Archive for May, 2015

Student Spotlight: Christina Jones

Posted on May 29, 2015 in Students
Paul Quast, Christina Jones, Felicia Caponigri, and Francesca Genova, all recipients of a Graduate Professional Development Grant.

Paul Quast, Christina Jones, Felicia Caponigri, and Francesca Genova, all recipients of a Graduate Professional Development Grant.

Christina Jones is a law student at the University of Notre Dame. She is also one of four students to whom the Nanovic Institute awarded a Graduate Professional Development Grant to participate in a Moot Court Competition on Law and Religion in Venice. The experience was not simply about a chance to compete; it also provided a good education on the differences between American and European courts and the ways issues are addressed. Christina recently sent us a fascinating reflection on her trip:

Through the support of the Nanovic Institute of European Studies, I was able to attend a three-day Moot Court Competition on Law & Religion in Venice, Italy. This was truly an opportunity of a lifetime that I will always regard as foundational to my law school career.

Representing Notre Dame, we were one of three teams arguing in front of a mock United States Supreme Court. Perhaps even more interesting, we got to watch four European teams argue their case from the same set of facts are ours, but applying European law and arguing in front of a mock European Court of Human Rights. It was a real cross-cultural (and cross-legal) experience that left me with a deeper understanding of the issues and a different perspective on how the different systems approach them.

The problem itself was thorny and fascinating. We got to tackle the issue of whether claims of religious exercise by any employer can justify discrimination against an employee. This has become an increasingly contentious issue, as recent cases like Hobby Lobby v. Burwell have deemed for-profit corporations capable of exercising religion. This directly challenges the application of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from being discriminated against on account of their religion. As we struggled to draw the lines (albeit in favor of our fictitious client, the employee), my teammates and I had to embrace the complexity of the issue, and spent hours upon hours debating which policy we should be advocating. These are big issues the courts will have to address, and it was thrilling to be on the cutting edge of the law devising arguments. The American judges included Notre Dame Professor Bill Kelley, as well as a professor from St. John’s University and a federal district judge from New York; they absolutely grilled us during oral argument, and demonstrated just how difficult a question this is. It forced me to think about these issues much more deeply than I had ever done.

Listening to the four European teams (2 British, 1 Belgium, 1 Italian) argue added another layer of complexity and learning.  It was stunning just how differently the sets of arguments proceeded. For one thing, the interplay between judges and attorneys was astonishingly different — the oralists delivered their remarks uninterrupted, then were given a few questions at the end, time to prepare answers, and the opportunity to address the questions. This is a marked difference from the constant interruption from the bench Americans are accustomed to in oral argument. But we also noticed a lack of reliance of case law as precedent, and more reliance on the European Convention itself and policy arguments.

I’m taking European Union Law and International Human Rights Law this semester in Notre Dame’s campus in London, but I have a much clearer understanding of how the ECHR operates as a result of the tournament. It quite literally came to life. The outcome of the case and a discussion with a European judge also revealed how little I knew about the European Convention. Going into the tournament, I thought this was a slam dunk case for the employee, given the rights to privacy and religion. I learned, however, that the court is much more likely to rule under the freedom of expression provisions than the rights to religion. A Belgian law student explained this to me as a judicial preference for ruling on grounds of secularism over religion. It really changed my perspective of European conceptions of religion, and made me realize that there are alternatives to our American jurisprudence on this topic.

Outside the subject of religion, it was enjoyable and informative to mingle with the European law students and hear about their educational experiences and career prospects. Their system and trajectory is so different from ours. It was a real intercultural interaction. The academics who presented also left us all with deeper questions about the place of religion in society — stepping away from precedent, what should religion’s role be? Europeans seem to think more deeply about these issues from a philosophical framework than I am accustomed to; I hope to mirror their example and be able to see the bigger picture when I’m getting bogged down in the details of a case.

Even though we didn’t come home with a plaque, we had an incredibly enriching learning experience. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to explore a new area of law in-depth, and challenge my own assumptions in a cross-cultural arena. 

For more information about this trip, go to the the Law School’s website.

