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Panel encourages reform of civil society

first_imgPartisan politics went under the microscope Monday evening as the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) hosted the first event in a series of seminars, titled “From Battleground to Common Ground,” featuring an interdisciplinary analysis of the state of American political discourse. Rosie McDowell, director of International Community-Based Learning Outreach at the CSC and organizer of the discussion panel said the CSC wants to focus its efforts this year on encouraging civic engagement. “The CSC theme for the year urges active participation in civil society according to individual talents, visions and vocations,” McDowell said. English professor John Duffy said American civil society is in a state of crisis. “We are at a time in our public discourse where there is no agreement on fact, no criteria for expression of language, how to govern or decide what is appropriate or how to use similes, metaphors and other figures of speech,” Duffy said.  “Nor do we save a place for deliberative discourse, where participants can acknowledge uncertainty and that they might be wrong … Instead what we see are assertions and counter-assertions hurled back and forth – that is what I consider the crisis of public argument.” Duffy said the public discourse has created a charged atmosphere. “Toxic public rhetoric is a fact of everyday life,” Duffy said.  “It is a form of entertainment, it is a corporate product that is bought and sold.” Political science and peace studies professor David Philpott said this toxicity is emblematic of the increased polarization in American politics. “Polarization technically does not mean nastiness, it means that opinions are distributed far to the left and to the right,” Philopott said.  “Whatever [explanation] one likes, it is clear that our political discourse has gotten nastier and far more mean spirited.” Philpott said clearly drawing the line between religion and politics has become only more complicated in the modern civil discourse. “Much liberal enlightenment is premised on the idea that good politics is secular politics … and making an appeal to religion is problematic,” Philpott said.  “But, secularism can be highly divisive as well; nastiness is hardly confined to the religious, it’s found among religious and secular alike.” In this atmosphere, the challenge to maintain an open mind has only intensified, Philpott said. “Another proposal is to maintain a healthy sense of doubt and skepticism… too often the virtue of doubt is made only to the position the recommender does not find persuasive, not to the recommender’s own position,” Philpott said. Margaret Pfeil, professor of theology, said Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris suggests a framework capable of building a more balanced discourse.  This document reflects the attitudes Pope John XXIII exhibited during his lifetime, she said. “Pope John XXIII acted as an intermediary speaking with both [former leader of the Soviet Union Nikita] Khrushchev and the Kennedy administration during the height of the conflict,” Pfeil said.  “In this situation he gave primary importance to the dignity of each person involved rather than to the ideological issues at stake … this enabled him to win even Khrushchev’s trust because Khrushchev knew that he respected the dignity of all of the Soviet citizens, of all the citizens of the world.” This universal respect allows for cross-factional discourse, she said. “John XXIII’s appeal to peace through respect for human dignity offers room for common dialogue … it might be asked whose voices are heard [in the dialogue], and if there are elements of truth and participation in determining the common good,” Pfeil said.  “This is something to consider as we mark the anniversary of September 11th [Tuesday], what it would look like for love to reign instead of fear.” Philpott said acknowledgement of universal dignity will be a necessary component to any solution. “The broader restoration of the right relationship requires the struggle that respects the dignity of the opponent and seeks to find what is right to her own position, to perhaps amount to a fuller synthesis of justice,” Philpott said. A less caustic political climate will develop when the rhetoric used to engage politically changes, Duffy said.  “I think virtuous discourse has to start in other settings … our politics are so deeply compromised that this will not be possible until there is a popular movement for a better kind of language, and until we model that language we won’t get it from the people who inhabit our public spaces,” Duffy said. Educators and students are responsible for modeling this type of ethical discourse, Duffy said. “In a sense this is a very deep existential crisis that we have, that there is no agreement on fact … this is something we have to work at,” Duffy said. “I was once bemoaning to myself that I don’t know if this was possible or not, but my wife said you wouldn’t be in education if you really believed that.  I think education is where you begin, we need to look very hard at the way we understand our communicative practices.” Duffy said the Notre Dame community is the perfect place to enact this change. “Our task is to pursue knowledge, to ask deep questions,” Duffy said.  “We live a life not all that different from the students in Plato’s academy: incredibly privileged.  The change has to come from people like us who have these opportunities and the capacity to share and spread them.”   Contact Nicole Michels at nmichels@nd.edulast_img read more


