Understanding Switzerland: a course in Basel

November 20, 2019, No comments

In January I am back in Basel, giving a short series of talks about Swiss history and politics – in English. This will be a longer version of the course I gave earlier this year, which was so popular we’ve decided to run it again but this time with more detailed modules. It’s at the VHSBB (or Volkshochschule Beide Basel) and is open to everyone.

The whole course lasts six weeks but you can also come along to any single module separately so don’t have to sign up to all six. You can even pay on the door if you decide to come along spontaneously! The first module is on the evening of Tuesday 14 January and then the others follow every Tuesday after that. All the details (and registration) are here.

The first two modules deal with Swiss history, covering the era from the foundation of Switzerland to federation in 1848, and then also modern Switzerland since federation. So if you’ve ever wondered why Morgarten and Marignano were important, or if you want to know what crucial event happened in 1959, then these are the ones for you.

Then comes the section on Swiss politics, where over two weeks we will look at how direct democracy works in practice, and then also the Swiss political system in general. Even if you can’t (yet) vote here, this is a great way to understand the fundamentals of Swiss politics at a time when other political systems are under severe strain.

Lastly, two modules to add a bit of context. The Swiss are few in number but they have certainly made an impact beyond their borders. From the Red Cross to the toilet duck, we’ll discover what the Swiss have done for the world. And to finish things off, an overview of what it takes to become Swiss, which is a process I am still going through.

If all that isn’t enough, I am also taking part in a separate series of talks at VHSBB on maps, Macht der Karten, which starts in February. Five of the talks are in German but mine on 23 March (The shape of Switzerland) will be in English, and you can come to only that one if you want.

Hope to see you in Basel next year!

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