begin. Conversations between the St. Joseph County Parks System and Notre Dame regarding the project began two years ago, Tank said.
Even the most distant parts of the final frontier are no longer beyond the reach of Notre Dame physicists with the recent discovery of the supernova “UDS10Wil.” Physics professor Peter Garnavich and physics graduate student Brian Hayden worked as part of a team of researchers on the CANDELS+CLASH Supernova Project to detect the most distant supernova yet discovered. Garnavich and Hayden will announce the discovery by co-authoring a paper, which will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. Hayden said the supernova is so distant the light from the event has taken 10 billion years to reach Earth. “It’s at a redshift of about 1.9, roughly 10 billion years old,” Hayden said. “It’s taken that long for the light to reach us.” Garnavich said the type Ia supernova the two co-discovered was nicknamed “SN Wilson” after the 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, with the official name “UDS10Wil.” Hayden said scientists estimate the age of the universe is in the neighborhood of 13.8 billion years, so this discovery is close to the frontier. This entity is classified as a type Ia supernova, a special kind of cosmological phenomenon that can be used to measure the enormous distances in space, Hayden said. The brightness of the supernova can be used to determine its distance from Earth, which can then be used to judge the distance from Earth to other objects in space, Hayden said. “We use supernovae to tell distances in the universe – if you know how bright the supernova is when [you] look at it, you can use that to calculate the distance to it and we can then use that value to trace the expansion history of the universe itself,” Hayden said. “Dark energy was discovered using supernovae like this.” Garnavich said a large portion of his and Hayden’s research focuses on determining the effects of the host galaxy on type Ia supernovae. The effects are often small, but in trying to produce a model for the expansion history of the universe using multiple supernovae, the errors can add up fast, Garnavich said. “The amount of heavy elements, the history and the age of the stars in the galaxy has the effect of ‘cooking’ the star that eventually explodes as a type Ia supernova,” Garnavich said. “So we’re kind of using the stars that remain as tracers of what that star that blew up actually was like.” A significant issue elucidated by using type Ia supernovae to develop an expansion history of the universe is the interplay between dark energy and matter, Hayden said. “We’re trying to determine how much of each one of those parameters is pulling on the universe at different times,” Hayden said. “Dark energy makes the expansion of the universe go faster, but matter would want to slow it down.” The CANDELS+CLASH consortium consists of a group of astrophysicists working together on a three-year-long project involving the Hubble Space Telescope to collect this incredibly far-reaching data, Garnavich said. “In order to really push the edges of things, we know we need to be part of a fairly large team,” Garnavich said. “We get a fair amount of real estate to go through, and then we identify all the things we think might be supernovae and send them off to a single location where they get compiled.”
On Tuesday evening, panelists discussed the ramifications of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate in a discussion titled “After the Mandate: The Consequences of Compliance.”Panelists included Notre Dame professor of law Gerard V. Bradley, program director of Notre Dame’s University Life Initiatives Jessica Keating, program director at St. Joseph County Right to Life Jeanette Burdell and Notre Dame Right to Life president Erin Stoyell-Mulholland. Carter Snead, professor of law and director of the Center for Ethics and Culture, moderated the discussion.The University is currently petitioning the entire United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for a rehearing of its lawsuit against the mandate, Bradley said.Chelsea Williams “That’s certainly a plausible, understandable tactical move at this point,” he said. “What it means is that the status quo is that a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit denied our appeal of a lower court’s denial of a preliminary injunction, so that the mandate would apply to Notre Dame, and in fact Notre Dame is complying with the requirements of the mandate.“I should say its compliance is surely with an asterisk. The document Notre Dame is required to file in order to comply with the mandate, indicates in a notation typed by Notre Dame at the bottom of the second page, that Notre Dame does so under protest, that Notre Dame considers compliance to be a violation of its religious beliefs and that should Notre Dame receive or obtain relief from the mandate in a court action, that Notre Dame would then withdraw its compliance with the mandate.”Bradley said the University’s main focus involves getting the petition for the rehearing granted.