The Edward and Linda Speed Catholic Studies Faculty Development and Research Fund

The Edward and Linda Speed Catholic Studies Faculty Development and Research Fund provides grants to support faculty research, teaching and program development that integrates elements of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) and Catholic Social Teaching (CST). The focus of the Fund is to provide faculty with an opportunity to think through how their professional development does or could engage with the Center for Catholic Studies and serve our community more tangibly and intentionally by embracing our Catholic heritage, mission and its teachings.

Grant funds may be used to support individual or teams of St. Mary’s University faculty for:

  • research expenses (e.g., travel needed for research or collaborative work, materials or supplies);
  • research assistance (e.g., student assistant or a professional hired for a particular task);
  • teaching release time to undertake or complete scholarship; and
  • faculty workshops and/or seminars that engage St. Mary’s faculty.

Criteria for Evaluation

Each proposal will be evaluated for its:

  • Evidence of specific engagement with CIT and/or CST and appropriate collaborators on campus and in the community.
  • Clear and specific outcomes with benefit to the recipient, other faculty, staff and students at St. Mary’s in some form, such as courses, events and willingness to present research.
  • Clear and specific budget that justifies how requested funds are necessary and sufficient to achieve the outcomes. 

Funding Cycle Dates for Proposal Submissions

  • Jan. 15
  • March 15
  • Sept. 15
  • Nov. 15

Members of the Center for Catholic Studies Advisory Board will serve as the grant review committee. Each applicant will receive a response within six weeks of the application deadline.

Below are a few helpful resources to help St. Mary’s faculty interested in applying for the grant become better acquainted with CIT and CST.

Recipients and Projects

Bernadette Hamilton Brady

Chair and Associate Professor Drama
Title: Identitatem <-> Identidad <-> Identity
Awarded: 2020

Project: A transformative theatre project capturing the spiritual and cultural realities of Youth and Young Adults in Holy Rosary Parish,San Antonio, Texas. Holy Rosary has been serving the local neighborhood for over seventy years. Its close proximity to St. Mary’s University invites a collaboration between two youth populations, one to reveal their issues and one to research and present them. A devised theatre project cultivates such an interchange that reaches into a Catholic Intellectual tradition of cherishing, studying, and passing on what one has learned. This kind of transformative engagement can reveal underlying issues meant for reflective action.

Laura Walsh

Visiting Assistant Professor of Marketing
Title: Voices Rising Service Learning Project
Awarded: 2020

Project: I am conducting a service learning project with students in my Principles of Marketing course. We are working with Meals on Wheels San Antonio, and Visitation House Ministries to develop and promote an online benefit concert that will air on Sunday, November 29. These organizations have had to cancel annual fundraising events due to the pandemic. Our goal is to help support the important mission of these two organizations by offering an alternative fundraising event. The organizations focus on hunger and food insecurity, and providing transitional housing and education for women and children facing homelessness.

Allison Gray

Associate Professor in Theology
Title: Advanced Theology: Interdisciplinary Conversations and Contemporary Corrections.
Awarded: 2020

Project: Grant funding will provide small honoraria for five Interdisciplinary Conversation partners in Spring 2021 advanced Theology course. Students will prepare for these conversations in the first part of the course by studying martyrdom, asceticism, and related Catholic conceptions of sacramentality, as these are reflected in early Christian communities. Then scholars with expertise in Religion, Theatre, and Ethnomusicology will join undergraduate students for thoughtful reflection on the role of the body, discipline, and performance across religious traditions. Students will work with their professor and the guest scholars to engage in thoughtful dialogue about embodied religious practices and their theological implications.

Sara Ronis

Associate Professor of Theology
Title: Scholar Interviews: Why does Theology Matter?
Awarded: 2020

Project: I seek to introduce students to the rich diversity of theological scholarship in the United States, and to understand why it matters. The project consists of recorded interviews with invited faculty from a range of institutions who are asked to reflect on their own journey to the academic discipline of theology, their theological insights, and why theology matters to our world today. These recorded interviews will be integrated into my SMC 1314, and made available to other faculty teaching the course. The grant will pay for honoraria for these scholars and for a student-worker to support the project’s technological needs.

