Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame, has won the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s 2018 Distinguished Book Award. The honor, conferred upon the most outstanding book published by an SSSR member in the past two years, lauded the “impressive accomplishment” of Smith’s Religion: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It Matters. Smith’s book aims to help the social sciences better understand and explain religion by building an innovative theory of religion that builds on developments in science, theory, and philosophy.
Driven by a commitment to Catholic social teaching and a strong belief that a liberal arts education can transform lives, Notre Dame and Holy Cross College faculty are teaching college-level courses for inmates at Indiana’s Westville Correction Facility. Since 2013, nearly 100 inmates have earned college credit and 11 have earned associate degrees as of this month. But developing a strong foundation in reading, writing, research, public speaking, and critical thinking offers benefits that go far beyond the professional opportunities a degree might one day provide.
Sarah Mustillo, a professor of sociology, has been named chair of the department, beginning this fall. Mustillo, whose research involves the effects of adverse childhood experiences on health and mental health trajectories, came to Notre Dame in 2014. She will be the first woman to chair the department.
Notre Dame sociologists are undertaking major research initiatives analyzing the effects of Indiana’s school choice program, one of the largest in the United States. Mark Berends, a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity, is leading a study on how educational options impact schools and students, while Megan Andrew, an assistant professor of sociology, is leading a separate study on the social aspects of school choice policies.
Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology has added a minor, providing the opportunity for students pursuing careers in medicine, law, business, or any other area to gain a solid foundation in sociology methods and concepts. The five-course minor includes two required courses, one in research methods and one in theory. The three remaining courses are sociology electives.
The Department of Sociology will have a new home in fall 2017. Nanovic Hall is under construction on Notre Dame Avenue, south of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. The new building will contain classrooms, research and laboratory spaces, and offices. It will bring under one roof the sociology faculty and graduate students who are currently spread across multiple floors of multiple buildings.
An interdisciplinary symposium hosted this week by the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies aims to facilitate conversation and collaboration between scholars from the United States and Italy who are researching issues related to immigration. “Transnational Migration in Comparative Perspective: Italy and the United States” offers the chance for academics to learn from one another about immigration experiences and discuss ways that research can better inform policymakers.
Undergraduate research projects are transformed from broad ideas to focused realities in International Research Design, a new course in the Department of Sociology developed by Erin Metz McDonnell. Offered for the first time this spring, the class covered the fundamental elements of an international research project, from conception to execution.