Every two years since 2005, the “Geist & Gegenwart” Whitsun Dialogues have been dedicated to discussing the most important and pressing questions of our time and our world. With its outstanding, high-calibre contributors from Austria and elsewhere, the event serves to assess the status quo and stimulate future trends and initiatives. Activities such as the Whitsun Dialogues strengthen Styria’s identity as a region of science and innovation. At the same time, the Whitsun Dialogue provides a platform for talented young academics from Styria to enter into debate with outstanding speakers from around the world. The Whitsun Dialogues have therefore become emblematic of the productive environment that is created by interdisciplinary and international intellectual encounters.
Styria has always been fertile ground for open-minded, unprejudiced cross-border dialogue in a spirit of tolerance and respect. We are particularly determined to nurture this tradition and obligation – the result of our historical legacy and our geopolitical position at the heart of our continent, where major European cultures meet – and all the more so in the face of the challenges of illiberalism, populism and fundamentalism. “Geist & Gegenwart” is therefore also an expression of support for a pro-European approach to shaping the future, with proportionate and realistic optimism.
The eighth Whitsun Dialogue is devoted to the many and diverse questions arising from one of the key issues of the 21st century, namely digitalisation, which it will consider from an all-round perspective – not only the moral-ethical and philosophical aspects but also fundamental questions of political democracy and economic and scientific innovation.
I am especially grateful to the partners of the eighth Whitsun Dialogue, the Diocese of Graz-Seckau, Club Alpbach Steiermark, Styrian universities and universities of applied sciences and all the sponsors and supporters for their tremendous commitment. As Styria’s State Governor, I confidently expect that, in the inspirational setting of Seggau Castle, the eighth Whitsun Dialogue will, once again, send out some powerful messages.