Margaret Cantu-Sanchez

Instructor of English
Title: The 2nd MAS Symposium: Antiracism and Latinx/Chicanx Cultures and Communities
Awarded: 2021

Project: The MAS Symposium was established in the summer of 2019 with the goal of educating and sharing scholarship pertaining to Latinx/Chicanx cultural studies with the St. Mary’s and larger San Antonio community. This year, the focus will be twofold, first, antiracism efforts conducted by three noted, local activists and scholars, they will share their work and advice via a moderated question and answer session. Secondly, students from various, diverse disciplines will present research projects regarding antiracism work they are currently engaged in. We hope to share the Latinx/Chicanx antiracism scholarship of students and scholars with our community.

Claudia Donoso

Assistant Professor Graduate International Relations
Title: Mainstreaming Intersectional Feminism in Global Affairs
Awarded: 2021

Project: My goal is to design the course Mainstreaming Intersectional Feminism in Global Affairs. Intersectional feminism studies overlapping forms of oppression to understand the depths of the inequalities and the relationships among them. The course address what is a Marianist perspective on social justice in global politics. Students of the security policy and international development/ conflict transformation concentrations will learn project design for two NGOs in Latin America, Tamarindo in El Salvador and Mano Manaba in Ecuador, building community, including the voice of the voiceless, discouraging moral authority, and avoiding discrimination based on class, race, gender and the rural/urban divide.


Amanda Hill, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
Title: Marianist Heritage Media: Preserving Marianist History and Culture
Awarded: April 2019

This project aims to memorialize narratives of Marianist culture and heritage and use the power of storytelling as well as the spreadability and accessibility afforded by digital media to broaden the reach of these narratives. Marianist Heritage Media would add to a rich collection of interviews created by St. Mary’s University aimed at preserving Marianist history by incorporating short, cinematic videos which pull from the memories of Marianists on and off campus. As with the origin story of the Marianists, who adapted to a rapidly changing world, it is time to adapt to the nature of cultural preservation to engage a broader audience in the recognition of the Marianists. Using the power of cinematic storytelling and the accessible and shareable nature of digital media can help build awareness of Marianism, its values, and its heritage. The project will result in student-created video narratives based on the experience and expertise of Marianist partners that are designed to be easily accessible and shareable to a broad audience. These videos will be collected and archived in a digital media package.

Lindsey Wieck, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Director of Public History
Title: Rattlers Remember
Awarded: April 2019

St. Mary’s students have been collecting stories about the history of St. Mary’s campus spaces and how our faculty, staff and students have experienced these sites. Rattlers Remember brings together these stories with images, oral histories and other primary stories to showcase the history of St. Mary’s. This grant funding will help us continue the project with undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, by purchasing equipment, materials and a student research assistant.

Allison Gray, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology
Title: Catholic Biblical Association Annual Meeting, Share of Travel Costs 
Awarded: September 2019

Three faculty members and one graduate student will travel to the Annual Meeting of the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA). The shared activity, to be funded by four sources, will be valuable for the four individuals and for the family spirit of the department. The four represent the full range of professional career from graduate student to (very) senior scholar (Vanessa Cypert, Allison Gray, Todd Hanneken and George Montague, S.M.). The CBA is the premier conference internationally for biblical scholarship focused on research methods and scholarly questions emerging from the Catholic tradition. The attendees will not only absorb current scholarship and reflect on the relationship between biblical studies and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, but they will contribute greatly to the conference in the form of research presentation, academic leadership, and public honor of George Montague, S.M.’s first ninety years. The four who will be traveling together, their students, and their colleagues will all benefit from the enriching experience. The high profile of St. Mary’s University in Catholic biblical scholarship will be raised further.

