What is an ACTI Faculty Fellow?
ACTI is committed to dialogue and collaboration amongst the disciplines throughout a Catholic University. This interdisciplinary focus allows scholars from across all of the University’s Colleges and Schools to participate in this fellowship opportunity. ACTI Fellowships are available for continuing Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty with a preference for at least one of the fellowships to be given to proposals from faculty outside the disciplines of Philosophy and Theology. ACTI Fellowships provide faculty with opportunities to complete a substantial research/creative project or to concentrate effort at a critical phase of a research/creative project that is consistent with the mission of the Academy for Catholic Thought and Imagination. Such projects may take diverse forms: developing, critically engaging, expanding, adding to, questioning, or explaining aspects of the Catholic intellectual tradition or its various concerns; entering into dialogue with Catholic thought or imagination from the perspective of a different faith tradition or no faith tradition; using the resources of the Catholic tradition to understand and respond to pressing contemporary issues; developing a creative work in dialogue with the imaginative and intellectual framework of the Catholic tradition, and so forth.
Fellowship applications for the 2018-2019 academic year will be available soon, and due in March 2018. For any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-338-7759.
See below for bios and project descriptions for previous years' ACTI Faculty Fellows.
Jason Baehr (2017-2018)
Project Title: "Flannery O'Connor and Religious Knowledge"
Jason Baehr is a Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Baehr works at the intersection of virtue theory and epistemology, especially “virtue epistemology,” which is an approach to the philosophical study of knowledge that focuses on intellectual virtues like curiosity, open-mindedness, intellectual humility, intellectual courage, and intellectual tenacity. Baehr’s monograph on virtue epistemology, The Inquiring Mind: On Intellectual Virtues and Virtue Epistemology, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. His project extrapolates a distinctive religious epistemology from several of Flannery O’Connor’s stories and situates it vis-à-vis the theoretical landscape in contemporary religious epistemology. He intends to show how this epistemological model challenges epistemic egalitarianism – and does so with considerable plausibility. He will also argue that, for O’Connor, something like moral humility (as distinct from intellectual or epistemic humility) is an intellectual or epistemic virtue.
Paul Harris (2017-2018)
Project Title: “The Composition of Place-Time”
Paul Harris is a Professor of English whose scholarship and teaching reflect a deeply curious spirit, and he has relished the academic and professional freedom to pursue a rich range of intellectual interests. He has published essays in literature and science, chaos/complexity theory, literary theory, neuroscience, architecture, constraint-based writing, Bergsonian philosophy, and the interdisciplinary study of time. He has published on canonical American authors (Poe, Melville, Faulkner), and 20th century European writers (Beckett, Perec, Calvino), and has become a recognized specialist on Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers of Los Angeles. His recent publications and teaching focus on Big History and his current manuscript project uses Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy to theorize an “itinerant spirituality.” His project comprises a scholarly essay that integrates contemplative practice, contemporary ecophilosophy, and creative artistry as it explores and gives a new iteration to the notion of composition of place. Changing place to "Place-Time" implies a dynamic relation to space, a temporal or historical understanding of a place. The essay will proceed by unpacking four ways of understanding the 'composition of place-time': 1) composition as contemplative practice in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, with an additional temporal dimension-the place is contemplated in terms of how it came to be, and what it might become; 2) composition of placetime as an active and formative interaction with a specific environment-composition as gardening, caring for a place; 3) composition of place-time as a material theory of how place and time compose a dynamic whole; 'place-time' is coined as an embodied, earth-centered version of the abstract geometry of general relativity space-time; 4) composition of place-time as the process of giving aesthetic expression to one's contemplative, active, and cognitive engagement with a specific environment-just as contemplative "composition of place" in the Spiritual Exercises is followed by journal reflection on one's experience, here contemplative composition is followed by written composition (or other forms of aesthetic expression).
Jane Brucker (2016-2017)
Project Title: “Contemplation and Imagination: Finding God in All Things”
Jane Brucker is a professor in the Department of Art and Art History whose contemplative sculpture, installation, and performance art has been exhibited at venues nationally and internationally. Her pedagogical focus has been teaching students ways of knowing and being by using attention and an awareness of interior states to access original ideas or a deeper sense of oneself. In her own words, “It is the essence of generating Ignatian conversar – an intimate conversation between the student and the Divine. For these students finding their truest work and helping them access what is meant by the Ignatian motto, ‘finding God in all things,’ has been helpful no matter where they are on their aesthetic or spiritual journey.” Her project includes writing a chapter for the book The Mindful Eye: Contemplative Pedagogies in Visual Arts and creating a large-scale installation inspired by Ignatian Imaginative Contemplation.
James Plecnik (2016-2017)
Project Title: “Business and the Common Good”
James Plecnik recently joined LMU’s accounting faculty as an assistant professor. Plecnik earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a minor in philosophy from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and both a master’s degree in taxation and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Memphis. He is a CPA with experience in both public accounting and small businesses. His research interests include tax avoidance, individual taxation, corporate taxation and ethics. James taught individual taxation and introductory accounting classes during his time as a doctoral student in the Fogelman College of Business at the University of Memphis. His research has been published in various tax journals, and he has presented at multiple academic conferences and CPE events. Drawing on the works of Jacques Maritain and Aristotle, Plecnik’s project will apply the definition of the ‘Common Good’ to modern business practices at both the theoretical and empirical levels.
