Erasmus Institute: Strategic Plan
How Does the Erasmus Institute Stand Today?
The Erasmus Institute was founded in 1997 to foster original research that brings Catholic intellectual traditions into the mainstream of "secular" academic life. In the few years since, operating largely on "soft money," the Institute has come to be internationally recognized as the foremost center in the world for such work. The Institute concentrates on areas where Catholic traditions have the most leverage - the arts, humanities, social sciences, law, and management - as distinct from fields such as chemistry and engineering whose methods are remote from such traditions. By bridging the gap that now yawns between Catholic thought and mainstream academic research, the Institute contributes to three goals central to Notre Dame's core mission:
In addition, the Erasmus Institute's substantial activity abroad advances the internationalization of the university. For example, four of the eight conferences sponsored so far by the Institute have taken place in Europe or South America, and five of the nine 2002-03 residential research fellows are from outside the United States (Germany , Hungary, Croatia, and Brazil).
- augmenting Catholic influence on academic research and thus on the culture at large
- deepening the thinking of the church by bringing it into closer contact with the best secular research
- increasing Notre Dame's stature as a research university by demonstrating that its Catholic character advances, rather than restricts, its contribution to academic research
The Erasmus Institute's outreach activities fall into four broad areas:
The Institute also sponsors or co-sponsors lectures and seminars specifically for the Notre Dame community. Of these, the most visible are the Notre Dame Erasmus Lectures, which annually bring to campus for a four-week residence such distinguished Catholic intellectuals as Denis Donoghue, Shirley Williams, Nicholas Boyle, and John Noonan. The Institute's senior fellows have also regularly offered seminars for Notre Dame faculty and students.
- residential research fellowships
- summer seminars
In order to accomplish its mission, it is essential for the Erasmus Institute to engage in its work leading researchers from top universities, including especially those not otherwise committed to Catholicism and its intellectual traditions. The Institute has succeeded spectacularly well in doing so. Though a significant minority of residential fellows have come from church-related universities and colleges (including several from Notre Dame), the majority have come from major research universities such as Stanford, Yale, Michigan, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and Chicago. Among them have been individuals such as John Murrin, an extremely influential historian of early America; Martin Maehr, one of the two or three leading researchers on human motivation and achievement; and Sabine MacCormack, a classicist and historian who recently received one of five Mellon Foundation awards for lifetime accomplishment in humanistic scholarship. Speakers at conferences have included a long roster of such eminent professors as the Germanist Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge, the political scientist Stephen Krasner of Stanford, the jurist Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard, and the sociologist Robert Wuthnow of Princeton. The book series has attracted such distinguished authors as the literary critic Denis Donoghue, the sociologist Adam Seligman, and the historian Dale Van Kley. Summer-seminar teachers have included equally well known figures, including the novelist Sara Maitland, the Harvard sociologist Gary Orfield, and the Yale literary scholar Geoffrey Hartman. Moreover, the names listed in this paragraph comprise roughly equal numbers of Catholic and non-Catholic researchers, the mix needed to achieve the Erasmus Institute's goals.
Through all of these programs, the Erasmus Institute has helped Notre Dame achieve its twin aspirations to strengthen its Catholic character and to become more widely recognized as a leading research university. More: the Institute strengthens Notre Dame's stature among America's secular research universities precisely by strengthening its Catholic character. The Institute has also played a role in recruiting to the university's faculty outstanding scholars who first experienced Notre Dame through Institute activities.
In some instances, the work of the Erasmus Institute overlaps with that of other centers and institutes at Notre Dame, and this provides opportunities for collaboration. The Institute has, for example, co-sponsored with the Kroc Institute a number of lectures and, in September 2002, a major conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, focused on the religious roots of civil violence and reconciliation. It sponsored with the Center for Philosophy of Religion a joint fellowship. The Erasmus Institute and the Nanovic Institute collaborated to bring to campus a promising younger scholar from the ex-Communist countries of eastern Europe. Erasmus is working with the Institute for Ethical Business Worldwide to support a symposium on the teaching of business ethics in Catholic environments.
Erasmus Institute Over the Next Decade