Student Spotlight: Kelly Smith

Posted on May 28, 2015 in Students

Smith, Kelly 14-15Meet Kelly Smith (’18), one of the two recipients of the FYS (First Year Studies) Spring Break Travel and Research Grant awarded by the Nanovic Institute this past year. Kelly is a History major who traveled to London to research the Kindertransport internees of World War II. She certainly learned about the subject, but she also understands perfectly part of the purpose of the FYS Grant: to help students learn how to conduct research in Europe, in the midst of a foreign culture. She recently wrote to us about her experience:

The moment I stepped out of the tube station and into the London sunlight, I could tell that I stuck out like a star-spangled thumb.  Despite my resolution to blend in with the London locals, I naively displayed blatantly American habits of walking on the right side of the street and eating hamburgers without a knife and fork.  I knew there would be quirky cultural nuances that I could only learn in my time in London, but after accidentally pouring Caesar salad dressing into my afternoon tea under the assumption that it was creamer, I began to feel slightly dubious about my ability to adapt.  However, this discouragement was put into perspective once I dived into my research on the Kindertransport internees.  As I studied the plight of these refugee children in the archives of London, I discovered a wealth of information on their experience and found that my flubs were not detrimental, but, rather, opportunities to learn about research in a foreign country.

The Kindertransport internees are the teenagers who were brought into Britain to escape the Nazi regime of Germany and Austria, but were then placed into internment camps on suspicion of being enemy aliens. The irony of child refugees being treated as potential threats to national security intrigued me, and my travels in London were ordered around finding more information on the causes and consequences of this paranoia. The London Metropolitan Archives and The National Archives at the Kew provided me with broad, policy-based information on this topic. It was in these archives that I received the opportunity to hold and read documents that were typed in the 1930’s. Needless to say, I was in history buff heaven. However, the bliss of flipping through minutes of board meetings and pages of periodicals was not the pinnacle of my research. The most absorbing source was the Refugee Voice Collection in the Wiener Library. This collection featured interviews from a wide breadth of World War II refugees in Britain, including some Kindertransport internees. It was in these videos that I learned the real triumphs and difficulties of being sent to a foreign country with an unfamiliar culture and language. It was incredibly humbling to hear about the ways they overcame adversity and language barriers to assimilate into British culture and remain optimistic despite their turbulent circumstances.

London Spring Break 2015 (1)In addition to growing in knowledge about these refugees, my time buried in books taught me the proper way to conduct archival research.  While I had done some preemptive investigation on the suggestions and requirements of the archives, actually working in them was a much more direct education.  I secured multiple History Cards to access original documents, and I learned how to effectively search archival databases for the most pertinent records.  I also familiarized myself with the process of retrieving documents, as well as the many rules of handling them. For example, I was genuinely surprised to be informed that the only writing utensils allowed in reading rooms were pencils without erasers, and now I know to bring a pack of these on future research trips.  These details, such as allowing nothing but your hands and utensils provided by the archives to touch the records, might seem like common sense to a veteran researcher, but they constantly surprised me. Similarly to my experiences learning the nuances of British culture, working in the archives transformed me into a more practiced and purposed researcher. I developed on-the-ground experience, and this will prove to be immensely helpful to my future academic and professional career.

In my time as an undergraduate student at Notre Dame, I plan to major in history, and the research skills I developed while in London will be crucial to my growth in this discipline. Also, the interviews I had access to in my time at the Wiener Library could potentially supplement my senior thesis. Familiarity with primary sources, such as the copies of camp newspapers written by internees I read in The National Archives at the Kew, will be invaluable to my anticipated career as a museum curator. Research is a key component to a successful career as a curator, and to be able to gain experience in the field as a freshman in college is an instrumental advantage granted to me though the generosity of the Nanovic Institute of European Studies.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to travel to London to advance my knowledge in my field and develop skills that will be necessary for my career. This research experience gave me insight into effective methods of research, as well as instructing me in research etiquette. I was able to delve into the policies behind treatment of child refugees in World War II Britain, as well as the personal stories of those children themselves. Their tales reassured me that it is possible to adjust and thrive in a new place, no matter the hardship to be faced. If they could learn English and survive in internment camps alongside the Nazis they fled from, I could most certainly learn how to correctly pronounce “Gloucester” and try a dubious-looking steak and ale pie. It was an unforgettable week of eye-opening learning experiences, and when I first exited the taxi into the perma-cloud of Notre Dame, I found myself running into people because I was walking on the left side of the sidewalk.

Student Spotlight: Linlin Liu

Posted on May 22, 2015 in Students

Liu, Linlin 14-15 (3)Linlin Liu, a doctoral candidate in Economics, recently received one of the Nanovic Institute’s Dissertation Fellowships. But before that, she received two Graduate Professional Development Grants to present at conferences. One of those involved presenting her paper, “Life Cycle Portfolio Choice under Time Varying Equity Premium and Risky Labor Income” at the Eastern Economic Association’s 41st Annual Conference in New York. Yes, this is related to Europe; we promise! To find out how, and to learn more about her experience and the benefits she received, continue reading!

The Eastern Economic Association hosted its 41st Annual Conference in New York, on February 26 to March 1, 2015. With the Graduate Professional Development Grant awarded by Nanovic Institute for European Studies, I was able to attend the conference and present my paper, “Life Cycle Portfolio Choice under Time Varying Equity Premium and Risky Labor Income.”

