The Intercultural Education and Dialogue Initiative was established at Florida State University in 2009 to honor the late Monsignor William A Kerr. Father Kerr dedicated the last two devades of his life to the expansion of educational opportunities for underprivileged youth around the world, and to the creation of a vibrant international dialogue among people of different nationalities, ethnicities and religions.
Following Msgr. Kerr’s example, the Initiative’s mission is to advance international and interfaith understanding and to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts. It does so through the:
- The provision of undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships to students from conflict, post-conflict and developing nations to pursue baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees at The Florida State University. Kerr Scholars and Fellows are carefully recruited and nurtured throughout their university careers. Upon the completion of their degrees, they are expected to return home, prepared and committed to contribute to the development of their countries.
- The sponsorship of seminars and institutes to prepare emerging leaders from the United States and other nations to resolve conflicts that divide groups and exacerbate tensions within and between countries. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations makes clear that true reconciliation among different nationalities, cultures and faiths will only occur once solutions are found to urgent social issues such as: education; employment, migration, and human rights. The institutes stimulate dialogue on these subjects and provide professional development opportunities for participants from around the world.
- The establishment of partnerships between FSU and universities in other nations to expand opportunities for international service and to support collaborative research on how best to reconcile differences among cultures and faiths. Such encounters produce policy recommendations as well as teaching materials suitable for classroom use at various levels.