In this particular historical moment, what unites young people in Europe more than any other thing, and what conditions their identity, is most likely the economic crisis that every state is experiencing.
The current economic crisis has indeed revealed all of the weaknesses of a world aspiring to be fully globalized but that actually finds itself, more than ever, divided by countries in defense of their national interests.
Above the rest, Europe sees up close the dangers of fragmentation within the integration process that started several decades ago. However, this crisis can represent a unique opportunity for our continent to persevere where courage has lacked. Europe has an enormous potential that must not be underestimated. That is why it is crucial to not act obstinate at this time.
The history of the “Alexander IV” Institute is emblematic in this sense. In Viterbo, Italy, in the spring of 2013, a group of young entrepreneurs from the ages of 22 to 28 years old, who gathered around an ambitious project, realized that in fact talking about the crisis does not help to overcome it.
Let’s not pretend that things will change if we keep doing the same things. A crisis can be a real blessing to any person, to any nation. For all crises bring progress. […] It’s in crisis that inventive is born, as well as discoveries, and big strategies (A. Einstein).
For us, the grand strategy was to form a research group to address this challenge together, to develop our ideas and our projects in a collective and integrated manner.
We cannot permit the economic crisis in Europe to become both a cultural and identity crisis. We believe that the European Union is much more than just an economic union: it’s essentially a cultural union. Furthermore, what keeps it alive not only in the cultural aspect but in the economical aspect as well, is research. Thus, only where there is research, there is richness.
This is our project: the work of a research group that, with the contribution of its researchers and their established collaborations, promotes and manages several projects of high scientific and cultural value, designed to operate in an international scene. A structure – a reference point – that promotes an understanding of the “feeling of a researcher in Europe”, encouraging a voluntary cooperation, free from national barriers.
In this way, as a group of researchers, we have decided to take the structure of an Institute, through a division–of–work mechanism, organized and stable, and giving it the name of “Alexander IV“, in honor of the ambitious initial project around which we grouped together: the project created by the young Spanish archaeologist Alberto Pichardo Gallardo for the discovery of the tomb of Pope Alexander IV (d. 1261) hidden in the crypt of the Cathedral of Viterbo. A historical research project, archaeological and geophysical, that in a short time was able to bring together several researchers from universities across the continent.
The figure of this Pontiff, who lived in the Middle Ages, represents the ideological foundation of the “Alexander IV” Institute. In fact, since the beginning of his pontificate, demonstrated great qualities of an enlightened patronage and attention to various disciplines of knowledge. He surrounded himself with the most illustrious thinkers and philosophers of his time, convinced that only through study and research they could arrange the foundations for a universal knowledge intended to last for centuries.
His deep sensitivity to the values highlighted above, were further evidenced by his official recognition at the University of Salamanca, defining him as “the fourth light that illuminates the world“.
The University of Salamanca then joined the other “headlights of knowledge” of the time: the University of Oxford, Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna and the Sorbonne in Paris, where Alexander IV, as many students would do today, moved to perfect his studies.
Hence came the insight to create a multidisciplinary research institute, a stable structure, capable of opening up to multiple interactions and collaborations with European researchers, universities, public and private entities, giving life to numerous research projects and development, with the aim to protect the progression of culture.
Let us work hard instead. Let us stop, once and for all, the menacing crisis that represents the tragedy of not being willing to overcome it.