In my paper, I examined individuals’ decisions to allocate labor income among risky assets (stocks) and safe assets (government bonds) over the life cycle, as well as the impact of their investments on the financial market as a whole. The theoretical model I developed in my paper suggests that changing trends in asset accumulation and portfolio choices of financial market participants over the life cycle lead to changing supply-demand dynamics for assets and affect asset prices. I documented data on asset demands in the European Union Countries and Emerging Market Economies and found that as individuals approach their retirement age, they shift investments from risky assets to safe assets. As the first generation of baby boomers enter retirement age, Europe and the rest of the world are facing a stunning demographic transformation to aging populations. By 2025, more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over. The dramatic aging issue will have a significant impact on the demand for safe assets and the stability of financial markets in the decades to come. While there is a common trend in population aging in Europe, the timing and stage of the demographic transitions differ among the European countries. The youngest countries in Europe are Ireland, Cyprus, Slovakia and Poland, and the countries which are facing severe issues of aging are Spain, Italy, Germany and Sweden. With the promotion of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the European market, especially across the Euro-zone countries, is increasingly acting like one market. Investors can invest in bonds issued by the country in which they live as well as in bonds issued by other governments. If national economic policies encourage free mobility of capital, then the investors in the aging countries can freely invest in the bond market of the relatively young European countries. As a result, the demand and supply of safe assets will balance and the asset prices will remain stable. Therefore, based on my research results, economic policy making in EMU countries should act to support the single market in order to sustain financial stability.

The Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference provided me with a great opportunity to talk to economists about the issues of aging and asset demand. I presented my paper in the session of Risk and Anchoring Bias and Stock Returns. All the presenters in this session work on analyzing asset dynamics and are familiar with the literature. After the presentation, researchers from different regions of Europe and around the world formed a group discussion. I was able to establish professional relationships with other young scholars and senior researchers and received insightful feedback on my paper. For example, researchers from University of Helsinki work on analyzing the optimal portfolio allocation problems and its impact on the asset dynamics. Both of our work focus on how to allocate wealth among different risky assets and how the allocation drives the asset prices. We discussed and compared our models and established the possibility of future research collaboration.

The Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference also promoted my professional development. It provided me with a great platform to communicate with job market candidates from around world. Getting familiar with the topics that the job candidates are currently working on and the job market interview procedures are critically important for me to prepare myself for the job market next year. Moreover, attending other sessions in the conference was beneficial for my research. I went to the session on International Finance and Markets, and Patricia Peinado’s paper “On the Origin of European Imbalances in the Context of European Integration” provided me with great insight for my research on unification of Europe. Researchers from IZA, University of Grenada and Bar-Ilan University presented their paper “Micro- and Macro Determinants of Health: Older Immigrants in Europe.” Even though this paper is not directly related to my paper, knowing the economic research frontiers on European issues is beneficial for me to extend my research fields.

The Eastern Economic Association Annual Conference was essential to both my academic and professional development and I truly value the Graduate Professional Development Grant which enabled me to attend the conference and have this precious experience!

Student Spotlight: Greg Young

Posted on May 21, 2015 in Students

Young, Greg 14-15How does conducting research with a Nanovic grant differ from other research experiences? According to Greg Young (’16), a Nanovic grant allows one to find things out for oneself, to experience new information and process new understanding on one’s own. As Greg states, this is invaluable. We recently gave Greg, a 4th-year architecture senior, a Senior Travel and Research Grant to conduct research in Siena. Read about the difference that conducting research on his own made to his intellectual and academic development!

A professor said to me recently “the best architects, when they move somewhere new, spend the vast majority of their leisure time learning about that place.” His point wasn’t just for continued education past graduation, when we have jobs, but to learn to know one’s own place, their home, through self-investigation. “There are a lot of firms” he said, “that were really good around New York when they were all in one car, going around the city. Now they’re in a bunch of cars, and they’ve lost something.” During our year in Rome, we were taught a lot by the architecture faculty: we had lectures daily, sometimes inside, more often out in the streets, looking at what we’d only seen through books the years before. We went on field trips: saw different regions, different cultures, etc. But really we were missing the aspect of personal investigation. Because of so many other requirements, people really couldn’t just go spend a day looking at the interior of the Pantheon, to see what was going on. There’s something completely irreplaceable about finding things out for yourself, through your own work that gives a personal connection to the object of study, a sense of place, belonging, and understanding.

