Moment to See, Courage to Act


The past year has astonished us time and again in so many different ways. Buffeted by a global pandemic, a nationwide reckoning over racial justice, an election that underscored the country’s political divides, the peddling of misinformation to sow distrust in science and government, major fires across the Western U.S., the growing impacts of global climate change—and, yes, even murder hornets—we have been confronted with profound challenges from every direction. 

And the reality of course is that the challenges will likely continue. We can end up wherever these challenges toss us. Alternatively, we can decide to steady ourselves and make clear and conscious decisions about where we want to go as individuals and as a community. We have a moment to see—to reflect, to learn, and to become better as individuals and stronger as a University because of those challenges. If we’re going to do that, we have to do more than see. We need the courage to act—to chart a new, deliberate, and ambitious course.

As we look ahead to updating and refreshing the University’s strategic plan next year, we want faculty to consider our aspirations as an academic community. Moment to See, Courage to Act is a means to do that.

Readings and Discussion Groups
3-Minute Lightning Talks
Phase 3: Transformative Ideas

Readings and Discussion Groups

Moment to See, Courage to Act formally began with a series of 18 small group discussions focused on three short foundational readings:

Download the Discussion Guide and Readings

All discussion groups have now met. We thank all the faculty and facilitators who participated. You can also read about the major themes/topics that emerged from the faculty discussion sessions.

3-Minute Lightning Talks

Laura Hollis, teaching professor of accountancy, holds a meeting over Zoom

The above readings and discussion groups brought faculty together to think about the challenges facing our community, our country, and our world during this unique moment to see.

The next step was to get to know each other’s work better to encourage the kind of interdisciplinary exploration that will allow us to act on these challenges, whether individually, collaboratively with colleagues, or collectively as a University through the strategic planning process.

In April and May 2021, Notre Dame faculty were invited to share their research, scholarship, or creative work with Provost Miranda and others (over Zoom) by giving a 3-minute “lightning talk.”

All 10 lightning talk sessions featured multiple faculty each giving their own 3-minute presentation. Presenters were asked to highlight, in broad terms, three main points:

  • The focus of their work
  • Why that work is important
  • One recent finding or project that they are particularly excited about

The lightning talks have wrapped up, but you can:

Watch Lightning Talk Videos

Phase 3: Transformative Ideas

In fall 2021, we will undertake Phase 3 of Moment to See, Courage to Act, which is designed to elicit, directly from the faculty, creative and innovative ideas for energizing Notre Dame’s future. We are interested in faculty thought on the following question as it relates to our educational and/or research enterprises:

What big endeavors should Notre Dame undertake?

We invite faculty to come together in teams in a completely open-ended way to answer this question—without worrying about budget issues or logistical difficulties. Phase 3 is meant to bring forth the next generation of transformative ideas that capture the spirit of Notre Dame’s distinctive mission. These ideas will contribute to both college/school-level and University-level strategic plans.

More details and a formal call for proposals will come this fall, and a symposium where teams will present their ideas will follow. In the meantime, faculty are encouraged to give some thought to these big ideas over coffee or conversations with colleagues. 

We hope as many faculty as possible will embrace Moment to See, Courage to Act as an opportunity to help shape the future of Notre Dame.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Emily Marrese, senior administrative coordinator for the associate provost for strategic initiatives.

*Note: At this point, Moment to See, Courage to Act seeks the participation of tenured and tenure-track, teaching, professor of the practice, advising, clinical, research, and library faculty members. We are developing ways for other members of the Notre Dame community to contribute in the future.