Intellectual Life

Intellectual Life

The University of Notre Dame offers distinctive intellectual preparation, opportunities, and mentoring to all of its undergraduates. Notre Dame Scholars receive the following additional opportunities to further develop their outstanding leadership skills and personal attributes.

First-Year Course in Ethical Leadership

All Notre Dame Scholars are required to participate in a yearlong one-credit course in Ethical Leadership, a lecture and discussion series on the meaning of ethical leadership in various fields and the intellectual relationship between interdisciplinary scholarship and effective public service. It features distinguished guest speakers from the University, senior merit scholars, the broader academy, and the local community, and is one of the many ways in which Notre Dame encourages its undergraduate scholars to become interdisciplinary thinkers and collaborative leaders across their diverse fields of study.

In the course, scholars develop critical thinking and public speaking skills as they reflect on some of the most pressing problems and challenges of our time. The specific topics chosen for discussion – civic engagement and renewal, wealth disparity, inequality, environmental degradation, global health, international development, etc. - often have a local as well as a global dimension. The course also includes “public service immersion” trips to organizations in the local community to learn about civic engagement, research, and internship opportunities.

Scholars complete assigned readings in advance of each lecture. Ideas and views discussed in the lecture series serve as stimuli or points of departure for the service initiatives and research projects that merit scholars typically undertake during their four years in their programs. As part of the course, scholars will complete a community service project with a small team.

Faculty Mentoring

The Notre Dame Scholars' Program also facilitates mentoring relationships between scholars and faculty members in their area of academic interest. Each mentoring relationship is unique to the individual student and faculty mentor relationship, which is excellent preparation for the sort of intellectual partnership that occurs as students develop senior, master's level, and doctoral theses. Scholars develop expertise in their intended fields of study by preparing literature reviews, engaging in one-on-one conversations, and assisting with data collection, analysis, and manuscript development.

All-Scholar Forums

Each month, current scholars gather in the Lounge, enjoy dinner together, and present their research, service, and internship experiences. These informal talks develop presenters' communication skills and provide helpful opportunities for peer mentoring and networking.