The idea of European/American seminar on the „free society“ arised when three people met - American scholar Michael Novak, Italian professor Rocco Buttiglione and Josef Seifert, the president of the International Academy of Philosophy - at the luncheon meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland in 1991. Influanced by the fresh publication of encyclical Centisimuss Annus, they discussed “the desirability of forming an international study group for European/American dialogue on the intellectual questions that lie ahead of modern societies.“ (Free Society reader, p. xiv.)
They developed a month – long program for twenty students from East and Central Europe and 10 students from USA. The aim of the seminar was to stop „growing cultural and intellectual gap between continents, especially among Catholics.“ (p. xiv) Most of Europeans were not familiarized with developers of American democracy Acton, Tocqueville, federalists and American founders, among others. On the other hand, Americans had a little knowledge of “continental experience and tradition.” (p. xiv) The seminar’s purpose was to increase and intensify European/American relations among students.
First two years of seminar realized in the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein in 1992 and 1993. Year later, after sugestion of Pope John Paul II, that a post-communist transforming country might be a nieder location for new ideas, instituion moved to Cracow, Poland where it has been meeting every July since 1993. (p. xvi) In 2000, the first year of the third millenium, institution expanded to Slovakia, where it established the minor branch of Cracow seminar inBratislava and Spisska Kapitula.