Moving toward my fifth and final year (more quickly than I might like!), starting preliminary thesis, work, and preparing for a summer internship and eventually full employment, the need to connect to a place is becoming clearer. As architects we are obliged to create places and spaces that contribute to the surrounding environment, whether that be the rolling hillside of England, or the dense fabric of New York City, a place we live, or the place we’re working. Traveling around Italy with the School of Architecture prepared me for knowing that there are things, cultures, places, that I simply don’t understand. That there’s a richness in life, the surface of which I’ve only scratched. But, it didn’t prepare me to find out that abundance on my own.

Researching in Siena by myself allowed me to better know how to understand a place: without getting to know the people, the culture, the history, the food, the types of trees, and the color of the bricks native to the region, knowing about an important building is all but meaningless. I went to study transitional architecture, between the Gothic and the Renaissance, specifically as it manifested itself in Siena (as opposed to the more well-known Florence), and I did. But I wasn’t prepared for how incomplete my initial thoughts were. I thought I’d be able to really just focus on the buildings and the spaces, and think a little bit about the paintings, sculpture, etc. but as soon as I started reading the history and studying some of the other works, like Pisano’s pulpit in the cathedral, or the museum of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, I knew there was no way I couldn’t spend as much time and energy on things other than architecture. Not because there isn’t enough about the buildings to spend months on, but because it’s such an incomplete picture.

To speak a little about what I found, my initial assumptions were in many ways spot on: the Sienese schools took a different, though in many ways no less important, road than their rivals. The Florentines concentrated on a sense of robustness, a heavy, powerful sense of presence. Perspective, proportions, and many other things were worked out chiefly by Florentines. But while the Sienese may have only dabbled in those things, they far surpassed their neighbors in elegant grace and fineness. The cloak of the Madonna in Duccio’s Maestà has a refinement of line and color that wouldn’t be seen until Leonardo and Botticelli, both Florentines who learned from the Sienese school. These things follow in the interior of the cathedral, one of my particular objects of study: the columns, capitals, statues of the Duomo have a somewhat ethereal quality that makes the cathedral of Florence feel clunky. Furthermore, the idea for a grand domed cathedral in Florence would never have occurred, if not for the influence of Siena and their neighbor Pisa. Happily, the Dome in Siena differs vastly from that of Brunelleschi, and lets us see the work of a sophisticated culture, not the work of a barbarous group, as Vasari might have us believe.

Simply put, my research allowed me a nuanced, personal understanding of a place, which is unique to me: nobody else has my understanding and feeling of Siena, and neither do I have theirs. The time I spent in there not only assisted me in formulating, developing, and working toward my thesis, on architectural composition and symbolic meaning, but has helped me truly understand my professor’s advice. Without the experience of independent research like this, I feel I’d be left with one eye closed. One would be opened, to the world of research already conducted, recorded in books and essays. Now I’ve begun to open the second eye, and I’ve already seen so much with it. I can’t wait for what I’ll see next.

Student Spotlight: Ben Denison

Posted on May 19, 2015 in Students

DenisonBen Denison is working towards a doctorate in Political Science with concentrations in international relations and comparative politics. The Nanovic Institute gave him a Graduate Professional Development Grant  to present his solo authored paper entitled “Bosnian Disconnect: EU Conditionality Policy and The Failure of Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina” at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association. While there, he acquired professional experience, made excellent contacts, and gained some interesting insights. He recently wrote to us about his experience.

Attending the 2015 Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association in New Orleans, LA was a fantastic experience that will greatly aid my current and future research projects, as well as aiding in my professional development for my future career.  I was extremely lucky that the Nanovic Graduate Professional Development grant allowed me to attend this conference and meet so many individuals that will help improve my career and research in the future.

On Wednesday, February 18th, I presented my paper “Bosnian Disconnect: EU Conditionality Policy and The Failure of Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina” on a panel entitled The EU as a Foreign Policy Actor.  On the panel, I was joined by fellow scholars who focus on the European Union and its behavior in foreign territory.  This created a very interesting panel with a diverse range of viewpoints that gave the audience an interesting look at the decision making processes of the European Union and how their foreign policies can impact other states.  Additionally, we had great discussants on the panel, Diana Panke from the University of Freiburg and Tina Freyburg from the University of Warwick, who have published extensively on Europe.  Luckily, they used their expertise to give very insightful and helpful comments that will help reframe and push my paper to a more final state.  The most interesting part of their comments, however, was how she commented that she was not sure of some of the literature I was referencing that is canonical to certain US scholars.  This made me realize that there still needs to be greater bridges drawn between the scholarly communities in the US and in Europe. However, interacting and meeting the various scholars from Europe on my panel was a great first step in helping me to cross this divide.

