Research Priorities

As one of the core academic units of the Keough School of Global Affairs, the Nanovic Institute is poised to make significant contributions to a deeper understanding of Integral Human Development and to the intersection of humanities and policy.

Such contributions will continue to come from its unique set of strengths. With deep expertise in history, theology, philosophy, political science, the fine arts, and many of the European languages and cultures (to name just a few of our partnering departments), the Institute offers rich perspectives of historical, ethical, religious and aesthetic dimensions of Europe. These perspectives contribute to a deep understanding of Europe and to the discussion of policy in Europe today.

The Institute has identified core research priorities that have and will continue to shape Europe in profound ways. The Institute encourages faculty and students to bring their training in the humanities, arts, sciences, or social sciences to bear on questions and topics that are of particular interest to the Nanovic Institute:

Faith and Religion in Europe

As a Catholic university, the University of Notre Dame has a particular interest and expertise in matters of religious faith, in faith-based actors, and in the interaction between religion and state. What can we learn about Europe in looking at its faith traditions? What is the role of faith in Europe today (e.g. in regions where secularism or irreligion predominates, in fragile democracies, in areas where religion and national/political identity are linked, etc.)? How do religious traditions and institutions continue to shape Europe?

The United States and Europe

The Nanovic Institute intends to “bring Europe to Notre Dame and Notre Dame to Europe.” Hence, one key concern of the Institute is the understanding of the relationship between the United States and Europe. The evolving relationship between the United States and Europe has wide-reaching implications for the international community that encompass as well as go beyond economics and politics. How can cultures of remembering and current political developments on either side of the Atlantic be interpreted?

Migration and Integration

Migration is one of the major challenges of the 21st century, with more than 80 million people displaced globally, and more than 25 million of those people in the immediate region of Europe. How can nation-states and individuals address the challenges of migration, its effects, and many underlying causes (war, environmental degradation, lack of opportunities, etc.) in a way that respects human dignity? What are the legal, physical, and political obstacles facing migrants, immigrants, and asylum seekers to Europe? How are immigrants to Europe integrated?

Europe’s Most Vulnerable

In line with the Keough School’s commitment to pursuing “Integral Human Development,” the Institute seeks to understand the challenges faced by the most disadvantaged populations in Europe. What are promising responses to these challenges? How can the dignity of the most vulnerable persons in Europe be safeguarded? Who are the least privileged, and what are our obligations to them?

Major Moral Challenges of Contemporary Europe The Nanovic Institute for European Studies with its traditional strong basis in the humanities is particularly interested in an analysis of and responses to major moral challenges in Europe. These may include issues of intergenerational justice and poverty, the ethics of borders, ecological responsibility, and an understanding of the common good. We welcome research on the moral landscape of Europe from many different perspectives and disciplines.


These core research priorities give a sense of the Institute’s long-term research portfolio. There are also and always current research priorities emerging that nuance the five areas outlined above. At this point in history, the Institute invites faculty and students to entertain how their interests and research foci might intersect with, or shed light on the following topics:

Race Relations in Europe

As the United States continues to reckon with issues surrounding systemic racism and police brutality, what can be said about the racial dynamics at play on the European continent? How have different countries addressed or avoided their colonial legacies? What can be learned from the arrival of migrants and refugees from numerous ethnic and cultural backgrounds in Europe?

Europe in the Age of COVID-19

No stranger to pandemics, Europe’s population lives with historical memories of devastating plagues, so how are they tackling this crisis? COVID-19 reached European shores at a moment of division, have European states responded with unity? Or will the continent become further divided in the aftermath of COVID-19? What can be said about the different approaches to the Pandemic? Spain and Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom, Hungary and the Netherlands have responded quite differently to the pandemic. What are the major effects of the pandemic and the adopted policies? Has the response to the pandemic exacerbated disparities within a country and also between different European states?

The above topics and questions are not intended to be exhaustive, nor are they intended to preclude other areas of research. The Institute still welcomes other topics in European studies as long as the projects articulate a clear connection to European Studies. The Institute warmly welcomes such discussion.

Talk with Us

For information about faculty grants or fellowships, please contact:

Grant Osborn
Associate Director

For information about graduate and undergraduate student grants or fellowships, please contact:

Anna Dolezal
Student Programs Assistant Manager