SJU Junior Selected to Attend Notre Dame's Erasmus Institute

Monday, May 19, 2008

Junior psychology major Edward O'Brien is not interested in the average college experience. His hard work on Hawk Hill has landed him a slot at the Erasmus Institute summer program at the University of Notre Dame this summer. The Cherry Hill, N.J., native is one of only 12 students selected through a competitive application process from applicants throughout the country. For two weeks in June, O'Brien will be a participant in the seminar "Humanities and the Social Sciences," designed for undergraduates who are considering graduate school and an academic vocation. Led by Brad Gregory, Ph.D., associate professor of history at Notre Dame, it is designed to introduce students to major contemporary trends in disciplines in both the humanities and social sciences. In addition, each Erasmus seminar student receives travel expenses, room, board and a $500 stipend.

"I was drawn to the Erasmus Institute because it offers an opportunity to stop and reflect on the bigger questions about what I'm learning in school," said O'Brien. "So much of college is routine - taking similar classes, writing similar papers, cramming for tests, etc. The Erasmus Institute will allow me to really reflect on the college experience, and to remember why learning is important."

According to O'Brien, the Erasmus Institute speaks to the Jesuit ideal of educating the whole person. O'Brien learned about the Jesuits even before coming to SJU. He attended St. Joseph's Preparatory School and decided he wanted to continue an education rooted in the Ignatian tradition.

"I am most looking forward to meeting other students from all across the country who have a similar outlook on education," O'Brien added. "I feel incredibly lucky to be able to discuss relevant issues on topics like history, philosophy and psychology with undergraduates from all backgrounds with different ideas to bring to the table."

The Erasmus Institute exists to enhance the role of Catholic intellectual traditions in contemporary scholarship through programs including residential postdoctoral fellowships, summer seminars for undergraduates aspiring to graduate school, an annual lecture series, conferences and publications.

Established in 1997 and named after the 16th-century Catholic scholar and reformer, the Erasmus Institute furthers the University of Notre Dame's pursuit of the often-unexpected implications of Catholic intellectual traditions for human learning. Funding for the Erasmus Institute comes from the generosity of an anonymous donor, the William J. Carey Endowment and the University of Notre Dame.

--Kelly Welsh '05 (M.A.)

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