Europe finds itself at a crossroad, neither tethered to its historical roots, nor with a clear view of the way forward. The societal norms and frameworks upon which European society was built are now being questioned, but have yet to be replaced with anything which provides a reliable compass for the future.
There is a vital need to stimulate conversation around a vision for true human flourishing; and one way of beginning is to examine the original elements which led to Europe having a pivotal role in global culture; to build on the heritage and success of the past, but to inject fresh thinking in the light of a radically changed situation.
The Quo Vadis Institute seeks to draw together, in dialogue and discussion, leaders and influencers who will engage with these issues and to discover new and imaginative ways forward.
The core question addressed by QVI is expressed in our name—Quo Vadis?— (Lat. “Where are you going?”) – What will the future society look like; what will be the direction of the peoples of Europe?
Inspired by the Christian ethics of reciprocity and human dignity, QVI is working to pave the way for a society which optimizes the development of human and cultural capital. We utilize both intra-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches to solving problems, blending the best that science, education, business, the arts, theology, and other disciplines have, to address issues facing us today.
QVI is a charitable organization registered in Austria.
With 731 million people, Europe has a major cultural and economic influence in the world. Though representing only 11% of the world’s population, Europe drives the largest economy on earth and owns one-third of the world’s wealth. Seven of the ten wealthiest countries in the world are located in Europe. With 83 of the world’s top 200 universities, Europe has a major social, cultural, and educational influence globally arising from underlying societal values.
Europe remains committed to ‘the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law’ (Lisbon Treaty). Yet, in recent years, the nature and basis of the support for these values has come under extreme scrutiny and questioning.
As a result, Europe is facing fundamental change. Trust in democratic institutions is being eroded as expediency takes precedence. Issues such as aging populations, the commercialization of all aspects of life, eugenics, euthanasia, the disintegration of families, environmental decline, cross-border movement, information chaos, unemployment, and war are among the challenges.
Despite these issues, Europe’s wealth—not only economic but cultural, political and social—provides a rich vein from which to draw in forging a compelling vision for future generations. Quo Vadis Institute believes that this future must make human flourishing its priority.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, an unprecedented explosion of cultural and economic change began within a few Venetian cities before it spread north and became the phenomenon we recognize as Renaissance.
This rebirth made its greatest impact in the formation of a new worldview. Renaissance was focused on asking bold questions and was not afraid of experimenting to determine appropriate answers. The old world order sat uncomfortably with new realities.
Integral to the Renaissance were brilliant individuals who transformed the society around them by leveraging their influence using networks. They understood the importance of a broad education and competence beyond the narrow lines of one’s area of expertise. The resulting cross-fertilization gave new life to the arts and sciences and transformed society in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Historically, there existed guilds which were associations of those who shared the same vocation. The purpose was to protect common interests, safeguard the professional standards and integrity of the work, assist those in need of support, and further the professional interests of the members. The modern concept of guilds does not include the rigid social structure of the Middle Ages or Renaissance periods but does retain the overlapping professional interests, competence, character shaping, mutual support and friendship of traditional guilds.
Building on this historic precedent, QVI seeks to foster fresh approaches, concerned with a high view of humanity, reaching beyond economic and productive functions, cultivating new ideas and pathways to catalyze positive change. QVI focuses on identifying those who have the capacity to develop networks to facilitate this approach. Our intent is to connect influencers and provide for a sharing of ideas and creativity that can revitalize and equip nations for change.
A famous example of an effective network involved Wilberforce and the Clapham Circle. This unique consortium of political, social, and religious leaders accomplished not only the abolition of slavery, but also a host of other social reforms in Great Britain. The fact that history often only cites Wilberforce illustrates that while networks can be overlooked and undervalued, it is the strength of these networks that makes change possible.
Some studies have shown that culture tends to change from the top down and from the center to the periphery. Such movement begins with the world of ideas. Change in western society is apparent; already saturated with material goods, the focus is widening to include health and quality of life. A renewed interest in cultural capital is on the horizon.
The Quo Vadis Institute is an independent body concerned with discerning the underlying direction and key influences in contemporary society and assessing their impact, both generally and on the individual, in order to serve and inspire leaders and practitioners as they encounter new realities to which they must formulate fresh responses as they use their skills for the good of society.
- provides a platform for interaction and reflection,
- celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of the voices of Europe,
- contributes to the shaping of a sustainable European society.
We are convinced that today, just as during the Renaissance era, thriving societies require the catalyst of fresh thinking and new ideas from every professional, social, cultural and philosophical background, such that visionaries and activators can challenge, encourage and be encouraged. Significantly, this is combined with a holistic approach which goes beyond mere short-term success or material prosperity. We believe that QVI’s roots in the historic Christian ethical and cultural foundations of Europe give us a tried perspective from which to facilitate such exploration.
Quo Vadis Institute is driven by the desire to help twenty-first century citizens find new ways to live well as they meet the challenges of a rapidly changing social landscape.
QVI’s three main strategic activities are:
- Identifying individuals and groups from diverse vocations, professions and nations who have the desire and potential to influence their context.
- Convening events within and across professions and borders to challenge paradigms and facilitate deep conversations critical to positive individual and societal development, with a view to addressing the current crises.
- Encouraging and supporting the creation of self-sustaining networks capable of promoting fresh thinking and contributing to the shaping of society.
In addition to hosting think tanks and symposia, QVI will produce occasional papers and publish web-based material that reflects upon the prevailing spiritual-cultural situation in Europe and mediates possible development.