Hope springs eternal!

The beautiful spring came, and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.

~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

Sunshine, blue skies, daffodils, and birdsong. These are the early signs of Spring that bring hope to the soul and joy to the heart. And the Notre Dame campus is blooming and bursting with them all. As we finished the final day of coursework today and enter into final exams this week, many are in need of as much hope and joy as they can get. So remember to pop your head out of the lab and your nose out of the books long enough to breathe in a small moment of restoration from nature’s loveliness!

How to cook a turkey, and other Thanksgiving advice you did not ask for.

When I was a graduate student at Notre Dame, one of my fondest memories was hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my fellow grad friends, who came from a dozen different academic disciplines and at least six different countries. I made the turkey, gravy, and dressing, and guests each brought a dish to share. These offerings varied from home-baked pie to a bag of chips, all contributions equally accepted and enjoyed. We moved in extra furniture from my neighbors’ townhouses, which we arranged in a zigzag pattern through the dining and living rooms so that everyone had a seat at the table. We ate, and talked, and laughed, and shared stories for hours! I do not remember whether the turkey was dry, or the pie burnt, or any of the other critiques we routinely allow ourselves to accept. What I remember was friendship, generosity, celebration, and gratitude – all made possible by our willingness to spend time together in a shared experience that no one expected to be perfect.

This is good news for anyone lamenting that they will not have a perfect holiday because they can’t be with family, or can’t afford a feast, or can’t cook oatmeal much less a multi-course meal, or….well, any number of things that get in our way of connecting in authentic and beautiful ways. 

So if you are ready to try an imperfect yet delightful holiday with fellow grad students, here are some of the options you can consider.

Tradition with a Capital T for Turkey! Believe it or not, turkey is actually really easy to cook. As long as you follow a few simple rules, you can basically put it in the oven and forget about it for several hours. For example, here is Food Network’s recipe for the World’s Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey. (Just be sure it is completely thawed before putting it in the oven!)

Traditional Potluck, Minus Turkey. Ask most Americans their favorite Thanksgiving dish and it is almost never turkey. Mashed potatoes, dressing, corn pudding, cranberry sauce, candied yams, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, pumpkin pie…it’s a long list! Most are easy recipes made with affordable ingredients, so it is an easy and inexpensive way to host a holiday feast. Here is Food Network’s list of Top Ten Thanksgiving Sides to consider.

Anything Goes Potluck. Ask folks to bring anything at all they’d like to share. This gives your guests the freedom and flexibility to match their offering to their individual interests or budget, and opens opportunities for delightful surprises like homemade German spaetzle or authentic Kenyan tea, which were part of my Thanksgiving potluck feast. 

Support Local Restaurants. Let someone else do the cooking! Meet with friends at a local restaurant, or pick up takeout to enjoy at home. Several affordable options in South Bend include The Skillet, Kitchenette, Perkins, and Kankakee Grill.

Donate Time or Resources. There are many in our community for whom the holidays make lives already challenged by hunger, homelessness, addiction, or loneliness even more challenging. Consider donating your time or your resources to make the lives of others a bit more merry. Local agencies include Hope Ministries, Center for the Homeless, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, and Our Lady of the Road.

Ask for What You Need. If you or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity, please do not suffer in silence. There are many resources on campus and in the community, and we can help you connect and find what you need. Email gradlife@nd.edu to begin the conversation.

Give Thanks for What You Have. Beyond food, there is so much to be thankful for. No matter what is on the table, take a moment to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings in your life.

In answer to the following questions submitted this week: When is the Salmon Run on the St. Joe River? Can you fish on the two ponds in ND if your not a Student?

Coho Salmon can be found in the tributaries to Lake Michigan, including the St. Joseph River in September and October. You can learn more at https://midwestoutdoors.com/fishing/salmon-anglers-flock-to-the-st-joe-river/.

As for fishing the lakes on campus, only Notre Dame students, faculty, staff, and their family members can obtain a campus fishing license. These can be obtained through the Campus Safety and University Operations office. It is catch-and-release only, and a valid Indiana DNR fishing license is also required.

Classroom Tech: Landlord

In this guest series, we highlight teaching tools that grad students have access to through Notre Dame. Making use of these can help you run a state of the art classroom and have some excellent tech experiences to discuss on the job market. 