David Grenardo

Professor of Law
Title: The Marianist Lawyer
Awarded: September 2019

I plan to create a class for the law school called “The Marianist Lawyer.” This class will teach law students what they should know and understand after graduating from a Marianist law school. The class will also address the moral development of our law students. The class will focus on the five characteristics of a Marianist education as they relate to law school: formation in faith; excellence in education; family spirit; adaption and change; and service, justice and peace. The Catholic Social Teachings (CST) and Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) will both be interwoven into the lessons. Above all, using the five characteristics of a Marianist education, CST, and CIT, the class will encourage students to see the practice of law as a calling and their vocation.

Sara Ronis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology
Title: Berit—Diatheke—Foedus—Covenant—Bund Conference at Lanier Theological Library
Awarded: September 2019

The Bible describes God’s relationship to humankind through a covenantal lens. Jews and Christians elaborated their own conceptions of the covenant as a way to understand and frame their relationship to God, their communities, and the world. This grant would support my travel to a conference on religious covenants in Houston this November, where I have been invited to attend and present a paper. At this “international, interdisciplinary, and interdenominational conference on the topic Berit, Diatheke, Foedus, Covenant, Bund… a group of selected participants will explore all essential aspects of the concept of religiously motivated covenants in antiquity.” I will present a paper on the topic of covenants in late antique rabbinic literature, and then will prepare my paper for publication in the conference proceedings, to be published by Mohr Siebeck. This grant funding would enable my participation in the conference, where I will get scholarly feedback on my work and engage in interdisciplinary dialogue, before returning and integrating what I have learned in a new course I am teaching Spring 2020.

Janet Armitage, Ph.D., and Sue Nash, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair; Assistant Professor of Sociology
Title: Training for Compassion Cultivation in Pre-Med Students at St. Mary’s
Awarded: November 2019

Undergraduate pre-medical education is an important precursor to medical school. While undergraduate institutions prioritize biomedical sciences courses for admissions into medical schools, we believe there is some use to introducing compassion training in the pre-medical undergraduate curriculum given the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) mandates for a holistic approach to the practice of medicine. We propose a series of innovative workshops on the St. Mary’s campus that will introduce undergraduate pre-medical students to caring for the whole person as framed by compassion, Catholic Social Teaching, and Pope Francis’ notion of accompaniment “to walk with or alongside another. . . gently and faithfully.” While compassion and CST will introduce common humanity and dignity of the whole person, Pope Francis’ work will underscore the importance of listening, humility, and refraining from appearances of “having all the answers.” The collective works provide the template for our workshops and the building blocks for pre-medical students’ professional formation. These compassion workshops will align undergraduate pre-medical curriculum with medical school curriculum and give our St. Mary’s University students additional tools as they transition into medical school programs.

Kathleen Gallagher, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of International Relations
Title: Catholic Social Teaching and the Scholarship of Witness
Awarded: November 2019

The goals of this project, Catholic Social Teaching and the Scholarship of Witness, are two-fold: To develop course work (“Social Suffering and the Scholarship of Witness”) and a journal article (“The Scholarship of Bearing Witness”) that critically examine the act of bearing witness from a Catholic faith perspective. Proposed coursework examines acts of collective violence from both a scholarly and faith perspective, and the pivotal role that bearing witness can play in illuminating and helping to heal suffering in the world. Similarly, the proposed journal article examines the tradition of bearing witness, breaking it down into key tenets related to solidarity and acts of radical empathy as well as its emergence and evolution over time in the Bible and Church writings, commentaries and encyclicals as well as in praxis. A crucial point of investigation and critical reflection will be the simultaneity of brokenness and grace, and the possibilities of redemption as God acts in the world, including through our witness. Drawing on my own experiences as both expert witness and teacher, I also wish to reveal the potential of the classroom as a space of witness, and also of sanctification. 

