International Federation of Catholic Universities
IFCU, the International Federation of Catholic Universities is a worldwide organization with members in all continents. Currently the federation consists of some 200 catholic universities and institutes of higher learning. IFCU has its central office and general secretary in Paris.
Catholic university: a doubly universal vocation if we think of the origin of these two words.
And yet, all Catholic universities are different products of one country, one region, one culture of the world, and rooted in one quite specific spot. And, although we can at times press the comparison between this or that one of these institutions, each one has its history, its great strengths, its difficulties, its aims and a quite distinctive way of finding a niche in the field of teaching, research and service. And more, a quite distinctive way of living out its academic, cultural and spiritual commitment.
This diversity is more than fortunate. It is fundamental, and it is indispensable. At IFCU, we mean to defend it, in the very spirit of what we are, a federation. So that each of our members feels at home there, with others. A shared house, made from all the materials in the world, that is what IFCU is.
From all the materials in the world: along with us, in joint research and exchange projects, there are con-Catholics, too – there are even non-believers. In the chorus of voices which are raised for the universal ideals of knowledge and justice, science and conscience, the international Federation of Catholic Universities has its part, with its own particular sound. It is this choir of voices which we would like to help you to discover, or to rediscover.
Unity in Diversity
The emblem of the International Federation of Catholic Universities was created especially for it. A Roman architectural motif to illustrate its cultural and spiritual anchor-point: a ternary motif to recall the overriding concept of unity in diversity (how could one fail to think of the Trinity?), a graphical motif illustrating, too, the three inseparable missions of the university: teaching, research and service.
IFCU’s emblem calls to mind the entities implicated in both of distinct identity, and in a convergent dynamic which binds them into a federation, and makes them stronger.
Sciat ut serviat, to know in order to serve
The motto of the International Federation of Catholic Universities reflects the reason for its existence, or, as they say in the business world, its corporate identity. It clearly expresses the close link which must be made between the acquisition and spreading of knowledge on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the immediate (simultaneous, even) deployment of this acquired knowledge in the service of humankind.
In doing this, IFCU follows to the letter the Parable of the Talents in Christ’s Gospel, in which each one receives a share, however modest, and must make it beat fruit for the greater good of those around him. By placing itself so determinedly in the light of the Gospel, IFCU proclaims a distinctive allegiance,but nonetheless without denying to other initiatives, whether or not they are religious, the capacity to move towards one and the same social humanism.
“To work for the constant progress of knowledge and for the development of a more just and human world in the light of the Christian faith and the Gospel” (article 2 of the Statutes).
Service: there you have the key word of IFCU. A federation both sums up and expresses the substance of its members. It is not only there to put them in contact with each other, but also to help them open up to the wider world. It is under an obligation to listen all the more closely to the voices speaking within it, as it will have to take them forward and represent them in other assemblies (UNESCO for example). The African universities have other great strengths, and have faced up to different challenges from their sister-foundations in Latin America of Asia. The culture of a North American university is far removed from that of a European university. And yet all of them have in common the ideal of an exercise of knowledge, which they consider to be nothing if it is an end in itself, and to be far greater if it is placed in the service of humankind.
Concerted Research: Unity Brings Strength
During the course of its general assembly in New Delhi in 1975, IFCU took the initiative which at the time was almost revolutionary, of turning towards concerted research, by setting up its own Centre for the Coordination of Research. Soon becoming independent, in 1978 the Centre received its first research grants from a foundation external to IFCU. Amongst the themes it has broached up till now are: ethics in economics, demography, the Christian identity of Catholic universities, human rights, faith and cultures, peace, drug dependencies and the new religious movements.
Through its concern for integration, the Centre for the Coordination of Research is located in Paris at the same address as IFCU. It offers to IFCU members stimulating lines of research, substantial information that is imbued with life, together with ample outlets for expression (colloquiums and conferences) and a wider audience (publication). Projects, whoever initiates them, are always grounded within a pilot university which gives them their driving force, and which draws support from the Centre for the Coordination in order to implement them with its partners. Research projects are open to non-member universities.
IFCU and Other International Organizations
IFCU has advisory status within the following organizations:
- the United Nations (UN) in New York
- the Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) in Vienna
- the Human Rights Commission in Geneva
- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris
- the Council of Europe in Strasbourg
IFCU has permanent representation in the International Association of Universities (IAU).
IFCU has taken an active part in revising and drawing up of a reference document on Catholic higher education for the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, on the one hand by playing an effective role as a contributor and diplomatic intermediary, and on the other hand by making a public show of the real solidarity of Catholic universities in defining their mission.
International Federation of Catholic Universities
21 Rue d’Assas
Paris Cedex 06 – France
Telephone: (33.1) 126.96.36.199
Fax: (33.1) 188.8.131.52
Regarding ICARIN (IFCU Co-operation And Research Information Network), you can mail your remarks to the project leader, Ed Simons , K.U. Nijmegen (NL)