“It’s at least fifty-fifty that they will succeed,” he said. “The outcome, if it’s favorable, would be a preliminary injunction, that Notre Dame would not be required to comply with the dictates of the mandate.”Stoyell-Mulholland said the mandate from the Obama administration sends a message to women about success and health that is at odds with the Catholic perspective of women’s health and success.“Obama’s perspective implies that for a woman to be successful, she must suppress a significant aspect of who she is, her fertility,” she said. “Whereas the other, the Catholic perspective, fully embraces and integrates all aspects of a woman’s personhood.“Additionally, Obama’s perspective tends to level the playing field with men, and sameness is key, whereas the Catholic perspective sees women and men as equal in dignity but intrinsically different.”According to Obama and other supporters of the mandate, Stoyell-Mulholland said, contraception leads to women’s success.“So if a woman wants the opportunity to be successful or equal in the workforce, she must suppress her fertility,” she said. “Her fertility is viewed as a hindrance to her goals and to her ultimate fulfillment.”Stoyell-Mulholland said a woman’s true success is not achieved until her fertility is embraced.“We can’t just take the easy way out by providing free contraception and ignoring the underlying causes of how this mentality came about,” she said. “Women deserve better than that.”Burdell said birth control also does not support women due to the many side effects and long-term risks of birth control.“Breast cancer, due to an excess of estrogen … and cervical cancer,” she said. “Liver cancer, which I didn’t necessarily believe until I met someone, one of my clients in crisis pregnancy work, who had 40 tumors on her liver, and her doctor admitted that was from her years of contraceptive use.”The rampant accessibility to birth control drugs is increasingly problematic, Burdell said.“There is less regulation of these, and in a very quick time they went from needing a prescription, to needing to be 18 or over to have them,” she said. “But then that age has gotten gradually reduced, lower and lower. Now it’s down to no parental consent needed at all for some of these.”Keating said birth control is frequently marketed in a way that displays serious issues in culture, commodifing relationships and children. She showed a commercial for the birth control Beyaz, sold by Bayer, as an example.“There’s sort of visual crassness here in the ad’s representation of persons as standing in equal value alongside things and reminds us of the timeliness of Blessed John Paul II’s exhortation to reorient our scale of values, such that the primacy of being over having and person over things is once again lifted up.”The practice of contracepting affects the form and focus of relationships, Keating said.“Relationships where fragility and vulnerability are the greatest, where self-giving love is intimately known and received and where life is generated and nourished now become more merely momentary experiences rather than encounters unfolded into the discipline and joy of Eucharistic self-giving,” she said. Tags: HHS Mandate
Following a Wednesday email from the Office of the Registrar with information on ticketing for the 2015 Commencement Ceremony in the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Paul Browne elaborated on the decision to relocate the ceremony from the stadium.He acknowledged that “some seniors are understandably disappointed that commencement must be moved from the stadium.”“When all is said and done, the forthcoming Campus Crossroads Project will be a tremendously positive addition to the Notre Dame campus – for scholarship and teaching, student services, the performing arts, athletics, hospitality, recreation and more,” he said in an email to The Observer on Thursday. “It is a big project and virtually everyone on campus will have to make sacrifice, be it an inconvenience associated with the large construction zone around the stadium, a reduction in some parking lots or limited access to the stadium.“It is the latter factor that has led the University to relocate the 2015 Commencement ceremony from the stadium back to the Joyce Center, where it was held for four decades prior to 2009. We recognize and appreciate the sacrifice the current senior class will be making due to the limited number of tickets that will be available for the University Commencement Ceremony.”The Registrar’s email said undergraduate students will be able to obtain three guest tickets for the May 17 ceremony. Students from the law school, graduate school or graduate business school who will be participating in the ceremony will have access to one guest ticket and can enter a lottery for a second.Guests without tickets will be able to watch the ceremony live from the Joyce Center North Dome, DeBartolo Hall and Jordan Hall, and the event will be streamed live on the web, the email stated.Browne said it would not be practical to discontinue Campus Crossroads construction for Commencement weekend.“The closure of the stadium from the end of November until next August is necessary because there will be no safe way to enter the facility due to the placement of massive cranes and other equipment needed to erect the structural frames of the west and east building,” he said. “In other words, the four main gates will be inaccessible. The cranes will be gone and pavement in place by the time of next football season. Construction, however, will, in fact, continue next fall on the skins and interiors of the buildings.”Tags: Campus Crossroads Project, Commencement 2015, Joyce Center, Notre Dame Stadium