Saint Mary’s graduates to enter workforce, volunteer

first_imgSaint Mary’s Office of Institutional Research conducted the annual Graduation Destination survey to chart the different paths undergraduates pursue after graduating from the College. As of May, the survey concluded that 57 percent of respondents will pursue employment, 38 percent will enroll in a graduate school, 10 percent will pursue externships or internships, 6 percent will involve themselves with voluntary service and 3 percent will join the military.Lauren Weldon | The Observer Stacie Jeffirs, director of the Career Crossings Office, said percentages from the survey do not change much over the years, with the post-graduation employment category usually having the highest percentage of students. She said graduate school enrollment also sees a high volume of post-graduates. “Most of our graduating students go into job fields, as career is the number one choice for students,” she said. “High up there, too, is graduate school. Our numbers will range from year to year, but typically, we have an upwards of 25-30 percent that go on to graduate school.”Other students choose to join service-oriented organizations or the military, according to Jeffirs.“Then we also have students who go into service and volunteering, like Peace Corps or Teach for America,” she said. “We also have a small percentage serving in the military, like ROTC students at Notre Dame. And then a small percentage of students who do something different like travel or go back abroad.”Jeffirs said surveys are also conducted at one year and five year intervals after graduation. “We also do one-year and five-year surveys to see where the alumnae are and how they feel like the Saint Mary’s education prepared them for the future,” she said. “We always ask questions about whether or not they think their current job is a career path for them, or a stepping stone into a career or just a job to get them by. By far, most graduates say their current job is a career path or stepping stone towards a career.”Jeffirs said deciding what to do after graduation forces students to consider what values are meaningful to them.“A lot of our decisions are driven by values and what’s important to us,” she said. “What do we see as our mission?”Senior Clare McMillan said her mission is to serve with the Olancho Aid Foundation — an organization that helps children maintain their bilingual education. McMillan said Saint Mary’s and the Career Crossings Office helped her to discover this opportunity. “My education at Saint Mary’s had opened my perspective to the global community,” she said. “During my four years here, I have come to understand the importance of serving those in need, and that is why I will be traveling to Juticalpa, Honduras this summer and serving with the Olancho Aid Foundation.”McMillan said she envisions her commitment to the Olancho Aid Foundation enduring over time, since she will embrace the opportunity to make valuable differences in students’ lives.“One of the goals of this foundation is to provide a moral framework for students, enabling them to overcome challenges in their community,” she said. “I am choosing to serve with the Olancho Aid Foundation because it provides a faith-based environment, which promotes education and hope for the future — two values that I also hold in high regard. It is a seven-week commitment that I hope to continue participating in for years to come.”Senior Mary Gring plans to attend graduate school at Columbia College Chicago. “I chose to attend graduate school because I really wasn’t ready to be done with school,” she said. “I love school, I love learning and I felt as though I had a lot more to learn, especially in my discipline.”Gring will be pursuing a Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media. “I love art, specifically video art, but I love that the program allows me to explore other areas of art and other disciplines, too,” she said. “If I want to grow as an artist, as a professional and as an individual, I think being in a program that allows for exploration would help me do that most effectively.” Gring said Saint Mary’s helped her decide to continue her education. “Saint Mary’s professors helped a lot in my decision to pursue graduate school,” Gring said. “My professors helped me narrow down programs I might be interested in, assisted me in writing strong statements of purpose and provided me with letters of recommendation. The Saint Mary’s community encourages all Belles to know more. It’s an environment that fosters exploration.”Senior Isabela Hudson said she decided to enter the Peace Corps after graduation, since Saint Mary’s helped her discover her love for traveling and assisting others.“I will be going to the Peace Corps to serve in Botswana,” she said, “I will be placed in a health facility to address the public health and HIV/AIDS needs of the community and be focused on delivering HIV prevention, treatment and care.” Hudson said Saint Mary’s strengthens students’ passions and gives them outlets to express those passions.“Saint Mary’s gave me the chance to grow in my experiences to strengthen my love for service,” she said. “The College gave me the chance to participate in the Uganda practicum, where I worked at the Sisters of the Holy Cross’s clinic. Saint Mary’s also provided me with the education and love for nursing. I cannot wait to put in practice what Saint Mary’s has taught me during my service in Botswana.” It may be hard for graduating seniors to plan for the future, but it is important for them to keep their interests in mind, Jeffirs said.“It’s hard to plan too far into the future in terms of what to do after graduation,” she said. “It’s important that [graduates] carefully consider their interests, what they would like to do in the future and what, in the next couple years, is going to help get them there. It doesn’t always have to be career-related necessarily, but it could be a job or position that will help give them some experience.” Jeffirs said career discernment does not have to be an arduous process.“If they’re not entirely sure what they want to do, they can look at what positions they might be happiest in, a job or even a service project, because service is a really great way to discern what your interests are and what you would like to do in the future and  it looks great on a resume,” Jeffirs said.Career Crossings provides graduate with services, career advice, post graduation mapping, information, mock interviews and resume assistance.“All the services we provide to students when they are students here at Saint Mary’s are also provided to them after they graduate, indefinitely,” she said. “We do provide lifetime services for alumni, so as students graduate — even if it’s right after graduation — if they need assistance, we’re available.”Jeffirs said it is never too late for students to start planning for the future. “Students have to start planning for post-graduation early because there are stepping stones and baby steps to get to there,” she said. “It’s a process.” The Career Crossings Office maintains normal office hours throughout the summer months to provide information and guidance to graduates and proactive rising seniors, Jeffirs said. “We keep regular hours during the summer,” she said. “Even if [the student is] not in the area, I do email, phone calls and Skype calls to talk and help them.”Jeffirs said no matter what a student decides, the future beyond college graduation is an exciting time full of new opportunities. “That next step after graduation is exciting no matter what a student is doing,” she said. “Even if you  don’t have it all figured out just yet, this is just the very beginning into the future.” Tags: 2017 commencement, Career crossings, Olancho Aid Foundation, Peace Corpslast_img read more


