The award from the Luksic Family Collaboration Grants Program, enabled me and a new generation of scholars to solidify the academic institutional, and personal bridges between the University of Notre Dame (UND) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC). The award-winning project entitled “University and Catholicism: Memory Studies as a Project of Cultural Politics” was extremely successful and included several enriching events.
A good project has the potential to ignite endless possibilities and to create as well as to solidify many perennial bridges around the world.”
During the fall semester of 2017, Professor Cristián Opazo (PUC) and I (UND) held a joint graduate seminar on university, Catholicism, the humanities and the market. We communicated every Thursday through Skype with Professor Opazo (PUC) and Cathy Brix (UND), who was doing a field research for her dissertation on memory studies after the Chilean military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet with a prestigious award from the Fulbright Fellowship (2016-17) in Chile. Originally, the seminar was going to have three students from ND. However, the interest aroused by the subject among graduate students in the program of Latin American literatures and cultures was and is much greater than expected and a postdoctoral fellow, Santiago Quintero, and an advanced PhD student, Luis Bravo joined us. The seminar was a resounding success. We invited the following scholars and colleagues to discuss some of the readings of the seminar. With John McGreevy, O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History, we discussed his enlightening book on the American Jesuits, American Jesuits and the World: How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global (2016); Ted Beatty, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the Keough School of Global Affairs, gave us the opportunity to talk about the newest school at Notre Dame, the School of Global Affairs; and Vittorio Hössle, the Paul Kimball Professor of Art and Letters, Professor of German Literature, Professor of Philosophy and of Political Sciences, shared with us his book The Idea of the University Facing the Challenges of the Twenty First Century in its Spanish version. The seminar not only received the highest scores in the students’ evaluation, which at UND are extremely rigorous, but also all the participants have been recognized as scholars and teachers. Santiago Quintero is now an Assistant Professor at Furman University; Luis Bravo received the most prestigious award in the humanities from UND, the Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Award in the Humanities (2019), for his brilliant doctoral dissertation on the Uruguayan artist and murdered student activist Ibero Gutiérrez, written under my direction, and his outstanding performance in the program, and is now an Associate Professor in the Universidad de Montevideo and Instituto de Profesores Artigas, Uruguay; Cathy Brix defended her dissertation, also written under my direction, with praise from the members of her committee and received the most prestigious teaching award of the UND (2019); Ruth Solarte, who has completed her second year of the doctoral program, received a prestigious teaching award from the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning, UND (2019), and Kathleen McDonald, the youngest member of the group, a BA/MA student in the program of Iberian and Latin American Studies, will begin her law career in one of the most prestigious schools in the country.
In April 2018, Professor Cristián Opazo, PUC, came to UND and gave a public lecture entitled “Humanities on the Edge: The Chilean Experience,” which was extremely well received. Professor Opazo’s visit to UND gave us the opportunity to start the first steps in a new exchange program at the doctoral level between our students and professors in the Ph.D. in Spanish and the students and professors of the College of Letters, PUC.
In June 2018, the UND group went to the PUC, where we held a workshop on the topic of the seminar and the graduate students shared their projects, which began in their research essays for the seminar, with people from PUC. In that opportunity, I gave a keynote address on University and Catholicism. The success of these events awoke the interest of Marisol Vera, the editor of the prestigious academic publishing house Cuarto Propio, who invited us to publish our findings with them. Now, and after an exciting and well-attended panel entitled “El (no)lugar de las humanidades en las universidades de las Américas” [“The (No)Place of the Humanities in the Universities of the Americas”], organized by Professor Opazo and I, and whose panelists were the UND participants in the original seminar, which was part of the 2019 Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), Boston. Professor Opazo and I are editing the book, Universities, Catholicism, and Globalization across the Americas (Cuarto Propio, forthcoming).
A good project has the potential to ignite endless possibilities and to create as well as to solidify many perennial bridges around the world, touching many people interested in the betterment of humanity. However, the financial support of generous people like the Luksic family, is absolutely necessary to make those projects a reality. Thank you!