Todd Hanneken, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Theology and Chair
Title: La Biblia y su Tradición, The Bible and its Tradition: Collaboration for Catholic Biblical Literacy in the Southwest CCD-MACC-StMU Collaboration to Promote Biblical Literacy jn the Southwest
Awarded: November 2019

In his recent apostolic letter instituting the Sunday of the Word of God, Pope Francis quoted Saints Jerome, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” and Ephrem, “We are like the thirsty drinking from a fountain.” Catholics in San Antonio and the Southwest are blessed with an abundance of thirst. Drs. Todd Hanneken and Allison Gray propose to bring to the community, in the form of a series of eight full-day workshops, a share of what we do for our students in the college classroom. As Pope Francis noted, “The Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few.” We will mentor paid student researchers to do work in parishes and online that they aspire to do after graduation. We will collaborate with Mexican American Catholic College (MACC), which excels at the pastoral dimension of meeting people where they are, in English and Spanish. Most of the funding will come from the Congregation for Christian Doctrine (CCD) using royalties from the Catholic translation of the Bible. Together we hope to improve biblical literacy, particularly in the variety of approaches to scripture, and to inspire a continuing love of learning.

Meghann Peace, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Spanish
Title: “‘Una pesadilla de la cual ya quiero despertar’: Central American immigration, Migrant Protection Protocols, and the crisis at the border.”
Awarded: March 2020

There is a humanitarian crisis on the U.S./Mexican border. Citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – countries wracked by governmental instability and gang-related violence – are seeking asylum in United States in record numbers. Legally, migrants who request protection at the border are given the opportunity to enter the country and plead their case in court.

However, the U.S. government is waging war against asylum. Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico,” is a recent example. MPP is anything but protection; those affected are forced to stay in Mexico, without shelter, vulnerable to natural and human predators. In the absence of public outcry, MPP continues to be expanded.

My project entails the preparation of a book in which these migrants’ stories can be shared. With the help of non-profit collaborators and undergraduate assistants, we will collect migrants’ testimonials, transcribe and translate them, edit for readability and anonymity, and prepare them for publication. The book will explain the history and application of MPP, present the countries whose citizens are most affected, and share their testimonials. The goal of this book is to make U.S. citizens aware of MPP, in the hopes that they will speak out against this injustice.

Jillian Pierucci, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology
Title: Works of mercy and quality of life for service providers
Awarded: March 2020

It is expected for Catholic Marianist Universities to conduct research that addresses serious contemporary problems (Ex corde ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II). One prominent issue is poor psychological well-being. One in four Americans are diagnosed with a psychological disorder/condition each year (National Institute of Health, 2020). Thus, it is imperative to recognize the prevalence of psychological unrest and provide strategies to improve individuals’ quality of life. Specifically, service providers are at-risk for psychological distress.

My former research measured the well-being of service providers working with individuals with atypical development at three local partnering community organizations. Participants (n = 57) completed a battery of self-report measures that assessed their anxiety, depression, personality types, stress, family quality of life and overall medical health. Data have been collected and need to be analyzed. The research team will prepare presentations based on the findings to present to the employees. We will provide effective techniques to help the service providers use healthy strategies to maintain their well-being. These findings will be integrated into three of my courses’ curricula, submitted for presentation at an international conference, Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), and submitted for publication in a peer-review journal, Research in Developmental Disabilities (RDD).

Sara Ronis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology
Title: Summer Research: The Human Person in Late Antique Religion/Law
Awarded: March 2020

In my second book project, I seek to explore how the rabbis understood what it meant to be a human person – legally, morally and ritually – within the broader comparative context of the Roman and Sasanian legal systems. Like today, personhood was not simply a technical status but one that had important implications in a range of spheres. And like today, many religious communities offered different understandings of what it meant to be human, rooted in their own sacred texts and traditions of interpretation. This grant would support my travel to Washington D.C. this summer to conduct extended research using the resources of the Library of Congress and the Catholic University of America. With the support of the grant, my goal is to have completed the preliminary research to create the framework for the book, and to have drafted a book proposal to be sent to academic presses at the end of the summer. I expect what I learn in this research to directly help me reshape existing courses that I will be teaching next year.


St. Mary’s faculty can apply for this grant in Gateway.

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