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Loyola University Chicago Announces Ricci Scholars

CHICAGO, February 18, 2008 – Loyola University Chicago announced the selection of the 2008-2009 participants in the Ricci Scholars program, an innovative research and cultural immersion program organized around the theme of the meeting of East and West. Participants will spend one semester at the John Felice Rome Center and one semester at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies (TBC) before returning to Chicago to prepare the senior thesis or portfolio that completes the program.

Six Loyola sophomores have been chosen to become the next group of Ricci Scholars. They are Benjamin Baumer, Connor Dearing, Caitlin Kolb, Meghan LaRocca, Rebecca Robison, and Whitney Westphal. Each of these scholars comes to the program having performed academically at the very top of their class at Loyola and with the support of faculty mentors. During their stays in Rome and Beijing they will participate in regular classes in addition to their research on their Ricci Scholar project.

In addition, Dr. Anthony L. Carodoza, professor of history, has been appointed director of the Ricci Scholars Program. Dr. Cardoza brings to the program a distinguished record of scholarship, teaching, and service at Loyola University and was recently honored as “Faculty Member of the Year, 2007.”

Following the Jesuit tradition of exploring and learning about different cultures and beliefs, the Ricci Scholars program offers 15-20 undergraduates the opportunity for guided international research and study. Unlike other international experiences, the Ricci program allows students to engage two cultures within the space of nine months and also challenges them to integrate these experiences with a third culture, that of the United States.

The selected scholars will spend the first semester at the John Felice Rome Center, where they will take Italian courses and become familiar with European culture through both class work and guided travel. Following a trip to the United States during winter break, the students will travel to Asia to spend the second semester at TBC. There, they will study Chinese, travel through China, and learn about its institutions and rich history.
Designated faculty in Rome and in Beijing will coordinate the student research and immersion activities and will also offer a seminar for participants to thematically link the two semesters. Ricci Scholars will return to their home campus for their senior year to prepare their thesis, while also serving as peer mentors to students who are just entering the Ricci Scholars program.

The Ricci Scholarship program is supported by the generous gift of a donor to Loyola University Chicago. The scholarship covers round-trip travel, language tutorials, program seminars, research expenses, and study travel.

About the John Felice Rome Center:

Established in 1962, the Loyola University Rome Center was founded on and maintains the philosophy that, in our increasingly global civilization, there is immeasurable value in studying abroad in an environment that places the academic classroom experience and direct experiences of the local culture in a dialectic relationship through travel and on-site courses. Students at the Rome Center are able to pursue more than 40 academic courses with a focus on Rome and Italy in their Mediterranean and/or European contexts.

About the Beijing Center

The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies was founded in 1998 by the China Province of the Jesuits. Students live on campus at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and take intensive language courses, classes, and seminars on topics of Chinese culture taught by senior professors from China’s top universities. In addition to lectures by leading Chinese authorities on business, politics, and culture, TBC sponsors excursions to the far corners of China, during which student travel is carefully integrated with the academic program. The Center is headed by a Jesuit, Ron Anton, S.J., who founded BiMBA, a Beijing-based MBA program, as well as this program. Father Anton has become a respected advocate of China study in both China and the West. Loyola University Chicago serves as the home campus in the United States for TBC, which can accommodate more than 100 students.

About Loyola University Chicago

Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic University. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,500 students, which includes nearly 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s ten schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, communication, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, continuing and professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 71 undergraduate majors, 71 undergraduate minors, 85 master’s degrees, and 31 doctoral degrees. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education,U.S.News & World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities,” and named the University a “best value” in its 2008 rankings. For more information, please visit our Web site at LUC.edu.


The 2008 Ricci Scholars:

Benjamin Baumer is a Communications major originally from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. His research will be examining the gender roles perpetuated through Italian and Chinese youth-oriented television content. He aims at producing a radio documentary evidencing gender as a socially constructed phenomenon. Outside of class, he is interested in electronic music production, improvisational comedy, and can be found singing on a regular basis.

Connor Dearing is a sophomore, communication and international studies double major. He hails from Buffalo, New York, where he attended Canisius Jesuit High School. In Chicago, he is an officer of the Loyola Swim Club, an occasional writer for the Phoenix, a lifeguard at the McGaw YMCA, and a volunteer at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum. In the past he has worked in the English Department, volunteered at the Uptown Soup Kitchen, and attended an alternative break immersion to New Orleans. His project will explore the differences in freedom of expression present in both Italy and China. It will also examine the role culture plays in how freedom is defined through public modes of expression. He hopes his project will allow him to more fully grasp the differences (or similarities) of cultural ideologies, ways of thinking, and political systems present in both countries.

Rebecca Robison is a sophomore majoring in English and history. Her project will focus on political advice to rulers in both Italy and China. Using Machiavelli’s The Prince as a starting point, she will compare and contrast Chinese works of political advice to rulers from that period (or other periods) with The Prince and other Italian works. She also plans to look at the historical periods during which these works were written to see if similarities between the works were caused by similar historical circumstances. She hopes to find and highlight similarities between the Chinese and Italian political advice, and in doing so remind people of the common bond of humanity that ties East and West together, despite our differences.

Caitlin Kolb is a sophomore and aNebraska native majoring in history. Her Ricci project will involve researching the differing approaches to modernization in Fascist Italy and Communist China through examination of the ancient fortifications of Rome and Beijing. Contrasting the manner in which the two governments dealt with the dilemma of demonstrating “progress” within the context of established cities will be the focus of her study and investigation into local architectural artifacts.

Whitney Westphal, originally from Oswego, Illinois, is currently a sophomore at Loyola majoring in International studies with minors in political science and management. In her free time her interests include: photography, traveling, and cooking. Next year as a Ricci scholar, she will be researching why women in both Italy and China experience greater levels of inequality than in the United States and other leading northern industrialized powers. More specifically, her research will account for the effect of history and education on gender inequality. Her research will be composed of archival research and in-depth interviews which will be culminated into a research paper upon return.

Meghan LaRocca is a sophomore Theatre major from Geneva, Illinois. Her research project is a study of actor training in Italy and China. She will sit in on the rehearsals at a selected theatre company in each country to study their format and focus, and she will attend the finished production whenever possible. She will also interview well-respected teachers and actors from each company to learn about their experiences in their careers and to find out about their training. In addition, she will compile a general culture study during her time in each country, to be used by actors wishing to portray someone of that culture.



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