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A Cabrini student in front of Independence Hall

Nancy Watterson, PhD

Associate Professor, Social Justice

After two years as a visiting assistant professor in the English Department, Nancy Watterson, PhD, transitioned to the History and Political Science Department in 2008, becoming the University’s first professor of social justice.

Besides her responsibility to coordinate the American studies major at Cabrini, Watterson’s attention is focused on helping students become engaged citizens who contribute to their communities.

Watterson is one of five leaders for Engagements with the Common Good (ECG), a four-course sequence that is part of the Justice Matters curriculum and raises awareness of social problems, explores their root causes, involves students hands-on in social justice issues, and connects the theory and practice of social justice to each student’s major. She coordinates the first-year ECG (100) courses.

Working with Nicholas Rademacher, PhD, (Religious Studies), and Darryl Mace, PhD, (History), Watterson co-created the Voices of Justice Living and Learning Community (LLC), for which she is faculty director.

Watterson has been awarded multiple grants for projects, including: Ethnographic fieldwork in Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Philadelphia; development of strategies for integrating deliberative dialogue across disciplines as a means for transformational learning; the creation of inter-disciplinary, integrative curricula for LLCs; and the establishment of a shared meta-discourse for critical thinking, writing, and social justice.

She has presented talks and lectures on these topics across the United States, as well as in Singapore, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, and Canada at scholarly conferences and for the general public.

Working together, Mace, Rademacher, and Watterson have presented on the Voices of Justice LLC at several national conferences including the biennial Faith, Justice, and Civic Learning Conferences at DePaul University; and the Performance Task Conference 2010, co-sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA).

Watterson also participates in Cabrini’s Scholarship of Teaching and Learning working group.

Her recent publications include collaborative journal articles on faith and justice in LLCs (co-authored with her Voices of Justice colleagues); community-based, interdisciplinary partnerships co-authored with colleagues from Cabrini’s Science and Psychology departments as well as community partners; and the entries on “Activism” and “Community-Based Research” in Folklore: an Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art.

Watterson earned a doctorate in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in English language and literature from the University of Michigan, and a BA in English from Oakland University, with a concentration in film aesthetics and history.

When she’s not teaching or doing community-based activities, Watterson can be found diligently involved in experiential research: working on a variety of T’ai Chi skills—qi gong, flat sword, kung fu—as well as on the contemplative, meditative, and martial aspects of various styles of taiji, Hsing-I, and Ba Gua.

Awards and Recognition

  • A faculty fellowship from the 1976 Foundation Fund for the Enrichment of Teachers’ Teaching and Learning (2011)
  • The Buzzallino Family Faculty Scholars Award from Cabrini (2008)
  • The Excellence in Teaching Award from Harvard University Extension School (1998-2000)
  • The Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania (1994)
  • Faculty Fellow at Princeton University (2002-2006), Harvard University (1997-2001), and the University of Pennsylvania (1992-1994)

Vision. Impact. Growth.

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