Hannes Richter

The European Forum Alpbach

Hannes Richter
The European Forum Alpbach

Top photo: Congress Center Alpbach ©Peter Mayr

Annually interdisciplinary conference for science, politics, business und culture

Each summer, a distinct group of experts, thinkers, and scientists gathers in a small Tyrolean village to discuss their time’s most pressing issues.

The European Forum Alpbach is an interdisciplinary conference for science, politics, business and culture that takes places annually in the Tyrolean village of Alpbach. Established in 1945, the Forum has since taken place every year in August for some three weeks of seminars, symposia, and debate. Its current president is Franz Fischler, a former EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and Austrian Minister for Agriculture. It is attended by some 4,000 participants from over 75 countries and boasts some 750 speakers; they come from the fields of science, politics, economics, and culture, and consist of experienced experts as well as students. Famous participants in the past have included luminaries like Sir Karl Popper, Friedrich A. von Hayek, Ban Ki-Moon, Jaques Delors, Indira Ghandi, and many more. Today, over 30 active Alpbach alumni associations exist in 25 countries; these networks create an interdisciplinary platform for effective socio-political dialogue and thus the Forum acts as an interactive and open think tank. The participation of students and young scholars is of particular importance to the Forum, as they embody the critical spirit, intellectual courage, and open-mindedness that permeate Alpbach.

Due to the influence of the Forum, Alpbach has been nicknamed “village of thinkers.” And indeed, a nobel laureate and former participant lies buried here - physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who developed several fundamental results in the field of quantum theory. While once quaint village used to have accommodations for just 110 visitors; Alpbach today welcomes some 300,000 visitors per year. Beyond its distinction as the host to the European Forum, Alpbach was also voted “Austria’s Most Beautiful Village” by a television contest, and in addition once earned the distinction of having the purest air in all of Austria. In 1999, a new Alpbach Congress Center opened, combining exciting architecture with a minimal environmental footprint, offering special mountain vistas from a spiral-shaped gallery with floor-to-ceiling glacing.

The 2014 Forum Alpbach will take place under the general theme “At the Crossroads,” dedicated to the fundamental questions of society. According to President Fischler, ”2014 is a year of commemorations for Europe: it marks the 200th anniversary of the Congress of Vienna, the 100th anniversary of the First World War, and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We use these events as an opportunity to initiate a future-oriented discourse that takes into account the lessons learned from our past. This summer, the European Forum Alpbach will draw a sketch of the decisions and possibilities before us and discuss ways to put them into practice.”

More details on the European Forum Alpbach and the 2014 program are available online at www.alpbach.org