Crisis Goes Viral


Live stream conference in English 16-17 June
15 & 19 Watch online


Live stream conference in English 16-17 June
15 & 19 Watch online

Crisis Goes Viral – Coronavirus and Global Response

The coronavirus is turning our world upside down and puts to a hard test not only our way of living but also the very essence of being human. Recently, many commentators have therefore linked the pandemic to a global crisis that will change our lives forever. The outcome is unclear but very much depends on the choices that we make right now and those in the weeks and months to come.

The keyword is ‘crisis’, which indicates the gravity of the situation. However, in contemporary usage the term seems to have lost a lot of its urgency – perhaps due to its ubiquity in political and economic discourse. Almost every occasion is presented as a crisis giving the impression of immediacy, even if the terminology is oftentimes deployed to meet specific ideological ends. Taken from the ancient Greek, a crisis originally called for a definitive, irrevocable decision and implied sharp alternatives articulating themselves along the dividing lines of, amongst other things, success and failure, life and death, or salvation and damnation. As such, the term had over the centuries medical, theological, political, economic, and historical implications that merit reconsideration.

At the backdrop of the present situation, only weeks after the coronavirus has swept the nations, Istituto Svizzero invites to a digital reflection about the meaning and manifestations of crisis: what does crisis mean? What are its hallmarks? And what emerges from a state of crisis?

15 June 2020, H18:00

The Nature of Crisis
The conversation delves into the nature of crisis looking at both its conceptual and experiential horizons. Reflecting on the history of thought and taking up specific historical examples of crisis situations, the discussion assesses the explanatory power of the terminology involved at the backdrop of current events.

Lorraine Daston, historian and director emerita of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, in conversation with Dario Gentili, philosopher at the Roma Tre University and author of Crisi come Arte di Governo (2018).

The conversation will be moderated by Barbara Bleisch, Philosopher and Journalist, Swiss Radio and Television SRF.



16/17 June 2020, H18:00
Live conference

COVID-19: in the Midst of a Global Crisis

The live conference proposes a preliminary assessment of the global impact that COVID-19 has had on society. In particular, the discussion centers on the ramifications of the pandemic for health care, mobility, democracy, and economic stability.

Part 1: Global Health and Environment

Francesca Costabile, Atmospheric Science and Health Effects, CNR ISAC


Part 2: Democracy and Economics

Marco Magnani, Monetary and Financial Economics, LUISS University Rome

Denise Traber, Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel



19 June 2020, H18:00

Negotiating Crisis
The conversation takes a look into the immediate future assessing the challenges and opportunities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic: what can we learn from the current crisis? How do we in future position ourselves as a society with a view to questions of social equality, freedom of movement, democracy, technologization, and sustainable development?

Hartmut Rosa, sociologist at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and author of Alienation and Acceleration(2010), in conversation with Barbara Bleisch, Philosopher and Journalist, Swiss Radio and Television SRF.

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