Villanova History Department inducts 2014 Phi Alpha Theta members

Sunday, November 9th may have seemed the same as any other around the Villanova campus, but a short jaunt away something special was occurring at the Overbrook Golf Course. That’s where the History Department celebrated the induction of new members into the Tau Phi Chapter of the national history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta. Sixteen undergraduates and one MA grad student joined the illustrious rank of scholars at this delightful brunch event (11 additional undergrads, and 2 additional MA grad students were unable to attend).

Craig Bailey, Ph.D. featured as the introduction speaker, kicking off a ceremony which included individual recognition for exceptional achievements. Caitlin Flessate was awarded the Procko Prize for best undergraduate paper, and Shane Sprandio was awarded the Carroll prize for best graduate paper. In addition, the Richard Bates Memorial Award for Outstanding Service was granted to Mary Katherine Hickey (who could not attend the event).

Photos from this tremendous event were provided by Dr. Rebecca Winer:

PAT inductees.JPG Dr. Winer with student and parents Dr. Rosier with parents

Center for Peace and Justice Spring ’15 course offerings

The Villanova Center for Peace and Justice has kindly shared the full listing of their Spring 2015 course offerings with us, for perusal during the coming class selection window. For those so inclined, you can view their full offerings at this link: Peace and Justice Spring 2015 Courses.

Discovering New Possibilities at a Wonderfully Familiar Place

Discovering New Possibilities at a Wonderfully Familiar Place
By Kate Szumanski

While the old adage, “You can never go home again,” rings with truth, we convince ourselves otherwise. We say, “Yes, I can go back home, and everything that I left will be exactly the same when I return.” Somehow our memories freeze our past experiences in standstill motion, creating nostalgic feelings that comfort us in challenging times and reassure us when the frenzied pace of life overwhelms us.

But reality quickly sets in and thaws our frozen thoughts. The neat applecart is disrupted. Situations change. People change. Things change. We change. The one constant is change. And this is how it should be.

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University, and in the Office of Undergraduate Students, we teach our students to be adaptable, nimble, and flexible students and professionals who embrace change and progress. While it’s tempting to reject change, it’s important to view it as a positive force, an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover in ourselves what we hadn’t already known. We want our students to explore, experience, and evolve. Heck, it’s our tagline after all.

We want our students to realize their full potential, to discover their passions and to pursue them with relentless determination. Maybe it’s through an internship. Maybe it’s through a professional development course. Maybe it’s through one of our many professional development events. Discovering who you are and what your impact can be should help define your Villanova journey.

explore.  experience.  evolve.

Changes come in many shapes, sizes, and settings. Two years ago, I left the University to pursue new opportunities with my family in central Ohio. The experience taught my husband and children valuable life lessons, and after a year in the Midwest, we decided to return to the Philadelphia area to live closer to our loved ones.

We’ve changed. We’re different. Our worldview has widened, too. And these are all great things. Have we returned home? Yes, we have, sort of. We bring all that we’ve learned and experienced to our new adventures – to a new home that’s been reshaped by who and what we’ve become. While you truly can never go home again, you certainly can return to that deeply meaningful and familiar place with new eyes, wider vision, and, we hope, bigger and better ideas.

Working with students to help them realize their full potential as educated, responsible, and socially-conscious young professionals is a wonderful experience for me. The opportunity to contribute powerfully to current students at my Alma Mater not only is incredibly rewarding, but also incredibly humbling. A Villanova education is a gift that never goes away. It will live with you forever.

I encourage students to visit the Office for Undergraduate Students in SAC 107 often. Discover who you are and who you are meant to be. Let our office of dedicated professionals help you on your journey of discovery.

And when you graduate, your Villanova education lives on, never to be frozen in time but to forever evolve.

(Can you come home again? Sure, that’s what Homecoming is all about. Just know that campus will be different. You will be different. And that’s OK. It’s better than OK. It’s terrific.)

Kate Szumanski, ’95, ’97, is the associate director for experiential education in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Follow her on Twitter @KateSzumanski.    

Why History?

An essay by Jennifer Burns, Assistant Professor of History, Stanford University.

As a history professor, I hope students love my classes so much they decide to declare a major or minor ithe subject. Yet if I succeed, I know my students will hear the inevitable question: “History, huh. What are you gonna do with that?” So I suggest three ways they might respond: a simple answer, a complicated answer and a philosophical answer.

The simple answer is that history majors have a proven track record of success in any number of fields, and make excellent lawyers, consultants, business owners, policy makers, corporate executives and so forth. To study history is to train the mind to assimilate information, recognize patterns and make judgments about what is most important.  Each lecture, I explain, I will throw a huge amount of information at my students: dates, faces, names of legislation, battles, books economic statistics, etc. Their job will be to sort through this overload and use it to construct meaningful arguments about what mattered most, and why. I will teach them to question their sources, so they are not blind consumers of dubious Internet wisdom. And I will test them on their ability to assess, evaluate and construct interpretations of the past.