Anthony Perron (2016-2017)
Project Title: “Law, Social Thought, and the Cemetery, 1000-1220”
Anthony Perron is an Associate Professor in the History Department. His research focuses on medieval church history and law with a particular emphasis on northern Europe. He has published articles on Latin-Christian Scandinavia in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as well as a chapter on the papacy for the Cambridge History of Christianity. His current work examines notions of ecclesiastical community and authority in local and regional canon law from eleventh to the early thirteenth century. His project as an ACTI Fellow in Fall 2016 investigates the developing canon law on cemeteries in this period. This research traces the growing concern over such issues as transgressive behavior in graveyards and burial of the “unworthy dead,” all seen in the context of changing perceptions of the “society of the dead” and an increasing emphasis on the obligations of the living to the departed.
Traci Brynne Voyles (2016-2017)
Project Title: “Bound for the Sky: The Salton Sea and the Impossibilities of American Environmentalism in the Borderlands”
Traci Brynne Voyles is an assistant professor of Women’s Studies. Voyles received her PhD in ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego in 2010, and was a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests revolve around environmental justice, environmental history, race, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country (University of Minnesota Press, May 2015), which explores the history of uranium mining as a process of “wastelanding,” a racial and spatial process of rendering an environment and the bodies that inhabit it pollutable. Her current research explores the environmental history of the Salton Sea. Her ACTI sponsored project will allow her to develop crucial themes in the project that touch on both Catholic teachings about environmentalism and social justice, and the relationship between the Catholic Church and Native Nations in California history.
Victor Carmona (2015-2016)
Víctor Carmona is an associate professor in the Biology Department who focuses his research on the ecology and evolution of species interactions in the tropics. His dedication as a teacher-scholar is evident in his service to his students and colleagues and in his participation in LMU’s Mission & Ministry Faculty & Staff Immersion Trip to El Salvador. Informed by his time as a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de El Salvador in 2012, his project, “Jesuit Science in Latin America: Revolutionizing Academic Tourism in the Evolution of Social Justice,” will engage science, global study, social justice, and Pope Francis’ encyclical call to transformative contributions of teacher-scholarship of ecological systems and the environmental justice in human systems.
Erin Stackle (2015-2016)
Erin C. Stackle is an assistant professor in the Philosophy Department. Professor Stackle specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, especially Aristotle. She also does work in early phenomenology, especially on the thought of Edmund Husserl. Recently, her Aristotelian research has focused on the problematic nature of courage as an Aristotelian virtue, the inherently social nature of our most basic identity, and how we can meaningfully apply mathematical claims to perceptible things. Her ACTI fellow project will investigate whether there is anything uniquely Catholic in how St. Thomas Aquinas interprets Aristotle's treatment of health in his Metaphysics.
Kelly Younger (2015-2016)
Kelly Younger is a professor in the English Department and an award-winning playwright with works staged off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally. At LMU, Younger conducts workshops in play writing, teaches courses in the survey of drama, and leads seminars on modern and contemporary playwrights, as well as a FFYS in Fairy Tales. Critical book publications include Dionysus in Ireland: Irish Adaptations of Greek Tragedies, and Beth Henley in an Hour as well as numerous articles on classical to contemporary theatre. His project, TRIGGER WARNING, is a full-length play about a Jesuit professor grappling with issues of academia and “words that inflict as well as instruct.” Younger will dramatizes the Catholic intellectual tradition in action and engage a national conversation in higher education by developing a play for performance at universities and theatres across the country.
Matthew Petrusek (2014-2015)
Matthew R. Petrusek is an assistant professor in the Department of Theological Studies. He holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Masters of Arts in Religion from Yale University. Dr. Petrusek’s interests and specializations include meta ethics, the intersection of philosophical and theological ethics, Christian ethics, ethics and political theory, natural law, virtue theory, human rights, distributive justice, domestic and international poverty, and globalization. His project, The (In)vulnerable Soul: Catholicism’s Essential Contribution to the Idea of Human Dignity, draws on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition to develop a distinctively Catholic conception of human dignity that can also serve as a normative model for other secular and religious views of universally equal human worth.
Rebecca Sager (2014-2015)
Rebecca Sager is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology. She holds a doctorate and masters of Sociology from the University of Arizona. Her work looks at the intersection of religion, politics, and social movements. She has published a number of articles on this topic and her book, Faith, Politics, and Power: The Politics of Faith-Based Initiatives (Oxford), looks at the role conservative evangelical movement actors played in promoting the faith-based initiative at the state level. Her project, Are You Better Off Alone?: Religious and Secular Partnerships in Social Service and Political Outreach researches the partnerships between Catholic and secular groups in political organizing and social services. She will investigate questions such as: Do religious activists like working with secular leaders or do they feel it is compromising their values? Do secular activists feel like they have to give up too much to work with religious leaders or that religion infuses too much of their work?
Thomas M. Ward (2014-2015)
Thomas M. Ward is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master's degree in Theology from the University of Oxford. His primary areas of specialization are medieval philosophy and philosophical theology, and he is the author of John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism (Brill, 2014). His project, God, Morality, and Modality, will investigate theological accounts of the foundations of modality and morality. This project's exchange between medieval and contemporary thought speaks of the relevance of this work for bringing the resources of medieval Catholic thought into dialogue with contemporary academic debates.