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Grant to Fund Exchange Program with Brazilian Universities

Fordham University has entered into a partnership with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and two Brazilian universities as part of a federally funded project to develop a bilateral exchange program for business students.

The four-year project, funded with a $209,000 grant from U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), will make it possible for Fordham and UMass Amherst students to study in Brazil at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (the Jesuit University of Rio), and the Universidade Federaldo Paraná in Curitiba. Students at the Brazilian universities will also have the opportunity to study at Fordham and at UMass Amherst. Both the American and Brazilian students will study alongside native students and all coursework will be taught in the host country’s language.

Janet Sternberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication and media studies, is heading the project at Fordham. Sternberg grew up in Brazil. The four-university consortium will focus on developing socially responsible business leaders by emphasizing cross-cultural ethics, social responsibility and sustainable growth. Sternberg said that she expects the first Brazilian students to arrive at Fordham in the fall and Fordham students to travel to Brazil in the spring of 2008.

The grant is part of FIPSE’s U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program, which sponsors projects promoting institutional cooperation and student mobility between the two countries. The program is jointly administered by FIPSE and the Fundacao Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior (CAPES) division of the Brazilian Ministry of Education.

—Victor M. Inzunza

Petrarch Saw Humanistic Path to God in Religious Treatise

Photo by Simon Ho
Francesco Petrarch’s treatise, On Religious Life (De otio religioso) (1347-57) is traditionally considered an anomalous work exalting a medieval monastic spirituality, but it actually presents a “humanistic approach to monastic life,” according to Susanna Barsella, Ph.D., a Fordham assistant professor of modern languages and literature.

Barsella lectured on “Petrarch On Religious Life (De otio religioso): A Humanistic Challenge,” on Jan. 24 at the Faculty Lounge, McGinley Center, the first in a series of spring lectures sponsored by the Center for Medieval Studies. She said that Petrarch, an Italian scholar and poet of the 14th century, was not pining for a religious life when he chose a life of solitude and contemplation, but rather was taking a humanistic voyage of the self, something she referred to as the “meandering path of a human being.”

Barsella said Petrarch wrote his treatise after visiting his brother, Gherardo, who was a member of a monastic order. On Religious Life consisted of two books and was adopted by many monasteries, she said, to prepare novices in the spiritual life, as a treatise on “practical, moral theology.” Scholars, however, still debate whether Petrarch wrote the books for his brother’s community or for the wider intellectual community. Barsella said that the author saw a lay solitude, one that actively used poetry and writing for the moral and educational improvement of society, as being an equally valuable way to God as the traditional monastic path.

“To build a Christian, earthly city founded on ethics was as valuable an alternative [to a] life of meditation and contemplation,” she said.

Acknowledging that scholars differ as to Petrarch’s motivations and intent in writing the treatise, she said: “I don’t think Petrarch was longing to become a monk. There is very much this insistence [in his work] on exploring humanism, of looking into the journey you must take before making the journey to God.”

—Janet Sassi

Geraldine Ferraro Honored with Rose at Fordham Law

Geraldine Ferraro, LAW ’60, with her namesake rose.
Photo by Nancy Adler

Former U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, LAW ’60, was honored at a ceremony on Jan. 29, at Fordham’s School of Law with a commemorative rose, sales of which will help fund research into multiple myeloma, a type of cancer Ferraro was diagnosed with in 1998.

In welcoming the former legislator and vice presidential candidate back to the Law School, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, called Ferraro a pioneer and trailblazer, and said “She made it possible for women to dream beyond the glass ceiling.”

“If it weren’t for the education I received here as a student and the relationship that has developed as an alum,” Ferraro said, “I doubt seriously that I could have accomplished the things…which made me worthy of this distinction.”

The Oregon firm Jackson & Perkins, which develops so-called “cause roses,” will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from sales of the Geraldine Ferraro Rose to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), the world’s leading private funder of multiple myeloma research. MMRF was founded by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti; Giusti is now the nonprofit’s CEO.

“The fact that she would pick this place, of all the places in her career, [to dedicate the rose] says so much about her and about her relationship to Fordham,” said William M. Treanor, J.D., dean of Fordham Law School.

New Certificate Program Targets Media Professionals

Philip M. Napoli, Ph.D.
Fordham University and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences launched the Fordham Fellowship in Media Leadership in January, a noncredit, two-semester professional certificate program for emerging leaders in media organizations.

“We are very excited about this inaugural term for the fellowship program,” said Philip M. Napoli, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and media management and director of the program. “The program is going to provide an excellent opportunity for people in the media industries to place the work that they do into broader social, political and legal contexts, and to be exposed to a wide range of academic perspectives. And we have a wonderful mix of students participating.”

The fellowship offers a rare opportunity for professionals to meet peers from other organizations, top media leaders in master classes and forums, and to be exposed to Fordham’s faculty in a wide range of disciplines. The inaugural class began on Jan. 20, and comprised of professionals working at media outlets such as ESPN, Fox News and MTV Networks. The fellowship program integrates both interdisciplinary scholarship and industry expertise, which will allow participants to learn about and reflect on topics ranging from business and ethics to technology and law.

—Victor M. Inzunza

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