Archive for May, 2014

Student Spotlight: Veronica Roberts

Posted on May 28, 2014 in Students

Roberts.Veronica.13.14Veronica Roberts is a doctoral candidate in Political Science.  She recently returned from the XLII Incontro di Studiosi dell’Antichità Cristiana in Rome, where she presented a paper titled “‘Aliud namque sunt diutiae, aliud pecunia‘:  A Brief Reflection on the Intertwined Themes of Wealth and Hope in Augustine’s City of God.”  The Nanovic Institute awarded Veronica a Graduate Professional Development Grant for this exciting opportunity.  She recently sent us a report on her experience:

I am very grateful to the Nanovic Institute for making my trip to Rome possible. In every way, it was an unforgettable experience. Because my dissertation studies Augustine’s City of God, which heavily explores the history of the Roman republic, it was very exciting to visit the Eternal City—to walk the streets around the Capitoline hill, remembering that when ancient Rome was besieged by the Gauls, that hill alone was saved because the squawking of the sacred geese woke up the Roman consul; to walk along the Gianicolo, realizing that it is the same Janiculum hill to which the people fled before the Civil Wars; to visit the Forum and Palatine Hill and understand for the first time why Augustine targets the particular Roman deities that he does; I had many more such moments of awe, but these convey the general tenor of the whole trip. Thus, on the most basic level, I am grateful for the trip because it helped me understand the subject of my dissertation better. What is more, I was able to take photos that I will put in my dissertation, so that the readers will be able to share this deepening of understanding.  

Turning to the conference itself, I am glad to say that it was a success. My primary objective in attending it was to meet Fr. Robert Dodaro, O.S.A. who is the president of the Augustinianum and has written Christ and the Just Society, an excellent book on Augustine’s City of God that I engage heavily in my dissertation. I was able to have a three hour meeting with Fr. Dodaro, in which he advised me about job prospects, successful publishing, pointed me towards helpful secondary literature, and helped me think though the presentation of my ideas on Augustine’s thought.  This was an important connection to make because he is very difficult to reach by email, and our face-to-face meeting will help him to look out for my emails. What is more, he has promised to read my dissertation over the summer; because he is such an excellent Augustine scholar, I think that his feedback will be extremely valuable. He has also invited me back to Rome in November to have a meeting with him and John Rist (another important Augustine scholar) about how to transform the dissertation into a successful book. Because next year, during my postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton, my project will be just this, this opportunity is very exciting.

The conference itself was very interesting, engaging a wide range of early Church Fathers on the question of wealth and poverty. I learned much about the other Church Fathers from others’ presentations, which was both illuminating in itself, and helped me understand the newness of Augustine’s approach and emphasis. I was also glad to present my own paper on the theme in Augustine, based on my reading of the City of God.  This paper will now go through the peer-review process, and, I hope that it will be published in the Augustinianum’s journal; regardless, the peer review process will provide me with constructive feedback.

In sum, my trip to Rome was an unforgettable experience and I am deeply grateful to the Nanovic Institute for funding it. The trip both enriched my scholarship by bringing Rome to life for me, and opened up opportunities that will help my academic career. Thank you very much for this. 

Minors in European Studies: Class of 2014

Posted on May 21, 2014 in Students, Uncategorized
Director A. James McAdams with the graduating class of minors in European studies. Copyright University of Notre Dame, 2014.

Director A. James McAdams with the graduating class of minors in European studies. Copyright University of Notre Dame, 2014.

On Friday, May 16th, students graduating with a minor in European studies gathered with family and academic advisors for the Nanovic Institute’s recognition breakfast. Students shared stories about their research journey for their capstone essay, a requirement to complete the minor, and received a personalized certificate to mark the occasion.

From left to right:
Melissa Medina, Marianinna Villavicencio, Paul Menke, A. James McAdams (director), Christine Gorman, Colleen Haller, and Marielle Hampe. (Not pictured: Kelsey Cullinan and Maria Fahs)


Director A. James McAdams presents Marielle Hampe with the 2014 Wegs Prize for best capstone essay.

Director A. James McAdams presents Marielle Hampe with the 2014 Wegs Prize for best capstone essay.

