ThinkSwiss: Genève Meets New York
A Festival of Global Ideas Born in Geneva

March 6-12, 2012

Building on the 300th anniversary of the birth of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a citizen of Geneva, the Consulate General of Switzerland in partnership with the City of Geneva is proud to present a festival highlighting the contemporary relevance of ideas born in Geneva and their impact on current American issues. Topics that lie at the core of Swiss and American identity, such as participatory democracy, progressive education, humanitarian principles and freedom of information will be addressed in conversations that bring together personalities from both countries. These will be complemented by select concerts, dance performances, readings, exhibits, and film screenings.

We invite you all to discover what makes Geneva such a special city: its spirit and its soul!

Ambassador François Barras
Consul General of Switzerland in New York

Pierre Maudet
Mayor of the City of Geneva


Jean-Jacques Rousseau: A Citizen of Geneva and the World

The City of Geneva is at the core of Rousseau’s thinking. The political models he laid out in The Social Contract have significantly influenced the writing of the U.S. Constitution, and these models were drawn from two hundred years of Geneva’s civil history.

Rousseau, the man, is in the heart of Geneva. The neighborhoods where he was raised and educated, and the streets where he played and experienced his first love all resonate with his name. In Geneva, eminent specialists have studied his work for more than one hundred years. Many of Rousseau’s original manuscripts are preserved in his native city and have recently been included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register. The tricentennial of his birth offers an opportunity to reaffirm the universality of his thoughts and celebrate, with our American friends, a man who described himself as first and foremost “a citizen of Geneva.”

Sami Kanaan
Vice-Mayor, City of Geneva
Department of Culture and Sport


L’Espirit de Genève (Spirit of Geneva)

Jean Calvin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Albert Gallatin, Henry Dunant

For the last 500 years, the Spirit of Geneva has contributed uniquely to human development. It all began in the 16th century when Jean Calvin turned tiny Geneva into the protestant Rome. A city-school of Christian life, Geneva was a model for all of Europe. Two centuries later, it became one of the centers of the Enlightenment and the European laboratory of popular sovereignty, a concept Jean-Jacques Rousseau developed into a universal political message and theory.

At the end of the 18th century, Albert Gallatin, America’s Swiss founding father, brought to the New World the values rooted in his Geneva education, and in the 1860s, the founding of the Red Cross by Henry Dunant put the city on the world map as the capital of humanitarian affairs.

Today Geneva hosts the European seat of the United Nations, a whole array of international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academic institutions, and continues to stand out as a lively incubator of ideas and initiatives shaping our contemporary world.

The Spirit of Geneva lives on!