Additionally, I attended many panels with very interesting papers being presented by scholars from across Europe. In particular, I attended a fascinating panel on ontological security, focusing mostly on Serbia.  After this panel I met with 2 scholars from Serbia and had a fruitful conversation about my research and my dissertation ideas.  Both provided very helpful comments on how to approach my research on the region, but perhaps even more helpfully, I was able to make new contacts for potential research in Belgrade and the region.  Having local contacts to draw upon when engaging in research abroad is a very useful tool to have, and I’m glad I was able to meet scholars who were willing to help me in this way.  Additionally, I met with many different scholars and students throughout the week, all of which were incredibly helpful and supportive with my research goals.  The connections will be invaluable to draw upon in the future but also were helpful in telling me that my current research is on the right track.

Overall, my time in New Orleans for the 2015 ISA Annual Meeting was extremely well spent presenting my work, meeting and networking with scholars and fellow students, and receiving great feedback on my research.  This was a fantastic opportunity and I am extremely glad I was able to attend the conference and engage with the community of scholars for a week.  Without the generous support of the Nanovic Institute, this opportunity would not have been possible.

Student Spotlight: Grace Linczer

Posted on May 18, 2015 in Students

Linczer, Grace 14-15 (2)Grace Linczer (’16), a double-major in Anthropology and Peace Studies, will be leaving for Europe soon to do service work in Rome, thanks to The Dan and Cheryl Commers Endowment for the Nanovic Institute. Before that, however, she received a Break Travel and Research Grant for Sophomores and Juniors to travel to Budapest to conduct research on the Dohany Street Synogogue. Her research was both academically and emotionally enriching. What follows is just a portion of her personal account of her travels!

As I stepped from the Keleti train station, I caught my first glimpse of the Hungarian capital of Budapest. A patchwork of vibrant buildings gives an immediate visual narrative of the city’s elaborate history. Striking facades, spires and domes around the city endure as evidence of the myriad of peoples and cultures that have shaped the city’s lengthy history. One edifice, in particular, stands out against the skyline to the east of the Danube – The Dohany Street Synagogue.  In 1859, this monument was erected in the part of the city called Pest, which was, at the time, a residential area for the Jewish community of Budapest. The largest synagogue in Europe, surpassed in size only by the Temple Emanu-El in New York. The Dohany Street Synagogue has witnessed decades of Hungarian history.  Perhaps the most formidable episode that the Synagogue withstood was the Nazi occupation of Budapest in 1944.

I had several goals in mind when I began my research within and around the Dohany Street Synagogue complex. Firstly, I sought to gain a more comprehensive view of the Jewish community in Budapest before the Nazi occupation. Next, I wanted to examine the actions taken by the Nazi’s in and around the Synagogue complex. By coming to understand how they transformed the Jewish quarter, I would be able to more fully grasp the corporeal and psychological traumas that the Jewish community suffered collectively.  Finally, I intended to delve into the steps taken since the Holocaust to restore the Synagogue and surrounding neighborhood. I was afforded the opportunity to meet with a resident historian of the National Jewish Museum with whom I discussed many of the aforementioned questions. He gave me a tour of the synagogue complex and the surrounding Jewish quarter, allowing me ample time to field my questions.  My research is based extensively on these meetings; additionally, however, I rely on records made available to me by the National Jewish Museum, as well as my own observations and documentation.

I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the Nanovic Institute for their generous support of my work. Traveling to Budapest was a truly invaluable experience, one that will be fundamentally important for the remainder of my undergraduate career, and perhaps further into my graduate studies. The Nanovic Christmas Break Grant allowed me to broaden my personal and academic perspectives by studying the Holocaust from the point of view of the Jewish community. Despite having studied the Holocaust in-depth throughout my academic career, nothing could have prepared me for the emotional experience of standing in the space were such unthinkable horrors occurred only seven decades ago. Nevertheless, I was struck by the poignant resilience and hopeful vitality of the Jewish community of the Dohany Street Synagogue. I am truly grateful that I was able to witness their efforts at rebuilding and healing their community despite all odds.

Student Spotlight: Lauren LaMore

Posted on May 15, 2015 in Students

LaMore, Lauren 14-15Lauren LaMore is a Masters Candidate in the department of French and Francophone Studies. She received a Graduate Break Travel and Research Grant from the Nanovic Institute to conduct archival research in Paris. Not only was this her first research trip to Paris, but the work that she did contributes to the work of a group of scholars from a small network of universities in the US and France. Lauren recently wrote to us about her experience.

