1950: Start of the lecture cycle The New World View (‘Die neue Weltschau’)

From 1950 to 1952, a lecture cycle entitled Die neue Weltschau (The New World View) was held at the school, supervised by Professor Eduard Naegeli and decisively supported by the president Professor Wolfhart F. Bürgi. This lecture cycle became a very great success: several radio stations broadcast the lectures, which also appeared in print as a two-volume work.

Ten lectures were held in the winter semester of 1950-51 and the summer semester of 1951, and then eight lectures in 1951-52. Their objective was 'to initiate an extensive discussion among representatives of a most varied range of disciplines, on as international basis as possible, in order to establish a unified and consistent overview of the fundamental transformations that our entire world view has been undergoing for more than half a century. Moreover, starting points for the emergence of a new culture are to be discovered and made known to a broad public audience'. The upheaval that was taking place after the Second World War was perceived as the beginning of a new epoch, and changes in all fields – in philosophy, poetry, music, pedagogy, medicine and physics – needed to be addressed.

Famous contemporary representatives of all fields of science and learning thus came to St. Gallen, including Werner von Heisenberg (1901-1976), Nobel Prize winner for Physics in 1932, who spoke on atomic physics and the law of causality (‘Atomphysik und Kausalgesetz’); the Austrian physicist Arthur March (1891-1957), on the new orientation of physics (‘Die Neuorientierung der Physik’); Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1912-2007), on the new picture of the universe (‘Das neue Bild vom Weltall’); the psychoanalyst Alexander Mitscherlich (1908-1982), on the body-soul problem in the changing world of modern medicine (‘Das Leib-Seele-Problem im Wandel der modernen Medizin’); the philosopher Max Bense (1910-1990), on philosophy in the age of technology (‘Philosophie im Zeitalter der Technik’); and the Austrian-Israeli writer Max Brod (1884-1968), on the search for a new meaning of our existence (‘Die Suche nach einem neuen Sinn unseres Daseins’).

Most of the guest lecturers made lasting entries in the school’s guest book, including Mitscherlich, Bense, March, José Ortega y Gasset and Max Brod, who wrote: 'The beautiful mountain landscape of Sankt Gallen and the beautiful landscape of the soul shown by my hospitable friends at this school will remain unforgettable to me. For what happens to me happens to me forever. In this spirit I thank you all. Max Brod. 30.5.51'. 

Poster for an exhibition in the context of the lecture cycle

President Bürgi himself commented at length on the above lectures as follows: this lecture cycle, 'which is concerned with the very latest findings in the natural sciences and the humanities, has widely spread the name of St. Gallen as a cultural centre that is highly contemporary and true to life. Significant and often even absolutely top-ranking representatives of sciences and learning, from Switzerland and from abroad, have come here to the school in order to hold lectures as part of this lecture series; by means of radio dissemination, in Switzerland and abroad, the impact of these lectures has reached far beyond the borders of our institution. Thus, in recent decades our school has increasingly become a cultural centre where in a sense probably for the first time –  the top-quality technical training offered by a university of applied sciences can be happily connected to the old humanistic idea of cultural unity, universitas'.  The use of the term universitas here seems to indicate that the school was on its way to becoming a university not only in organisational but also in intellectual terms.