New York City To Host ThinkSwiss: Geneve Meets New York 3/6-12

New York City To Host ThinkSwiss: Geneve Meets New York 3/6-12

Political leaders and cultural thinkers, writers and journalists, dancers and musicians, visual artists and scientists will converge to explore the remarkable global impact of a singular European city when New York City hosts ThinkSwiss: Genève Meets New York, March 6-12, 2012.

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Geneva’s own Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York and the City of Geneva will present more than 10 events at venues throughout Manhattan, highlighting ideas born in Geneva that continue to reverberate far beyond its borders. Venues include The New York Public Library, New York University, Cooper Union, the American Red Cross, The Kitchen and Merkin Hall, among others.
"L’Esprit de Genève" ("the Spirit of Geneva"), a cultural force that began 500 years ago, still has great relevance in the 21st century. Rousseau was absolutely a product of the unique atmosphere of this city of citizen-scholars; his Social Contract speaks directly to today’s protest movements, from Occupy Wall Street and to the popular side of the Tea Party Movement, while his part treaty, part novel Emile has inspired modern philosophies of education. Geneva hosts the European headquarters of the United Nations and many of the world’s most important humanitarian organizations, and is also the birthplace of the Red Cross, one of the 19th century’s most original, adaptable, and lasting achievements. Its past and its present have made the city a powerful incubator for ideas of worldwide sweep and scale.

“The ideas Geneva has unleashed upon the world are not mere artifacts. They lie at the core of Swiss and American identity. They are alive and well and continue to shape our lives,” said Ambassador François Barras, Consul General of Switzerland in New York. “Pro-democracy movements from Egypt to Wall Street are transforming Rousseau’s ideas for the 21st century. Meanwhile, the Red Cross is adapting itself to a new landscape due to the changing nature of war. Now is a critical time to discuss and debate the contemporary relevance of these ideas.”
“As we trace l’Esprit de Genève through the spheres of politics, education, science, music, dance, and film we draw closer to its true character,” said Pierre Maudet, Mayor of the City of Geneva. “We come to know the aesthetic, the sense of humor, the sensibility that nurtured and gave birth to extraordinary thinkers such as Jean Calvin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Albert Gallatin, and Henry Dunant.”

The festival is made possible by the generous support of our premier sponsors: Vacheron Constantin, Swiss Manufacture of fine timepieces since 1755, and Ports Francs, storage space for valuable goods and logistic hub, Support also given by Geneva Financial Center, Swiss, FLUX, and Novotel New York.
For a complete schedule of events, go to:


Wednesday, March 7, 7 p.m.
American Red Cross, 520 West 49th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)
Free and open to the public. RSVP required:
Participants: Philip Gourevitch (The New Yorker), Roger Mayou (Director, Musée International de la Croix Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge), Gabor Rona (International Legal Director, Human Rights First), Colonel David A. Wallace (Head of the Department of Law, U.S. Military Academy, West Point)
Moderator: Walter A. Füllemann (ICRC Head of Delegation to the UN)

Today, the humanitarian principles of the Red Cross and major relief agencies are greatly challenged by the changing nature of warfare around the world. The distinction between combatant and noncombatant has blurred to the extent that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish one from the other. What becomes then of impartiality, neutrality, and the humane treatment of victims, the core principles of the Red Cross and of humanitarian law which originated in Geneva? For more information.

Thursday, March 8, 7 p.m.
Gallatin School of Individualized Study New York University
1 Washington Place (at Broadway)
Free and open to the public. RSVP required:

The NYU Presidential Medal Ceremony Honoring Michel Butor

A Conversation between Michel Butor and Lois Oppenheim (Professor, chairperson, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Montclair State University)

What is L’Esprit de Genève? How has it influenced two prominent figures in their respective political and literary lives? America’s Swiss founding father, Albert Gallatin, emigrated from Geneva in the 1780s and helped secure this country’s independence and establish NYU. Former Dean of the Faculty of Letters at the University of Geneva and professor in several American universities, avant-garde novelist, poet and essayist Michel Butor has created an astonishing body of work inspired by the relationship between word and space. NYU pays tribute to the accomplishments of these two men, whose beliefs and actions have been shaped by L’Esprit de Genève, 200 years apart. For more information.

Friday, March 9, 12:30 p.m.
The Skyroom, French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)
22 East 60th Street (between Park and Madison Aves)
Tickets (includes lunch): $35/$25 FIAF Members | (800) 982-2787, or

Panelists: Michel Butor (writer; former Dean of the Faculty of Letters, University of Geneva), Megan Laverty (Associate Professor, Philosophy and Education Program, Arts and Humanities, Teachers College, Columbia University), Jean-Michel Olivier (professor; winner of 2010 Prix Interallié for L’Amour Nègre), Shimon Waronker (Headmaster, the New American Academy; Presidential Fellow, Harvard Urban Superintendents Doctoral Program)

Moderator: Adam Gopnik (The New Yorker)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile, or On Education profoundly influenced modern philosophies of education by laying the foundation for a system emphasizing human goodness, learning by doing, and a return to nature. Is an intensive education essential to a child’s development? How does nature fit into high-tech education? Are innate abilities and learned skills in conflict? Join theorists and practitioners for a discussion, led by Adam Gopnik, on the relevance of Rousseau’s ideas in contemporary pedagogy. Delicacies from Geneva will be served. Followed by a 30-minute roundtable, How to Read Rousseau in the 21st Century, led by François Jacob (Director, Voltaire Institute and Museum, Geneva). For more information.