Every 10 years, Notre Dame reviews its core curriculum. The process for the most recent review began with the appointment of a Core Curriculum Review Committee in August 2014 by University President Fr. John Jenkins and Provost Thomas Burish, according to the core curriculum review website.The committee consists of 12 faculty members from several University departments and is co-chaired by Gregory Crawford, dean of the College of Science, and John McGreevy, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. The committee was tasked with performing a comprehensive review of the entire core curriculum, drawing on feedback from faculty, students and alumni.“If I were to characterize our [the committee’s] conversations … I think the things we have talked the most about are, ‘What is it that we want students to have when they graduate? What knowledge, dispositions and skills?’” McGreevy said. “This can range from particular courses to writing skills, speaking skills — a range of things.“Two, [the question is], ‘How best can these be substantiated, incorporating certain requirements and organizational structures, from academic advising to the relationship between First Year of Studies and the Colleges and Schools?’”The committee is organized into three focus groups: the Advanced Placement (AP) focus group, the academic advising focus group and the Catholic mission focus group.“One [focus group] is focusing on AP and to what extent should Notre Dame accept AP credit and in what areas and try to get a handle on what our peers do,” McGreevy said.“The second is focusing on advising,” he said. “How can we do advising better? Is there a way to make the handoff, as they call it, from First Year of Studies to the Colleges more effective? Can we give students better advising earlier about possible careers, certain majors, how they can figure out their intellectual passion?“The third focus group — the real question there is, how can we instantiate a serious commitment to our Catholic character? It has been done historically through two theology and two philosophy courses and that might be the best way, but we want to take a look at that and think it through. Are there other ways we can instantiate our Catholic character?”The current core curriculum, which has largely stayed the same since 1969, consists of the requirements of one writing and rhetoric class, two mathematics courses, two science courses, one history course, one social science course, two theology courses, two philosophy courses, one fine arts or literature course and two courses in physical education or ROTC, though a different first-year course will replace the traditional physical education requirement in the fall 2015 semester.Public Meetings The review committee has held a staff information session, hosted several open faculty forums on the topic and spoken with the faculty Senate, Marie Blakey, the executive director of academic communications, said. The committee also spoke with the student Senate and released a survey to a sampling of students yesterday.In the future, the committee plans to release a survey to alumni, meet with the alumni board in April, receive recommendations from different departments, meet with students selected through their dorms and through their majors and speak with all campus residence hall rectors on the topic, Blakey said.“Both with staff and with students, we have been really trying to pull them into the conversation on campus,” she said. “We also are reaching out to alums … trying to incorporate everyone into our listening tour.”At the faculty forums, various staff members and departments have made suggestions, ranging from the importance of integration within the core curriculum to critiques of the appointment system to the committee.Sustainability and foreign languageDebra Javeline, associate professor of political science, proposed a sustainability requirement for the core curriculum at a Feb. 3 faculty forum.“We are all deeply concerned about the sustainable issues of environmental change and whether our students come out of Notre Dame to participate in the conversation,” Javeline said.At the same forum, theology professor Gary Anderson called for reforms to the structure of introductory classes so that students do not have to take as many beginning classes taught by graduate students.