Gamification has emerged as a popular pedagogical approach. Working with faculty from Notre Dame and St. Mary’s, the Hesburgh Libraries’ Emerging Technologies Librarian, Dr. Randal Harrison, recently created The Landlord Game, a free educational board game designed to help faculty gamify the economic dimensions of social justice for their students.

An homage to Lizzie Magie’s original The Landlord’s Game (the precursor of the game we know today as MonopolyTM), The Landlord Game leverages players’ knowledge of Monopoly in order to complicate reductive economic models of a level socio-economic playing field. By adjusting game rules and content to effect real-world economic disparities, the game aims to stimulate a frustration so comically absurd that gameplay evolves into a discussion among the players around the systemic inequities of contemporary capitalism. Another core mechanic of the game is political agency. Students effect change by rewriting the very rules of the game as players.

4 copies of The Landlord game have been made available for checkout at the Lower Level Circulation Desk of the Hesburgh Library. Ideal for the flipped classroom, the game affords a fun way to have students explore concepts from socio-economics and poverty studies. Students may check out the game to play in the library in groups and write up their play experience for class.

Dr. Harrison is also often available for in-class gameplay. You may arrange a course visit for classes of at least 50 minutes, and with approximately 25 or less students.

The game board and materials were designed with Adobe Illustrator. To
encourage other instructors to freely adopt and adapt the game, Harrison has released the game under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license and built a website from which all game materials may be previewed, downloaded, and modified.

Classroom Tech: Remix

In this guest series, we highlight teaching tools that grad students have access to through Notre Dame. Making use of these can help you run a state of the art classroom and have some excellent tech experiences to discuss on the job market. 

We hear from faculty, students, and especially employers that Multimodal /multimedia literacies have become an economic imperative in today’s job market. As they enter their respective fields, students are expected to be not only critical consumers of multimedia content but fluent creators of it, as well.

Hesburgh Libraries and the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Notre Dame have launched a new service platform, Remix, which aims to help students, faculty and staff build multimedia skills and promote teaching and learning with digital media.

“The definition of literacy has expanded beyond the ability to read and write text. In order to be truly literate, students must be able to read and write the language of multimedia. This means that faculty need to create assignments that integrate elements such as images, audio, video and data,” argues Chris Clark, assistant director of the Kaneb Center.

Remix is a website that features step-by-step guides for multimedia projects and a showcase of student works. Remix projects—in the media genres of image, audio, video, and take students from beginner to project completion in a user-friendly and mobile friendly interface, offering clear instructions on how and where to get help when they need it.

In fact, to support students as they work on Remix projects, the Library, partnering with the Kaneb Center and OIT, has created a team of multimedia coaches—the Media Corps—who are versed in all of the Remix projects and many other creative applications. They are located on the second floor of the Hesburgh Library and students, faculty, and staff may book specific appointments for help with capturing, editing and producing multimedia work.

For more information about Remix and Media Corps visit Remix.nd.edu
online. Or contact Randy Harrison at (574) 631-0312.

Tools Every Grad Student Needs

As a 5th-year grad student, I’ve tried out a bunch of productivity tools to help me survive grad school. Some have worked for me, and some were total failures. Here are the tools that worked best. If you are interested in boosting your productivity, you might want to check them out. 


  • Writing Groups These can take lots of forms, but the basic outline is you sit your butt in a chair and have other people either physically or digitally with you. You all agree to work for a set amount of time, and everyone peer pressures each other to actually working that whole time. You don’t have to be writing during that time, but you do need to be doing actual work toward your degree. That might be reading, studying for comps, or writing your dissertation. It works at all levels and has been crucial to my success as a grad student. Check out focusmate.com to get a taste of this experience. Want some funds to support the caffeine habit of a real-life working group? Check out this page from Grad Life
  • Task and Time Management System Personally, I use a paper planner. I have a month, week, and day view and I keep track of all of my appointments as well as my tasks. I also use Trello to help plan out weekly tasks in advance. The most important thing is that you have a way to manage both your TASKS and TIME. I prefer paper because stuff sticks in my brain better that way, but you gotta do whatever works well for you. Here is a free printable planner you can start with if you like the idea of that analog life. 
  • Accountability Buddies An accountability buddy is someone you meet with regularly to report what your specific goals are and when you plan to complete them. Your accountability buddy then checks in with you to confirm if you have reached your goal, and most importantly, help troubleshoot why you may not have met them. I meet with my accountability buddy every Monday to report what I will accomplish by the end of the week and again on Friday to report whether I was successful. An accountability buddy is incredibly powerful, especially once you transition out of course-work and into the less structured components of your program. You can get some support from Grad Life for Accountability Buddies that want to meet in real life. 
  • Pomodoro Tracker The Pomodoro technique is one where you work for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break. Repeat for four rounds and then take a 15-minute break. I live and die by this technique, but the most valuable part of it for me is tracking how many pomodoros I have done. I’ve got almost three years worth of data on how many pomos I have worked and it is by far the biggest motivation I have ever found. There is nothing more satisfying than beating your own previous goals. I use focusbooster to track my pomos, but there are lots of options out there. I record how many minutes I worked each day using this printable
  • Zoom This is a radically stable version of Skype. As a student, you have access to a very robust version of it through Notre Dame. You can get it here. As grad students we are often traveling for conferences, working from home or coffee shops, and just generally spread out. Zoom is a great way to meet with your advisor, your writing group, or host a reading group without everyone having to be in the same place at the same time. It’s a game-changer. 



