Kate Hardiman, Associate Campus Editor
Notre Dame’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies truly augments the university’s goal of educating the mind, body and spirit of its students. Founded by Robert and Elizabeth Nanovic, the Institute invites a plethora of foreign scholars as presenters and awards generous grants for research while building an international network of Catholic universities across the globe.
Directed by A. James McAdams, the chair of Notre Dame’s political science department from 1997-2002, the Institute has a strong foundation of faculty fellows who are experts in European studies. These experts acknowledge the value of immersion abroad and seek to internationalize students’ experience in five areas: promoting European studies on campus, transforming undergraduates in Europe, professionalizing graduate students, fostering interdisciplinary research and building an international network.
The extensive partnerships developed through the Nanovic Institute’s efforts advance the ideals of a Catholic university around the world. In the former Soviet Union, where citizens are still recovering from the effects of tyrannical governments, such a goal is both noble and necessary. Through the Catholic Universities Partnership, the Nanovic Institute is strengthening Catholic education in post-communist Europe.
Instilling a new basis of community and trust for academia, rather than the fear that Soviet ideology previously engendered, is no small feat. Yet, through its endeavors, the Institute has helped both old and new universities gear themselves toward educating a free personality rather than one which exists to serve the state. The Nanovic Institute invites foreign scholars to Notre Dame for mentorship, with the hope that they may put the knowledge they gain here to use in their home countries. Broadening the idea of a Catholic university to a worldwide audience, the Nanovic Institute is Notre Dame’s link to enacting positive change in the universities of the world.
In addition, Notre Dame and its six partner institutions abroad in Poland, Hungary, France, Ukraine, Slovakia and Italy share problems and learn from each others’ differences. One partner, the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy, is the largest Catholic university in the world, boasting global connections and brilliant scholars. The Nanovic Institute draws individuals from places such as the Università to live, lecture and study right here in South Bend.
As McAdams commented in a beautiful video detailing the work of the Catholic Universities Partnership, “you are not truly international until you’re directly engaged with other universities, where you have a direct investment in their future and when you can recognize how much they can contribute to us.”
The offerings of foreign universities manifest themselves in the numerous rectors and deans who journey to Notre Dame. At least two scholars live at the Nanovic Institute during a given semester, and many others join in the summer to research. European scholars such as Tamas Karath and Father Peter Volek, the Institute’s guests for this semester, enrich the Notre Dame community. Karath is a professor of Medieval English Literature at the Institute of English & American Studies at Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Hungary. Father Volek is the head of the Philosophy Department at the Catholic University of Ruzomberok in Slovakia. He is spending his time at the Nanovic Institute researching the results of neuroscience and the impacts of those findings on human freedoms.
Other notable guests of the Nanovic Institute include members of the Vatican, Italian Fulbright scholars and Prime Ministers. The list of this year’s distinguished guests includes the former Prime Minister of Poland, the Most Reverend Salvatore Fisichella, and the titular organist of Notre Dame de Paris. Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella is the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and will be delivering the Keeley Vatican Lecture on February 26 entitled “The Role of the Church in Contemporary Society.”
Oxford Chancellor Christopher Patten, who will deliver this year’s commencement address, visited the Nanovic Institute in 2012. His exposure to Notre Dame through the Nanovic Institute provided the foundation for his involvement with the university, leading to his invitation to be the class of 2014’s commencement speaker.
Foreign scholars share their wealth of knowledge with the Notre Dame community, and our professors have likewise made illustrious achievements abroad in conjunction with the Nanovic Institute. Architecture faculty member Krupali Krusche has revolutionized the study of historical sites, specifically the Roman Forum, through her digital scans. Her research has markedly impacted the scholarship of the ruins, as the Forum has not been measured since 1910. Members of the Nanovic Institute will attend the opening of her 6 month exhibit in Rome this summer.
Recognizing the academic breadth of the various programs offered at Notre Dame, the Nanovic Institute seeks to provide depth and enrichment, expanding upon departmental offerings. Though the Institute primarily supports faculty research, the benefits invariably link back to the student body. Undergraduate and graduate students can visit conferences held by Notre Dame faculty and foreign guests, and visiting presenters are often integrated into classes.
The Institute has been fortunate in growing its grant program, supporting more students each year. Giving over 150 grants last year to undergraduate and graduate students, the Nanovic Institute offers an unparalleled number of opportunities abroad. Students can obtain grants for an entire summer, or for shorter stays over fall, Christmas and spring break. Necessary criteria include submitting a research proposal with a European-focused question, and the Institute greatly encourages multi-disciplinary research.
McAdams emphasized that “the Nanovic Institute is deeply committed to students. We organize all of our activities to have a positive impact on the quality of education at Notre Dame.” Enabling students to further their studies abroad while drawing a depth of academia right here to campus, the Nanovic Institute truly enriches Notre Dame’s community and the world.
Kate Hardiman is a freshman living in Breen-Phillips Hall and hopes to study abroad with the help of the Nanovic Institute at some point in her academic career. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.