“When I arrived in 2003 and began teaching the intro course, I was told I had to do the University seminar with 17 students because we have to have senior faculty members teaching those seminars,” Anderson said. “Plus, the University requires us to fund our fifth-year graduate students by putting them in these classes, so we are forced to do this,” he said.Associate professor of classics Elizabeth Mazurek, who also spoke at the Feb. 3 forum, stressed the importance of foreign language courses.“I think that if you were to explore a thematic requirement of diversity, foreign language would be perfect,” Mazurek said. “You would not be forcing all students to take so many semesters of a language requirement, but it would be an option for diversity exploration.“The Catholic Church is a world church, and if we are to talk about ecological literacy, I think we also have to talk about world language literacy.”Diversity proposalIndividual departments also submitted proposals to the committee, suggesting changes or additions to the core curriculum. The American Studies department’s proposal recommended the addition of a “United States diversity” requirement.“One way, we believe, is to take seriously our obligation to prepare our students to be faithful Catholics and effective citizens by helping undergraduates gain the knowledge, skills, and habits required to respectfully engage difference,” the proposal said.“We believe, as our faculty colleagues at another institution do, that ‘a critical component of a liberal education is the capacity to see human experience from the point of view of others who encounter and interpret the world in significantly different ways.’”The proposal draws on diversity requirements from other top institutions, citing the University of Pennsylvania’s current requirement as the most similar to what the American Studies department is proposing.“Our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania agree with us in suggesting that a U.S. focus is needed,” the proposal said. “Their ‘Cultural Diversity in the U.S.’ requirement ‘aims to develop students’ knowledge of the history, dynamic cultural systems and heterogeneous populations that make up the national culture of the United States.’“Their requirement defines ‘diversity’ as courses that focus on ‘race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and religion.’”The proposal states this requirement could be double-counted with other requirements, allowing it to be integrated across the core curriculum. The proposal also suggests that the requirement can be fulfilled across departments, allowing a wide range of classes to fit the requirement.The theology requirementChanges to other requirements have been proposed as well, most notably the theology requirement.“The current curricular discussion is not driven by the status quo, but by a vision of what we expect 21st century graduates of Notre Dame should know,” Mark Roche, professor of German and chair of the Catholic Mission focus group, said in a Feb. 9 debate about the place of theology in the core curriculum. “Vision should be the guiding force at a University.“Theology and philosophy were privileged in our vision and are important in the core, but they are not the only carriers of vision or even of Catholic vision.”Reforming the theology requirement would fix current problems in the curriculum, Roche said.“Only 53 percent of students who have taken a first theology course agree or strongly agree that the course would be worth taking, even if it were not a requirement,” Roche said.“Of course, we should require students to take some courses that they otherwise would not take, but we hope that after taking a course, they recognize the intrinsic value of the course that they took.Roche said the University needs to look into offering more demanding theology courses.“Of all the University’s required courses, theology has the lowest scores on intellectual challenge,” he said.“Right now, students who have had multiple years of intensive theology at premier high schools have to take the introductory theology course. Shouldn’t we be offering them options to place up, to take more demanding course? The ‘grade 13’ problem is longstanding.”To fix these problems, Roche proposed implementing new ways of looking at the foundational theology courses.“Why not add a course on students’ highest priority: theological understanding of the Catholic faith?” Roche said. “Why not add some theme options, such as the Cross and the Trinity, which is more likely to create wonder?“Student choice has advantages, as we know students learn more when they are actively engaged and have an existential interest in the subject matter. Some level of choice is likely to aid the overarching goal of inspiring further learning in the area. “While the review itself is a beneficial activity, it also runs the risk of losing sight of what the University already does well, theology professor Jean Porter said at the Feb. 3 faculty forum.“Notre Dame is an institution that prides itself on giving our undergraduates a first-rate, humanistic education,” Porter said. “We initiate them into certain critical thought, we initiate them into the learnings of the Church and I think we do it at a very high level.”The idea of possibly changing the theology requirement has raised some concerns from both students and staff.