You Matter

In this guest post, Demetra Schoenig, Direct of Academic Enhancement in the Office of the Provost and the Graduate School, helps us gain some perspective as we ram up for the start of another semester! 

To conclude his graduate student orientation remarks on August 19, Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., encouraged students to “learn from one another.” It is no small thing for a philosopher and university president, skilled in the craft of argument, to emphasize collegiality and community as key components of one’s trajectory from student to scholar. I don’t pretend to know precisely what Fr. Jenkins had in mind when he offered this suggestion, but I’ve been part of the Notre Dame community long enough to conjecture that there are two reasons why his suggestion is a natural derivation of our institutional aspirations, while also, quite simply, why it’s advice worth repeating. Both of these are captured in a phrase you’ve probably come across already, one that you may be wearing on a t-shirt right now.

Your Research Matters. You Matter.

It matters when you’re still in coursework, when you’re rotating through labs, when you’re slogging through the literature. You are engaged in inquiry that has the potential to open new areas, elucidate long-standing divisions, or get your lab one step closer to a breakthrough. There is value in your work, potentially in the effect it will have in your discipline, but more immediately, in the way it will refine you as a scholar. Your faculty members, those teaching your courses and mentoring you as a TA, those writing the grants and running the labs, have all been where you are. As you plan your graduate training experience, take a look at the “Shared Expectations”, which serves as a quick reference guide to enable you to initiate and sustain productive dialogue with your faculty mentor. (https://graduateschool.nd.edu/graduate-training/intellectual-community/sharedexpectations/).  What Fr. Jenkins was pointing to in his exhortation to learn from one another, however, is that your colleagues, your fellow students, your friends, will form you as a scholar as profoundly as your faculty mentors.

Your colleagues in your program, and those who you meet across the world through your scholarly network, will often become the friends who remind you that while your work is important, more profoundly, and simply as a human, “you matter.” It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to predict that your peers and colleagues will likely be those who you can confide in, those who will walk closely with you the inevitable moments of adversity.  As you tailor your particular approach to graduate training at Notre Dame, keep your eyes open for the innumerable ways you can find the wholeness within “Your Research Matters” and “You Matter.”

Some of these are formal professional development opportunities, whether serving as a department representative on the Graduate Student Union (https://gsu.nd.edu/official), expanding your intellectual community via a writing accountability group (https://gradlife.nd.edu/events-programs/wags/) or developing the skill of grantsmanship through consultations with fellow students in the Office of Grants and Fellowships (https://graduateschool.nd.edu/graduate-training/research-communication/the-office-of-grants-and-fellowships/contact-the-team/). Know that there are individuals across the University who are deeply invested in your success. By listening well and speaking thoughtfully in the classroom, you will inevitably develop expertise in your field. By extending these habits of mind to the student and campus community, your growth while in graduate school, and your ability to mentor those who follow you, will be even more profound. Learn from one another.

Karoke in the Bend

In this post, Elvin Morales gives us the low-down on the best ways to do Karoke in South Bend. 

