Some of our students and recent alumni share their thoughts on the Church, State & Society Program at Notre Dame and how they are taking their unique experiences of exploring religion and law at Notre Dame and applying that insight to both their professional and personal lives.
“Attending Notre Dame Law School inspired me to think about how faith enters the public square and how the state affects religious institutions and individual believers. While at NDLS, I took a directed reading course where I studied the impact of certain governmental regulations on Catholic institutions. This ultimately led me to my current position as an attorney focusing on religious liberty and education law issues at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
Hillary Byrnes, Assistant General Counsel at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., Notre Dame Law School J.D. 2006
"Notre Dame Law School conscientiously emphasizes and integrates faith, morals, and ethics into one's chosen vocation as a lawyer. From a personal perspective, the ability to engage in intellectual and meaningful debate about religious issues facing our nation helps to build a strong foundation of critical thinking based on respect, honesty, and compassion. The open discussion between faculty and students about the legal impact on religious institutions exposes students to areas rarely emphasized by other law schools. Students are aggressively and openly challenged to discover objective and rational answers to the legal issues facing our culture while remaining cognizant of the spirituality, worth, and dignity of each individual and incorporating these ideas into the decision making process. For these reasons, the Program on Church, State & Society truly helps Notre Dame Law School achieve its mission of training students to become a Different Kind of Lawyer."
Krista Pikus, Third Year Law Student, Notre Dame Law School
"Discussing the intersection of law and religion is fascinating because the conversation is intrinsically interdisciplinary and allows students to ask what religious freedom entails in a country that simultaneously values democratic principles and pluralism. Notre Dame Law School is the perfect place to study these issues because it is willing to engage the wisdom of all religious traditions, including the depth of its own Catholic heritage, as well as the finest legal scholars throughout history. Anyone who studies the relationship between religion and the law at NDLS will leave with a better understanding of his or her vocation in the legal profession.
I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to teach undergraduates about this topic at Villanova, and I constantly draw on the education that I received at NDLS. I feel incredibly well-prepared to assist students, who like myself a few years ago, are curious about the myriad issues that arise with respect to the law and religion."
Brian Murray, Undergraduate Professor, Villanova University, Notre Dame Law School J.D. 2012
"Notre Dame is an ideal place to study issues relating to the Church, State, & Society. Now more than ever these topics are being discussed in a way that will have a lasting impact on public policy and daily life in society. At Notre Dame these topics are discussed with academic rigor as well as a welcoming classroom atmosphere both among the professors and the students.
I entered law school (recognized my vocation to the law) to study how law serves society. After my first year at Notre Dame I worked in the general counsel’s office of a religiously affiliated graduate school in Arlington, Virginia. Thanks to courses that Notre Dame offers, such as Nonprofit Organizations, and Local Government law, I was able to enter this position with the knowledge and skills that allowed me to help the school in their legal needs. Furthermore, Notre Dame offers many more courses regarding Church, State & Society issues which prepare students with the expertise needed to help society grow at all levels.
I chose to come to Notre Dame because of the community of educators and classmates that I expected to find. My expectations were quickly surpassed by reality. I encountered professors with top-notch credentials, who at the same time shared their knowledge and experience with the class. The professors challenged us to think on our own and consider the origins and implications of our arguments. I encountered fellow students that were bright souls, eager to learn, and open in conversation both inside and out of the classroom. I could not imagine studying law anywhere else."
Gregory Chafuen, Second Year Law Student, Notre Dame Law School
The Program on Church, State & Society brings together faculty from several interrelated departments across the university, including Theology, Philosophy, History, and Political Science, to promote research and facilitate diverse and thought provoking discussions on timely law and religious topics and issues. Notre Dame faculty are frequently interviewed by the national media and invited to share analysis and commentary about the role of religion in politics and our society.
Professor of Law
Director of Program on Church, State, & Society
John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Law
Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy
Department Chair, Political Science
Professor of Political Science
Professor of Law
Concurrent Professor of Political Science
Director, Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies
Fellow in Health Management at the University of Cambridge
Adjunct Associate Professor
Biolchini Family Professor of Law
Dorothy G. Griffin Professor of Early Modern European History
Fellow, Medieval Institute
Fellow, Nanovic Institute for European Studies
Professor of Law
Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science
Concurrent Associate Professor of Law
Director of the Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life
and the Potenziani Program in Constitutional Studies
Andrew V. Tackes Professor of History
Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History
Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies
Associate Professor of Sociology
Faculty Fellow in the Center for the Study of Religion and Society and the Institute for Educational Initiatives
Director of the Center for Social Research
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology
Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society
Glynn Family Honors Collegiate Professor of Philosophy