“I do believe there is something seriously wrong with the emerging ethos at Notre Dame, which I believe is very much symptom in one regard as the runaway enthusiasm of our irresponsible invention represented in the core curriculum review,” theology professor Cyril O’Regan said in a Feb. 9 debate on the place of theology in the core curriculum.“Despite the fact that the first universities in the west were all Catholic institutions, since the 19th century, the notion of a Catholic university has been problematized,” he said.O’Regan argued that while other courses may be able to integrate Catholic identity, only theology is able to teach revelation.“The purpose of theology is not strictly the reproduction of received faith as such, but is the generation of educated faith, which can not only render a bold account of witness to revelation, but can comprehend revelation as far as it can be comprehended and deal with the difficulties — interpretative, intellectual and moral — that faith presents throughout history and especially in the modern world,” O’Regan said.“I think this is a moment of common reflection, of what and who we are and of what and who we are becoming.”Many students posted on various social media outlets, defending theology in the core curriculum with the hashtag #loveTHEOnotredame.Next Steps At the student Senate meeting on Wednesday, students voiced concerns, suggestions and questions in other areas of the curriculum review, including the suggestion of a technical literacy requirement and an international education requirement. Other concerns included AP credits, transfer credits and the amount of credits required for the core curriculum.The committee, however, is in the very early stages of the review and focused mostly on discussion of the various directions that the core curriculum can go, McGreevy said.“I would just really stress that we are really just talking and even more than talking, we are listening, trying to figure out what our College faculty and our students think every Notre Dame student should know,” McGreevy said.“Our hope is to have a report sometime next fall [fall 2015] with recommendations. That would then lead to another long round of discussion between faculty and students and the entire campus community.“Ultimately, we imagine through the normal processes of faculty government, there will be votes taken and recommendations that we may take and changes implemented.”To learn more about the Core Curriculum Review, visit www.curriculumreview.nd.edu.Tags: Core Curriculum
Editor’s Note: Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, The Observer will sit down with Notre Dame experts to break down the election and its importance to students. In this fourth installment, News writer Rachel O’Grady asks professor of political science Dr. Darren Davis about the results of New Hampshire and a possible Trump nomination. Rachel O’Grady: New Hampshire turned out close to expected, per the polls. What do you make of these results? Beyond that, does Bernie Sanders have enough momentum to beat Hillary?Darren Davis: The results were expected, and I am relieved the polls came out right. After only one primary in which he was expected to win because he is from Vermont, and that the polls are predicting he will lose in South Carolina, Sanders does not have momentum. If Sanders wins by a similar margin in South Carolina, which most likely will not happen, we may need to start talking about momentum.ROG: What should we be looking for in South Carolina?DD: The polls indicate Trump will win by a significant margin and [Ted] Cruz will most likely come in second. [Marco] Rubio, [Ben] Carson, [Jeb] Bush and [John] Kasich are not doing well. We are likely to see more candidates dropout of the race, such as Carson. Clinton should win by a large margin.ROG: Donald Trump has been a different breed of politician, and many thought he wouldn’t make it this far. Do you see him winning the nomination? If not Trump, then who?DD: Donald Trump will most likely receive the Republican nomination. Anyone who doubts Trump’s appeal has not been paying attention to the anger expressed toward President Obama for the past seven years. Trump is directly capitalizing off this anger. New Hampshire is important because it showed Trump is a legitimate candidate.ROG: In your research and opinion, what do you think will be the most important issue in the general election?DD: The most important issue in the 2016 Presidential election will be a referendum on President Obama’s perceived failures, such as immigration, the economy, national security (terrorism), healthcare and guns.ROG: Taking it back to college campuses, particularly here at ND, primaries in many of our home states are coming up. What is something we, as college students, should be paying particular attention to?DD: Students should be paying to issues that affect them as they contemplate entering the job market and starting new families. The economy (job growth), education reform, environment, health care and social security are critical.Tags: 2016 Election Observer, Darren Davis