The J. Robert Wegs Prize for Best Minor in European Studies Capstone Essay is awarded annually to the minor in European Studies who authors the best essay written in fulfillment of the capstone essay requirements for the minor. This prize carries a $250 award. The prize is named in memory of J. Robert Wegs (1937-2010), founding Director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies who served until 2002. One of his contributions to the Nanovic Institute was the development of the Minor in European Studies.


This year, the Wegs Prize was presented to English major Marielle Hampe for her capstone essay.  She was advised by Matthew Capdevielle, director of the University Writing Center.


Congratulations to all of our students and best wishes from the Nanovic Institute!

Student Spotlight: Christina Serena

Posted on May 20, 2014 in Students

Serena, Christina 13-14We’re very proud of Christina Serena!  Her research on Saint Pope John Paul II, made possible by a Break Travel and Research Grant for Sophomores and Juniors, was published by the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.  You may read the full text of her article at  For a more experiential account of research trip, including a description of some of the vocational and spiritual benefits of her travels, read the grant report that she sent to us.  When she wrote this report, she had no idea that she would published, as well as posted and widely liked and shared on Facebook.  What could happen to you as a result of your Nanovic grant?

I would like to thank the Nanovic Institute for European Studies for the opportunity to travel to Poland during fall break. I was nervous beforehand because I had never traveled alone in Europe before and was unsure about how many people would be willing to meet with me. Yet, thanks to the help of Professor Adrian Reimers, I was able to interview 23 Poles! Going into the week I thought that I would hear a lot of the same information over and over again. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of the interviews. Common themes were John Paul II’s impact on the Solidarity Movement as well as their personal feelings towards having a pope that was one of their own for over twenty years. However, these interviews also revealed the unique features of the way each person approached John Paul II because of each individual’s particular background and interests. I was able to see Pope John Paul II’s impact on Poland from varying perspectives such as that of a sociologist, theologian, new feminist, cardinal, priest, sister, youth, senior citizen, practicing Catholic, cultural Catholic, an atheist and even two close friends of John Paul II. Most of my interviews were formal and videotaped. However, I also found time to interview people on trains and buses and while at churches, universities, and touring Warsaw, Krakow, and Lublin. Through all these interactions, I learned way more than I ever thought possible during a research trip of only nine days. I now have so much to say about Pope John Paul II and Poland that it would be a shame not to turn this research project into an additional senior thesis next year.

In addition to the research aspect, I was surprised by how many lasting friendships I made. It was amazing to me how close I became to my guides throughout the week. I plan to return for a visit when I am studying in Rome next semester so that I can see them again. The last aspect that was an unexpected treat for me, as a future Dominican, is that one of Professor Reimer’s friends connected me with the Dominicans in Krakow. Their community was founded a few years after St. Dominic’s death. So, it was wonderful opportunity for me to walk through a priory nearly as old as the Order itself. I was able to interview three Dominicans, and one of them will be a professor at the university in Rome I am studying at next semester.

I am thankful for the opportunity to conduct this research project because of its impact on me educationally, culturally, and spiritually as well as for the friends I have made and the experience of seeing Poland. Going to Poland was one of the best choices I have made while at Notre Dame. Although the pre-trip research and organization was time consuming and I am still sorting through the results of the many hours of interviews, it was worth it. Thank you once again for this incredible opportunity!

Student Spotlight: Nathan Gerth

Posted on May 12, 2014 in Students

Gerth, Nathan 13-14Nathan Gerth is a doctoral candidate in History.  The Nanovic Institute awarded him a Graduate Break Travel and Research Grant to conduct dissertation research in Tver’, Russia.  Nathan recently wrote about his experience:

From December 29, 2013 through January 28, 2014 I conducted supplementary dissertation research at the archives and museum located in the Russian city of Tver’.  While working in these institutions I completed the research that I began last March. This report outlines my accomplishments during this trip, which was funded through the Nanovic Institute’s Graduate Break Travel and Research Grant.

During my month-long research trip to the Russian Federation I worked with materials related to the process of Russian state building in both central and regional archives. I spent several weeks working in the State Archive of Tver’ Province (GATO) and the Tver’ State Unified Museum (TGOM). At GATO I focused my attention on records created in response to the cholera epidemics of 1831 and 1848. During the epidemics the local government struggled to keep state and local society functioning. I used the governor’s correspondence with the local medical board to compare the different approaches taken by the government during these outbreaks.

