Saint Nicholas School for Intercultural Dialogue
On May the 10th 2011 in Bari, at 10:30 a.m., the “Saint Nicholas School for Intercultural Dialogue” was presented at the Portico dei Pellegrini di San Nicola.
Under the auspices of Father Damiano Bova, Rector of the Basilica Pontificia di San Nicola, Corrado Petrocelli, Rector of the Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, and Domenico Laforgia, Rector of the Università del Salento, were outlined the aims and the activities of the School.
As a lay institution, the School aims to promote intercultural dialogue among peoples, particularly those following the tradition of Saint Nicholas, a set of peoples forming a greater Europe spanning from Lisbon to Vladivostock and from the Polar Sea to the Mediterranean.
The School originates from the initiative of the University of Bari Aldo Moro and of the University of Salento and will be open to all national and international academic institutions that, adhering to Saint Nicholas ethics principles, will be able to fully participate in the School’s growth and management.
The reciprocal deep liaison with Central-Eastern European universities made it possible fully appreciating the opportunity of favoring intercultural dialogue by rooting it in the shared principles of Saint Nicholas.
Until now, we selected beyond 100 universities, from 37 countries, which already have cooperation relations with the two founding universities and that, as such, are the natural candidates to participate. Even before receiving the formal invitation, some of these academic institutions have already asked to subscribe.
Nowadays, the key value of Saint Nicholas’ message, traditionally identified in protecting the young, may be boosted by conjugating it with the search for sustainability. And it is, in fact, ensuring sustainability that we can protect the new generations (the future), allowing them to receive from the current generations (the present) at least as much as the latter received from the previous generations (the past). As much as through the millennia Saint Nicholas, symbol of the globalized man of his times, was the emblem of intercultural dialogue, expanding to todays’ global scale in his contemporary incarnation as Santa Claus, the focus on the young and the new generations underlines the essence of Saint Nicholas as the true patron of sustainability. Sustainability does not pertain just to the environment but, more generally, the equality of opportunities among the peoples of the world and among different generations. Furthermore, we can push the concept of sustainability to encompass safeguarding the survival of all species, where species are not only those defined by biology but can regard also any form of institutional, cultural and social aggregation, any material or immaterial realization of both nature and man.
Specialization has proved an asset for mankind also in science, magnifying scientific progress but, at the same time, it has induced a kind “loneliness of the scientist” organizing advanced knowledge along ever narrower and segmented compartments and hindering his dialogue even with other scholars neighboring his filed of specialization but not exactly crossing it.
The consequent self-referentiality arises, from one hand, the risk that some endeavors that are more useful to mankind are shelved to focus on issues that happen to be more easily treatable and/or more fashionable (making science excessively homologous) and, on the other hand, the risk that, in his efforts, the scientist disregards the basic ethic principles that should inspire any human being. These risks are particularly important when it comes to sustainability.
The interdisciplinary approach is thus essential to promote any form of knowledge catering for sustainability. But, at the same time, that approach is the true foundation of intercultural dialogue as well.
The Great Crisis of 2007-2009, originating and hitting the most the rich countries, the dramatic events of environmental and nuclear crises as well as the global health emergencies of the latest years, the widespread socio-political instabilities in various regions of the world testify the deficit of ethic principles by those in charge of choosing the development models used in the past.
Hence, the need to educate the top elites, enabling them to make the right choices in all those contexts where it is urgent to adopt new governance models, more focused on sustainability.
Thus, sustainability as the background theme, by means of a common fil-rouge uniting, over the years, during the editions of the School, all the different angles of modern scientific research aimed to identify new solutions to humanity’s long-term problems. This itinerating research will make it possible to offer advanced courses featuring famous scholars at international level along with lectures ensuring the maximum cultural plurality and free from any hegemony, seeking for and respecting the values that are intrinsic to the diversity within intercultural dialogue.
Thus, Saint Nicholas School is the special place where different cultures and scientific specializations meet through the continuous exchange of lecturers and students. At the end, via its shared approach and ethical roots the School can use Peoples’ diversity and scientists’ diversity to advantage aiming to build a better world.
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