All of these skills translate directly into professional competencies. Would you like to be a diplomat? I ask. If you get through the first Foreign Service examwhich will be full of questions about global history and geographyyou will be placed in a room with a huge stack of reports, and will have a few hours to reduce these hundreds of pages to a concise several pages. If youve taken a history course, you will already have done this for the research paper and final exam. Do you want to go into business, be a consultant or an analyst? Again, you’re going to find yourself with a stack of reports, or an entire industry to research and a summary due. And youll be promoted based on the boss believing she or he can trust you to have selected out the most important information, overlooking nothing relevant, yet presenting it all in a pithy and readable format.

All the data are clear on this point: history majors earn comfortable salaries, with most closing the gap with professional majors by peak earning years. History majors are actually more likely get into medical school than science majors. And they emerge as leaders in their fields because they are comfortable with the bigpicture thinking and long-term vision that the study of history cultivates.

Not sure what kind of job you want? This is where the more complicated answer comes in, for a history major is training for jobs that do not yet exist. The simple fact is that most Stanford students will end up crafting their own roles and responsibilities in the workplace, rather than fitting themselves in like cogs to a machine. To do this, theyll need boldness, creativity and imagination. And they can foster those habits of mind and being by thinking deeply about change, continuity and the radical instability of the present moment.

Studying history underscores the way the future unfolds out of the past. It teaches students to sense possibilities where they cant yet be seen, and in so doing makes it possible to chart a path into the unknown. Looking at history, you’ll understand how new industries emerge and will be able to craft a career path that intersects with the emerging economy of tomorrow.

History also teaches students to appreciate and navigate complexity and change. Studying the past helps students develop judgment, for it puts before them a panoply of human folly and achievement that can help guide them in unfamiliar terrain. Young people learn that the best laid plans often go awry; that human emotions can prove the driving force of history; that unintended consequences are the rule more than the exception; and that injustice is both real and terrible and can be changed by the actions of a dedicated few. All of this creates a supple intellect that can respond to new situations with ease, confidence, and creativity. And it is superb preparation for the customized careers students will craft out of an unknown future.

And then there is the philosophical answer to “why history?”: that historical knowledge is a good unto itself, and we dont need to “do” anything with it, other than to use it to see the world in a different way, to appreciate its richness and variety. That is particularly true in courses on modern America, where we do a slow slide into the present. In the last few weeks of the course, I tell students, things will start looking more and more familiar. But they will also look different, because now they’ll know where everyday features of the presentfrom the vote to the personal computer—came from, and thus understand their true meaning and significance.

I turn to T.S. Eliot for a concluding coda:

We shall never cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

In the end, then, history responds to that ancient Greek injunction, gnothi seauton:know thyselfIt also embodies the original impulse of the humanities, Geistewissenschaften, or spiritual studies. For it is only with self-knowledge that we can become conscious, moral, and purposive actors in our own lives.  And only by knowing ourselves can we hope to change the world.

Morgan Stanley University Photo Competition 2014 – Deadline 3/3/14

Share your unique creative perspective and submit your photos for a chance to win. The focus of this year’s competition is Sustainability. We encourage you to submit up to two photos that portray what sustainability means to you. As a firm, we are committed to advancing environmental sustainability and social responsibility through our work with clients, partners and in our communities, but what does sustainability look like through your eyes? For more information on sustainability, visit:

The winners will receive the following prizes:

— 1st Prize: iPad mini, 16GB

— 2nd Prize: US $150 or equivalent local currency in Amazon vouchers

— 3rd Prize: US $100 or equivalent local currency in Amazon vouchers

For additional information:

If you have questions, please contact:

Exploring Sacred Spaces with Sister Helen David Brancato

Art enlivens the human condition, illuminating the vast depth of human potential whilst simultaneously granting pent angst license to evoke a palette of emotions. Sometimes the end goal is a more forward one; to convey the importance of humble simplicity and the happiness found therein. This is the genesis of an art exhibition assembled by Villanova’s own Sister Helen David Brancato, which itself is inspired by her book (coauthored with Evelyn Mattern) Ordinary Places, Sacred Spaces.

Ordinary Places, Sacred Spaces is a celebration of grace inherent in our surroundings, told through poetry, art, and prose. The art exhibit it inspired (installed at Doylestown Presbyterian Church) takes the form of twenty five paintings, ordered to evoke feelings of thoughtful awareness. “Attitude can convert the humblest of places” Sister Helen informed me. “This is a very autobiographical show for me. People that know me will see the beats of my life in the show’s meaning, and those who don’t yet know me, will.”

The opening painting in particular holds special meaning for Sister Helen. It depicts a tree which was struck by lightning, yet manages to endure and thrive. This image of perseverance in the face of hardship is representative of her time spent at the Southwest Center (14 years), organizing “quilting parties” for the poor. This simple, yet inclusive activity worked to build both a sense of community and sense of self worth for those taking part.

More than anything, Sister Helen hopes that students will visit the exhibit so they can “explore the theme and realize that the simplest space can be a meaningful part of their lives”. Her exhibit is located at Doylestown Presbyterian Church, 127 E. Court St. Doylestown, PA 18901, and runs through December 29th.

If you have questions, contact sister Helen at or visit her office located at SAC 221.