Notre Dame announces leadership for new strategic initiatives on democracy, ethics, and poverty

Author: Kate Garry

Following the recent launch of the University of Notre Dame’s Strategic Framework, Provost John T. McGreevy this week announced the first three strategic initiatives emerging from that plan: Democracy, Ethics, and Poverty.

“Now the work begins to realize our ambitious vision for Notre Dame, said McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost. “These three University-led initiatives will be campuswide, building on existing strengths and encouraging the kind of institutional collaboration Notre Dame needs to reach its full potential and respond to some of the most complex challenges facing society today.”

Each initiative will be led by a faculty director, who will work closely with David Go, vice president and associate provost for academic strategy, and an executive committee that will include deans, center and institute directors, department chairs, and faculty experts. The faculty serving as strategic initiative directors were appointed to five-year terms beginning Sept. 1, 2023.

David Campbell Square

David Campbell, the Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy, will lead the new Notre Dame Democracy Initiative, a project to establish Notre Dame as a global leader in the study of democracy, a convenor for conversation about and actions to preserve democracy, and a model for the formation of civically engaged citizens and public servants. This initiative will connect research, education, and policy work across multiple units, including (but not limited to) the Department of Political Science, the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy, and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, which has long been a leader in scholarship on democracy in Latin America. It will also extend beyond Notre Dame’s campus to Washington, D.C., closely connecting Notre Dame’s voice and work to policymakers and federal agencies.

Meghan Sullivan Square

Meghan Sullivan, the Wilsey Family Collegiate Professor of Philosophy and director of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS), will direct the Notre Dame Ethics Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to make Notre Dame a preeminent global destination for the study of ethics, offering rigorous training for future generations of ethicists and moral leaders, a platform for engagement of the Catholic moral tradition with other modes of inquiry, and an opportunity to forge insights into some of the most significant ethical issues of our time. This initiative will connect and amplify the work of many units, including NDIAS, the Departments of Theology and Philosophy, and ethics centers across the campus focusing on different areas, including applied subjects such as business, environmental, and technology ethics and the ethics of development.

James Sullivan

James Sullivan, professor of economics and director of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, will direct the Notre Dame Poverty Initiative. The initiative will establish Notre Dame as a premier university for poverty-related research, student formation, and policy and program impact. This University-wide effort will bring together academic units that focus on poverty-related activities, including the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, the Pulte Institute for Global Development, and several departments, as well as students, faculty, and programs across campus that are involved in the fight against poverty.

These initiatives all emerged from the most faculty-led strategic planning process in Notre Dame’s history. This process included the 107 proposals involving more than 700 unique faculty that were developed as part of the Moment to See, Courage to Act initiative, as well as discussions among the deans, members of the President’s Leadership Council, and executive officers. Democracy came directly out of Moment to See, Courage to Act. Poverty became the focus of one of the University-wide theme advisory committees that informed the Strategic Framework. Ethics was identified as an important priority by the Opportunities for Excellence theme advisory committee.

“These three initiatives are only a first step,” McGreevy said in a Sept. 6 message to campus. “As the Strategic Framework implementation gets underway, faculty, staff, and students will have opportunities to engage with multiple college and school initiatives linked to the framework, as well as initiatives begun at the University level. I am grateful to the deans of the colleges and schools for their participation in and leadership of this effort, to David Go for guiding this first phase, and to Dave, Meghan, and Jim for taking on the particular challenge of launching new initiatives. 

“I hope you will join me in congratulating these colleagues on their new roles and for their willingness to advance our shared vision as the world’s leading global Catholic research university.”

Originally published by Kate Garry at on September 07, 2023.