I am very appreciative of Notre Dame on many fronts. Here are a few.
I appreciate how Notre Dame fosters intellectuals, more so than do many other places. For example, Notre Dame generally offers faculty a great deal of support for developing their scholarship, from summer research support to student-faculty team support. I have benefited from these types of supports, and they have led to publications.
Moreover, Notre Dame has a generous leave policy which is particularly helpful for writing books. These policies help Notre Dame in its quest to enter the higher ranks of research universities.
There is a lot of wealth at Notre Dame—not only in terms of funding, but of ideas and good people. I really like the opportunities to learn from and work with persons from other disciplines—something that is more difficult to do at larger universities. I have the good fortune to be a faculty fellow at several institutes (Institute for Educational Initiatives, Kroc Institute for International Peace, Institute for Latino Studies), which enriches my scholarship through speakers, projects and social events.
One of the best things about working at Notre Dame is the quality of undergraduate students. They are multi-talented and bright, as well as motivated and respectful. One can have conversations about all topics with students; no topic is out of bounds, unlike at a public university.
Some might think there is gender bias because the administration is governed by (male) priests. I don’t know whether there is, but it certainly has not affected my work. In fact, administrative units, like the College of Arts and Letters, bend over backwards to try to meet the needs of female faculty, providing support networks and promoting them to administrative positions when possible.
One wish: I’d like to see Notre Dame at the cutting edge of moral leadership in terms of fostering sustainable living, both in terms of physical resources but also peaceful cooperation. Pope Benedict XVI has admonished believers to pay attention to such issues. There is so much more we could do both in our campus practices and to prepare each of our students for the challenging conditions they will face.
Darcia Narvaez is an Associate Professor of Psychology with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary. Her undergraduate degree was in music and Spanish. For many years she was a church musician and also a classroom teacher of music and Spanish. She spent half of her childhood living in different Spanish speaking countries. The contrast in well-being between the U.S. and the countries in which she resided sparked an interest in justice from an early age—how to explain the discrepancies in lifestyles, poverty and compassion? Her current work, in the field of moral development, includes research in moral development, moral personality and character education. She developed a theory of moral character education, called Integrative Ethical Education, that brings together findings from the cognitive sciences with ancient wisdom. Her Triune Ethics Theory integrates neuroscience into explaining differences in ethical orientations according to situations, dispositions and cultures.