Thinking with Newman: Educating with Intention Today – Realizing the University Today

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Featured Speakers: 

  • Rev. Gary Chamberland, C.S.C., Director of the Notre Dame  Newman Centre for Faith and Reason
  • Kevin Whelan, Michael Smurfit Director of the Notre Dame Dublin Global Gateway
  •  Professor Dáire Keogh, President of Dublin City University
  • Dr. Thomas Greene, University of Portland Provost Emeritus 
  • Rachel Ingal, Notre Dame Student Body President

In the final event of the Thinking with Newman series, Rev. Gary Chamberland, C.S.C., and Kevin Whelan joined special guest speakers Professor Dáire Keogh, Dr. Thomas Greene, and Notre Dame Student Body President Rachel Ingal in a discussion about the practical challenges of implementing Newman’s vision of the university in the context of the modern world.

The first question in the discussion was for Keogh and asked him to describe the difficulties his university faced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keogh responded that the crisis tested the strategic plan of the university and its mission to educate students even through challenges. A follow-up question was asked about what the “new normal” is in higher education. Keogh hoped that universities wouldn’t go back to the old normal, instead, that universities would continue the positives they found in the pandemic. Many new discoveries about education were made during the pandemic, some good and some bad. Universities can take the hybrid approach and learn from what went well and what did not for the future. What Keogh noticed most was that students missed real human interaction during the pandemic. 

The moderators then turned to Greene and asked how he uses Newman’s teaching at the University of Portland. Greene said he tries to emphasize experiential learning, internship opportunities, and faculty-student research opportunities to give students more hands-on experience rather than just lectures and exams.

Rachel Ingal offered her own perspectives as student body president at Notre Dame. Ingal was drawn to Notre Dame originally because its student population is very service-minded and high-achieving. Serving for a higher purpose was one of the reasons she chose Notre Dame over other universities. When Whelan and Fr. Chamberland asked Ingal to describe what it is like to be a student at Notre dame during the pandemic, she said the experience is quite different from any other. However, Notre Dame made strides in becoming more adaptable, flexible, and resilient. She believed the biggest challenges were feeling academically burned out with no fall or spring breaks and less social interaction with her peers. Through all these challenges, Ingal still felt like Notre Dame prepared her and taught her how to be a global servant. Her Notre Dame experience unlocked doors for her through internships, service, and other experiences to lead her to where she is now.

A member of the audience asked which courses of studies have flourished in higher education during the pandemic. Greene said that nursing science and education had thrived. The pandemic illustrated the disparities in health care and education and hopefully students will learn ways to close those gaps.

Ingal was asked how Notre Dame helped her feel like a lifelong learner. Ingal believed that education goes far beyond the formal classroom, which is why her opportunities to serve others in a hands-on way has helped her discover her lifelong love of learning. 

Visit the event page for more.

Key Takeaways and Time Stamps

  • Crises like the pandemic have tested universities’ strategic plans and missions, (6:40).
  • Humans need social interaction. University students will want more interaction than less after the pandemic, (9:30).
  • Notre Dame teaches students to be lifelong learners and global servants, (37:00).
  • Since the pandemic, we’ve learned a great deal about the equity gaps in education, (50:00).
  • Education does not just occur in the formal classroom, but outside the classroom as well, (52:00).

Key Quotes and Time Stamps

  • “The crisis actually tests the strategic plan and ambitions. The place where strategic plans and mission statements actually come into play is in the crisis. Institutions can bend, buckle, or blossom in crisis.” — Daire Keogh, 6:50
  • “Young people particularly crave human interaction. They are incredibly social, and I think that ultimately, when we come out of this, students will want more in terms of engagement rather than less.” — Daire Keogh, 9:30
  • “Where real education takes place is in formation rather than information.” — Daire Keogh, 11:28
  • “Notre Dame is made Notre Dame by the people. I think what was so compelling to me was the opportunity to interact with a lot of different students who had a heart for service.” — Rachel Ingal, 28:51

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