A New Future for the EGS: Malta

A New Future for the EGS: Malta
I offer here a third brief devoted to the transformations underway in the European Graduate School. “Brief” may not be quite the term, because there is a lot to say about the impact of creating a new EGS site in Malta designed to complement the ongoing programs in Saas Fee, Switzerland. Gaining new EU accreditation through our association with Malta has occasioned a thorough rethinking of our programs, which has inevitably included a meditation on the form and meaning of advanced study in contemporary higher education. We hope to share the fruits of this ongoing meditation in published form without too much delay, but in the interim, we want to communicate as much as we can about the new developments in our institution and invite students to join us.

On March 20, 2016, the European Graduate School will launch its new MA and PhD programs in Malta (“Philosophy, Art, and Social Thought,” and “Literary, Musical, and Visual Thought”) and a pilot program in “Trauma, Refugees, Violence and Human Rights” that brings together the resources of the two divisions of the University.

The MA and PhD programs in “Philosophy, Art, and Social Thought” will be inaugurated with the participation of the following faculty:

Victor Burgin
Judith Butler
Christopher Fynsk
Achille Mbembe
Avital Ronell
Siegfied Zielinski

The MA and PhD programs in “Literary, Musical, and Visual Thought” will feature:

Hubertus von Amelunxen
Philippe Beck
Benjamin Bratton
Mike Figgis
Alfredo Jaar
Michael Nyman (with Peter Price)

As these two degree streams (both at the MA and PhD levels) are conceived as complementary, students will benefit from exposure to all of the faculty and the rich community of students who will assemble for this unique event.
The seminars of Professors Butler and Ronell will also host participants in the pilot program offered by the AHS division of the EGS: “Trauma, Refugees, Violence and Human Rights.” This will be the first time that the two EGS divisions (“Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought,” and “Art, Health, and Society”) have joined together to link philosophical reflection with a practice-oriented curriculum.

Why Malta?
The idea of establishing links with Malta has been latent for a number of years at the EGS by reason of personal associations. But only recently has the project of establishing the EGS as a licensed university there (still governed by its Swiss Board) become feasible. The enthusiastic support of the Maltese authorities has made it possible for the EGS to transport its unique pedagogical model to a stunning site that demands of it a newly focused and imaginative thinking and teaching practice.

What will the EGS ethos of free inquiry pursued at the most advanced levels in its mountain retreat in Saas Fee become in this cultural crossroads, steeped in history, in the southern Mediterranean? Valletta is a site where the EGS will be working closely with NGO’s, a vital journalistic and cultural scene, and the distinguished University of Malta; it is a cosmopolitan setting, in other words, whose deep traditions shaped by cultural encounter are now tested by the most urgent contemporary socio-political questions. In many respects, Valletta would appear to be the perfect complement for Saas Fee, which offers our faculty and students a kind of retreat for intense critical reflection and intellectual and aesthetic encounter. EGS faculty and students have insistently defined their research with respect to broad social issues, pursuing bold cross-disciplinary forays for the sake of a thinking that has a genuinely global reach. The splendour and intensity of Valletta will undoubtedly call forth a different tonality of engagement from our community that will complement in vital ways the ongoing project of the EGS in Saas Fee.

The launch in Malta is certain to be an exciting event, with all the inevitable drama of an opening. The PACT Division will host faculty and guests of the highest calibre in a stunningly beautiful context. Joining with the City of Valletta in preparation for the events of 2017 and 2018 (when Malta will take on the EU presidency and present itself as a Capital of Culture), while enjoying its enthusiastic welcome, the EGS community will be constantly aware of the uniqueness of the occasion.

We know that March 20, 2016 approaches very quickly, and that the decision to join us must be made without long preparation. But we are hoping that the special promise of this event will prompt a strong cohort of students to join us. It should be a most exciting premiere.
--Christopher Fynsk 
Dean of the Division of Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought, EGS

(Image by Dirk Heldmaier)

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