Bulldogs Wrestling Results

first_imgBHS Wrestling vs. Jennings County results from November 22.The Batesville High School wrestling team traveled to Jennings County to face off for their 6th dual meet of the season.  The Bulldogs started the night with a great win from freshman Caleb Bischoff-Niese in the 106lb class.  Niese won by a 11-7 decision over Teagan Johnson earning three team points for the Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs next win came from the final match of the night from senior Jon Kurtz in the 220lb class.  Kurtz defeated Dakota Pearson by 11-9 earning the final three points of the night for the Bulldogs.  The night ended with the Panthers on top of the Bulldogs 72-6.  The Bulldogs season record drops to 2-4.Additional Varsity wrestlers competing for the Bulldogs included: JT Linkel, Jonah Chase, Jon Vincent, Ethan Meyer, Chris Schene, Drew McLeod, Axel Garcia, and Drew Garbarini.  Varsity wrestlers Michael Deal, Jackson Wooldridge, and Abram Garcia were sidelined for the evening but will be back for the upcoming match against Madison.  Not having these wrestlers in the lineup was a huge disadvantage for the Bulldogs but gave some of our freshman replacing them a good taste of varsity wrestling.  The experience they gained will benefit them all as the season moves forward.Reserve Wrestlers competing for the Bulldogs include a lineup of four freshman: Mason Green, Nick Nobbe, Malachi Kirby, and Conner Batchelor.Courtesy of Bulldogs Coach Chris Deal.last_img read more