With the help of a Nanovic Graduate Break Travel and Research Grant, I was able to spend a week conducting research in Paris, France during this past winter break. While the research served as a culmination of a History and Philosophy of Science seminar I took this past fall, it was also a crucial stepping stone for the continuation of the projects we began in the class. Our goal last semester was to study and translate Madame Emilie Du Châtelet’s Institutions de Physique, a sort of philosophical review written for her son that was published in 1740. Despite evidence of the Institutions having some influence among Enlightenment thinkers and in the Académie, Du Châtelet never received the recognition as a philosopher or mathematician in her own right. On the contrary, she is generally only recognized as Voltaire’s lover, and she would only be a woman who studied philosophy, physics, and mathematics. Her work was rediscovered in the 1970s, and there is now a group of scholars and students here at the University of Notre Dame, Duke Univeristy, the University of Pennsylvania and with the Centre international d’étude du XVIIIe siècle in Paris who have decided to take on her various works in an effort to promote her as an innovative, intelligent and influential female historical figure.

While I have been to Paris on several occasions, this was my first time going for research, and what an interesting week it was! Despite the jetlag, the cold winter weather, and of course the controversial Charlie Hebdo attacks that occurred in the middle of the week I was there, I was determined to get the manuscript of the Institutions de Physique in my hands and to start working with it. The manuscript is in the possession of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and is part of the Fonds Français collection. On the BNF website there is a black and white scan of the manuscript available to view in its entirety. However, there are many details relevant to the interpretation of the text, and therefore to its translation, that are not visible in the online version, which launched this research project and guided my work in Paris. Some of these details that are not visible unless handling the physical text include the different colors of ink and slightly different penmanships, indicating that she had a few copyists, some inks and even pencil markings too light to appear on the scan, unclear systems of pagination, pieces of paper adhered to the pages with wax to cover paragraphs that Du Châtelet decided to replace, and finally page types and measurements. Because our goal here at the University of Notre Dame is to publish an English translation of the manuscript, the project is much more than a question of language, but it is also a question of history and the genesis of the Institutions. There are details in the text revealing that Du Châtelet had been working on the text from at least 1738 until 1740, and in my week looking at the roughly 750 page manuscript, I was able to not only track all of these details that are not visible in the version online, and but also to photograph some of the particularly interesting or challenging pages that I may use for my personal research. That being said, while these details may seem small and of little consequence to a translation of the Institutions, they are immensely helpful and important in providing a timeframe for its composition, and in understanding how Du Châtelet’s ideas evolved and what she aimed to demonstrate to her readers.

Now, a few weeks after my return from Paris, the obvious question is “what’s next?” I found all of the information I needed, and because of the length of the manuscript, I now need to work with what I found to answer a few questions regarding the composition of the text. Looking further into the future a group of us have applied for a National Endowment for the Humanities “Scholarly Editions and Translations” grant, with the ultimate goal of taking the translation that we prepared this past semester and producing a full critical edition, based on research that we are doing individually, including my own. As a Masters Candidate in the French and Francophone Studies program, I hope to further my passion for the French language and also questions of translation in the professional world, and this project has been a great way for me to bridge my interests in French language, history, and translation. I am thrilled to be involved in a project that has a much wider goal than the single research seminar from fall semester, and that will only continue to grow as more is discovered about Madame Emilie Du Châtelet and her writings.

 

Student Spotlight: Ryan Schultheis

Posted on May 14, 2015 in Students

Schultheis, Ryan 14-15 (2)Ryan Schultheis (’15), a double-major in Political Science and International Economics, recently received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico! Here at the Nanovic Institute, we like to think that we helped prepare him for the application process and for the experience. We gave Ryan a Senior Travel and Research Grant to travel to Madrid and Barcelona over spring break to conduct interviews for his senior thesis. The practice in application-writing, the international experience, and the intense exposure to Spanish that he received as a result of his Nanovic grant experience certainly had an impact on his Fulbright application. Here you can read all about his trip to Spain in his own words!

I am grateful for the Nanovic Institute’s Senior Travel and Research Grant to fund my intellectual and cultural adventure in Spain. Without the grant, I would not have had one of the most transformative experiences of my undergraduate career. From intellectual challenge (and confidence!) to cultural exchange, my journey through Spain served to reinforce the skills and mindset that I have come to develop during my time at Notre Dame. Indeed, my first journey to Europe was fruitful in many ways.

First, I completed necessary and challenging interviews for my senior thesis, a project which analyzes Spanish administrative reform as it impacts the adjudication of a recent surge in the number of immigrants seeking to naturalize in the country. I had never been so challenged to communicate complex thoughts and ideas in Spanish, an experience that has provided a renewed and important sense of confidence in my language skills. The individuals that I interviewed welcomed me to their country and culture, eager to learn and discuss my project.  I completed seven interviews in total – three in Madrid and four in Barcelona. Engaging both academics and attorneys, I explored the nuances of my topic in university offices, neighborhood legal clinics, and Spanish cafés.

