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‘Zurich Meets New York’, A Festival of Swiss ingenuity

May 29, 2014 , Jose Pinto Stephen (


Zurich meets New York was a weeklong festival of Swiss Ingenuity in the heart of New York City. There were 28 events in three categories such as Arts and Culture, Science and Technology and The Urban Systems. All the events were of high standard and held in the prestigious centers in the city.

When we hear about Switzerland the first thing comes to our mind is the Swiss Banks. And the second idea comes to our mind is tourism. Of course Switzerland is an attractive tourist destination. But in reality Switzerland can offer much more than that and the world should appreciate Switzerland for its contributions in Science and Technology, Art and Culture, Philosophy and Psychology in addition to Tourism and the Banking system in this beautiful country.

Switzerland is one of the stable, efficient and peaceful countries in the world and it remains neutral and independent in decision making on the major worldwide issues. Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and it is a vibrant hub for 21st century innovations. Due to some reasons the world was not heard enough about the contributions from Switzerland in general and Zurich in particular.

This festival helped the New Yorkers to get a new insight about Switzerland and Zurich in particular. ‘Zurich meets New York’ instilled a curiosity in the minds of the participants to explore more on Switzerland and it’s contributions.

Some of the 20th-century’s greatest innovators have influenced, and been influenced, by Zurich. Carl Jung, the father of Analytic Psychology and Novelist/Playwright Max Frisch called it home. Albert Einstein spent eight years working in Zurich, where he developed his theory of General Relativity.

Zurich meets New York was jointly presented by Ambassador François Barras
 (Consul General of Switzerland 
in New York), The City of Zurich, ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich.

‘Zurich meets New York’ takes its inspiration from the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Dada movement, founded in Zurich by refugees fleeing World War I, and the city’s current role as a global center of artistic and scientific innovation.

This festival included Twenty-eight events with panel discussions and performances foster dialogue about artistic and scientific innovation highlighting the contemporary relevance of visionary movements, ideas and actions born in Zurich and their impact on American culture and the American way of life.

This reporter had the privilege to attend six events out of the 28 events in this weeklong festival. Those events were,

* ‘Collegium Novum Zurich: Live Music & Silent Films’ at David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. This was a new experience to this Reporter. Musicians played music as per the direction from the music director while short silent Films were screened on the background. Music and the films were synchronized though the musicians Were not looking at the screen while they were Performing.

‘What Can Robots and Economics Teach Us About Humanity?’ at New York Academy of Sciences. It was a panel discussion between Ernst Fehr, Professor of Microeconomics and Experimental Economics, University of Zurich
 and Rolf Pfeifer, Professor of Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, University of Zurich. It was thought provoking and interesting at the same time. And this session was moderated by Maria Konnikova.

‘Max Frisch: The Writer’s Moral and Political Responsibility’ at Deutsches Haus at NYU. This was the first time this reporter ever heard about this great writer and his method of writing was very different from the other writers. You will also find his works very interesting and inspiring.

Meet the Startups’ at Projective Space. This Event was more like a networking event between the start-ups, entrepreneurs and the general participants from New York and Zurich and else where.

Carl G. Jung: From Myths and Dreams To Screenplays and Video Games’ at NYIT Auditorium on Broadway. Carl G. Jung is an interesting personnel for those who are interested in Psychology and Philosophy. This panel was focusing on the relevance of Carl G Jung’s school of thoughts in Psychology and the Psychology behind the formation of video games and what tactics the researchers use while they invent new video games.

Big Data’ at New York Academy of Sciences.

This was also another interesting and informative session. It taught the participants how the data is formed, developed and transferred across the globe. The panelists included were Eric Brown (IBM Research), 
Johannes Gehrke (Cornell University), 
Donald Kossmann (ETH Zurich), 
Georg Polzer (Teralytics), Kevin Schawinski (ETH Zurich) and
 Johan Schwalkwyk (Google).

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