Hello dear readers,

Today is the day where my long-awaited… Alright, you guys probably didn’t even remember me mentioning I was going to write another post, but feel excited nonetheless because here I will finally talk about the one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning (other than healthy love of my profession and friends), and that is karaoke! *epic explosion sounds* Yes, you heard it right, the most epic of musically-inclined competitions where anyone can participate in rhythmic verbal combat. Come and test your mettle against a random group of people that may or may not judge you for the caliber of your voice, the crappy song you chose that has been heard like 90,000 times before (nobody wants to hear you sing “Sweet Caroline” again Chad!), and whether or not the fact that you don’t care about how you sound makes you the most awesome person in the place.

Aside from the pure awesomeness that I described earlier, karaoke is truly one of my favorite activities because it gives me an opportunity to let loose, and in those brief 5 minutes that I am up there everything else fades away it is just me, the mic, and the letters on the screen. Karaoke has served me as a tool for getting over my shyness about my singing, about being on stage, as well as to meet people and be more social, improving my life overall. Because of these reasons I want you to know about some really cool karaoke events around town so that you can benefit from kicking some metaphorical musical butt too. Here are some good karaoke options around town for most days of the week:

The first guy we’re going to talk about is my friend Garrett Swanson, he heads karaoke operation here in South Bend and Mishawaka and is one of the best and nicest guys you will ever meet. Aside from an awesome personality he also has one of the best and most versatile voices I’ve heard, singing anything from “Kings of Leon” to “Breaking Benjamin”. Below is his schedule:

  • Smith’s Downtown Tap and Grill: Sundays and Wednesdays from 6pm-11pm
  • O’Rourke’s Irish Pub: Tuesdays from 10pm till close (this is Karaoke Olympics, bring you’re A-game)
  • Danny Boy Draft Works: Thursdays from 9pm-12am

Mikey Trix is also another karaoke host around the South Bend area with his own series of events called “Trix Karaoke”, here is where you can find him:

  • Madison Oyster Bar: Mondays from 10pm till close
  • Taphouse on the Edge: Thursdays and Fridays from 9pm till close

There are many other events that due to space constraints I haven’t even mentioned, but remember that no matter which one you are interested in going to, all of these events are free to join and help support local South Bend and Mishawaka businesses. So, go out and enjoy a night with your friends while helping yourself and the local economy, but before you do I shall leave you with a few words of wisdom my fellow musical warrior: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Philo”

Getting the Most from Heburgh Libraries

In this guest post, Mandy Havert, Graduate Outreach and Digital Research Librarian in charge of Graduate Outreach Services, shares how to make the most of your Hesburgh Libraries experience. 

As a new graduate student or returning student at Notre Dame, you will find the Hesburgh Libraries has a lot to offer. Begin by checking out this guide for getting started with Hesburgh Libraries before you come to campus: https://resources.library.nd.edu/documents/faculty-checklist.pdf  Once you have a campus network login – your NetID – you will be able to sign in and customize your library account. We have debuted a new service on our library.nd.edu site called “Favorites” that can help track your preferred electronic resources and materials. My Account services help you to monitor the status of materials you have borrowed from our local collections or materials you have requested from other libraries.

In addition to our materials and collections, take a look at people and events in the Hesburgh Libraries. We have over 30 subject librarians located throughout campus to help you become familiar with what’s available to you, and to keep you up-to-date on how the libraries can support your research. You are able to request purchases for our collections, and if you develop a working relationship with your librarian, he or she will be able to anticipate what’s important for your research. Contact information for our subject librarians is available to you from our directory page: https://directory.library.nd.edu/directory, Visit this page to learn about campus locations for the Hesburgh Libraries: https://library.nd.edu/hesburgh-floor-maps#

The “Events” section of the library home page is regularly updated and includes information about special events, exhibitions, and workshops. Be sure to check our events listings regularly. The Graduate Student Newsletter also includes information on these and other events and is delivered right to your mailbox!

Workshops held by the libraries range from learning ways to add to your citation and research management skills to conducting archival research. Digital scholarship workshops are offered by our Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship. Regular workshops include beginner and intermediate sessions for building your professional web presence, how to use geographical information systems, working with data and statistics, and text mining. You can register for workshops using the Hesburgh Libraries Workshop Calendar: http://nd.libcal.com/calendar/allworkshops/?cid=447&t=m&d=0000-00-00&cal=447

If you’re not sure where to start, you can reach out to the graduate services librarian, Mandy Havert – mhavert@nd.edu, to ask questions and receive some tips on how to get the most out of the Hesburgh Libraries. Mandy will fill you in on regular events, such as our weeklong Dissertation Camps, and regularly scheduled Dissertation Day Camps.