In Madrid, my first interview took place at the Fundación Ortega y Gasset, a complicated metro ride for a new, yet aspiring madrileño. As with most of my interviews, I entered intimidated, yet left with a profound sense of confidence in my understanding of a complicated and under-theorized policy change. While the interviews were structured in design, I was required to listen and critically respond (in Spanish!) to unanticipated areas of insight. Listening to recordings of the interviews in my hostel, I was able to improve my questioning with each consecutive interview. Nearly all of the individuals that I spoke with have sent follow-up e-mails, eager to provide additional reading materials, references, and support should I wish to publish my completed work. The interviews were both productive and entertaining. In Barcelona, Gemma Pinyol, an academic and former director of the Gabinete de la Secretaría de Estado de Inmigración y Emigración not only offered unique insight into the Ministry of Justice’s motivation for proposing unprecedented fees in the naturalization process, but also bought my café con leche, determined to ‘break the stereotype that Catalonians are stingy’. Following my interview with Imma Matta from Cáritas – Diocese of Barcelona, we spoke about her career and my interest in immigration law. Indeed, I could not be more grateful for the intellectual generosity and kindness of my interviewees.            

While not performing research, I utilized my free time to explore the cultural richness of Madrid and Barcelona. While visiting the Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia in Madrid, I made immediate (and unexpected!) connections to works that I have analyzed and pondered in Spanish literature courses at Notre Dame: Las Meninas by Velázquez to Guernica by Picasso. During an open evening in Madrid, I attended an ópera at the Teatro Real, immersed in the beautiful exposition of Gabriel Garcia Lorca’s El Público. In Barcelona, I visited Gaudí’s Basílica de la Sagrada Familia, stunned by both the beauty and peace that surrounded me. I left Spain eager to return and explore the country even more, and I will. This summer I will spend 5 weeks walking and writing on the Camino de Santiago, beginning in southern France and arriving in Santiago de Compostela (500 kilometers!).

Thank you, Nanovic Institute, for helping me to achieve my intellectual goals while opening my eyes to a people and culture that I will continue to engage following graduation!

Student Spotlight: Abigail Bartels

Posted on May 11, 2015 in Students

Bartels, Abigail 14-15Where will your Nanovic grant take you? It took Abigail Bartels (’16), who is working on majors in Political Science and Theology and minors in Gender Studies and European Studies, to Denmark to research Danish politics and Catholicism. It didn’t stop there, however. It also took her to Eastern Washington University, where she presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. It also took her to a presentation at the Undergraduate Scholars Conference, organized by Notre Dame’s Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement and the College of Science. Congratulations to Abigail for all that she has accomplished! Here she recounts her research experience for us.

Thanks to the grant from the Nanovic Institute, I was able to execute my project design for my paper entitled “Danish and Catholic: An overview of politics and Catholicism in the world’s least religious country.” I am writing this paper as my project for the Center for the Study of Religion and Society Undergraduate Fellowship program.

My interest in this project stems from the complexity of the relationship between church and state. Denmark, commonly referred to by sociologists as the least religious country on earth, operates a state church roughly following the theology of Martin Luther. Danish citizens are born as tax-paying members of this church and though most become atheists, many remain members of the church for the entirety of their lives. Catholic Danes have held the right to religious freedom in Denmark for less than two hundred years and represent a small minority of Danish citizens. One factor that has kept the Catholic Church alive over the years is immigration. Given the highly anti-immigrant culture in Denmark, the impact of immigration has further ostracized Catholics from Danish society. In recent years, this separation has grouped Catholics with Jews and Muslims as victims of discrimination in European societies such as Denmark. This separation based on religious identity can be identified as a precursor to many societal problems, from discrimination to genocide.

In order to fully comprehend the history of Danish-Catholic relations and to identify how far the discrimination has gone today, I conducted seven interviews throughout the winter months with Danish political leaders and Danish Catholics, asking them about their professional or day to day experience with the relationship between the Danish state and the Catholic Church.

I had expected to find that Catholic political efforts are few and ineffective while daily discrimination against Catholics is prevalent and growing worse.

Joint funding from the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Nanovic Institute allowed me to spend nine days in Denmark, conducting seven interviews total. I was able to speak to a priest, two nuns, three lay people, and a politician. This trip provided me many valuable experiences, but four in particular stand out in my memory.

First and foremost, I found answers to the question I was seeking to answer through my paper. From just these seven interviews, it appears that being a Catholic in Denmark is viewed as an embarrassing fact about oneself that one does not bring up in discussion. Discrimination takes the form of societal pity for those unfortunate enough to be Catholic, but as of yet this has not progressed to violence. Also, political efforts by Catholics are in fact very few and very ineffective. I did learn about the main Christian political group, the Christian Democrats, which currently represents the only religious-based major party in Denmark. Fascinatingly, this group, though founded by a Catholic, emphasizes simply Christian values and does not even ask its members whether they are Christian or not. Some Catholics abstain from politics all together; some participate in the Christian Democrats; some find other parties that uphold Catholic social and economic teaching. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Catholics in each of these three groups.