While working in the archive maintained by TGOM, I conducted a close reading of the correspondence of Avgust Zhiznevskii, an official who served in Tver’ during the mid-nineteenth century. When writing about the topic of local officialdom I have struggled to find sources that illuminate the lived experience of officials. Unfortunately, while Russian officials generated no shortage of documents as part of their jobs, the bureaucratic records created by local government provide a limited perspective on the lives of these officials. In contrast, Zhiznevskii’s letters and memoirs provide a rich first person account of the struggles of a young official coming to terms with living in Tver’ and interacting with his colleagues. As a result, his letters and memoirs supply an invaluable counterpoint to the official records that I had focused on during my research last year. 

In light of these accomplishments, I feel that my research trip to the Russian Federation proved particularly successful. After all, I now have most of the materials to complete my dissertation and a new perspective on much of the work I completed last year. Ultimately, the Nanovic Institute’s Graduate Break Travel and Research Grant played an integral role in the realization of these plans, given the considerable cost of traveling to Russia. Therefore, I am grateful that the institute awarded me these funds.

Student Spotlight: Steven Fisher

Posted on May 8, 2014 in Students

Fisher, Steven 13-14 (4)Steven Fisher is a Sophomore majoring in Political Science and International Peace Studies.  The Nanovic Institute awarded Steven a Break Travel and Research Grant for Sophomores and Juniors to conduct research at the Hague over spring break.  Steven, who also served the Nanovic Institute as one of our student workers this past year, wrote about his experience:

I noticed pedestrians were often impatient during my days at the Hague, waiting for winter to end, the wind to ease, and the sun to reappear. March meant unpredictable weather, as I realized when the warm morning that inspired my trip to Delft turned to gray clouds by the time I arrived. Wandering into Delft’s main square, I came across the statue of a man often mentioned in my international law course. I read the name “HUGO GROTIUS” embedded onto his pedestal and then looked into his steady, marble gaze. What would the father of international law himself have to say about the international criminal trials in the Hague, and what guidance would he prescribe to a young scholar eager to delve into the fields of peace and justice?

For  four days I sifted through documents and footage at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). My research sought to understand what role European politics play in the ICTY proceedings themselves, analyzing how the case of one war criminal­­–Radovan Karadži?–­­summoned the power interests of the European Union, Serbia, Russia, and other actors of the international arena. Documents articulating elaborate statutes, rules of procedure and evidence, and administrative exercises piled on my desk and every page in my legal pad was scribbled over with notes. I wrote, “How have logistical and mundane details created spaces for political contestation and control?  Why did the ICTY review and object to granting interviews with Russia Today? Did the decision to admit intercepts from the accused relate to internal politics of the ICTY or the external interests of other states?” and in haste began running my eyes through pages and pages of transcripts and trial reports.

Some days I scanned available footage? the courtroom exhibited cameras aimed on the stand, interpreters whispering in the background, security guards with hands rested on radios and guns, journalists constantly watching from the public gallery, and everyone wearing headphones. Karadži? himself watches his own trial from the defense with an everyday sense of normality and mundaneness.

And then I pack up my papers and exiting through the lobby, I stop to glance at the TV monitor labeled “Trial Chamber III,” to see empty chairs displayed on the screen due to the postponed cross­examination. Speculating, I would find my way back to my hostel by the beach. I dozed in the tram and would gaze through the window to see embassies being closed and lamps beginning to light. A stop at the Peace Palace De Haagse tramnet always invited a crew of Dutch, English, French, Swahili, or Spanish speaking law students murmuring on their cellphones. A culture of international politics and legal justice constantly enveloped my experience not only inside the courtroom, but also in the very streets of the the Hague.

Exploring the legacy of the ICTY through its process–­­its subjectivities, spaces, and documentation–­­profited how I identify political spaces within international criminal justice. But in discerning its contribution to justice, I remember Grotius words: “Arbitration is where a matter ought to be left to the decision of a person, in whose integrity confidence may be placed, of which Celsus has given us an example in his answer, where he says, ‘I though a freedman has sworn, that he will do all the services, which his patron may adjudge, the will of the patron ought not to be ratified, unless his determination be just.’”