Together again: The Branco Weiss Fellowship Symposium 2021
In 2020, the Symposium of the Branco Weiss Fellowship was held as an online-only event. In 2021, however, the fellows gathered again in person from November 21-23. The online event had worked flawlessly as far as presentations and discussions were concerned. But an informal exchange was almost not possible. Branco Weiss had made it a condition that the fellows meet in person once a year, because he was aware of how much they can benefit and learn from each other. True transdisciplinarity is only possible in conjunction with personal exchange. Few fellowships cultivate such an exchange of ideas among its fellows. In the case of the Branco Weiss Fellowship, the annual symposium is one of its hallmarks.
For the first time the venue was the Seminarhotel Boldern in Männedorf. It is beautifully situated on a hill with a view over the entire Lake Zurich. The new venue offered the opportunity to keep the symposium participants among themselves to avoid possible contagion. Twenty-eight fellows were able to attend, together with five members of the directorate, administration, and communications teams and four professors from the selection committee.
For the first time, the program consisted entirely of lectures and discussions. The organizers dispensed with any social program in order to give fellows as much time as possible for informal exchange. Two time slots that became available because scheduled speakers were unable to attend were used by the fellows on an ad hoc basis for «peer to peer coaching» in the form of panel discussions with departing fellows about their experiences. Professor Detlef Günther, Vice President for Research at ETH, visited the symposium for dinner and in a short speech recalled the two public Branco Weiss lectures given by the fellows at ETH during the last two symposia, which became unforgettable for all present.