Second, I was able to practice my interviewing skills, which will be increasingly helpful as I continue to immerse myself in the field of research. These are skills that I plan to use throughout the rest of my undergraduate education, during graduate school, and as an academic someday.

Third, my Danish improved greatly over the trip. Though the interviews were conducted in English, I maneuvered around the country using Danish. The work I had put in since my last trip to Denmark has paid off, and I am capable of understanding most of what I hear. However, over the course of the trip, I was able to start forming sentences on my own as well. I was very grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself for a week and a half in a language that has no official representation at Notre Dame.

Fourth, I learned about Danish politics, Catholicism, and culture through observation. Even outside the interviews, I discovered interesting phenomena occurring. For example, many individuals of Asian descent attended Danish mass with me, but would chat in other languages after the service was over. This confirmed the studies I had read discussing the importance of the immigrant and recently naturalized population to the survival of Catholicism in Denmark.  Experiences like these can occur only when one is physically present in the culture, which the Nanovic grant allowed me to be.

I plan to finish my paper over the next three months. My abstract for it has been accepted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, which takes places in April. I hope that this paper will give insight into how religion functions in a so-called godless society – how the religion impacts the society and vice versa. I hope most of all that it will give us a more comprehensive and inclusive idea of the ways religious discrimination manifests itself in today’s world.

Once again, I am very grateful for all the Nanovic has done to help me with this project. Thank you very much for your help and for your financial support.

Student Spotlight: Connor Moran

Posted on May 7, 2015 in Students

Moran, Connor 14-15 (2)Here at the Nanovic Institute, we tend to think of our student grant programs as the means through which we enrich the academic and professional lives of students. While they certainly do that, we increasingly have been hearing from students who genuinely want to enrich the lives of others. This is certainly the case of Connor Moran (’15), a student in the School of Architecture. He received a Senior Travel and Research Grant to travel to Paris over winter break. The grant and his trip definitely aided in his development as an architect. But more impressively, Connor now more fully sees the connections between architecture and culture, between his work and the social implications of urban planning. Read about it in his own words!

The topic of high-rise development within the city limits of Paris is a highly controversial issue that highlights a difference in priority between the government and citizens of the city. While it is common knowledge that there is a lack of affordable housing in Paris, the politicians are lobbying for more ‘modern’ office space that will draw headquarters of international businesses back to the city. The goal of these authorities is to transform Paris from what it is and has been for centuries into a modern hub of commerce much like New York City or London. The primary issue with these projects is that they are ignoring the city’s need for housing and adding office space to the millions of square feet of unoccupied office space that already exists. 

My experience in the city confirmed that while not all Parisians are against the towers, theyare against their proposed functions. The society that has asked me to create an architectural counterproposal to one of these projects, S.O.S. Paris, supplied me with data from surveys they have taken regarding this topic and that back up this statement. Their goal is more to maintain the traditional character of Paris and fight high-rise development on the basis of preservation. This evidence helps to formulate a case against the government and ‘starchitects’ who are lobbying for the creation of the towers. S.O.S. Paris has been very successful in combating cases regarding the modernization of Paris and has been able to halt projects such as SANAA’s new Samaritaine department store in the 1st arrondissement of the city in court. 

I spent most of my time sketching, photographing, and studying traditional Parisian streets and mixed-use buildings. These studies will ultimately guide my hand in creating a new urban proposal on the site of one of the high-rise projects that has yet to be started. The orthographic drawings and renderings I create will reflect what I learned from analyzing existing and exemplary conditions within the city and will respect the pre-existing fabric of the site I have chosen. I am planning to address the need for affordable housing and integrating it with friendly and lively commercial streetscapes. This will ultimately result in a block that has appropriate urban scale and emanates the character of Paris’s most iconic neighborhoods. 

The outcome of my study is ultimately to be determined by how the Parisian public receive my thesis project. I will be following in the footsteps of traditional architects such as Quinlan Terry in London and Leon Krier in Luxembourg who have successfully crafted arguments against the modernization of such iconic traditional European cities. S.O.S. Paris hopes to use my project as a visual tool that will inspire more to argue against the corruption of traditional Paris and ultimately aid in the creation of preservation laws that prevent future disregard for the city’s historical and artistic development. The project will represent my personal beliefs on the topic of architecture and urban development and the culmination of my experience gained studying here and abroad through Notre Dame.