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Von Hügel Institute

for Critical Catholic Inquiry

The Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry (VHI) is dedicated to academic innovation and impact in the contemporary world. Its mission is to harness the resources of Catholic thought and traditions to help build a world in which the inherent, infinite dignity of each person can be recognized, nourished and celebrated. Alongside the pioneering work of its Research Associates, the VHI thus develops wider innovative projects that connect academy and society in shared pursuit of the common good. Through these impactful initiatives and collaborations, the VHI seeks to break barriers that cause division or marginalization, in order to help fractured humanity heal and flourish.

This wider work of the VHI falls under one or more of our four main areas of research: “Arts & Culture”, “Health & Well-being”, “Technology”, “Global Justice”. Among the projects currently being developed by the VHI are:

Shakespeare and the Common Good?

Shakespeare is often heralded as evoking profound truths about what it means to be human; yet claims to his universal significance can also be the cause of profound harm for human beings who are marginalized by prevailing cultural norms. This collaboration between the Von Hügel Institute, Shakespeare at Notre Dame, the Robinson Community Learning Center and Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway will convene scholars, students and practitioners to explore how Shakespeare both succeeds and fails to galvanize shared pursuits of the common good. The project will result in academic publications, pedagogical materials and cultural initiatives that will help researchers, teachers, artists and social workers engage with Shakespeare as a resource for building communities that bring together ever more diverse arrays of voices and perspectives.

Disability and Knowledge

Disability is part of being human; yet too often people with disability still experience stigmatisation, discrimination and isolation. This collaboration between the Von Hügel Institute, Lyn’s House, the London and Rome Global Gateways of the University of Notre Dame, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and L'Arche Italy will bring together participants from among the disability community, academia, civic and religious institutions, carers, and artists to explore the nature of knowledge in the context of disability, and to expand understanding of the forms which human knowledge takes. Through the production of academic publications, pastoral materials, community engagement and arts initiatives, the project will generate resources for scholars and practitioners for the greater participation and leadership by people with disability in academia, religion and society.

Fragility, Flourishing and AI Ethics

AI has massive potential to enhance human flourishing, yet it can equally exacerbate human fragility, by reinforcing suffering, injustice, and inequality, and by perpetuating various forms of blindness to our own and others’ vulnerability. This initiative – developed by the Von Hügel Institute in connection with wider initiatives at St Edmund’s College and its affiliated institutes, as well as collaboration with the Technology Ethics Center of the University of Notre Dame – will generate a unique forum for the exploration of the ethics of AI from a wide variety of perspectives: religious, spiritual, medical, artistic, cultural, economic, political, technological. The forum will convene challenging and impactful conversations between partners from across disciplines, professions and communities that would not otherwise have the opportunity of working together for human flourishing. Through academic research and public debate, this initiative will advocate and innovate for the benefit especially of the most vulnerable and marginalized in society.


Should you wish to learn more about the VHI’s research activities, please contact:



A unique institute of advanced studies inspired by Catholic thought and culture, focussed on contemporary global realities, and dedicated to encounter, dialogue, and transformation